If your visa application is denied, here's what you can do.

Contesting the refusal of a short-stay visa

As of April 5, 2011, consular officials will be required to provide grounds for their decisions to deny applications for short-stay visas. 

After that date, notices of refusal must be made using a standard form annexed to the European visa code. European consular officials willl be required to cite provisions of code dealing with appeals of decisions to refuse a visa and to inform unsuccessful applicants of the appeal procedure.

At present, unsuccessful applicants may seek recourse before the administrative tribunal of Nantes.

Contesting the refusal of an extended-stay visa

France's immigration code (CESEDA, article L.211-2) specifies that "France's diplomatic and consular authorities are not required to offer grounds for their decisions to refuse a visa for entry into France." That provision applies to extended-stay student and scientific visas.

Nevertheless, unsuccessful applicants may ask the official who refused the visa, or his or her superior, to reconsider the decision to refuse the visa. In practice, requests for reconsideration by the consular officer's superior are immediately referred to the visa department of the French Ministry of Immigration. 

There is a special procedure for contesting adverse decisions in visa matters. Unsuccessful applicants may ask the CRV, a national commission of recourse against refusals of visas for entry into France, to issue an opinion in the case. Only after the CRV has issued its opinion, may the case be brought before the competent administrative tribunal.

Applicants must request the CRV's opinion within 2 months of the notice of refusal. The request and all supporting documentation must be in French.

The CRV deals with about 4,000 recourse requests every year. In 90% of cases its opinion upholds the consular official's decision to refuse the visa.

Since April 1, 2010, legal proceedings in visa matters have been the responsibility of the administrative tribunal of Nantes. (Previously they fell within the purview of the Council of State.)