This section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.
You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passports up until aged 15 years.
A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. This permission is called "entry clearance".
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt, need only produce a passport which is valid for entry. Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry.
There are no border controls when traveling within the EU (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom). France has agreed to the Schengen Agreement which consists of an area of twenty-six states, all but four of which are members of the European Union (EU).
These passport holders may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay. The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. Make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area.
There is no uniform Schengen Visa for visits longer than 90 days. If you wish to remain in any country in the region longer than 90 days, you must apply for a residence, work or student visa directly through the embassy or consulate of the country where you wish to settle. However, the Single Permit Directive allows immigrants who are legal residents of an EU country and those who are seeking residence permits to apply for a residence and work permit for that country through a single application process.
Foreign nationals who are not visa-exempt must make a 'declaration of entry' (déclaration d'entrée) at a police station or to border inspection personnel if they arrive in France directly from another country of Schengen Area, unless they hold a long-term visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen member state. Their passports will be endorsed by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made. If you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days, an advance long-stay visa is always required of non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens.
Depending on your chosen country and your personal circumstances, you may need to apply for a long-term visa before traveling to the region. Applicants should submit the application in person at the consulate. A visa application should be lodged at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit (as this is the normal processing time) and cannot be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended visit. An application lodged less than 15 calendar days before the intended departure may be accepted, but the applicant should be informed that the processing time may be of up to 15 calendar days.
Most visas need to be obtained prior to your arrival. Applications for entry into France should be made at a French Diplomatic Post in your country of residence.
Known as a visa de court séjour, this visa is valid for a maximum of 3 months. This visa is valid in all other member countries. However, if you intend to leave the Schengen Area and want to re-enter you may need to ask for a multiple-entry short term visa.
If you are a citizen or permanent resident of a country located outside the EU or EEA which does not enjoy visa exemption with the Schengen Area, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa before traveling to the region. A Schengen Visa allows unlimited travel within the area for a period of up to 90 days within a 6-month period, but cannot be extended. If you plan to visit more than one country within the Schengen Area, you must apply for the Schengen Visa through the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to spend the most time during your visit. You must provide the original and one copy of each item of required documentation along with your application, which must be made in person. Allow sufficient lead time for processing which may vary from a few days to more than a month. However, you may not apply for a Schengen Visa more than three months before your planned departure date.
A visa de long séjour is valid for 3-6 months. After arriving in France, you need to apply for a temporary stay permit (carte de séjour temporaire) which will describe your status in France: visitor (visiteur), student (étudiant), private or family purposes (vie privée et familiale), or employee (salarié).
Students (étudiant) who wish to study in one or more countries within the Schengen Area of the EU must obtain residence permits if their course of study is for longer than three months. Visa holders are able to work part-time - at least 10 hours per week. You may also travel to another Schengen Area country within the EU to study in an area related to your original program.
Students should be able to bring your immediate family members, including an opposite-sex spouse and dependent minor children. You may be able to bring a same-sex spouse or an unmarried partner, depending on your country of citizenship or residence and the regulations of the country where you wish to study.
You will need to provide the following documentation to obtain a residence permit for your period of study. If your program is at least a year long, your residence permit will be for one year. If your program is less than one year long, your permit will be for the length of your program. In both instances, you may renew your permit if circumstances warrant your staying longer.
If you hold a residence permit valid for at least one year for a country in the Schengen Area within the EU, you may apply to have your family join you. However, some countries require you to wait two or three years before allowing family members to join you. You must also demonstrate stable and sufficient income to support yourself and your family, along with evidence of health insurance coverage. Once your family members have arrived, they may be eligible to work, attend school or receive work-related training. They may also be eligible to apply for their own long-term residence permits after five years.
Eligible family members include your opposite-sex spouse, your minor children, including adopted children, and any minor children you or your spouse had through a prior relationship, as long as you or your spouse have custody. If the country where you reside recognizes same-sex marriage, your same-sex spouse and his or her minor children may also be eligible to join you. In some countries your unmarried or registered same-sex or opposite-sex partner may also be eligible to join you. Other family members who may be eligible to join you include your parents, your spouse's or partner's parents and adult unmarried children unable to care for themselves.
EU citizens, citizens of EEA countries, and Swiss nationals do not need a visa to work in the France.
In order to hire a non-EU citizen and obtain a work permit, a company must demonstrate that the applicant has a certain set of required skills and they do not have EU candidates for the position. Smaller firms may not be willing to make the effort as they are typically not short of candidates and the approval process can take 4-6 months. For senior management, IT professionals and other highly qualified positions, the conditions are much easier to fulfill and an application properly handled with the sponsorship of the employer can be processed quicker.
Highly skilled and well-educated workers may pursue a streamlined work permit application process through the Blue Card Directive. Holders of the EU Blue Card enjoy favored status for applications to have family members join them, as well as enhanced freedom of movement to pursue work throughout the EU. Each Blue Card is valid for one to four years, depending on the country of issue and other factors. After 18 months, Blue Card holders may move to another country within the EU. After two years, Blue Card holders hold equal status with citizens and long-term residents of the EU in regard to access to well-paid jobs.
The EU is considering a Directive on Seasonal Workers, designed to protect low-wage migrant workers from outside the EU from exploitation by unscrupulous employers. The directive would provide a streamlined application process for unskilled agricultural and other seasonal workers. The directive would also enhance record-keeping to minimize the number of migrants who overstay their visas.
Foreign student and work permit
There is no specific rule for a EU citizen, with the same rights as a French student.
The non-EU foreign student can work in France without authorisation as long as he/she does not exceed 60% of a full time. The employer must declare the employee to the Prefecture/DIRECCTE (service main d'oeuvre étrangère - MOE) at least 2 days before the start.
The student must have:
Having one of those document allows to work in any industry in France. The student can work a maximum of 964 hours per year (12 months from the date of the visa/resident card) ord pro-rata according to the length of the stay.
For more information you can check the website service-public.fr.
Citizens may need to register (enregistrement des citoyens européens) upon arriving in France. Consult the local Mairie to find out if it is necessary.
To register, report to the Mairie of the commune of residence with your proof of ID and address. The visit is recorded and a receipt (attestation d'enregistrement) is issued. This serves as a record of residence. Failure to register means you are subject to a fine (in theory, but practice is more vague).
Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration (OFII) administers the card. Application is free, and can be made at the Préfecture, Sous-préfecture, Mairie or local police station. The temporary residence permit most applicants first receive is a carte de Séjour temporaire and it is valid for a maximum of one year (renewable). Record of temporary residency is kept in the passport (a separate residency card is not issued) and required additional certificates issued by the OFII office.
A "skills and talents" residence permit (Carte de Séjour "compétences et talents") may be offered and is valid three years (renewable).
Also known as a Titre de Séjour, this a residence permit required by French law for any non-European Union citizen staying in France for a period longer than three months. Application should be made at the Service des étrangers section of the local Préfecture, Sous-Préfecture (or the Préfecture de Police in Paris). The application should be made in person.
There is a fee payable for the application; the price depends on the type of permit being applied for. Translations of official documents are required if they are not in French. It is recommended to take the documents, in original form, with two photocopies of each item.
Family members are: spouse, children under 21 years and parents, only if they are dependent. This applies, regardless of the nationality of the family members. For family to join you in the France long-term, applicants must provide documentation of their relationship. Each family member should be registered with the Mairie within three months of arrival. There is no legal requirement to apply for or carry a residence permit.
Translations of official documents are required if they are not in French. The process takes around 2-3 months depending on the time of year and the department you live in.
Any EU citizen who has been resident in France for five or more continuous years has the right to permanent residence (CE séjour permanent). Acquiring this card is optional and it is valid for twenty years and fully renewable.
Applicants may need to prove continuous residence in France over the five years. This can be established through payment of bills, lease agreements, appointments, or any other documentation that can help to establish a time frame. Absences of up to six months per year or an absence of up to a year for reasons of illness, study or a professional posting elsewhere does not affect eligibility. The right to permanent residence is lost after a person has not lived in France for more than two consecutive years.
Non-EU family members receive the right to permanent residence on the same criteria as their EU family if they have resided together in France for over five years. Application for the permanent residency card is obligatory, and must be made two months before the Carte de Séjour expires. Non-EU citizens who have been granted a right to residence based on their marriage to an EU citizen retain that right in the event of divorce or death of their EU spouse.
Résidents de longue durée allows third-country nationals who has resided legally in an EU country for a minimum of five years to skip applying for a visa long séjour. They may make their residency application at the Préfecture within three months of their arrival in France.
To acquire citizenship, there are rigid requirements that must be satisfied. In these complicated matters, it is in your best interest to take professional advice from a solicitor or from an immigration adviser.
Child born within the territory of France receive French nationality, regardless of the nationality of the parents. In addition, children born abroad with at least one of whose parents is a citizen of France receives French citizenship.
If a child is not born in France, but has lived in France for five years or more, s/he can make an application to the local tribunal for French nationality at the age of 16. The parents can make an application on behalf of their child at 13.
Applications can be made at the mairie, then sent to the ministre chargée des naturalisations. Depending on your nationality, you may need to give up citizenship if your home country doesn't allow dual citizenship. Britain, Australia and America allow dual nationality.
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