Always associated with glamour and fun, the United States of America is one of the most popular countries in the world. From time to time, the country creates different programs and policies to promote tourism.
Recently, the US government started the Visa Wavier Program (VWP). All countries participating in this program enjoy the visa exemption. Fortunately, France is also on the list. Keep on reading to learn all about Visa Waiver Program and the visa requirements for French citizens to enter the US.
Do French Citizens Need a US Visa?
No, French passport holders no longer require a visa to visit the USA. As France is a part of the VWP, all French nationals enjoy the visa exemption, meaning they can visa-free travel to the United States. However, that doesn’t mean you can pack your bag and enter the country without any travel authorization.
All French nationals, including ordinary passport holders and official passport holders, require a travel document to enter the US. This travel document is known as the US ESTA – an Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
To make it simple, you can consider the US ESTA as the e-visa issued by the US government. An ESTA is a travel document that contains the data of a particular traveler. This data is used to protect US citizens and residents by reducing terrorism.
The US ESTA is a multiple-entry document that allows you to enter the US whenever you want. If you are eligible for an ESTA, you don’t have to apply for a visa. It stays valid for 2 years and allows you to stay in the country for 90 days per entry. US ESTA can be used for:
Transiting through the US
US Tourist Visa
If, for some reason, a French citizen is not eligible for an ESTA, he/she can apply for a US tourist visa. The USA offers different visa categories for different passport holders. For French nationals, the country provides the B-2 visa classification for tourism.
B-2 non-immigrant visas allow holders to enter the country for tourism purposes, including visiting a friend or relative, spending vacations, medical emergencies, and study purposes. With a B-2 visa, a French passport holder can stay in the country for 180 days, and it stays valid for 10 years.
US Business Visa
For professional and commercial activities, French citizens are required to apply for a B-1 visa – unless they have an ESTA! B-1 visa category is for you if you want to visit the US to attend business meetings, enroll in a training program, or meet with business associates.
The US business visa comes with a validity period of 10 years. It allows a French citizen to stay in the country for 180 days per entry.
How to Apply for a US ESTA?
As getting an ESTA is fast and convenient, this electronic document is becoming more and more popular. The best thing about getting an ESTA is that you don’t have to waste your time and visit the US embassy.
The entire process is streamlined. All you need is a laptop or mobile device and a stable internet connection to get your ESTA. French citizens need to:
Fill out the US ESTA application form
Pay the MRV free
Submit your online application form
It is recommended to apply for an ESTA before a week of your actual departure date. Due to the high demand and secondary checks, it might take a little longer for you to get your ESTA. That being said, the average processing time for an ESTA is 2-3 working days. On approval, visa applicants will get your travel document via email.
To fill out the ESTA application form, you'll need to provide your personal, contact, and travel details. You'll also have to provide passport details, including the passport number and expiration date. There are only 3 things you need to apply for an ESTA:
A valid passport
An email address
A debit or credit card
You may also have to provide details about your employment and health background. In addition, it is recommended to bring your COVID-19 vaccination certification to avoid self-isolation. The ESTA is only valid till your passport expires!
US Embassy in France
As long as French citizens are applying for an ESTA, they don’t have to visit the US embassy. The entire process is online, and you don't even have to schedule a visa interview with a consular officer.
That being said, if you are not eligible for an ESTA, you must visit the US embassy to apply for a traditional visa. You’ll need to fulfill some visa requirements by filling out the visa application form. Diplomatic passport holders might need a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well!
The US Embassy Paris Address
2 Av. Gabriel, 75008 Paris