The application for the VLS-TS was, honestly, the quickest piece of the puzzle to date! From when I had my visa appointment in Chicago to when I received my visa in hand was 8 days. I think that’s record time in the French administration realm !
The Application for VLS-TS
There is a portal called France-Visas that will be your main point of information for everything related to your visa application. I went through VFS Global (Chicago) for my in-person application submission. Visa appointments are currently not being done at the Embassy level and have been outsourced through France-Visas website. The applications are then sent off to the Consulate, which is the only authority that issues visas for entry into France. There are 9 VFS Global centers in the United States.
Please go here for an update on current information regarding issuance of visas with the current health crisis. You can visit here for information regarding entry into France. You can also click here to see all current information on travel between France and the United States.
You will need to create an account before you can begin the application. Here, you can save your application through out the process and return later if need be. You can also track your visa application once it has been submitted.
The application form is filled out online, where you are asked a host of questions varying from if you studied (at University) and obtained a degree, if you previously lived in France (where, when and for how long), where and if, with whom you will be residing, how you will financially support yourself during your stay and your intended date of entry into France.
The process is broken down into several sections of information:
- Fill out the application form.
- Your plans: make sure the information you enter in this section is correct, especially your Passport number. This section you cannot go back and change. Also, your National Identity Number is your social security number.
- Your information: This is personal information about you; where you reside, where you work, what type of visa you are applying for, all that lovely information.
- Your last visa: If you previously entered France on a visa, you will need to indicate this information here. It was more than 15 years since my last visa. I clicked no and didn’t have any issues.
- Your stay: your planned date of entry. This will most likely be the date of entry on your visa, so make sure it is the correct date!
- Your contacts: who you will be staying with once you arrive in France as well as who will financially responsible for you while in France.
- Recap: overview of the information before you hit the submit button.
- Submit your supporting documents: you will be asked to upload copies of your supporting documents (in my case wedding license and copy of livret de famille).
- Choose your appointment day: you will choose you the date and time of your appointment at the nearest VFS Global center. You are able to change the date/time one time.
You can save the information you have entered at each step of the process. When you have completed the application, you will need to print the application form and the registration receipt. You will need to bring these two documents, along with all supporting documents (that will be listed on your appointment letter and registration receipt), when you submit your file to the relevant consular service or external service provider.
Visa applications cannot be submitted more than 3 months prior to the start of your trip for a long stay visa, and 6 months for a short stay visa.
Because I had messed up my Passport number, I ended up paying the application fee twice and the gentleman was nice enough to waive my expedition fee for the express delivery of the visa. Which was super wonderful of him!
The fee for the visa is 0€ since I am the spouse of a French national. I only had to pay the visa application fee of $28.95. I would double check now to see if the cost has changed at all.
The day of the appointment
I had a wonderful experience at the Chicago location. I read the reviews online and was extremely nervous about this step. The reviews were horrible and I was expecting the worse. But to my surprise, it was the exact opposite. The staff was helpful and informative. The process, as a whole, was straightforward and there weren’t any hassles.
When you arrive for your appointment, you are not allowed up to the office until 15 minutes before your scheduled time. If you arrive any earlier, they will ask you to wait downstairs. If you have anyone with you, they are not allowed to come to the appointment with you. They need to wait either in the lobby or somewhere else. My dad had to wait around the corner for me, luckily there was a Starbucks nearby.
The whole process took about 45 minutes. I was in the waiting room with 3 other people. There were 2 out of the 5 windows open. You were given a number when you were checked in at the front desk of the visa office. There are tv screens through out the waiting area that scroll through useful information. There is also a screen that indicated who is currently being helped and who is next in line.
When your number comes up on the screen, it will indicate which counter you’ll need to present yourself at. You’ll take a seat at the counter and the agent on the other side of the desk will ask for your application and accompanying paperwork. The agent will ask you questions in regards to why you’re applying and what you’ll be doing in France, who you will be joining, etc… When all the formalities are done the agent will go over the next steps. You will get a receipt that has all your information on it.
There will be an Application Reference number this will be the number you use to track your application status on the VFS website. You will be asked to take a seat again to wait to be called to have your biometrics taken. When your number is called again, you will go into a separate room off to the one side of the room where your photo will be taken, you will be fingerprinted and your eyes will be scanned. A different agent will verify your information and if all is well and good, you’ll be free to leave.
Thankfully I had extra copies of all my documents because the second agent asked me for a copy of my passport. She said it was good to include as a back-up in the application because you never know what will happen.
Overall, it took 8 days from the day of my appointment to submit my application for VLS-TS to the arrival of my passport and visa to my house. I had my appointment in mid-January, received my visa and booked my flight all before the end of the month.