The new community 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 all 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 sticker, along with the dates of validity of the visa, which may be up to 5 years provided the applicant’s passport remains valid for that long (community visa code, article 24).
In exceptional cases, consulates may grant visas that are valid for just one Schengen country.
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 (community visa code, article 25).
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 (community visa code, article 33).
The issuance of a short-stay visa is free for students and accompanying faculty traveling for academic or training purposes (community visa code, article 16).
Students wishing to enroll in a language training course or other short-term program are encouraged to apply for this type of visa.
The student examination visa
The student examination visa allows the holder to enter France to sit for an entrance examination or other form of examination required as part of the process of applying for admission to a public or private institution of higher education in France. Students who pass the exam may apply directly (without first returning home) for a renewable 1-year residency 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 procedure (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 passport and a photograph.
- The visa fee must be paid.
- Where applicable, biometric identification data must be collected (community visa code, article 11 and following).
Applicants must present to the consular authorities proof of the purpose and circumstances of their visit, including evidence that they possess sufficient financial means and have a place to live.
Applicants must also provide information that demonstrates their intention to leave the Schengen area on or before the expiration date of the visa (visa processing manual, article 6.2).
Applicants must have medical insurance that is valid during travel with a minimum coverage of €30,000 (community visa code, article 15).