You wish to come to France to travel, study, visit your family or to settle there… To be able to return regularly to France, supporting documents will be required at the French border. Depending on your nationality and the length of your stay, you may need a visa to enter French territory.
WHAT IS A VISA?
It is a document issued by the French authorities to people of foreign nationality, wishing to come to France, either to Entry or to Stay in France. This title does not confer a right of entry but constitutes a necessary condition for crossing the French border.
UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS IS A VISA NECESSARY?
A visa is necessary, except exemption, as soon as you cross the French border, whether to visit, to settle there or to transit to another country.
ARE SOME PEOPLE EXEMPT FROM VISAS TO RETURN TO FRANCE?
The visa waiver depends on the nationality of the applicant and the duration of the intended stay.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LONG STAY VISA AND A SHORT STAY VISA?
The short-stay visa allows foreigners to stay for a maximum of three months on French territory in order to visit family members, to give a conference or participate in a conference, to conclude a business or to do tourism.
Foreigners wishing to come to France for more than three months, with a view to staying there, pursuing higher education or exercising a professional activity there, must apply for a long-stay visa. Only the long-stay visa allows foreigners to settle on French territory. It is also called an “installation visa”.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EXEMPT FROM SHORT STAY VISA (LESS THAN THREE MONTHS) TO COME TO FRANCE?
The following persons are exempt from visa to return to French territory, for a period of less than three months:
- citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland;
- nationals of the following countries, whatever the reason for the stay: Andorra, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Malaysia, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Saint -Marin, Holy See, Uruguay, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia;
- nationals of the following countries: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, South Korea, United States, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Seychelles, Singapore, Venezuela.
- passport holders from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (People’s Republic of China) and the Macau Special Administrative Region (People’s Republic of China).
- holders of a valid residence permit in France;
- holders of a residence permit issued by a State applying the Schengen agreements;
- holders of certain travel documents issued by a Member State of the European Union;
- Holders of the British Nationals Overseas passport.
- holders of diplomatic passports who are not stationed in France (and their families) from certain States with which an agreement has been signed.
If you do not fall into these categories, you must have a visa in order to be able to come to France even for a short period (three months less).
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO MUST HAVE A LONG STAY VISA (MORE THAN THREE MONTHS) TO APPLY FOR A RESIDENCE PERMIT UPON THEIR ARRIVAL IN FRANCE?
All third-country nationals, with the exception of citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and nationals of Monaco, Andorra, and San Marino, must hold a visa in order to remain in France, for more than three months.
WHERE TO APPLY FOR A VISA?
Visa applications are made to the French diplomatic or consular administrative authorities of the country where the foreigner resides: list of French embassies and consulates abroad.
CAN YOU BE REFUSED A VISA?
Yes, the administrative authorities can refuse you a visa and they do not have the obligation to explain the reasons for this refusal except for foreign members of a French family or foreigners applying for a “student” visa.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONTEST THIS REFUSAL TO ISSUE A VISA?
Yes, foreigners who are the subject of a visa refusal can appeal to the Appeal Commission against decisions to refuse a visa to enter France (CRV).
This appeal is compulsory before any appeal to the administrative judge. It must be formed within 2 months from the notification of the refusal decision or the absence of a response from the administration for 2 months.
The Commission may either dismiss the appeal or recommend to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Immigration to grant the visa requested.
If the Commission rejects the appeal, or if the ministers confirm the visa refusal, despite the favorable opinion of the Commission, the person concerned may file, within 2 months, an action for annulment with the administrative court of Nantes.
As the aforementioned commission generally takes several months or even a year to respond, it is possible to apply to the Nantes administrative court two months after the Commission is seized.
It is also possible to apply to the court for an application for interim measures so that the application can be examined within a few days if grounds of urgency are justified.
IS A VISA ISSUED FOR FRANCE VALID FOR TRAVELING IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
Yes, short-stay visas are so-called “Schengen” visas which allow their holders to move freely in the countries of the Schengen area (all countries of the European Union, except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, the United Kingdom and Ireland) for stays of a maximum of 90 successive days or 90 days cumulated over a period of six months.
DOES A VISA ALLOW YOU TO WORK IN FRANCE?
In principle not, but certain visas, in particular, “employee” and “temporary worker” visas also constitute a work permit and therefore allow their holders to work.
DOES A VISA ENTITLE YOU TO A RESIDENCE PERMIT?
During the validity of your visa, you are not required to hold a residence permit to stay in France. When your visa expires, you must leave French territory.
Your visa, even for a long stay, does not automatically entitle you to a residence permit, except when your visa bears the mention “residence permit to be requested upon arrival in France”.
If you wish to reside in France at the expiration of your visa, you must apply for a residence permit.
ARE THE APPLICATION FEES PAID FOR A VISA APPLICATION REIMBURSED IN CASE OF VISA REFUSAL?
No, these costs are not reimbursed if the visa is refused.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE FRENCH TERRITORY WHEN YOUR VISA EXPIRES?
If you remain on French territory after the expiry of the visa which has been issued to you, you run the risk of having to pay a fine or be the subject of a removal order (expulsion, deported to the border… ). If you consider that you are forced to extend your stay in France after the expiration of your visa for reasons of force majeure, you must, before the expiry of your visa, file a request for “visa extension” with the prefectural authority of the place where you are by presenting supporting documents.