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France Visa's for Non-Europeans

Saturday 13 May 2017

EEA nationals maybe free to live and work in France without any visa being necessary, but what are the conditions of entry of nationals from outside of Europe?

UPDATE: For more up-to-date information read our Guide to Moving to France

Unlike EEA nationals, non-Europeans have no entitlement to live in France without a residence permit - a carte de séjour.

The conditions and requirements for entry of non-EEA nationals are set out in the Code de l'Entrée et du Séjour des Etrangers et du Droit d'Asile (CESEDA).

Under CESEDA there are a variety of different types of residence permit that can be issued - for those who wish to visit France, who have family ties to France, those with substantial wealth, or those with skills or talent which could make a substantial contribution to the country.

There are particular rules for non-European family members of an EEA citizen, which we will cover in a future Newsletter.

As well as these more specialist visas there are a range of more general visas, all of which are granted on a discretionary basis.

Up to Three Months

Whether you will need a visa for a short stay in France depends on your nationality, although many countries on the planet are visa exempt for such visits.

You can stay 90 days over a period of 180 days, which can be used either in one go or for multiple trips.

Your passport must have at least three month's validity remaining at the end of the 90-day stay.

Twelve Months

If you propose to stay longer than three months you need to apply for a standard long-stay visa, called a visa de long séjour of which there are different types, but which is valid for 1 year on a renewable basis.

Your application may be made for different reasons - study, salaried employment, temporary employment, business creation, scientific, research, artisitc, medical, or merely 'visiteur'.

The process for obtaining a visa used to start in the French consulate in your home country, although since 2018 all applicants are being asked to make an initial application on-line.

As part of the process you will need to provide a substantial amount of documentation, which may include, but may not be limited to:

  • Proof of residency in your home country for the three months before and after your stay;
  • Airline tickets and an itinerary;
  • Details of travel and health insurance;
  • Evidence of financial resources; normally at least equivalent to the minimum wage.
  • Passport photos;
  • Information about your plans for the duration of your stay in France; employment contract, business details, enrolment certificate, pension details, etc.
  • Proof of your accommodation arrangements for your entire stay in France;

The processing time depends on your nationality, reasons for the visa, and the demands on the local visa office.

A fee of €99 is payable, although it depends on nationality and type of visa. It is substantially lower for students.

If you are refused a visa reasos must be given, and an appeal process exists.

Five to Ten Years

In order to stay longer, once in France you will need to apply to your local prefecture for a residence permit for a longer period, perhaps initially up to 5 years, or exceptionally to 10 years. It may initially be prolongation of your existing residence permit, or a new permit, called a carte de résident.

In this application you will be required to provide at least:-

  • Proof of where you are living;
  • Certified translated copies of birth and marriage certificates;
  • Proof of financial resources;
  • Medical certificate
You may also need to demonstrate a competency in the French language and culture, notably in relation to a carte de résident.

A spouse living with the beneficiary is included in this residency right.

Permanent Residence

Once you have completed 10 years residence, you can apply for a right of permanent residence - carte de résident permanent.

This permit may be granted without prior residence to certain groups, such as those with family ties and those who able to demonstrate a considerable economic contribution to the country.


Faced with the multiplicity of visas that exist, and the different circumstances under which they may be issued, prospective applicants need to do their homework to determine the strongest grounds on which to make an application.

With thanks to Gary Grant for his assistance in the preparation of this article.

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