A guide to visa applicants
This guide has been realised by the Consulate General of France in LAGOS, where all visas applications have to be submitted, with the exception of diplomatic passports holders.
1 - How to use the guide ?
This guide contains the information needed by any person who is not a French national and intends to go to France. It provides answers to questions like these: Do I need a visa?
Where do I collect the form?
How do I ask for an appointment?
Where do I check the list of supporting documents to be provided?
How much will I pay for the visa?
What happens on the day I submit my visa application?
How long will it take me to get a reply?
What happens on the day when I arrive in France, if I am issued a visa?
What are the means of appeal if I am refused the visa?
And so many other questions that you may ask yourselves.
This guide is also meant for foreigners who stay in France and whose residence permit in France was lost or stolen in Nigeria.
There is also a section for special cases:
• « Family reunion », in the legal meaning of the term, since the procedure applies only to foreigners who reside in France and intend to take their spouse or children to France. Therefore, this specific procedure does not apply to French nationals who intend to take their spouse or children to France. They have to follow the general procedure. • The adoption of minors by French nationals who reside in France.
However, this guide does not state the procedure to be followed for applications for visas for diplomatic or service passports, as this is within the remit of the Chancery of the Embassy in ABUJA and not the Consulate.
This guide does not cover all possible cases, but focuses on the most frequent cases, that is to say mainly visa applications submitted by Nigerian or Lebanese nationals, so that it can be easily understood.
2 - Who needs a visa to enter France ?
2.1 Nigerian nationals
2.1.1 Transit in France
Nigerian nationals need to produce a visa for a transit in an airport in France, even if they do not need to leave the « international » zone or the zone « under the authority of the Customs», except they have a visa or a residence permit that is valid for another member country of the European Union, for Switzerland, the United States of America or Canada.
For further information: see the section of the guide on information notices.
Special case of a transit through a French airport to go to Switzerland : Nigerian passengers going to Geneva or Basle and stopping at Paris-Roissy Airport or Marseilles Airport are entering the Schengen airspace and must produce a transit B visa on their arrival in France.
2.1.2 Staying in France
Nigerian nationals need to produce a visa to enter France, no matter the duration of their stay and no matter the kind of travel document they have, except they have a valid residence permit that enables them to stay in France or another country of the Schengen zone.
2.1.3 Holders of a residence permit who intend to go back to France
Nigerian nationals who have a French residence permit and who may have lost the document shall apply for a return visa to be able to enter France again. Given the high number of fraudulent cases, the Consulate will carry out an investigation in cooperation with the authorities of the Préfecture that issued the residence permit. This may take a long time (a minimum of two months). Therefore, Nigerian nationals that have such a document are advised to keep it in a safe place immediately they arrive Nigeria.
2.2 Lebanese nationals
Lebanese nationals need a visa to enter France, no matter how long they intend to stay and the type of travel document they have, except they have a valid residence permit that allows them to stay in France or another member country of the Schengen zone.
The Consulate will contact the authorities of the member countries of the Schengen Agreement before issuing a visa; which may take about two weeks. Visa applicants are advised to take this into consideration when planning their trips.
However, Lebanese nationals do not need a visa for a transit in an airport in France if they do not leave the « international » zone or the zone « under the authority of the Customs».
Special case of a transit through a French airport on the way to Switzerland: Lebanese passengers going to Geneva or Basle and stopping at Paris-Roissy Airport or Marseilles Airport are entering the Schengen zone and have to produce a transit visa on their arrival in France.
2.3 Nationals of other countries
Nationals of other countries may check whether they need a visa to enter France by consulting the Venir en France data base of the Ministry of External Affairs.
3 Is my visa application within the remit of the Consulate General of France in LAGOS ?
The French law empowers the Consulate General of France in LAGOS to process visa applications for France submitted to it with an ordinary passport (it is necessary for the applicant to appear personally in order for the Consulate to be able to check whether the applicant is actually within the territory of the jurisdiction of the Consulate).
The situation of travellers going to France via a city of the Schengen zone, outside France: You have entered the Schengen zone. But, if your main destination is in France, you must apply for a visa at the General Consulate of France. The visa is valid for the whole Schengen zone, and, therefore, for the Schengen city and country where you landed.
However, the Consulate is not empowered to process: • Visa applications, if your main destination is in another country of the Schengen zone; • Applications for visa extensions for persons who are already in France : it is the Préfecture of the place where you stay in France that is empowered to process such applications ; • Visa applications on diplomatic or service passports : this is to be done by the Embassy of France in Nigeria
4 - Is my passport valid for France ?
The validity period of your passport shall exceed by 3 months the date when you plan to leave for France. If the validity of your passport is not adequate, you must apply for an extension or renewal of your passport.
The Visa Section shall not affix a visa on a passport: • whose laminated film (the transparent safety film that covers the passport photo) has been tampered with (you must ask the authority issuing the passport to make it tamperproof again) ; • that was laminated in any place ; this renders the passport invalid; • where there are traces of deletion, scratching or alteration ; • that was issued over 10 years ago, even if it is still valid at the time when the visa application is submitted (you must apply for a new passport from the Nigerian authorities or the Consulate of your country of origin).
We strongly advice you not to produce a passport whose holder is an adult and that bears the name of one or several children. We advise that you submit individual passports so as the visas are issued individually.
5 - How do you collect a visa application form?
Applications for visas shall be made on a form (or a legible photocopy of the form). There are two types of forms, depending on the duration of your stay: • Short stay visa form (a stay or a series of stays of less than 3 months per 6-month period in the Schengen zone) ; • Long stay visa form (a stay of over 3 months).
You can also obtain a form:
• from the Consulate General of France in Lagos ; • from the Air France travel agency at the time when you are booking your air ticket ; • by downloading it from VFS (http://www.france-ng.com/business_visaapplication.html); • at the Visa Section on the day when you are submitting your application. However, you will be attended to only after those who have already filled their forms. We therefore advice you to come to the Visa Section with a form that is already filled.
6 - How do you get to the Visa Section to submit your application?
You can come to the Consulate General of France every morning between 8 and 9 a.m.
The gate of the Visa Section is on Bourdillon Road, just before Oyinkan Abayomi Street (former Queens Drive). Please make sure you come at the right time: latecomers are not allowed in.
Only visa applicants are allowed in. Those who accompany them are not allowed in, except when they are minors (below 18 years of age) or a spouse or a spouse-to-be of a French national. Legal advisers are not allowed to accompany their clients.
If you are an employee of a French company or a Nigerian government body, please stay in the « Corporate » line. If you have an appointment to add some documents to your application, or if you intend to renew your Schengen visa or obtain a Transit visa, please stay in the « Renewal » line. If you are applying for a Schengen visa for the first time, please stay in the « First applicants » line.
7 - How do you make up your application? Visa applicants shall complete their application form as stated in the information notice relating to the category of visa they are applying for. The supporting documents should be arranged in the order shown on the list.
7.1 Information notices
The information notices that state the documents and supporting documents to be added to the application form are available on the Internet site of VFS (http://www.france-ng.com/business_visaapplication.html) and in some travel agencies. The Consulate reserves the right to ask for additional documents in order to help us assess the application better.
These are the notices that are available:
7.1.1 Airport Transit in France
The visa, referred to as « VTA » or « transit A », allows only a transit in the « international » zone or in the zone « under the authority of the Customs » at the airport. It does not allow you to leave the airport.
• Nigerian nationals • Other nationals (Non-Nigerians)
7.1.2 Transit with the possibility of leaving the airport
A single notice: Transit between two flights (referred to as « transit B »)
The transit B visa enables you to leave the airport and stay in France (5 days at most), while waiting for a flight correspondence to another country outside the Schengen zone.
However: • If you intend to stop in France, not because you are waiting for an air correspondence, you must apply for a short stay visa, even if you do not intend to stay for more than 5 days ; • If you go through an airport in France to another country in the Schengen zone, you must apply for a short stay visa at the Consulate of the country where you will spend the longer period (the visa will enable you to transit through France).
7.1.3 Family of French nationals
• A foreign spouse of a French national • For a marriage with a French national (after the banns have been published) • A foreign ascendant (father or mother) who is a dependent to a French national who is an adult (over 18 years old) • A foreign ascendant (father or mother) who is not a dependent to a French national who is an adult (over 18 years old) • A foreigner who is a parent to a French child who is a minor (below 18 years of age) • A foreign child of a French parent • A foreign child who has been adopted by a French family that resides in France
Documents that support the relationship shall be produced. Birth, marriage or death certificates that were not issued in France or were not registered in a Registry office in France may go through an authentication procedure, in view of the high number of fake birth, marriage or death certificates or non-genuine certificates that are produced. This leads to delays that depend on the reply from the local authorities. You are therefore advised to start as early as possible.
7.1.4 Short stay (less than 3 months per 6-month period in the Schengen zone)
• Visit to a family or for tourism • As a professional or for business • As a small trader • Artist • Journalist • Sportsman or woman • Medical care
A « short stay » is a stay or a series of stays in France for less than 3 months per 6-month period. The short stay visa shall state the duration of the stay and the period for which it is valid: for instance, a 30-day stay between July 1 and December 31st.
The « circulation » visa is a short stay visa for one year (sometimes, more) that allows for a series of stays in the Schengen zone that do not exceed 3 months per 6-month period. The visa may be applied for by people who can justify that they go to France frequently (employer’s attestation, for instance) and can produce a 1-year travel insurance. A circulation visa does not allow you to stay continuously for one year in France and the Schengen zone. If you wish to stay in France for over 3 months, you have to apply for a long stay visa.
7.1.5 Long stay (more than 3 months in France)
• Student (in a higher institution) of over 18 years of age : notice + additional information leaflet • Student (in a higher institution) of over 18 years of age : notice + additional information leaflet • Pupil (in a primary or secondary school) who is a minor and wishes to school in France : notice + undertaking. Minors should normally school in the country where their parents reside. Therefore, the Consulate issues visas to minors who are to school in France only under exceptional circumstances to be justified ; • A person who signed a PACS with a French national • A visitor (for foreigners who intend to stay in France for over 3 months, without working or studying there)
7.1.6 Working in France :
• Working in France • Trader’s permit
7.2 The form
You shall fill a form per applicant, even if the applicant is a minor and even if his name is included in an adult’s passport.
The form shall be filled and signed by applicants who are adults (over 18 years of age). Applications for visas for minors shall be on a form signed by the parents or a legal guardian who shall state his address and phone number and add the photocopy of an identity document.
On the form, you shall state mainly your address and phone number and the name of a person that you know in France or the address of the place where you will stay (hotel or any other place).
7.3 Passport photographs
The passport photographs shall be taken bareheaded, full face, and shall be recent (at most, 1 month before the application is submitted) and colour on a white background (colour backgrounds are not accepted). The size shall be 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm, with a 1 cm margin between the upper top of the picture and the top of the head. For the number of passport photographs to be added to the application, see the information notice.
In the event of a visa application for several persons on the same passport, passport photos shall be necessary for each person, including the children, no matter their age.
When the number of photographs submitted is not adequate or when the photographs are not in line with what is required, the visa is refused.
7.4 Recommendation letters
It is not necessary to send recommendation letters to the Consulate. However, recommendation letters, on a professional basis, may be given to a visa applicant who will add them to the file he will submit at the counter.
7.5 Supporting documents
The Visa Section will keep the photocopies of your supporting documents and return the originals to you.
If there is a supporting document that you cannot add to the file, please put a short explanatory note in writing in the file in lieu of the supporting document. If there is an original document that you cannot add to the file, please put a photocopy or tell them at the counter. Please note that the original copies of some documents must be provided: the letter of invitation, for instance, because the Consulate must stamp the original.
7.6 The flight ticket
The flight ticket is required in all cases.
7.7 How do you submit your file? The documents in the file shall be arranged in the order stated in the information notice. If the order is not followed, you will be asked to go to the waiting room to arrange everything accordingly. You will have to wait for your turn again.
What happens if your file does not have all the required documents?
An incomplete file is very likely to lead to a visa being refused. To make sure that the file is complete, tick on the notice the documents that you are producing. If your file does not have the photocopies stated in the information notice, it means it is incomplete: a missing photocopy = an incomplete file = refusal of visa.
7.8 Can you send your file or additional documents by courier or by fax? No. All the supporting documents shall be produced when the applicant appears personally. The files received by post, fax or submitted at the guards’ sentry box are destroyed. Therefore, you should not send a file to the Visa Section, or to any other section of the Consulate General or the Embassy, unless the Visa Section asks you to do so.
7.9 The agencies that provide assistance for visa applications
A visa applicant is free to ask an agency or a chamber to assist him to fill his form and make up his file. The Consulate has no right to examine the fees charged by the agencies or chambers.
However, no agency or chamber can claim that the files it processes enjoy a preferential treatment by the Consulate.
8 - How much does a visa cost?
As at June 28 2006, the fees are as follows: • 5,690 NAIRA for a short stay visa (a stay or a series of stays in the Schengen zone, for less than 3 months per period of 6 months) • 16,100 NAIRA for a long stay visa (a stay or a series of stays in France, for over 3 months per period of 6 months)
The amount shall be paid in Naira only and in cash (exact amount) at the Cashier’s Desk at the Consulate when you are submitting your file. Euros or any other currency are not accepted. A receipt will be issued to you immediately for the whole amount paid. Only the Cashier’s Desk is authorized to collect money.
The fees will not be refunded if you are refused a visa.
9 - How do you submit your visa application?
9.1 Who can accompany the visa applicant?
Only the visa applicant is allowed to enter. Other persons are not allowed to accompany visa applicants and shall remain outside, except in the case of minors (below 18 years of age) or a French national that accompanies his/her spouse or his spouse-to-be. A minor shall be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian who must produce the original (and a photocopy) of an identity paper.
Therefore : • legal advisers are not allowed to accompany their clients ; • French nationals are not allowed to accompany visa applicants (except the applicant is their spouse, spouse-to-be or child).
9.2 At the gate
No money must be given to anybody to enter the Visa Section. Any attempt at racketeering must be made known immediately to the Head of the Visa Section, along with the details: Who? When? Where? How?
We assure you that we will not disclose your identity.
9.3 Payment of the fees
Inside the Visa Section, an employee will ask you to go to the Cashier’s Desk to pay the fees for the type of visa you are applying for.
The employee at the Cashier’s Desk: • Will ask for your passport, the form you have filled (therefore, it is better to come with a form that is already filled), the passport photographs and the amount for the processing of your file ; • Will issue you a receipt for the amount paid ; • Will stamp your passport with the « visa demandé (Application for a visa» stamp.
You then go back to the waiting room.
9.4 Presenting the file at the counter
Then, an employee will ask you to go to a counter for an interview.
At the counter, you must produce your complete file, with the documents stated in the information notice, depending on the type of visa you are applying for, arranged in the order shown in the notice (generally, two complete sets : a set of originals and a set of photocopies).
If you leave the waiting room to add anything to your file, you will not be allowed in again.
The employee at the counter will : • Tick the supporting documents produced and state the ones that are not included ; • Ask you questions to help the Consulate assess the file fully ; • Keep your passport, tell you when you can come to the Consulate to collect your passport and give you a ticket for the collection, except for visas for which a consultation is needed ; • For visas for which it is necessary to consult the authorities in France, the employee will return the passport to the applicant and tell him that the Visa Section will call him as soon as there is a reply from the authorities in France.
The decision to issue or refuse the visa is not within the remit of the employee at the counter.
The employees at the Visa Section are not allowed to accept « gifts ». Giving them a gift would be seen as an attempt at corrupting an official. We may then decide not to issue you a visa for France.
9.5 Additional supporting documents
The Visa Section may ask you to produce additional supporting documents that are not stated in the information notice in order to help us to assess your application better.
The employee at the counter will then give you another appointment. You are asked to report on time. Your name will be written in the list of persons allowed to enter the Visa Section. The guards will allow you to enter.
9.6 Time needed for the processing of visa applications
The time needed is generally less than 24 hours: you submit the application in the morning and you come for your passport in the afternoon.
For the nationals of some countries (Lebanese nationals, for instance) whose applications require the consultation of the governments of the Schengen countries, the time needed is approximately two weeks.
For some types of visas that need to be checked (children of a French parent, for instance) or for which it is necessary to consult the authorities in France (visas for a stay of over 3 months in France, for instance), we might need much more time.
9.7 Collecting your passport
You must report at the entrance of the Visa Section with your collection ticket for you to be allowed in. An employee will call you and give you your passport: • either, with a visa ; • or, if you have been refused the visa, with a « ticket » bearing your file number.
If you applied for a visa that requires consultation, you should come with your passport on the day you were told to come and on time. Your name will be written in the list of persons allowed to enter the Visa Section. The guards will allow you in.
10 - For which countries is my visa valid?
Unless there is a special note in the visa label, short stay visas are valid for the whole Schengen zone, i.e. the following countries (in alphabetical order) : Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
There is no immigration control at the borders between Schengen countries, except on special circumstances.
Britain, Ireland and Switzerland are not Schengen countries. The decision to include Switzerland among Schengen countries has been taken and announced in the media but it is yet to be implemented. Therefore, the Schengen visa is not yet valid for Switzerland and a Swiss visa does not allow you to enter the Schengen zone.
11 - Arrival in France
If you have a short stay visa, once you arrive in France, you should, at the request of the border police, produce: • Your passport with the visa ; • Documents to justify your stay in France, your financial means during your stay and the means to go back to your country.
If you have a long stay visa, the border police will ask you only your passport with a visa. Within the two months following your arrival, you shall submit an application for a residence permit at the Préfecture of your place of residence, except if you are a minor (below 18 years of age). Indeed, any foreigner who is an adult (over 18 years of age) and resides in France must have a residence permit issued by the Préfecture.
12 - Justifying your return to Nigeria
The Consulate may ask you to justify the date when you returned to Nigeria by appearing personally at the Visa Section and producing the following papers: • your passport with the stamps « sortie du territoire français » and « entry into Nigeria » ; • and the stub of the return ticket (bearing your name).
The fact that you did not come to the Consulate or did not produce the said papers are elements that the Consulate will take into consideration when the same person or a member of his family is applying for another visa.
Therefore, the Consulate is advising you to: • have your passport stamped by the border police when you are leaving France (or by the border police of another country where the Schengen agreements are in force) ; • have your passport stamped when you are back in Nigeria ; • to keep the stub(s) of the return flight.
13 - Visa refusal and means of recourse
13.1 Non justification of visa refusal
No reasons are given when a visa is refused, except for some cateories of applicants, including: • spouses of French nationals • children of French nationals, of below 21 years of age or dependents • the ascendants (father and mother) of French nationals • minor children who have been the subject, in another country, of an order of plenary adoption by persons having an approval for adoption issued by the French authorities • the beneficiaries of an approval for family reunion (after an approval for family reunion has been issued by the Préfecture) • workers who are allowed to work in France through an employment contract stamped by a DDTEFP, through an « autorisation provisoire de travail (provisional approval to work) » (APT) issued by a DDTEFP or through an application for introduction of a seasonal, temporary or permanent worker from OMI (including professional trainees introduced by OMI).
13.2 The means of recourse
The Consulate does not have enough employees to reassess applications in the event of submissions against visa refusals. However, if you intend to send a recourse by mail to the Consulate, note that, if you do not get a reply within two months, it means that the Consulate still maintains its decision not to issue you a visa.
However, if an applicant is refused a visa, he can submit: • another application by asking for another appointment ; • or a recourse to the « Commission de recours contre les décisions de refus de visa d’entrée en France », BP 83609 – 44036 NANTES CEDEX 1.
14 - Specific procedures
14.1 The family reunion procedure
This procedure applies only to the spouse and the children below 18 years of age (referred to as the « beneficiaries ») of foreigners who reside legally in France (referred to as the « applicants »).
The application shall be addressed to the Préfecture of the place of residence in France by the foreigner who resides in France: please, make sure you obtain necessary information in France to know the address of the relevant department. An investigation is then carried out by the Préfecture and the Consulate. The investigation generally takes several months.
If the Préfecture gives its approval, it makes its decision known: • to the applicant; • and to the Consulate of France in the place of residence of the beneficiaries, that is to say the Consulate General of France in LAGOS, if the beneficiaries reside in Nigeria.
The Consulate General then sends a notice to the beneficiaries, at the post office address that the applicant gave to the Préfecture. Therefore, it is necessary for the applicant to give the Préfecture an accurate and reliable post office address, with a telephone number in Nigeria, in the event of difficulties, because of a lot of notices are sent back to us bearing « unknown address ». Since we do not have telephone numbers, we have to send the file back to France.
The Consulate does not answer repeated phone calls and e-mails asking us the situation about one file or the other. If we had to answer all of them, we would have no time to process the applications. Therefore, the beneficiaries should wait till when the Consulate contacts them.
If you receive a notice after the date of the appointment, you can come to the Consulate and give the notice to the guard, along with your telephone number. The Consulate will contact you to give you another appointment.
14.2 Procedure of adoption by French nationals who reside in France
The procedure described below is for French families who reside in France and who intend to: • adopt a minor (below 18 years of age) who resides in Nigeria ; • apply for a visa to take the adopted child to France.
14.2.1 Previous steps to be taken in France
The family that intends to adopt a child shall:
• Ask for an approval from the « service de l’Aide sociale à l’enfance » in the department where it stays; • After the family has been given the approval, it shall contact the Mission Adoption Internationale (MAI) at :
244 Boulevard Saint Germain 75303 Paris 07SP
Fax : 01 43 17 93 44
Internet address : http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/
14.2.2 The order for adoption given by a court in Nigeria
This step is within the remit of the Nigerian authorities only.
14.2.3 The application for visa
Getting the file ready
The file shall follow the steps stated in the information notice: Foreign child adopted by a French family that resides in France
Submission of the application
As an exception, the adoptive parents can ask for an appointment by sending an e-mail to: Admin-etrangers.LAGOS-FSLT@diplomatie.gouv.fr
The issuance of the visa
The visa cannot be issued on the day when the application is submitted because we have to contact the “Mission Adoption Internationale”. You should envisage a period of approximately one week between the time when you submit the application and the time of the decision to issue the visa.