Short-stay visas are governed by European regulations.

The new EU visa code provides common rules for the granting of short-stay visas within the Schengen area. There are two types of short-stay visa:

  • Airport transit visas allow the holder to move through the international terminal of an airport but not to leave it. This visa does not apply to specific nationalities.
  • Uniform visas (valid throughout the Schengen area) authorize stays of up to 3 months within a given 6-month period. The number of days that the holder may spend in the Schengen area is specified on the visa label, along with the dates of validity of the visa, which may be up to 5 years provided the applicant’s passport remains valid during this period.

In exceptional cases, consulates may issue visas that are valid for just one Schengen State.

Depending on the application, the uniform visa may provide for one entry, two entries, or multiple entries into the Schengen area. The holder of a uniform visa may move freely within the entire Schengen area.

It is not possible to renew this type of visa from within the Schengen area, except in cases of force majeure or for humanitarian or compelling personal reasons.

The issuance of a short-stay visa is free for school and university students and accompanying faculty traveling for academic or training purposes

Students wishing to register in a language training course or other short-term program are encouraged to apply for this type of visa.

Student examination visa

The student examination visa ("visa étudiant concours") allows the holder to enter France to take an entrance examination or entrance test required as part of the process to apply for admission to a public or private institution of higher education in France. Students who pass (exam or initially planned entrance test only) may apply directly without first returning home for a renewable 1-year residence permit at the préfecture for the area in which the student’s new institution is located.

Most applicants for the student examination visa must use the CEF process (see below) if that procedure is in effect in their country.

Obtaining a Schengen visa

France’s consular authorities are responsible for examining visa applications. Applications must meet the following conditions:

  • An application form must be completed, signed, and submitted together with a valid travel document (passport) and a photograph;
  • The visa fee must be paid, when applicable;
  • Where applicable, biometric identification data must be collected.

Applicants must present to the consular authorities proof of the purpose and conditions of their visit (sufficient financial means, accommodation proved by a hosting certification) and provide information proving the intention of the application to leave the "Member States" territories. Applicants must have medical insurance that is valid during travel with a minimum coverage of €30,000.