Getting your VISA
Depending on your nationality, you might need a VISA to come study in France.
You’re not required to have a VISA If you’re from a country of the European Economic Area, (EU countries or Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) or if you’re from Switzerland, Andorra or Monaco. Free to go, whatever the duration of your stay!
Following how long you will need to stay in France and whether you'll be studying a dregree or just taking a short course, different VISA application procedures apply.
Visas can be requested from your country’s french embassy or consulate. Delivery delays vary, but plan at least 2 weeks for the delivery of your VISA.
Arriving in France before being enrolled in a school
If you want to arrive in France before having applied to a school or university, you’ll need to get a standard VISA, as student visas can only be obtained if you already have proof of your enrollment in a school or university. However once you’re in France, you won’t be able to change your standard VISA in a student VISA.
If you need to come to France before being enrolled because your admission in a higher education institution depends on a test or an interview you need to pass in France, the "étudiant-concours" VISA exists for this purpose. It’s valid 3 months and allows you to get a student residence permit if you’re admitted, without having to return to your country to request a long-stay student VISA. You must get your results within the “étudiant-concours” VISA’s validity period though.
If you pass your exam (congrats on that!), you can apply for a long-term residence permit that's valid a year and can be renewable.
This VISA is only meant for non-european students.
Short stay VISAS
There are several short stay VISAs, applying to different situations.
- The VISA de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student VISA) allows you to come to France and study for up to three months. You can get this VISA if you're coming to France for a language course or a short-term program. This VISA can't be renewed.
- The étudiant-concours (visa for sitting entrance exams), as described above, is for those who need to take an exam in France before being accepted.
On this VISA, you can come to France to take an entrance exam at an institute of higher education. If you pass, then you can apply directly to your local prefecture (French local authority/administrative office) in France for a one-year, renewable, residence permit.
- The VISA de long séjour temporaire pour études (temporary long-stay VISA) allows you to stay in France for 3 to 6 months. It acts as a residence permit and is non-renewable.
Long stay VISA
If you're staying in France for more than 6 months, you're going to need a long stay VISA.
A VISA Long séjour - Titre de séjour (VLS-TS), or long term student VISA in France, can be valid 4 months to a year. They act as residence permits and can be renewed. Be sure to ask for renewal at least 2 months before its expiry.
There are a few formalities to conduct when applying for a VLS-TS. Upon arriving in France, you will have to contact the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII), send them the form issued by the consulate in your country and pay a €58 fee in the form of a tax stamp. You can find these stamps in a tobacconist or in post offices. Your school or university might have an agreement with the OFII. In this case, you can follow their instructions for this procedure.
How to apply for a VISA?
You can apply for a student VISA in France online here.
Here's what you'll need:
- proof you're enrolled in a higher education institution
- proof your funds reach a minimum of €615 a month (it could be a bank statement, a letter from a guarantor...)
- A statement mentioning your intended departure date or your airplane reservation
- proof you have medical insurance
- proof you have accommodation