How To Get A French (Or Any) Visa

I’m so excited that I’ll be headed to France in October. I know many others have a dream of living there or going abroad. As Canadians, we can stay up to 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen zone. I wanted to get a visa so I didn’t have to worry about leaving every 3 months, finding somewhere to go for 3 months, and then re-entering. Sounds like a huge hassle!

I set my sights on France because I’ve been there  handful of times and absolutely loved it. The food, the culture, the geography, the rich history. I can’t wait to eat a baguette with jam for breakfast, or maybe a buttery croissant, and have a creamy cheese alongside my dinner. I think my taste buds are going to get the most enjoyment from this trip!

Another reason I chose France was because their working-holiday visa lets young adults up to 35 apply, whereas many countries cap their working-holiday visas at age 30 (or so). As a freelancer over 30, I wasn’t sure if getting a visa for other countries would work without applying through an employer/ company.

People have asked me how to get a visa, and I thought I’d write a quick blog post with tips on how to get a visa:

First off – decide where you’d like to go and plan!

Pick a country and do your research. Find out what documents you are going to need. I decided about 8 months ago I wanted to return to France, and about 5 months ago I started to look into what documents I would need. You may also need proof of savings, so plan things out accordingly! I also needed a new passport, so I had to have this ready in time as well.

Do your research – find out what you need and get it ready! 

Continue to find out which documents are needed. For France, I needed:

  • the application form
  • a letter explaining why I wanted to go to France/ apply for the visa
  • proof of health insurance
  • proof of savings
  • 2 photos with specific dimensions
  • an address of where I’d be staying when I arrive (which meant booking a hotel)

In the end it felt like a lot of running around to get everything ready. I also thought I needed a police check and doctor’s note (saying I’m healthy enough to work), so I went and got these. In the end I didn’t need them, but I handed them in anyways with my application.

Book an appointment at the consulate / embassy/ wherever the visas are processed

appointment

Each country and situation is different. For France, I had to make an appointment with a company that has been outsourced to process the visa applications. I made my appointment online and then made sure I had all the documents ready the day of. I got a phone call the day after my in-person appointment, and I was asked to provide an address for where I would be staying.  I scrambled to book a hotel in Paris so they had an address on file. Luckily I was working from home and able to take the call and do it straight away. If I’d had an office job, I may not have got it done as quickly! Be sure to check your voice mail and phone calls / email while your visa is being processed – you never know if someone will be trying to get a hold of you for something important!

Cross your fingers and wait! 

After you’ve submitted everything, there’s nothing you can really do but wait and be on call should they need anything else. My visa was processed super quickly – in less than two weeks. I was so thrilled when I picked it up, I really didn’t know whether it would go through or not. After all the hard work, I left filled with excitement and a with a big smile on my face! Now it’s time to book a flight 🙂

 

 

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