Do all visa-holders need to do an interview when entering France? 

Many people entering the country are confused by the rules surrounding visas

Passport control signage in French and English
There are different types of visa with different requirements and rules

Reader Question: I will soon arrive in France on a VLS-TS visa. I know I need to validate it, but is there an interview attached if I am only staying for a limited time?

Non-EU citizens coming to France for more than 90 days need a visa to remain in the country and the VLS-TS is a common kind for The Connexion readers moving to the country.

Your VLS-TS (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour) must be validated online, within the first three months of arrival.

Note that this is not the case for a VLS-T ‘temporary’ visa, which is typically issued for a fixed period of up to six months (occasionally one year). It is, however, applicable to the VLS-TS, which usually lasts one year in the first instance but may be extended by applying for a residency card.

Holders of VLS-TS visas are then invited to attend the local branch of the Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration (Ofii, or French Office for Immigration and Integration), usually within 45 days of validating.

All holders of VLS-TS visas are required to attend as a minimum for a medical check. If you are on a ‘visitor’ status visa (ie. you are not working or studying) or are just in France for a temporary work contract, that will be essentially all that is required. 

Holders of other kinds of VLS-TS visa will follow a more in-depth process called a visite d’acceuil, which does include a simple interview.

Read more: When does an obligatory medical apply?

As part of the visite d’accueil, they will also have to sign a document called a Contrat d’intégration républicaine, agreeing to uphold “the values of the Republic”, and take a test to evaluate their language skills. 

There is no minimum language requirement, but those who score lower than A1 (the lowest level on the European language reference scale) will need to sign up to free language classes offered through the Ofii. 

Read more: A1, C2: What is the CEFR language rating in France?

The interview is not designed to be difficult, or to catch people out, rather is just to assess their personal and administrative situation and needs.

The Offi staff will give relevant information and direct the person to local services that will help them integrate into French society.

After signing the contract, they will be expected to attend some training sessions on French society and values. 

Once they have completed the language and civic training sessions, they will be asked to attend again to evaluate what they have learned.