France is one of 25 European area nations participating fully in the 1995 Schengen Agreement.
The agreement allows successful visa applicants to move freely between the Schengen states on a short-term visa for tourism or business with a duration of up to 90 days.
As a member of the European Union, French immigration also permits other EU citizens to visit France for up to three months without the need to apply for a French visa. This courtesy is also extended to nationals of a range of other countries, however for nationals of countries not included this visa waiver, an application will need to be made.
In France, immigration services also offer an airport transfer visa to those who need to apply for entry clearance to France only to transfer through the airport transit zone.
Whilst citizens of many nations are permitted to enter France in order to continue their journey to another destination without the need to apply for a visa, France also requires that nationals of some countries must possess airport transit visas.
Types of Visa for France
Short-term French visas for tourism and business excursions, though not for employment, are issued as Schengen visas.
Though still described variously as a tourist visa, travel visa, visit visa or business visa, a Schengen visa is uniformly issued for short visits. These visas for France allow their holders to visit the country for a period of no longer than 3 months in total.
They can be granted as a single, double or multiple entry visa however, the duration limit remains at three months regardless of whether this is fulfilled in a single visit or over the course of several visits.
In France, visas for short periods cannot be extended and a new visa application must be submitted as required.
In France, visa applications for short stay tourist visas and business visas must include the following:
A passport from the country of residence, which is valid for at least three months beyond the duration of the grant of leave. The passport must also have at least one blank page.
A fully completed application form with the appropriate fee.
- Two passport sized photographs.
- Documentary evidence of sufficient funds to support the applicant for the duration of the trip.
- Proof of the applicant's occupation.
- Evidence of the intention to return to the country of residence or continue to another destination.
French Work Permit
In France, work permit applications must be made by all non-EU nationals who wish to live and work in France for any length of time.
Those who wish to immigrate to France on a long-term basis will need to apply for an Autorisation de Travail, which like a UK work permit, and work permits in many destinations, is an employer led process. Applications must be made on behalf of the candidate by the French employer concerned.
Once more, EU nationals may work in France without the need for French work permits. However, after the initial three months they must apply for a "Carte de séjour de ressortissant de l'Union Européenne" in effect a French residence permit, which will be granted upon proof of identity, employment, accommodation and payments to the French social security system.
French residence permits
In the case of work visas, a French residence permit can be granted for the proposed duration of a period of employment. However, for applicants who intend to immigrate to France on a permanent basis, a resident permit can be granted for 5 years.
Beyond this period, residence permits may be renewed for 10 years or more provided that the candidate continues to be employed on a permanent basis.
In France, residence permits also cater for spouse and dependent immigration. The spouse and/or dependent children under the age of 21 will also qualify based on their family ties to the main applicant.
Processing Times and Fees
Visas for France may take between 24 hours and several weeks to process depending upon the nationality of the applicant and the type of French entry clearance being sought.