Short stay visa (Schengen visa)

1. Main features

A Schengen visa (or short stay visa) is valid within the whole Schengen space. Please click here to find out what are the Schengen states.

This visa allows you to visit these 26 countries. It is issued for a maximum of 90 days per semester.

2. Where to apply for your Schengen visa?

In order to know where you have to apply, please read carefully the following information.

a) You have to apply with a French Consulate, if :

- You wish to go only to France ;
- You wish to travel to several Schengen States, but France is the country where you are going to spend most of the time of your trip ;
- You wish to travel to several Schengen States, with no main destination (the duration of your stay is strictly equal in each country), but France is your first point of entry.

NOTE : If you do not need a visa for the Schengen country of your main destination or first point of entry, please note that you may require a visa for other Schengen countries you wish to visit. You should then apply with the Embassy or Consulate of the country which does require a visa.

The visa is issued only by a Consulate of France if Monaco is the main destination.

b) You can apply with the French Consulate in Washington, DC only if you reside in one of the following states :

Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.

If you do not reside in one of those states, you have to apply with another French Consulate, depending on where you live in the United states. In order to know where to apply, please click here.

3. Do I need a Schengen visa to enter the French territory?

In order to know if you need a visa, check the official web site of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs :

4. Processing time

Processing time depends on your citizenship. All applicants are strongly advised to apply between one to three months before their departure. Extra care for appointments should be taken in the summer and winter months, as the planning may show up several weeks waiting time before finding a slot available. Your departure should never be planned before 3 full weeks after the day you will come at the visa section for your appointment. If you plan to leave earlier than 3 weeks after the day you have an appointment, you may need to reschedule your whole trip, if requested to come back to complete your supporting documentation.

(learn more about processing times)

5. Passport return

All applicants have to provide a self-addressed prepaid Priority Mail Express™ (Overnight) envelope from the United States Postal Service so that their passport may be mailed back once the visa has been issued.

Your passport will be shipped exclusively by United States Postal Service (USPS).

Please fill out the mailing label as follows (sender and receiver must be identical) including your phone number:

First & Last name
City, State, ZIP Code
First & Last name
City, State, ZIP Code

Keep your tracking (or receipt) number (on the sheet you remove to expose adhesive) to track your passport.

6. Requirements
You have to apply with all the required documents and a copy of each of them. The visa section DOES NOT make copies.


Note that the personal appearance is required, you cannot send your application by mail or carrier.

Your personal situation should qualify you for the visa each time you apply for it. As personal situation may vary from an individual to another, and from time to time for the same individual, as well as the regulation for the visas, your visa may be different each time (or not granted). Previous grants of visas do no automatically qualify you for a renewal of the same or longer visa. A visa is never renewed or extended, each application is a new application. Your personal situation will be studied by the immigration officer each time you apply and the consular administration will determine if you qualify for a visa.

- Passport valid for at least three months beyond the applicant’s last day of stay in the Schengen states. Please make sure that your passport meets the necessary requirements.

- Copy of ALL identification pages of your passport : identification, picture, signature page, date of expiration date or extensions, endorsement and amendment pages.

- Copy of previous Schengen visa if issued

- 1 short stay application form completely and clearly filled out. Please print in black ink. Indicate also your phone numbers and e-mail.

- 2 passport size photographs (more information about the photograph). All photos must be recent, identical, passport size - 1,4" x 1,7" (3,5cm x 4,5cm) and showing face front the forehead hairline and ears on a white background, the face must take up 70-80% of the photograph.

- proof of your address in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia: copy of your driver’s license or state ID or original and copy of a utility bill no old than 3 months OR lease agreement OR deed of house/apartment (For bills, are accepted ONLY : water, electricity, resident phone, cable or rent slip. Other bills, for example cellphone, or insurance bills will be declined), showing the name and proving the address of the applicant. Any other situation is subject to review by the immigration officer of the visa section and may not make you illegible for a visa application until met.

- For non American citizens, a proof of resident status in the USA (green card, valid US visa and copy of valid I-20 or valid I-AP66, visas...). The visa AND the US resident status must be still valid at least 3 months after the last day of stay in the Schengen area (+ one copy of the visa, green card or relevant document). US pre-approval notices for US visas will be declined (only valid US visas affixed in your passport are accepted). Applications for a visa from holders of B1/B2 visas in the United States are not accepted. (they can only apply for an airport transit if needed, which will only allow these applicants in the international zone of the airport, no entry in the Schengen area)

- If needed, the visa issued by the country of prior entry to the Schengen state of final destination, and/or after the trip in the Schengen area. (+ one copy).

- A letter presenting your trip, summarizing all the information about it on a separate written or printed sheet (days of travel with transportation information, destinations, addresses of stay) that will be checked with the supporting documentation and bookings of your trip (+one copy)

- Trip reservation with detailed itinerary. you must book your airline or train ticket but do NOT purchase it until the visa has been issued (+ 1 copy).

- A letter from your insurance company : stating that you will be covered outside the United States, for a coverage of at least $ 35.000, valid in Europe for medical emergencies, urgent care and repatriation expenses (+ 1 copy) (more information). Make sure that your insurance coverage letter will meet ALL the requirements and all information clearly shown (statements with "depending on the terms of the contract" or "generally, under the policies" for example are not sufficient). Insurance card by themselves are not sufficient. Full policies will not be studied. If you don’t succeed to get the required coverage letter from your insurance company, you may buy a specific insurance for the trip. Several insurance companies provide necessary health insurances for Schengen states.

- Proof of employment : letter from the company stating continuing employment after the period of leave and your last 3 payslip (+ one copy of each document). For unemployed spouses : marriage certificate + husband or wife’s ID + proof of employment of husband or wife, same as previously required (+ one copy of each document). For self employed : previous year Tax Return (+copy) + owned company detailed bank statements for the last 3 months. (+copies)

- Depending on the purpose of the trip one of the 3 documents listed below :

  • For tourism : Hotel reservation, proof of registration with an organized tour, etc.(+ 1 copy) for the duration of your stay within the Schengen area. It should always mentions the address of the hotel, name of the guest, days of stay and cover your full trip in Europe. If staying in several locations, provide a hotel booking for each.
  • For business meetings : official business invitation letter from a company in France that should include : purpose of the stay, duration, location of the company and, if applicable, details about the hotel booking if the company in France took care of this for you (+ 1 copy). If the company in France did not prepared the booking of a hotel for your professional stay, you will be requested to provide a hotel booking under your name with address and days of stays, covering your whole trip in Europe.
  • For private visit (family or friends) : Proof of accommodation (+ 1 copy). attestation of accommodation Your host in France must obtain a certified document at the City Hall of the town he is living on a permanent basis in France, by showing a proof of identity and 2 proofs of lodging (rental contract, and phone bill or power bill...). This document should also be presented as an original and a copy. Simple written letters of invitations from hosts in France will be declined.
  • For internship : the original of your "convention de stage" signed by the applicant and the French company and stamped by the Labor Department. The intern needs to bring a proof of accommodation for the complete duration of the stay in France (=hotel reservation OR lease OR "attestation d’accueil").

- Fundings for the trip and personal finances : 3 last months bank statements, (+ 1 copy). Bank statements must be detailed and show the name of owner(s). An electronic print out update of each bank account, from the last statement up to the day of your appointment at the visa section, is also required. 100 dollars per day of stay are suggested. Bank accounts are subject to a detailed review. Any incoming or outgoing transaction may be subject to inquiries and information. Corporate bank account or companies financial guarantee for tourism or private visits will not be accepted.

- Envelope : Once the process is fully finished, the passport will be mailed back. Applicants have to provide a self-stamped Priority Mail Express™ (overnight) envelope from the United States Postal Service (USPS) with a tracking number.
Please fill out the mailing label with identical sender and receiver and your phone number (see above).

- For a minor :

  • If traveling alone, a notarized parental authorization signed by both parents or guardian.
  • If the minor travels with 1 parent, a notarized parental authorization signed by the 2nd parent is required (+ 1 copy).
  • And for all minors traveling, copy of birth certificate + if not in French or English, certified translation (certification usually made at the embassy or consulate in the US) + copy of both parents passports.

- Processing fees : payment by credit card ONLY.

REMARKS: Consular officers are Immigration officers and have full authority to appreciate and request more documents than those submitted by the applicant. Note that the visa does not in itself grant you the right to enter a French territory. It is necessary that you carry all the original documents presented to obtain the visa with you at all times. Border authorities may request that you show them upon entry to France.

Last modified on 27/04/2017

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