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Visa applications slow and unclear

Immigration charity calls for complete overhaul of 'Kafkaesque' system for getting a visa to live and work in France

GROWING numbers of non-EU nationals are finding it impossible to get a visa to live and work in France, a new report has claimed.

Immigration support charity Cimade said the "Kafkaesque" application process was expensive, opaque and full of bureaucratic hurdles.

It said the problem was widespread in embassies and consulates around the world but was particularly bad for applicants coming from an African country, Turkey or the Ukraine.

According to the group's report, the number of formal complaints about a visa rejection grew from 170 in 2003 to 900 in 2008.

Cimade general secretary Jérôme Martinez told Le Croix: "A lot of French people are finding it increasingly difficult to bring a foreign spouse to the country.

"Of course there is no such thing as an automatic right to a visa - every state legitimately has the possibility to refuse an application, but what is unacceptable is the absence of clear rules."

The group is calling for more transparency in how applications are assessed and for clear reasons to be given for a refusal.

It says the problems have become worse because the French government has sub-contracted a lot of the work to outside companies.

Every year some two million people apply for a visa to come to France, bringing in an estimated €29m in revenue for the French government.

A short-stay visa costs €60 and a long-stay one €99 - way above what Cimade said was the "real cost" of processing the application.

The charity also said it was unacceptable that the fee was not refunded if the application was rejected.

Short-stay visas (for stays totalling less than 90 days in a six-month period) are waived for American, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand nationals and about 20 other countries.

More information about visas to France is available on the French Foreign Office website.


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