I am a Non-Euro citizen, traveling to France and Switzerland for Tourism for 15 days. My entry and exit flights are from France. My stay in France is for 6 days And stay in Switzerland is for 9 days.

I am staying in Switzerland at Airbnb. In France I am staying at the house of a non-european friend who lives there for his employment in the embassy of my parent country.

I have applied for Tourist Visa from Switzerland, in my application and covering letter I have mentioned the purpose of trip as Tourism and my Itinerary reflects the same, I have also attached a letter of Invitation from my friend in France stating that during my transit to Switzerland I will be staying in France at his place. But during submission of my application the VFS global employee tells me that, as I have attached a letter of Invitation from my friend in France, the embassy of Switzerland may simply reject my application stating that I should have applied for Visa from France instead of Switzerland as my intent of visit will change from tourism to Visitor if I stay at my friend's place. Is it true?

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    @littleadv What's the problem with his story? When I go as a tourist to some place, if my friend is in that city, I usually prefer to stay with friend rather than a hotel. Why is that an issue? Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 7:52
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    @MarkJohnson It's not clear at all. It's quite sloppy on the part of the EU Commission to write that when that's emphatically not what's in the Visa Code (article 5). It says "main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length of stay, counted in days, or the purpose of stay" for a reason, if it was merely about counting days, it would just say that.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 10:01
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    You're also arguably wrong about the purpose of this rule but I am afraid that discussing that will give you a pretext to weasel out of admitting you were categorically and unambiguously wrong about the rule itself.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 10:08
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    @MarkJohnson Doesn't change a thing but before we discuss an example you do not seem to understand (note how the reasoning mentions the purpose and not the duration?), will you recognise that it was wrong to imply the rule was only about the number of days? Why do you suppose it mentions “the purpose of stay”?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 11:55
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    @MarkJohnson The starting point of this whole discussion is your own comment: The rules are clear. Since you will spend more time in Switzerland than in France, the application should be made at the Swiss consulate (as you have done). It doesn't say “mainly“ and you go on to give a quote that implies it's the only rule so I don't think I am misquoting anything. In actual fact, the rules are anything but clear and you forget to mention the only one that's relevant.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


Tourist and visitor visas are one and the same thing. You have to tell the consulate about the purpose of your trip and there are some guidelines about the type of documentation expected based on that but no hard and fast rules or distinct categories of visas.

What I think is going on here is a little different. With all the details you provided (invitation letter, friend in France), it looks like the trip wouldn't happen if you weren't going to France to see your friend. It can therefore be considered the main destination and you would then have to apply to the French rather than the Swiss consulate. Staying a little longer in Switzerland blurs the picture a little bit but it is true that a consulate can decline to process an application if they think you should have applied to another consulate.

Note that if the Swiss consulate would decline to process the application on that basis, it would not be a refusal and they should refund the visa applifcation fee (VFS global may try to keep their fee but I am not sure whether that's legal). You would however need to reapply to the French consulate and potentially lose a lot of time waiting for another appointment (or even be forced to cancel the trip if there is no time) so that's not completely hassle-free for you.

  • Thanks a lot. Fingers crossed. Actually I have very little time from the date of departure in next 2 weeks. :) Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 8:03
  • I have a small additional query here, is there any other way through which I could have proven my stay at my friend's place without a letter of Invitation, at first place? Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 11:58
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    @VivekSaxena Providing a letter of invitation was the right choice. That's what it's for. Since you are staying with them for almost half the duration of the trip (give or take a day), you cannot avoid the suggestion that it's the main purpose. The only way to avoid that would be to stay much longer in Switzerland, visit several countries, book a hotel in France, or otherwise change the itinerary. Merely fiddling with the documentation wouldn't have helped you (and could hurt you).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 12:14
  • Thanks a lot for your precious time Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 14:04
  • @VivekSaxena VFS has to courier the application to the consulate, where the consulate may decide that the application is inadmissible. I'm afraid that the fact that they have sent the application to the consulate doesn't mean that it's been deemed acceptable.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 16:47

The application is made already, there is not much you can do apart from wait now anyway... Sometimes visa centre staff don't really know the rules themselves and ask you to sign waivers or declarations saying that they are not responsible for the outcome. Ultimately they all serve to make sure they get paid even if the visa is not issued.

Without having seen the letter from your friend I am not sure why they might decide that France is the main destination, unless there was something in the content that got their attention. You may equally be visiting your friend because you will be nearby for your holiday, just as much as you are only going on holiday off the back of visiting your friend, which are both broadly speaking the same purpose anyway. Perhaps if it is not accepted maybe share a bit more detail on the contents of the letter?

Of course if the Swiss consulate returns the application and then you apply to France, they could possibly also say, "Switzerland is the main destination".

One thing I would point out is that if you applied to France on the basis of staying with a friend, you would normally need a "Attestation d'accueil" from the local town hall in France. This would not necessarily have been required for the application you have made to the Swiss consulate, different consulates can ask for slightly different documents.

Anyway, you have submitted and it is no longer in your hands, my advice is try not to worry about it... visa centre staff regularly scare applicants when they caveat their own uncertainty, and then the visa is processed without a hitch... this happens surprisingly often!

Good luck, I hope you are issued your visa :)

  • Thanks a lot for your precious time Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 1:47

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