Many countries around the world have strict regulations in place to prevent people with previous convictions from traveling to their country. Especially in North America, it can be very difficult for travelers with a criminal record to be granted a travel visa. However, just as some crimes are given different sentences, other countries differ with their allowances for people with criminal records. The European Union, for example, is much more lenient toward individuals who have committed minor crimes in the past but do not represent a threat to the security of the Union.
In order to travel to France, any eligible citizen from around the world will be in need of an ETIAS for France, whether or not they have committed a criminal act in the past or not. An ETIAS is a travel authorization which can be applied for online in a matter of minutes, similar to the ESTA that travelers must obtain to visit the US.
Requirements for Traveling to France with a Criminal Conviction
For those citizens who wish to travel with a criminal record, there are certain aspects of their profile that should be considered before applying for a travel authorization or visa. The reason for this is that often people can be denied a visa due to a criminal record. France, as part of the European Union, will soon be using the ETIAS visa waiver system to screen applications for travel authorizations to visit France.
Any traveler visiting France from the end of 2022 will need to make sure they meet the necessary requirements such as being in possession of a passport with at least 3 months validity from the date of entry in France, from an eligible country.
The applicant will also need a valid email account where they will receive the ETIAS visa waiver upon approval and a credit/debit card which will be used to pay the ETIAS fee online.
If deemed necessary, certain other requirements may need to be adhered to such as producing evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of the travel period.
ETIAS Application to Visit France with a Criminal Record
To obtain an ETIAS with a criminal record, applicants should access the online ETIAS application form where they will need to provide certain details to allow the European visa system to screen their application for a visa to France.
All ETIAS France applicants will need to complete the online form with their personal information, details from their passport, and answer security and health-related questions. Travelers should make sure to provide accurate and updated information, exactly as reflected on the passport with which they will travel. This is of vital importance because any discrepancies could cause the ETIAS to be denied or the individual to be turned away at the port of entry in France.
The application form for a French ETIAS will require that travelers introduce their name, date of birth, travel documentation expiry date, passport number, and other personal details. Additionally, questions will be asked regarding an individual’s health, immigration, and criminal history to determine whether they would be a threat to the European Union in any way.
An approved ETIAS will allow the holder to enter and travel around France for up to 90 days without needing to apply for any type of official visa.
What To Do If an ETIAS Application is Denied
In the rare case that an ETIAS application is denied and the individual is not permitted entrance into Europe, they will receive an email which explains that the French visa waiver application has not been approved but there is no promise of an explanation as to the reasons why in this email.
Despite having a criminal record, this may not be the reason for an ETIAS denial. It could be due to a simple error on the form, information that does not reflect the correct details, such as a typo in name or travel document number. There is no need to assume it is due to an individual’s previous criminal convictions unless they have current charges pending.
When an application to travel to France is refused, the applicant may need to provide additional documentation within the following 96 hours which will allow the screening authorities to further process the application to make a decision within 4 weeks. Therefore, if you feel that there is a possibility that an initial application could be refused due to answers given in the security section of the application, make sure to apply with sufficient time before you plan to travel.
Finally, if this second stage is also denied, applicants can also appeal to the relevant authorities.