Entry and residence formalities
Since January 27, 2017, a presidential decree on the “protection of the nation against the entry of foreign terrorists into the United States”, which aims to restrict the conditions of entry into the United States, is applied.
It is strongly recommended that you regularly check the website of the U.S. Embassy and contact the airline to verify the measures it is taking at its level.
• Reminder of the provisions of the decree of January 27, 2017
Nationals of seven countries (Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq) are prohibited from entering the United States, except under specific conditions.
Holders of French passports who are also nationals of one of the seven countries concerned are exempt from restrictive measures if they are in possession of a valid visa on their French passport.
Residents of the United States with a green card who are nationals of one of these seven countries are also affected by the new provisions. They are nevertheless still allowed to enter the United States but are subject, upon arrival, to an examination of their situation.
If in doubt about your situation, it is strongly advised to contact the American consular authorities in France before your departure.
Visa Waiver Program: Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Since April 1, 2016, only people with an electronic or biometric passport can benefit from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which allows French nationals to access American territory without a visa, but with an electronic travel authorization (ESTA), either in transit, or for a tourist or business stay of 90 days maximum (meaning the possibility of signing contracts, placing orders, participating in seminars or meeting customers).
Persons holding other passports must request a visa from the competent American diplomatic and consular authorities (see explanatory table on the site https://fr.usembassy.gov/fr/visas-fr/ – information on visas (site in English).
NB : The emergency passport does not allow entry to the United States without a visa.
For more information on the types of passport, it is recommended to consult the following link: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F11603.
1. Electronic travel authorization: ESTA
The French national who travels to the United States by air or sea and who benefits from the VWP must obligatorily request, via the Internet, an electronic travel authorization before departure (Electronic System for Travel Authorization – ESTA).
The ESTA can be obtained by answering the questions asked on the website https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ (multilingual), the only site authorized by the American authorities and allowing online payment by credit card.
The form must be completed in English, but the instructions are available in French.
The authorization request can be made at any time before the trip. However, the United States Department of Homeland Security recommends that you complete this formality at least 72 hours before departure.
ESTA allows travel under the VWP but does not constitute a right of entry into the United States, which remains granted or refused on arrival by the immigration officer.
The authorization is valid for 2 years from the date of issue, but must be renewed in the event of a change in situation (name, first name, sex, nationality, passport, different answers to questions asked, etc.), or if the date the validity of the passport is less than this period of 2 years. For any new trip during the period of validity of the authorization, it will be necessary to update via the Internet certain information (flight number and destination address) in your ESTA file and of course to travel with the passport declared on the ESTA form. .
2. Exclusion of VWP from certain categories of travelers
Travelers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or Sudan since March 1, 2011 and people with Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese or Syrian nationality cannot benefit from the visa waiver regime .
These people must apply for a valid B1 / B2 visa, as the case may be, for several years from the US diplomatic and consular authorities.
Given the delivery times, it is recommended to anticipate these steps which can take several weeks.
According to the United States administration, people who need an emergency visa for business travel or medical or humanitarian reasons will be able to benefit from an accelerated processing of their visa application.
A permanent exception for full-time agents of civil or military state administrations on official missions is implemented. These agents continue to benefit from the visa waiver for travel to the United States. The administration has also defined five other situations in which travelers to the four target countries may eventually continue to benefit from the visa waiver.
These situations concern travel:
• on official mission on behalf of an international, regional or subnational organization;
• on official mission on behalf of a humanitarian organization;
• as a journalist;
• for Iran, for legitimate business reasons, if the displacement took place after July 14, 2015;
• for Iraq, for legitimate business reasons.
For these situations, the maintenance of the visa waiver will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Given the delays in obtaining this exemption, it is recommended that steps be taken to obtain the necessary guarantees from the US consular services at least two months in advance.
According to the American authorities, travelers who have declared the nationality of one of these seven countries and already benefiting from an ESTA will be informed by email of its revocation, and invited to apply for a visa.
Other people affected by the reform who are considering short-term travel to the United States are strongly recommended to apply for a visa as soon as possible. For people currently benefiting from an ESTA, it is possible to check its status at this address: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ (multilingual).
Travelers affected by these restrictions, who plan to travel to the United States for a longer term, are invited to consult the website of the United States Embassy before booking their flight ticket (https: // fr. usembassy.gov/fr/visas-fr/visas-de-sejour-temporaire/programme-dexemption-d Maintenance/ to stay informed of changes in progress.
3. VWP restrictions
The slightest overshooting of the time limit under the VWP during a previous trip to the United States results in immediate expulsion of the territory and, in general, the ban on re-entering American soil for a period which may be several years.
It does not allow the exercise of a professional activity (paid or not). Indeed, all French people wishing to work must have a visa from France authorizing them to hold a defined job.
The American immigration services are very vigilant with regard to the application of regulations which prohibit the exercise of a professional activity, whether gainful or not. It is therefore strongly recommended that French nationals entering the United States for tourist or linguistic purposes avoid to bring or carry anything that could create a misunderstanding or a suspicion on the reasons for their stay, and which could suggest that they come for another purpose than that stated.
The VWP does not in any case allow you to register as a student, under penalty of administrative retention before the visa expires. The questionnaires to be completed before entering the United States must be completed with precision.
Any violation of the legislation in force exposes the perpetrator to expulsion and a ban on access to American territory for several years.
It does not allow a change of status on the spot (example: obtaining a visa to pursue studies or exercise a professional activity).
Stay with visa
A traveler who is not strictly within the framework of the VWP or who has not been able to obtain the ESTA must apply for a visa.
In the United States, the family that can accompany a visa holder is understood only as the married spouse and the unmarried children. De facto spouses, including civil partnerships, are not recognized by the American immigration services and must either travel within the framework of the VWP under the conditions mentioned above, or apply for a visa which will be dealt with individually. An exception exists only for same-sex partners of holders of A or G visas.
The French must therefore obtain a visa from the American consular authorities to go to the United States:
• for a transit or a stay of less than 90 days if you do not have the type of passport required under the VWP;
• for a stay longer than 90 days;
• for stays the object of which is neither tourism nor business, but corresponds to the exercise of a professional activity, an internship or studies.
NB : a medical examination is compulsory for foreigners applying for a long-stay visa in the United States. Anyone with a contagious disease that poses a threat to public health can be refused a visa.
According to US law, the validity of a foreign national’s passport must cover a period of six months beyond the date scheduled for departure from the United States.
Pursuant to this law, the United States has signed agreements with countries, including France, under which their nationals are exempt from the 6-month obligation and must only present a valid passport covering the duration of their stay in the United States. United States. (https://fr.usembassy.gov/fr/visas-fr/validite-des-passeports/).
However, to avoid any complications, it is advisable, as a precaution, to have a passport with a validity of at least 6 months on the date scheduled for his departure from the United States, even for holders of long-term visas valid duration: large fines have already been noted (over 500 USD).
Do not joke with officers from CBP (Customs and Border Protection) or the police. Words, attitudes or jokes that may seem innocuous in some countries can lead to immediate arrest and legal action in the United States.
Refusal of admission or visa
In case of refusal of admission or visa, the Department of Homeland Security invites travelers who feel that they have been treated unfairly to lodge a complaint online on the DHS website (TRIP procedure: Travelers Redress Inquiry Program, in English).
Amounts over USD 10,000 must be declared to customs.
American customs are very vigilant on food products: entry with non-sterilized products (such as cheese or cold meats) or green plants is strictly prohibited.
(https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/3619/kw/bringing%20food%20to%20us / in English).
As the constraints linked to the possession of a pet are rigorous, it is preferable to consult the Embassy of the United States of America before any plan to travel or stay accompanied by a pet.
For more information: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/know-before-you-go (in English)