France has a visa category for family reunions that permits spouses and close relatives to join their families.

France has a two-tier immigration system that permits free movement between member states (EFTA). EFTA-member nations, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, are not part of the EU Customs Union and have independent trade arrangements.

Relatives, including spouses, dependent (step)children, and grandchildren, can apply for a French visa under the ‘regroupement familial provision’ (family reunification).

Applications vary according to the following:

  • the nature of the relationship between the applicant and the French resident;
  • the applicant’s nationality;
  • the status of the family member residing in France and;
  • the expected length of stay.

Who requires a family visa to travel to France to visit relatives?

If you wish to join your family in France but are not an EU or EFTA citizen, you must apply for a visa for family reunification. You can initially enter the nation on a long-stay visa and then apply for a residency permit (carte de séjour).

Who is permitted to move to France without a family visa?

Because France is an EU member state, EU and EFTA individuals do not require a visa to enter. There are no immigration limitations on living, working, or studying within the country. The application for a residency permit is voluntary and not required.

Foreign nationals who qualify for French citizenship may move to France visa-free. For instance, you do not need to apply if you have at least one French parent. However, you would be required to get a Certificate of French Nationality (CNF).

Requirements for British citizens following Brexit

Since 2021, British citizens have been regarded as nationals of a third country within the European Union, including France. Due to Brexit, they are now subject to the same visa and immigration limitations as non-EU and EFTA nationals.

Moving from the UK to France after Brexit?

Citizens of the United Kingdom who are already residing in France can invite certain family members based on their residency status.

  • If they apply for a withdrawal agreement residence permit before January 1, 2021, they have the same rights to family reunification as EU/EFTA nationals.
  • They will be classified as non-EU and EFTA nationals if they have not filed for a resident permit. That implies their family cannot join them in France unless they have resided there for at least 18 months.

Visas for family reunification

There are four variations of visas for a family reunion in France:

  • Spouses, (step)children under the age of 21, dependent older children, dependent (grand)parents, parents of adopted children, and parents of minors can join French national relations.
  • Family of EU/EFTA nationals – spouses, (step)children/grandchildren under 21, and dependent (grand)parents can join EU/EFTA nationals in France.
  • Family of non-EU/EFTA nationals – spouses and dependent children under 18 can join non-EU/EFTA family members who have been living in France for at least 18 months.
  • Family of refugees – spouses aged 18 or older, (step)children under 18, or a child of a married couple who was under 19 when the application was filed.

Visas for relatives of French citizens

Anyone with French citizenship may invite their spouse or relatives to France on a visa for a family reunion. The individual should be a close relative.

Who is eligible to apply?

The following family members are eligible for this visa:

  • Spouses
  • (Step)children and grandchildren under the age of 18
  • Dependent (step)children and grandchildren over the age of 21
  • Dependent (grand)parents, including those of the spouse
  • Parents of children under the age of 18

Visa length

The documentation will normally be a temporary long-stay visa and residency permit (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour – VLS-TS). It is valid for up to one year and must be confirmed within three months of entering France.

The visa is valid for five years, and you can then apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Visas for EU/EFTA nationals’ family members

If your relative in France is a citizen of the European Union or the European Free Trade Association who is not French, you may also be able to move to France. 

Who is eligible to apply?

The following relatives are eligible to apply for this visa:

  • Spouses
  • (Step)children and grandchildren under the age of 18
  • Dependent (step)children and grandchildren over the age of 21
  • Dependent (grand)parents, including those of the husband
  • Other dependent relatives living in the same residence (e.g., siblings, aunts, or uncles)

However, if a resident studies in France, only a spouse or dependant child may accompany them.

Visa length

The duration of your family visa is identical to that of your family member’s residence permit. The visa validity period for family members of EU/EFTA nationals is usually five years.

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