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Do I need a visa ?

I. If you are traveling on a passport issued by a VWP country, and

  • If you hold an electronic passport,
  • A Machine Readable passport issued before October 26, 2005

you are eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), for tourism or business for up to 90 days with a round trip ticket.

Beginning January 12, 2009, on-line registration with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is mandatory for qualifying passport holders from visa-waiver countries, including France. Approval of travel by ESTA is valid only for travelers with passports that meet the U.S. biometric standards for travel under the Visa Waiver Program. 

Travelers can register with ESTA on-line

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa, for stays of 90 days or less for business, tourism, visiting or pleasure. Transiting or traveling through the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers.

If you are travelling on the VWP, you will not be able to change your visa status in the United States, nor will you be able to extend your stay beyond the 90-day limit. In general, one cannot study or work without a visa.

Diplomats (and other government officials) traveling on official business and representatives of foreign press, radio, film or other information media, require a visa.

  • If you are a citizen of a country that does not participate in the VWP, you must apply for a visa. See How to apply for more information.

II. If you are not eligible to use the VWP, please refer to the section "How to apply ".

“Indefinite” validity visa are no longer valid for travel. 

The last U.S. visas which were marked with an “indefinite” validity were issued on March 31, 1994.  The State Department has since specified that all visitor visas, including those with an “indefinite” are limited to a 10 year maximum validity.  Therefore, as of March 31, 2004 all former “indefinite” visas have expired. 

To transit through the US?

Travelers in transit through the United States require visas unless they are eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.

If travelers are not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, it is the policy of the Consulate to issue B1/B2 (business/tourism) visas to those transiting the United States.

To qualify for B1/B2 visas, you need to overcome the consular officer's presumption that you are an intending immigrant as outlined in section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You can overcome this presumption by providing evident that you have strong, binding ties to your home country, (in this case, France) and that you have no intention of abandoning your residence abroad.

Travel & Tourism in the U.S.

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