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France remains top choice for Kuwaiti travelers

The French Ambassador in Kuwait highlighted that France’s popularity among Kuwaiti travelers underscores our enduring friendship and vibrant economic and cultural exchanges.

  • The French embassy in Kuwait received 41,000 visa applications in 2022 and 42,000 in 2023. Their team processes up to 300 files daily, reaching 8,000 applications in early 2024.

  • Kuwaitis receive a five-year multiple-entry visa on their first tourist visa application. About 95% of their visa applications are approved yearly.

In a press conference held at the embassy premises last week, Ambassador of France H.E. Claire Le Flécher reaffirmed France’s status as a top choice for Kuwaiti travelers. “This reflects the enduring friendship between our nations and showcases the vibrant economic and cultural exchanges we share, as evidenced by the significant number of Kuwaitis who opt for France as their holiday destination.

She highlighted that the consular section received about 41,000 visa applications in 2022 and approximately 42,000 visa applications in 2023.

The ambassador pointed out that the embassy’s consular team processes about 150 application files daily, a number that can reach 300 files during the summer months. As of the first three months of 2024, nearly 8,000 applications have already been received.

The ambassador mentioned that on 8 September last year, the European Commission adopted a decision to implement the ‘Cascade Visa’, a significant step towards facilitating travel for Kuwaiti citizens to Europe. This visa is exclusively for Kuwaiti citizens traveling for short-term tourism purposes. Applicants of other nationalities must apply for a visa for each stay in France.

The ambassador confirmed that upon their first application for a short-term tourist visa, Kuwaiti citizens receive a multiple-entry visa valid for five years. She explained that applicants must complete visa procedures at the embassy of the Schengen country where they plan to spend most of their initial period of stay. After the first trip, subsequent stays can occur in any Schengen country, with each stay not exceeding 90 days out of 180 days. For each trip, the visa holder must carry proof of residence, an insurance certificate covering the stay’s duration, proof of means of subsistence, and a copy of the return flight ticket.

Ambassador Le Flécher clarified that visas cannot have a validity exceeding the remaining validity of the passport. She explained that to qualify for a five-year visa, the passport must have more than five years remaining, otherwise, the visa duration will be adjusted to match the passport’s validity. This results in a multiple-entry visa ranging from six months to four years, timed to expire three months before the passport’s expiration date.

The ambassador mentioned that approximately 95 percent of visa applications from Kuwaiti citizens are approved annually. Most rejections are due to issues within the application itself. She urged applicants to ensure that their application files include all necessary documents and accurate information. Additionally, personal presence at the Capago office is mandatory, as applicants’ photographs and fingerprints must be taken on-site.

Ambassador Le Flécher stated that France will host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games during the upcoming tourist season. Visa applications for France are expected to significantly increase worldwide, leading to potential delays in visa issuance. The ambassador advised applicants to consider that about six weeks are required to process the visa, in addition to potential waiting times for appointments of up to three weeks depending on the period. In general, applicants should initiate the process at least nine weeks before their planned departure date.

The ambassador emphasized the importance of adhering to the designated visa submission dates via the Capago website. The new online system prohibits name changes, thus preventing the practice of selling appointments by certain tourist offices and delegates. The system now only permits adjustments to the appointment date within 48 hours after full fee payment.

Ambassador Le Flécher has identified exceptional cases where visa applications can be submitted without an appointment, such as students applying for study visas after filing an application with the French Cultural Center (Campus France), and for urgent medical cases. This provision is substantiated by military files as well.

The ambassador explained that if a Schengen visa expires while in France, the individual must contact the Kuwaiti embassy in Paris. He noted that the French embassy in Kuwait is not responsible for travel delays or overstaying residency, which may complicate future visa applications.

Ambassador Le Flécher emphasized that the VIP service is not tied to the visa processing time but rather aims to facilitate the visa application submission date. Regarding service-related requests, she clarified that the procedures remain unchanged. She indicated that individuals wishing to accompany their employees during summer vacations must apply for a visa. This process requires submitting all documents related to employment contracts and proof of salary payment. It is important to note that the visas granted are not companion visas.

The standard visa fees include the consular fee of 80 euros for a short-stay visa, which is equivalent to KD27, and the Capago office service fee of 24 euros, making the total cost of the visa 104 euros.

For children between six and 12 years old, the short-term visa fee is 40 euros, equivalent to KD13.545, while children under six years old are exempt from paying visa fees.

For long-term visas exceeding three months, the fees amount to KD33.525. However, for nationals of select countries like Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Armenia, Macedonia, Moldova, and Montenegro, the fees are reduced to KD11. 850.

Transit visa fees, valid for five days, are estimated at KD27.090 and the fees for a student visa amount to KD16.939.

Capago office offers optional extra services that enhance convenience during the application process but do not affect the visa issuance time. They include door-to-door delivery through Aramex and an SMS notification service when the passport is ready for collection.

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