Applying for a visa can be a confusing process and this also applies to the appointment which is needed to obtain a visa.
Here we look at seven commonly-asked questions about the appointment that applicants must make to present supporting documents when applying for a visa for an extended stay of up to six months in France.
A visa for an extended stay is called a visa de long-séjour temporaire (VLS-T) and is usually issued for four to six months (occasionally for longer). Unlike an ordinary long-term visa, which typically lasts for a year or two months before it has to be renewed by applying for a residency card, the VLS-T cannot be renewed.
Note that if you are only visiting France/the Schengen area for 90 days or less then you may not need a visa if you are from a country with a ‘visa waiver’ for short stays, such as the UK or US. This depends on respecting the rule that you cannot be in the area visa-free for more than 90 days in any 180-day period, looking back from today.
So, for example, a Briton can spend up to three months in their French holiday home without a visa, assuming they had not recently visited the Schengen area prior to this.
You can test your situation using the French visa wizard here to see if you require a visa.
After you have made an initial visa application online at france-visas, you will be invited to book an appointment to take in supporting documents in person. This will typically be at the offices of a third-party contractor which works with the French consular services in your country of origin.
How do I book an appointment?
Although the French consulate is the issuer of the visa, third-party services will work in partnership with the consulate offices in certain countries to provide appointments, such as TLScontact in the UK or VFS Global in the US.
Appointments will be made at a certain consulate within the country or at a processing centre of partner companies; for example TLScontact has three centres (London, Edinburgh and Manchester) in the UK, and there are 10 centres in the US.
You can find out further information relating to partner companies and the location of appointments for all countries here.
Appointments for UK residents must be made via the TLScontact website after completing the application form.
Can I get an early appointment? What if this is a repeat visa?
Unfortunately, there is no easy workaround to obtaining the visa. The visa application form must be filled out and an appointment at the appropriate processing centre or consulate office made.
However, for example, if there are several centres in your country you may be able to obtain a faster appointment if you are willing to travel to a more distant one if the nearest centre does not have appointments early enough.
Also, check to see if any personalised services are offered in your country, at a price. For example in the UK you can pay £50 extra to obtain a Saturday appointment if you cannot attend during normal business hours. Alternatively, for an additional £750 (plus £150 per additional applicant in your party) you can have the ‘apply anywhere’ service whereby the process can be simplified with a home visit.
Note that even if you have already obtained a short-term visa in the past, you must undertake the same application process again for each time you wish to have a visa.
If you have received a short-term visa before, there must be a six-month gap between the end of the previous visa and the start of a new one.
How long is the waiting time for an appointment?
It is important to note that there can be both a waiting time to book your initial appointment, and then a further wait after the appointment for the visa to be processed.
Partner companies like TLScontact in the UK and VFS Global in the US state that waiting times can vary due to the time of application.
Applications for a visa need to be made within 90 days of the scheduled date of your trip.
However, it is best to apply sooner rather than later during this period.
During peak season, VFS Global recommends starting your application process at least two months before your planned departure date.
Processing of the visa after your appointment typically takes at least 15 working days in the UK.
When do I need to pay?
When applying for a visa online, you will also need to pay a small service fee.
There is also a visa fee of €99 per visa that is paid at your appointment.
If you have already paid for a visa in the past, you must pay again each time you apply.
What should I bring to the appointment?
You should bring your appointment form as well as your application form and receipt, which you will have from making your application online and booking your appointment.
A further list of documents that must be provided at the appointment include:
- Your passport (this must be less than 10 years old and valid for at least three months after the date your visa will expire). You should bring your original passport and photocopies of key pages.
- Two recent passport-style photographs.
- An attestation d’honneur (a signed letter from yourself) stating that you will not do any form of work in France, as well as explaining your reason for staying in the country.
- Evidence of your socio-economic situation; i.e your pension documents, your work contract, or certificate of study from your educational establishment.
- Health insurance documents. For example, for Britons this will be a valid Ehic or Ghic card, or for Americans proof of private insurance with a cover of €30,000 for medical care or repatriation.
- Proof of accommodation in France, such as rental contracts, a signed letter from a French host, or an attestation de vente (proof of purchase) from your notaire if you own property (if you do not have a physical one of these you can ask your notaire to email you a copy). Additional paperwork like an imposition d’avis (a tax assessment notice) from your property tax, may also be useful.
- Proof of funds for the duration of your stay. This is usually your last three bank statements, or can be for example a copy of your current savings account. A general rule of thumb is for each month of your stay you should have the equivalent of the net French minimum wage (currently €1,353) to cover that month.
If your partner will be supporting you, you need to provide documents showing proof of your partnership and their bank statements. This level may be lower for second-home owners and will be slightly higher for couples or those with multiple children.
Is there an interview to get this visa?
No, there is no interview to get this form of visa, it is simply an appointment to process documents. During your appointment, the processing centre will scan your documents as well as your photos, and will retain these copies to forward them to the consulate. They will also take a fingerprint scan. All in all, the process takes around 20 minutes, however waiting times can significantly add to this.
Will they test my level of French during the appointment?
No French test is conducted during the appointment (proof of language skills is not required for this visa) and, if you are in the UK or US, the appointment will be totally in English.