Categories of visas and application fees

Regulations on entry to and staying in the French territory differ whether you hold a regular passport, a diplomatic passport or an official duty passport.

Your passport must be valid long enough to cover your stay in the Schengen Area.

Application or “visa” fees are payable on submitting your application ; these application fees are not refunded if the visa is refused.

What type of visa to apply for ?

You must tell the visa official the precise reasons for your journey to France.

This is because the type of visa required to enter France depends on both the length of your stay and your reasons ; except for special cases :
-  for stays equal to or shorter than 90 days, the visa to be issued is a short-stay visa, often known as a “Schengen visa” ;
- for stays longer than 90 days, the visa to be issued is a long-stay visa appropriate to the duration of and reasons for your stay.

This information must be accurate, because :
- once you are in France, you cannot have your visa modified or change your immigration status ;
- in addition, exercising a salaried activity is subject to specific procedures that require getting a work permit before getting a visa. This applies to all employees, including artists and sportspeople.

In the French overseas territories, the rules applicable may vary from those applied in Metropolitan France. When applying for a visa, you must carefully specify the destination and details of your flight.

Short-stay visas

Short-stay visas are Schengen visas that allow the holder to move freely throughout the 26 countries in the Schengen Area for stays totalling a maximum of 90 days in each period of 180 days. These visas may be issued for one entry or for multiple entries according to the reasons for your stay.

This is the type of visa issued for tourism, business travel or family visits ; it is also issued so that you can come to France for a short training course, internship, conference, business meeting or be gainfully employed (in whatever way) for less than 3 months.

This type of visa is also required for simply transiting through France. Transit for a foreign national through a French airport without leaving the "international zone" is a special case, because the foreign national does not enter French territory and is not subject to entry visa requirements, except in certain cases. Certain foreign nationals are subject to visa requirements for airport transit in France : information on airport transit.

Long-stay visas

The long-stay visa is not a Schengen visa  ; it is a national visa that entitles you, whatever the reason for your stay, to live in France for more than 90 days.

The visa also entitles you to transit through another country in the Schengen Area on your way to France and to move freely throughout the Schengen Area for its entire period of validity.

The main reasons for issuing this type of visa are study, work and family reunion. Specific documents, according to your reason, are required to support your visa application.

If you are issued with this type of visa, you are required, on arrival in France, to register with the Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration (OFII) or, in some cases, to apply to the relevant prefecture for a residence permit.

Some categories of long-stay visa are valid as residence permits for the first year of your stay in France : study visas, some work visas, visas for spouses of French nationals and visitors’ visas. If you are in one of these cases, when you arrive in France, you must send the OFII form to the relevant regional delegation of the Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration, which will give you an appointment for a medical examination and payment of residence fees. After the first year (in the two months before your long-stay visa expires), you must apply to renew your residence permit at the relevant prefecture for your place of residence.

In all other cases, if you are a foreign national holding a long-stay visa marked "carte de séjour à solliciter" (residence permit to be applied for), you must apply to the prefecture for a residence permit.

Work visas, for whatever activity, are subject to specific preliminary procedures : as a foreign national arriving in France on a short-stay visa you are not allowed to seek work or obtain an employment contract.

If you intend to exercise a salaried activity in France, your future employer must have the contract approved in advance by the DIRECCTE (Regional directorate for enterprises, competition, consumption, work and employment) before you submit your visa application.

Artists on tour and sportspeople in championships must also get a work permit in advance via their contact in France.

Application fees

Type of visa Application fee
Airport transit visa or entry and short-stay visa (less than 90 days) valid for France and, except where marked otherwise on the visa sticker, the Schengen Area €60
Airport transit visa or entry and short-stay visa (less than 90 days) valid for a French overseas département or region (DROM) : Guadeloupe (including Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin) ; Martinique ; French Guiana ; Reunion Island.
€60
Airport transit visa or entry and short-stay visa (less than 90 days) for New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories €9
Entry and long-stay visa (more than 90 days) valid for France (with no territorial restrictions) €99
National long-stay visa (more than 90 days) issued to foreign children fully and legally adopted by French nationals as required by their country of origin, valid for Metropolitan France, overseas départements and collectivities (DROM, CTOM). €15

Visa fees are waived for the following foreign nationals :
- foreign members of families of nationals of other Member States of the EU/EEA and Switzerland (decree of 11 March 1994 modified) ;
- the foreign spouse of a French national (decree 98-839 of 18 September 1998) ;
- for easier movement of young people :
- children under 6 (EC decision of 1 June 2006) ;
- pupils of primary and secondary classes travelling as part of twinning arrangements between schools, or who undertake trips for the purposes of study or educational training (EC decision of 1 June 2006) ;
- students and postgraduate students who undertake trips for the purposes of study or educational training (EC decision of 1 June 2006) ;
- holders of French government study grants ;
- holders of study grants from foreign governments and foundations and beneficiaries of EU programmes ;
- beneficiaries of the France-Canada agreement on young people’s exchanges of 3 October 2003 (decree 2004-200 of 2 March 2004) ;
- beneficiaries of the France-Japan working holidays agreement of 8 January 1999 ;
- beneficiaries of the France-Korea working holidays agreement of 20 October 2008 ;
- persons gainfully employed :
- teachers accompanying groups who undertake trips for the purposes of study or educational training (EC decision of 1 June 2006) ;
- scientific researchers (EC decision of 1 June 2006) ;
- seasonal workers (order of 4 March 1994) ;
- employed workers and members of their families who are beneficiaries of family reunion, nationals of states that have signed a fee waiver agreement for these types of visa (Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey) ;
- foreign nationals teaching French (but not members of their families) ;
- foreign language assistants and lectors.

When the visa application is being processed, certain formalities (appointments, application submission) may be carried out by external service providers. Additional fees may be charged.

publié le 29/04/2016

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