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Case conditions:

  • Flying from US to Bharat (India) via CDG (1 stop)
  • Citizen of Bharat
  • US Work Permit is valid for at least a year
  • Passport valid for at least a year
  • US Work Visa expired for at least a year
  • Going to Bharat to get the visa renewed
  • Will be in the same terminal in CDG for the connecting flight to Bharat
  • Connecting flight was booked as 1 ticket (no baggage claim needed).

Couple of questions:

  • Anybody with experience in a similar situation?
  • Is a visa needed for the layover in CDG? If so, which visa?
  • If yes, what happens if you travel without the visa?

Visa Questions (if applicable):

  • Where and when should the visa be applied for?
  • What is the cost of the visa?
  • How much time will the visa take to process?
  • Does the visa require a visa application center (VAC) visit?
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    Thank you Relaxed@ and jcaron@ for the insightful answers and comments. Changed stopover to AMS from CDG based on all the information found. Delta Airlines did ask about Transit Visa though at the airport and was prepared to cite home-affairs.ec.europa.eu/policies/schengen-borders-and-visa/… if things escalated. No issues during the trip. Contacted both the French and Dutch consulates before the trip on the requirement for transit visas and they confirmed and denied the requirement respectively.
    – codepk
    Nov 28, 2022 at 8:27

3 Answers 3

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Timatic states:

Transit Countries

France

Visa

Visa required.

TWOV (Transit Without Visa):

Nationals of India with a normal passport transiting through Paris (CDG), arriving from a non-Schengen Member State with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight within 24 hours to a third country which is not a Schengen Member State. They must:

  • have a visa issued by Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland (Rep.), Japan, Romania or USA, and
  • stay in the international transit area of the airport, and
  • have documents required for their next destination.

Nationals of India with a normal passport transiting through Paris (CDG), arriving from a non-Schengen Member State with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight within 24 hours to a third country which is not a Schengen Member State. They must:

  • have a used, valid or expired visa issued by Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland (Rep.), Japan, Romania or USA, and
  • be returning from the country that issued the visa, and
  • stay in the international transit area of the airport, and
  • have documents required for their next destination.

(Emphasis mine)

So there are two cases:

  • A valid visa from one of those countries allows you to transit without visa whether you are travelling to/from that country or not (can be used from transits between two other countries)
  • An expired visa can be used only when you are returning from the country which issued it.

In your case, you don’t need a visa as you have an expired visa from the US and are returning from the US to your country of origin.

Note that all official French documentation I could find apparently completely ignores this case, but French official legislation (annex D, article 3 of the “Arrêté du 10 mai 2010 relatif aux documents et visas exigés pour l'entrée des étrangers sur le territoire européen de la France”) states that exceptions listed in article 3.5 of CE 810/2009 are valid.

Said article 3.5 of CE 810/2009 (the Schengen Visas Code) states:

(c) third-country nationals holding a valid visa for a Member State which does not take part in the adoption of this Regulation, or for a Member State which does not yet apply the provisions of the Schengen acquis in full, or for Canada, Japan or the United States of America, or holders of a valid visa for one or more of the overseas countries and territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), when travelling to the issuing country or to any other third country, or when, having used the visa, returning from the issuing country;

(Emphasis mine)

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    That language (“returning from the country that issued the visa“) has been there for a long time and indeed comes straight from the Schengen Visa Code but is difficult to implement in practice. It's easy to see how this would work with European visas but US visas work very differently. A US visa could have expired months or even years before the “return” trip. What counts as a return trip becomes very hard to decide or document in this case.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:45
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    For a time, some member states had some guidelines like a number of months after expiration of the visa but recently this clause has disappeared entirely from the guidance published by the French government (I added a link I forgot when writing my answer) so I wouldn't advise the OP to rely on this when their visa has expired for more than a year.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:48
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    Also, there is no requirement to be returning to your country of origin, the text only says “returning from the issuing country”, which again points to the unstated assumption that it is only meant for short visits (whose holders reside elsewhere), not work visas allowing you to reside in the country for years. In fact, if you look at the whole itinerary as described in the question, it makes more sense to say that the OP is going to India before returning to the US rather than the other way around.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:56
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    Here again, US visa categories, where something like a H1-B visa is a “non-immigrant” visa do not line up neatly with the logic of European regulations.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:00
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Anybody with experience in a similar situation?

I don't, answering only based on my knowledge of the rules.

Is a visa needed for the layover in CDG? If so, which visa?

Indian citizens generally require an airport transit visa in this situation but there are exceptions designed to cover people who live in the US. Unfortunately, the way US visas work makes this a little difficult in practice, official advice for the French government is that you don't need one if you hold “a residence permit guaranteeing the right of return and issued by […] the United States“.

This should obviously cover a green card (“Permanent Resident Card”) but neither “work permit” nor “residence permit” are, as far as I know, the exact name of any US documents so I can't tell if it would cover the document you hold. One thing you could do to ascertain this is to check a database called TIMATIC (see Ordinary Traveller: How to use Timatic?). If you see your document listed, you should be fine since that's probably what the check-in personnel will use to decide if you should be allowed to board your flight.

If the exception doesn't cover you, then you would need to apply for an airport transit visa (ATV). You should apply to the nearest French consulate (in practice, in the US, you apply through VFS Global). You can apply between 6 months and 15 days before travel, the sooner the better. A Schengen visa (even an ATV) costs €80 plus a $35 service fee from VFS. It might indeed be required to present yourself physically to a VFS application center, especially if this is your first application and your biometrics haven't been enrolled in the relevant Schengen database.

If yes, what happens if you travel without the visa?

You would be stopped from boarding the first leg of travel and never reach CDG. Deputizing airlines to enforce restrictions and preventing you from traveling in this situation is the entire point of the airport transit visa system, nobody is checking whether you have one after landing.

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    "Green card" is an unofficial name. The official name is "Permanent Resident Card" and that's what's printed on the card.
    – gparyani
    Nov 13, 2022 at 3:20
  • Some flights (my guess is the selection is mostly based on the country of origin of the flight) get a filter right at the door of the aircraft, so it’s actually possible they will check for any required ATV at that point (they don’t trust airlines blindly). But I doubt that would happen on a flight from the US.
    – jcaron
    Nov 13, 2022 at 13:05
  • @gparyani Yes, I am aware of this.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:27
  • @jcaron Yes, I have seen this happen for a variety of reasons but enforcing the ATV requirement ought to be a secondary consideration at this point. It's not a matter of trusting the airline, the whole purpose of the ATV is making sure people don't come as far as this because if they do, they are entitled to claime international protection there and then (and the ATV requirement – at least the EU-wide list – specifically covers countries whose nationals can credibly do this and have a good chance of success).
    – Relaxed
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:35
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https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en/web/france-visas/airport-transit-visa makes it clear that A holder of a valid visa for a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area, Canada, the United States or Japan, by one or more countries or public bodies from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius), regardless of the airport of departure and regardless of the airport of arrival located outside the Schengen Area In the case of a return trip, the holder of a visa issued by one of the above-mentioned countries is exempt from the airport transit visa even if the visa has been used and is therefore no longer valid, provided that the return trip is made from an airport located in the country that issued the visa;

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  • The OP seems to be a citizen of India so can you explain by editing how your answer helps them?
    – mdewey
    Jan 13, 2023 at 13:11

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