France visa denied: the common reasons

When you apply for a visa, the fear of getting your France visa denied is real. I fully understand you. Unfortunately, it just happened to you, and you don’t know what to do. There are solutions for you!

I’ll explain here the different legal options available to you to lodge one or several appeals to make your dream of moving to France a reality.

Requesting a visa is not easy and there can never be a 100% guarantee to have it approved. No one can give this guarantee, not even a lawyer. To be honest I wouldn’t trust anyone giving such a guarantee. Only the consulate can approve or reject a visa request.

Be prepared for a lot of legal technicalities in this post! 

france visa denied

What are the reasons for visa rejection?

Here are examples of common visa refusal reasons from the French consulate:

  • A criminal record or an alert for refusal of entry in the Schengen Information System (depending on the visa type you are requesting): the authorities have considered that you are a danger to security and safety in the territory
  • A suspect travel document: the consular services consider your passport to be false or invalid
  • Insufficient explanation and evidence of the purpose of your stay: you have not provided the required documents or they do not correspond to the purpose of travel stated on your form. For example, you indicated that your reason for travel was “tourist”, whereas you attached a certificate of reception at a family member’s home. You should have indicated “family visit” on the form
  • Invalid supporting documents: such as a certificate of reservation for a return ticket bought or downloaded from a fraudulent website or an unconfirmed hotel reservation. It could also be a marriage or birth certificate that is not certified or translated by a translator sworn in by the authorities.
  • Insufficient means of subsistence: this reason is related to your financial means or those of the person hosting you, which have not been deemed sufficient. For a Schengen France visa, these means must be 65 euros per day if you are staying in a hotel or 33 euros/per day if you are being hosted.
  • An unfavourable or inadequate Schengen visa history: This applies to short-stay visa requests. This means that you have already stayed on the territory of the Member States for more than three months during the current six-month period and must therefore wait six months after the date of your last return to apply for a new Schengen visa.
  • The absence of a valid travel insurance certificate (for certain visa types)

What to do when you get your France visa denied

If the visa application is not successful, you will have the possibility to lodge several appeals. The preparation of these appeals will be facilitated if the consulate has replied to the visa application with the France visa refusal reasons. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen in practice.

If the appeals do not result in the visa being issued, you will have no choice but to submit a new visa application.

You can also choose to submit another visa application form, making sure you correct and adjust your visa request file. There is obviously very little chance the same consulate grants a visa based on the same visa application request after a visa denial.

Do France visa denials happen often?

Visa refusals are still frequent, especially for short-stay visas but not only. Also, there are also disparities between French consular offices abroad.

In 2022, there were 500,433 France visas denied. 

There are unfortunately no detailed data per visa type and per consulate.

When should a visa application be considered rejected?

A visa application can be considered to be rejected in two cases:

When the Consulate has sent you a letter rejecting your visa request (this is the best situation that rarely happens):

  • the refusal of the application is called express.

When the consulate has not replied to the application and a period of two months has passed since the application was submitted.

  • This is an implicit decision to reject

What is the processing time for visa applications 

For short-stay visas

The Community Code on Visas (CCV) adopted on 13 July 2009 by the European Union sets the maximum time limit for examining applications at 15 days.

The CCV provides that “in special cases”, where a more thorough examination of the application is necessary, this period may be extended to a maximum of 45 days. In cases of individual urgency, the decision must be taken without delay.

For long-stay visas

In theory, the Consulates have a period of 2 months to examine the application.

The consular authorities may extend this period for a period of 4 months to verify the civil status records. Birth certificates and marriage certificates are the documents that usually delay most visa request responses. If these verifications are not completed within this period, the administration may extend the time limit up to 4 months.

Also, the consulates are required to decide as soon as possible on applications for long-stay visas for French spouses and students.

FYI: French spouse visa can be rejected in three cases: fraud, marriage annulment or threat to public order.

In the event of an implicit France visa rejection, you must request by letter to the consulate the rejection reasons.

What appeals can be made against a visa refusal?

Administrative appeals

Which administrative appeal to file 

From the time of the express or implicit visa refusal, you may contest this France visa refusal within two months.

There are two types of administrative appeal: 

  • an appeal to the French consular authorities and 
  • an appeal to the Commission de recours contre les décisions de refus de visa d’entrée en France.

It is compulsory to lodge an appeal with this Commission to refer the matter to the competent judge in France. This will be done to Nantes Administrative Court. This appeal is called “contentious”.

Even though it is not required to make an appeal with an immigration lawyer, I’d strongly recommend getting assistance from one. You will have all the chances on your side. 

Appeal before the consulate

Time limit for lodging an appeal

An appeal must be lodged within two months of either the notification of the visa refusal decision or the acknowledgement of receipt of the complete visa application file if the consular authorities have not given any reply after two months. The purpose of this appeal is to challenge the decision to reject the visa application before the consular or diplomatic authority that took the decision.

The form of the appeal

An appeal letter must be sent to the French consulate where the visa application was submitted, preferably by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt in order to keep proof of the sending of the appeal.

In this letter, you should explain in detail the reasons for the visa application, the documents attached to the application and any supporting documents that may help to substantiate the application.

You should also attach either a copy of the letter rejecting the visa application or a copy of the application or any other proof of submission of the application in the case of an implicit refusal.

The outcome of the appeal

In case of rejection of the informal appeal, you will have no other solution than to refer the matter to the Commission for appeal against visa refusal decisions, before being able to lodge a legal appeal.

You may also choose to submit an informal appeal (to the Consulate) and an appeal to the Commission at the same time.

The appeal before the Commission of Appeal against decisions to refuse a visa to enter France

Time limit for lodging an appeal

This appeal to the Commission must be submitted within two months either from the notification of the visa refusal decision or from the acknowledgement of receipt of the visa application if the consular authorities have not given any reply.

If no acknowledgement of receipt mentioning the time limits and appeal procedures has been given, the appeal to the Commission may be lodged at any time, even after the two-month time limit.

If you do not appeal to the Commission or do not appeal within the time limit, you will lose all possibility of challenging the visa refusal decision before the administrative judge.

The form of the appeal

The appeal must be sent by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, presenting your arguments and all useful documents to the following address

Commission de recours contre les refus de visas

BP 83609


The outcome of the appeal

This Commission may itself reject the appeal. In this case, you may only refer the matter to the Administrative Court of Nantes as a last resort. Or it may accept the appeal, but in this case, it can only recommend to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of the Interior to grant the requested visa.

 It will then be up to the Ministers to take the decision BUT they are not obliged to follow the Commission’s opinion.

french visa documentation

Litigation before the administrative courts

An appeal for annulment allows you to request the annulment of a visa refusal or even an injunction to issue the visa if it has been illegally refused.

In case of urgency, a request for suspension of the refusal decision may be submitted to the interim relief judge.

The annulment appeal

Time limit for lodging an appeal

If the appeal lodged with the Appeal Commission is rejected, you may submit a contentious appeal with the Administrative Court of Nantes, provided that the appeal to the Appeal Commission against visa refusals has been lodged within two months of the visa refusal.

The appeal must be lodged within two months of the notification of the decision of the Commission or the decision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Interior, but it can also be lodged within two months of the referral to the Commission if the Commission has not made a decision.

You should know that the French authorities abroad have wide discretionary power and may base their decision not only on grounds of public order but also on any consideration of general interest.

The form of the appeal

The appeal does not have to be prepared by a lawyer.

The outcome of the appeal

The judge’s control over visa refusal decisions is necessarily limited: he nevertheless agrees to annul them when the administration has committed a “manifest error of assessment”.

The arguments that can be invoked by the applicant are the following:

It must be demonstrated that the reasons given for coming to France are correct and that the application was not motivated by a desire to divert the purpose of the visa issued or to make illegal use of it.

It is possible to invoke the violation of a fundamental right guaranteed by an international convention (for example, Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life…”).

Suspension proceedings

It is possible to request while waiting for the judgment of the administrative court of Nantes on the cancellation of the visa refusal, the suspension of the contested decision.

To do this, there must be serious doubt about the legality of the contested decision and the decision must be justified by the urgency of the situation.

The administrative judge will rule within 48 hours. 

If the appeal lodged with the Appeals Commission is rejected, you may submit a contentious appeal with the Nantes Administrative Court, provided that the appeal to the Appeals Commission against visa refusals was lodged within two months of the visa refusal.

In short

Submitting an appeal in case of a France visa being denied can be challenging. Even though it is not legally required, I strongly recommend you get the assistance of an immigration lawyer registered with a French Bar. This lawyer can be registered at the Bar of any French city since the process of visa appeal is centralised in Nantes and no process in person is required.

I can recommend you contact Me Yannis Lantheaume registered at Lyon’s Bar from me if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. 

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