Fact sheet: Different visa categories

Date of update


The category of visa mainly depends on the duration of and reason for the stay.

Entry visas can be broken down into two main categories:

  • Short-stay visa
  • Long-stay visa


Short-stay visa


A short-stay visa authorizes foreign nationals to enter and stay in French territory for up to 3 months.

Two types of short-stay visas are available:

  • The ordinary short-stay visa, generally referred to as a “uniform stay visa” or “Schengen type C visa”, which also allows its bearer to move freely within the territory of all 26 States of the Schengen Area; and
  • The special short-stay visa applicable to the overseas territories, which is required for accessing the envisaged overseas territory.

Short-stay visas can be single-entry for one short stay or multiple-entry for several successive short stays. When the short-stay visa allows multiple entries, it is qualified as a ‘travel visa’.



Long-stay visa


A long-stay visa allows foreign nationals to stay in France for longer than three months.

The reason for the stay may be whether for personal reasons (family reunion, retirement, etc.) or professional reasons (starting up a business, taking up paid employment, etc.)
This type of visa allows the holder to live in France for a specified period.


Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS)


A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour – VLS-TS) allows the holder not only to enter France but also to live in the country for between 3 and 12 months without applying for a separate residence permit.

After the first year of residence, foreign nationals wishing to extend their stay in France must apply for the residence permit that corresponds to their circumstances.