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France - Visas
When moving to or visiting France, you may well require a visa. Whether you do or not, and the type of visa you require, will depend upon your nationality and the intended duration of your stay.
The Schengen Zone
France is one of the 26 countries that, together, make up the Schengen Zone. The countries within this zone have what is effectively one common visa, meaning that there are no border controls between them.
Thanks to the Freedom of Movement Act, any EU (European Union), EEA (European Economic Area), or Swiss citizens do not require a visa or residence permit to live, study, or work in France.
Relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens
Dependent relatives and spouses of EU/EAA/Swiss citizens who are not from the EU themselves do not require a visa to enter France. They do, however, need to apply for a residence permit (carte de sejour) within two months of entering the country.
All non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens need to apply for a long-stay visa (visa long de séjour) as well as a residence permit if they wish to remain in the country for longer than 90 days. Citizens of some countries also need a visa simply to enter France, whether it is a long stay or a short stay.
If you have a stop-over in a French airport on your way between destinations, even if you will not be leaving the airport, you may require a transit or airport visa to allow you into the international zone of the French airport.
On the other hand, if you plan to leave the airport for any amount of time, you may require a short stay visa, also known as a Schengen Visa, which will allow you to enter any country within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a period of 6 months. It’s important to remember that, if you enter France on a Schengen Visa, you will not be able to look for, apply for, or take up any form of work.
Anyone from outside the EU, EEA, and Switzerland will need to apply for a Schengen Visa - excluding those from certain countries, such as Japan, Canada, Korea, USA, New Zealand, and Australia.
To apply for a Schengen Visa, you should apply to the French Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. For your application to be processed, you will require a valid passport or national ID document issued within the past 10 years and valid for a minimum of 3 months after your intended departure from France. You will also be asked to prove that you have enough funds to cover the duration of your visit, that you have somewhere to stay whilst in the country, and that you have a valid medical insurance policy with a minimum cover level of EUR 30,000.
Long-term Visas (Visa de long séjour)
Whether it is for business or pleasure, anyone wishing to stay in France for longer than 90 days must apply for a long stay visa (Visa de long séjour), with the exception of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as anyone from Andorra, Algeria, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City.
There are a number of different long stay visas for different purposes, these include a holiday visa (visa long séjour visiteur), an employment visa (salerié), a study visa (étudiant), and a private and family life visa (vie privée et familiale). If you are applying for a working visa, you must have an approved and signed contract before your visa will be granted.
Applications for a long stay visa must be made at the French Embassy or Consulate in your home country, prior to departing for France. To qualify, you must have an employment contract of at least one year, or be a temporary worker with an employment contract between three months and one year. Alternatively, you can be a scientific researcher, a student or intern, the spouse of a French citizen or a foreign national legally living in France, or coming to France as a visitor with enough funds to cover your stay.
Residence Permit (carte de séjour)
If you decide you want to stay in France longer than your long stay visa permits, you will need to apply for a renewable residence permit within two months of your visa’s expiry date. Residence permits are usually renewable every year, however there are other varieties available, such as a skills and talents permit (competences et talents), which is renewable every three years, and a permanent residence permit, which is valid for up to 10 years.
Applications for Residence permits must be made at the local prefecture, where you will be required to present details of your family and financial situation, your health insurance cover, proof of your French address, and an employment contract (if applicable).
If you have been living in France constantly for five years, you will be eligible to apply for a 10-year renewable long term EC card or French Citizenship. You will, however, need to meet certain requirements in order to be approved, including demonstrating that you have a good grasp of the French language.
Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity Development
11 rue de la Maison-Blanche
44036 Nantes Cedex 01
Tel: (00 33) 02 51 77 20 20
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