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Applying for a Short-Stay Visa in France: Documents and Processing Times

If you are planning a short trip to France, perhaps to visit family, friends, to see the sights, or for business, and you are from a country outside of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you may need to apply for a short-stay visa before you make your journey. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a short-stay visa for France, the documents you will need to supply, and the processing time you can expect.

The Short-Stay Schengen Visa

If you are a citizen from a country outside of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, and plan to travel to France for six months, you can apply for a short-stay Schengen visa. The Schengen visa enables individuals to travel to member states of the Schengen Area for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. Some countries outside of the EU/EEA have reached a ‘visa-liberalization agreement’ with Schengen member states, and therefore their citizens do not need to apply for a short-stay visa; these include Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See (Vatican City State), Honduras, Hong Kong, and the United States.

The main advantage of the Schengen visa is that holders can enter and travel freely within the Schengen zone, and leave from any Schengen member country. This means that if you plan to include another country in Europe in your trip, you will not need to apply for another visa.

If you are planning to visit multiple countries in Europe, of which France is one, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa to the country which is the main destination of travel. If there is no one main country you will be visiting, then you should apply to the country where you will be entering the Schengen area.

How do I Apply for a Short-Stay Schengen Visa for France?

If you know that you need to submit an application for a Schengen short-stay visa in France, as this will be your main or only destination, you will need to apply to the French embassy or consulate in your country.

The initial application is completed on the official ‘France Visa’ government website. As part of the online process, you should first use the online checker to verify if you need a visa, to avoid making an application when you don’t need one. This will also explain the documents you will need to provide, and the fee you will need to pay. It is also possible to complete a hardcopy of the visa application; this is Cerfa no. 14076*01.

It is important to note that French visa applications cannot be submitted more than six months before you plan to start your travels to France. When you apply, if necessary you can include groups of up to six people.

Once you have submitted your online application for a French short-stay visa, you will typically be invited by your local embassy or consulate for an interview. If so, you will need to book an appointment with the relevant visa application centre.

At the interview, your application will be reviewed, and you will need to pay the visa fee. You will need to bring all of the documents and evidence requested to your interview. These will be scanned along with your biometrics (i.e. photos and fingerprints) and submitted for processing.

You may not be required to attend a visa appointment in person if you previously held a Schengen visa and/or you regularly travel to France for the same purpose.

You will be advised of the outcome of your visa application, and if successful, when you can collect your passport (or whether your passport will be posted to you).

Most short-stay Schengen visa applications for France are processed within ten days.

Which Documents will I need to Supply as Part of my Short-Stay Visa Application?

As part of your application, you may be asked to provide a number of documents, including:

  • Your passport – this must have been issued in the last ten years and be valid for at least three months after you plan to leave France. It must also have two blank pages.
  • Your completed and signed application form (Cerfa no. 14076*01) – if applying using a hardcopy of the application form.
  • Three passport photos.
  • Evidence that you have enough money for your stay in France
    • This ranges between €32.50 per day and €120 per day depending on whether you are staying with a host (i.e. your food and accommodation are covered), if you just have a hotel booked, or if you have no proof of accommodation.
  • Your return ticket.
  • Evidence that you have travel insurance which will cover your medical expenses.
  • Evidence of the reason for your travel to France; this may include a holiday or hotel booking if you are a tourist, or a letter of invitation from a host company if you are travelling for work. If you are staying with a host, you should provide evidence of your relationship to them. Depending on the purpose of your stay, you will be advised of the type of documents you will need to supply to support your application.

Wrapping up

If you plan to visit France for up to 90 days, and you are not from one of the countries listed above whose citizens are exempt from needing a Schengen visa, you will need to apply for one. The processing times and procedures can vary slightly depending on which country you are in; this is especially so in the context of COVID-19. It is advisable that you make your application as early as possible to avoid having to delay your trip. Most Schengen visa applications are straightforward, and as long as your reasons for travelling to France are genuine, and you can provide all of the information required to satisfy the immigration authorities, then you can expect to receive your visa with relative ease. If you have any concerns regarding your short-stay visa, speak to immigration solicitors as soon as possible as they will be able to ensure you receive a timely positive decision.

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