Do I need a visa ?
The visa will depend on the type of travel document, nationality, length (more or less than 90 days) and place of stay (Schengen Area or French overseas).
The followings rules apply for holders of regular passports.
Holders of Refugee travel document and Re-entry permit are submitted to visa, whatever the duration or place of their stay.
Short-stay or “Schengen” visas allow holders to move freely in countries in the Schengen Area (Map of the European Union) for stays not exceeding 90 days per period of 6 months from your first entry to the Schengen Area. Schengen visas may be issued for one or several entries.
This type of visa is generally issued for tourism, business travel or family visits; it also allows holders to come to France for short training courses, internships or to exercise a salaried occupation, subject to getting a temporary work permit (e.g. for artists on tour, sportspeople playing in championships, employees seconded for the provision of services, etc.).
If you are gainfully employed and not submitted regarding your nationality to a short stay visa, the exemption only applies if you can produce a work permit.
Who needs a Schengen visa or an airport transit visa in the Schengen Area?
Schengen rules for citizens of countries for which the visa requirement is waived
As of October 18th, 2013, the rules for calculating short stays within the Schengen area have changed.
More details and a calculator online on the European Commission website
Transit by a foreign national through a French airport, not leaving the “international area” of the airport, is a special case, because you do not enter French territory and do not require an entry visa, with some exceptions: certain foreigners are subject to visa requirements for airport transit in France.
Long-stay visas are issued for stays exceeding 3 months. The main reasons for issuing this type of visa are study, work and family reunion.
The Long Stay visa cannot be issued in France; the visa needs to be affixed in your passport prior to departure from the United States.
When a long-stay visa is issued, you must, on arriving in France, register with the French Immigration and Integration Office (OFII) or, in some cases, apply to the relevant prefecture for a residence permit.
Only nationals of the following countries are exempt from entry and long-stay visa requirements:
Member States of the European Union
the European Economic Area (EEA)
Family members of a Community national
In accordance with Directive 2004/38/EC of 29 April 2004, third-country family members of an EU citizen accompanying or joining their spouse in France are only subject to the entry visa requirement in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 2001, provided they produce documentary evidence establishing the nationality of the Community national and their family relationship and, where relevant, the status of dependent for a child over 21 or his parents. The entry visa is issued rapidly and free of charge.
If you are a national of a European Union (EU) Member State other than France, of the European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland (Map of the European Union), or a family member of a national of an EU Member State other than France, the EEA or Switzerland, specific provisions of EU law apply:
Nationals of EU Member States, the EEA or Switzerland are not subject to the entry and stay visa requirement, whatever the duration of their stay;
members of the family of a national of Member States of the EU, EEA or Switzerland (spouse, children under 18 or dependent children, dependent parents) are subject to the same regulations governing the movement of persons as other foreigners of their nationality. Family members of a Union national who does not require a short-stay visa, or holding a residence permit for family members of Union citizens, do not require an entry and stay visa, whatever the duration of their stay.