Types of Visas Available

Your nationality and the duration of time you will be staying will determine what visa you will require before moving to France. There are different types of Visas and all of these are listed below.

Tourist / Visitor Visa

If you are a foreign national from a ‘Schengen’ appointed country, you will not require a Visa to travel to France if you will be staying for less than 90 days. Countries include are in the EU, EEA, Switzerland, USA, Australia, New Zealand and many more.

Expats from countries who are not listed will need to apply for a Schengen Visa before they are allowed entry into the country.

The Schengen Zone

France is one of the countries out of 26 which are in the Schengen zone. Countries in this zone will have one common visa so there will be no border controls between the countries.

This type of visa will permit expats 90 days of travel within a sixth month period to any country which is in the Schengen zone.

A Schengen visa must be applied for before travelling and the visa application as well as required documents will be need to be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in your home country. Your application will be processed if you have a valid passport or an ID document which has been issued in the last 10 years and is valid for 3 months after you depart from France. Expats may also need to provide proof of funds to cover the time of your visit, medical insurance and where you will be staying once in France. Processing time will vary.

Long-Stay Visit

Expats, who are planning on staying in France for more than 90 days, will be required to apply for a ‘long-stay’ visa. This visa is applied for by individuals who are going to France to study, work or re-join their family. These visas will also allow you permission to reside and work in France as well as visit other EU countries.

When applying for this visa you may need to attach a number of documents with your application. Applications are made at the French embassy or consulate in your home country before moving to France. You will be required to have an employment contract of one year or be a temporary worker with an employment contract for 3 months or more.

Citizens from the EU will not need to apply for long stay visa to live in France for more than 90 days.

To apply for a long-stay visa you will need to provide the following:

  • Valid passport
  • Passport sized photo
  • Payment for Visa fee
  • Proof of the purpose of the visit

Expats who are planning on staying in the country for more than 12 months will need to apply for a formal residence permit as well as the long stay visa. Individuals who have been granted a residence permit must register with the Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration (OFII) within the first three months in France.

Long Stay Visas which do not need to apply for a residence permit:

  • Long stay visa to work in France (assistant, full time and temporary workers)
  • Long stay non-working visa
  • Long stay visa to study in France (Students and Interns)
  • Long stay visa for spouses of French nationals

Residence Permit

Expats, who have decided to stay in the country for a longer period than the long stay visa will need apply for a resident permit within two months of the visas expiry date. These are usually renewable every year unless you have a permanent resident permit that is valid for up to 10 years. EU citizens will not need to apply for this.

You must have been in France on a long-stay visa to get a resident permit. This can be applied for at the Étrangers section of their local authorities (préfecture). Expats will be required to make an appointment to show proof of your financial situation, health insurance cover, proof of French address and employment contract.

Once the documents have been submitted you will be given a receipt with a date to go through a medical check up. The medical certificate will then need to be taken back to the local authorities to complete the residency process application.

Applicants will receive their permanent residency after a few days or even a few months.

Permanent Residency

Expats who have been living in France for five years can apply for a renewable EC or French citizenship which is renewed every 10 years. You will need to meet certain requirements to be approved and must be able to speak some of the French language.

Work Permit

Whether you are doing paid work or voluntary work in France, you will be expected to have a work permit before entering the country. There will also be certain requirements that you must meet and these usually depend on the country you have resided from.

EEA citizens and expats from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland who will be working in France will not need a work permit to work, to own a business or if they are self employed.

If you are not from the EEA or EU, you will be required to go through a process to be able to work in France. However this may be difficult to obtain due to the French government cutting jobs to non-European citizens.

It is recommended that employment is found before moving to France and individuals may need to prove that their skills are distinctive which cannot be found in people from EEA nationals. If you have secured a job within a French company, your employer may apply for your work permit on your behalf.  Employers may need to prove that no one is able to do the job in order to hire a non EU citizen.

Expats who will be working in France for more than 3 months will need to have a long-stay visa which can only be applied for once the work contract is secured and has been sent to the French ministry of Labour to approve.

Work permits will vary in how long they are valid for, requirements and the number of entries depending on the type of worker. These include: Skills and Talents permit and Employees on Assignment Permit.

To apply for a work permit the documents that will be required will be the same as the ones needed for residency permit as well as details of the work you will be doing. Offer of employment will need to be shown along with the relevant application form and permit fees.

French Citizenship

You may be able to apply for citizenship if you have lived and worked in France for five or more years. The naturalisation process is simple and the main requirements are the number of years you have been a resident in the country for.  This time can be reduced if you are married or are a child of a French national.

Expats can apply to be a naturalised French citizen if:

  • You have been living in France for 5 continuous years or studied in a French University for 2 years
  • You can prove that you are able to speak French and should have knowledge of French culture

Residents will be required to pass a written French language test unless you are a student or are over the age of 60.