Applying for a French Visa Through VFS Global in Montréal


When I learned I’d been granted salarié status by the French government, I started planning a trip back to Canada in winter 2019 to apply for the relevant visa. I was surprised to see that the French consulates and embassies no longer processed visa applications, and had outsourced it to a third-party company called VFS Global.

Unsure of how it worked, I posted in Paris expatriate Facebook groups, only for people to reply with nothing but negative feedback: unhelpful customer service, waiting 7 weeks to receive a visa – and then being delivered the wrong one, unclear lists of papers to bring… the complaints went on and on.

I was understandably worried to make my own appointment, but in the end, it was a quick process that had me back in France less than 2 weeks following the submission of my application at their offices in Montréal, Québec.

For those who are currently in my shoes – mistifed by how the new system works and worried about waiting months to have their visa ready – I decided to write this little guide explaining how VFS works, and sharing my own personal experience with them getting a salarié visa

Applying Through the French Consulate VS. VFS Global

The first visa I’d come to France with had been a working holiday, but as I’d been a resident of Hungary at the time of application, I’d made my application at the French consulate in Vienna instead of at any of the ones in Canada.

My experience was not the average one I’d heard of of Canadians applying in Canada – I hadn’t booked an appointment online but had one informally arranged one after an email exchange a few days prior. Once there, the employee read off the application checklist from the France in Canada website, did their best to match up my documents, took my biometrics, and printed off my visa that day.

From what I heard, applying through the consulate required booking online weeks in advance, having your application very closely examined, taking biometrics, and having to wait a few weeks to pick up your visa or have it delivered to you. 

In comparison, applying through VFS requires more steps, but is much faster and more efficient. Appointments can often by booked a mere day before, there is more availability in their calendar, and their centers are not geo-restricted like consulates are so you’re not forced to apply at a certain center (for example, as an Albertan I used to be tied to the French consulate in Vancouver, but through VFS I was able to apply in Montréal). 

The downsides are that they tend to take longer to deliver the visa (they told me 30 working days), you need to navigate through two websites to make your appointment, the documents for supporting documents are not as clear, and their customer support – whether that is through phone or email – are not exactly knowledgeable. 

Making your Appointment on VFS Global and France-Visas 

As mentioned above, applying through VFS Global is a two-part process.

The first thing I recommend doing is creating an account on the France-Visas website. Once created, you can use their visa wizard to put in all the details such as country of application and type of visa you’ll be applying for.

After that is set, it will give you a list of supporting documents for said visa. If everything is correct, you can launch your application and begin filling out your application form. You don’t need to get everything finalized in one setting, either – you can save the draft and go back to it as needed.

Once you think your application is ready, hold off submitting to the consulate, and go to the VFS Global appointment-making website. After you’ve created your account, you can make, change, and cancel appointments through VFS global.

It is ridiculously easy – to make an appointment all you need to do is select your destination country, your country of residence, the center where you’ll be dropping off your application, and which type of visa. You’ll need to enter a few personal details afterwards, and then you’ll have access to the calendar to make your appointment. In my experience, I was able to book as early as the next day, and they had availability for months to come, making for a very flexible rendez-vous system.

Once your appointment is set, you can go back to the France-Visas website and submit your completed application. They’ll ask you to confirm that you already have an appointment at VFS Global set before you do so.

From both these sites, you will receive your confirmation letters. Hold on to these as you’ll need to bring them to your appointment, on top of the application form and list of supporting documents from the France-Visas website.

My VFS Global French Visa Appointment in Montréal

I ended up choosing to apply in Montréal, as flights were cheapest there from Paris. I booked my appointment at VFS Global and submitted my application to France-Visas a week before I was set to arrive in Montréal, and the whole process was very smooth, with plenty of appointment dates available and the list of documents to bring vague but simple enough to follow.

As a salarié my case was a bit peculiar, in that I had been personally invited to apply by VFS, who’d contacted me by email to let me know they’d receive my work permit and knew I’d been pre-approved to get a salarié visa. For other visas, I don’t think that this is the case. 

The appointment itself was standard. I showed them my confirmation letter from VFS Global to be allowed into their offices, after which I met with a worker who went over my application with me.

They weren’t too familiar with salarié visas as they apparently don’t issue a lot of them, so the worker wasn’t sure what to ask me to provide in addition. However, as I’m used to dealing with immigration offices in France (and the need to bring 50 other papers on top of the 10 they ask for), I had extra documents available to provide that had not been on the official list: a rental contract as proof I had a place to stay, an EDF bill, and a letter from CPAM that I was already registered in the French social security system. As this was a worker visa, I was not asked to show proof of funds.

From my experience and from what I’ve heard of others’, VFS tends to always ask for documents that are not on the official list, so I’d recommend bringing anything you can think of: bank statements; hotel/AirBNB reservations; rental contracts; health insurance; etc.

After that, I paid the relevant visa processing fee as well as for a delivery service, as I wanted to have my visa sent to me in Alberta. Included in my receipts was a tracking number that they said I could use online to monitor the progress of my application. They also informed me that they would mail my application to the French consulate in Montréal the next day (this consulate processes all applications, no matter where you apply in Canada).

The final thing I had to do at the application center was take my biometrics. After that was done, I was on my way.

Waiting for my French Visa

While waiting for my visa, I checked the online tracking number daily to see where my application was at. After a few days with the consulate in Montréal, it said that it was in the process of being delivered. Two days later, my passport was sent to my home in Alberta, containing a French salarié visa sticker! 

Despite VFS telling me that it would take around 30 working days, it was a mere 5 working days from my date of submission to the date of receipt of my visa. For other people applying for salarié visas in non-busy periods of the year, I would expect processing to take the same amount of time. If you are applying in the summer when there are a lot of students doing the same thing, or if you’re applying for a visa that hasn’t been pre-approved in France, I would expect it to take a few weeks more as the consulate will need to spend more time examining your application.


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