FRENCH STUDENT VISA (VLS-TS)
If you are a foreigner and want to study in France, you must first apply for a long-stay visa (VLS-TS: Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour) which mentions étudiant (student long-stay visa constituting a residency permit) which is valid for 4 months to 1 year. After 1 year, you can apply for a temporary residence card student (valid for 1 year) or multi-annual student(valid for 2 to 4 years). You are subject to resource conditions.
What are the prerequisites to apply for a French student visa ?
You must be over 18
You must have chosen your training or course of study. For complete information on the courses and preparations for diplomas offered to you, consult Campus France
You must be accepted by a higher education institution. The registration procedures are different depending on your nationality, check on the study in France website if your country or territory is covered by the online registration service. For other countries or territories, check the registration procedures according to the specialties and levels of study on Campus France.
Types of French student visa
There are several types of French student visa, and the one you require will differ depending on how long you are planning to study in France for.
Schengen student visa (short-stay)
If your studies will last less than three months, and you are sure you will not be spending any longer in the country, then you should apply for the court séjour pour étude, otherwise known as the short-stay or Schengen student visa. The Schengen student visa is issued free of charge and cannot be renewed.
Visa to sit entrance exams
If you need to travel to France in order to sit one or more university entrance exams, you can apply for the visa de court séjour étudiant concours, which simply means a visa for sitting entrance exams. If you sit your exam and pass, you are then eligible to apply for a renewable, one-year residence permit. For more information, contact the admissions department of the French institution you wish to study at.
Temporary long-stay visa
The visa de long séjour temporaire pour études is a temporary student visa that allows you to study in France for a period of up to six months. With this student visa for France you do not need to apply separately for a residence permit.
Known as the visa de long séjour pour études or the extended-stay VLT-TS, the long-stay visa is what you need if you wish to study in France for longer than six months. This visa acts as a residence permit and lasts for the duration of your study period (normally three years for a bachelor’s degree, two years for a master’s program and four years for a PhD). Algerian nationals do not require the VLS-TS, but are subject to different provisions. Contact your institution or the French consulate/embassy in your own country for more information.
From your Home country
Find a certified course provider in France. Check out the official France website https://www.campusfrance.org/en. Or please check https://pastel.diplomatie.gouv.fr/etudesenfrance/dyn/public/etudiant/ET_CPT/afficherFormCreationCompte.html?sctxid=1-70b80076c0&_csrf=e1331230-3b95-4047-8bd3-269587c484e4&etudiant.idCef=65
Who should register with Campus France ?
Depending on your country of residence( not your citizenship), you must register with a Campus France Center before you apply for a visa at the nearest French consulate.
You are Chinese and currently residing in China, there is a Campus France center in China. You have to register with the nearest Campus France center before you go to the French consulate.
You are Chinese and currently residing in Switzerland and there is no Campus France center in Switzerland, then you go directly to the nearest French consulate in Switzerland.
You are Venezuelan, there is no Campus France center in Venezuela but you are residing in Brazil, you have to register with the nearest Campus France center before you go to the French consulate.
The Campus France website address in a specific country includes the name of that country. (Example : U.S.A : www.usa.campusfrance.org )
Complete the procedure and print your pre-registration Campus France attestation BEFORE you go to the consulate to submit your application for the French visa.
Who needs a visa, who is exempted?
Citizens from one country member of the European Union or the European Economic Zone, or Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, San Marino, the Vatican, are exempted. Students from all other countries must obtain a student visa from the French Consulate in their country of origin. Students who do not reside in their country of origin can apply at the nearest French Consulate by providing proof of residence in the country where they submit their visa application.
How to apply for VLS-TS?
Submit an application form for French Student Visa (Official Application link).
Prepare a complete file with the documents listed below.
What documents you need to apply? (This list is only informative and requirements vary from country to country. It is your responsibility to contact and check with the nearest French consulate )
Filled up Visa application formApplication form.
Passport/ Identity proof
Photos ( Photo requirement )
Travel document (Proof of return ticket home). Often this is in the form of the actual ticket or reservation showing the date of departure, but can be a handwritten statement of intent, including intended departure dates.
Purpose of travel/stay (Proof of acceptance from your school) : whether you be a full-time student or an exchange student,this letter must have your first and last name, your date and place of birth, your major and level of study, the year of enrolment or dates of study period.
Accommodation (minimum 3 months)
Proof of financial support : The required amount of financial resources is set by each embassy. The average is approximately 800 euros per month for living expenses. This amount does not include tuition fees. This can be shown with a bank statement, a guarantor’s letter or a notice of funding from a loan, scholarship or grant.
Proof of health insurance coverage (depending on consulates) : You are required to produce proof of health insurance valid in France or proof of your being eligible for French health insurance ( minimum cover €30,000, US$40,150)
Proof of vaccinations (depending on consulates) : In some countries, the French Consulate may require proof of vaccination against certain diseases.
Proof of address in France (depending on consulates)
Proof of proficiency in French, if you are studying a French-language course.
Proof of civil status (if applicable)
What will you receive from the France consulate in your country ?
You should expect a minimum 3-week delay (depending on nationality). Students whose study period varies from 91 days to 12 months are attributed a so-called “Visa Long Séjour Valant Titre de Séjour” (VLS-TS) or a long stay visa equivalent to a residence permit. ( Once in France, proceed to convert this visa into a French residence permit. within 3 months after arriving in France with OFII process).
Also, your visa should indicate Validité territoriale : France (SAUF CTOM) ETUDIANT (= student) CESEDA R311-3 6° AUTORISE TRAVAIL LIMITE 60% DUREE LEGALE » . (Caution ! This new visa « Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour (VLS-TS) » does not apply to Algerian students.)
When submitting your visa application, you’ll have to join a so-called “demande d’attestation OFII”. At that time you’ll fill out the upper half of the OFII form. The form is available in French only, hence get a translator’s help.
When you receive your visa at the French consulate, you’ll also be returned the very same form, completed and stamped by the consulate. DO NOT LOSE THIS OFII FORM! BRING IT WITH YOU TO FRANCE!
On arrival in France as a student
To have evidence of your arrival in France, before exiting customs, make sure your passport receives a stamp with the date of your arrival. If for some reason this is not possible, keep the stub of your airplane and/or train boarding pass or any other document that helps determine the date you entered French territory.
You will have a one-year student visa (VLS-TS). The next step that you will have to do is get the OFII to validate the first Visa (done within three months). The VLS-TS Visa needs to be validated with the OFII stamp.
Once your form and copied passport pages have been received, you will be sent a receipt of confirmation with further instructions on your next steps if required. This may be an instruction to obtain a medical examination if you have not previously received one in your country of origin.
Often your institution of study will help you with this part of the process. In some cases, an agreement exists between the OFII and the school in question, meaning documents can be submitted to the school instead of the French authorities.
In all instances, you will be expected to pay a tax of €58- 100 to handle administration costs.
What you can & can’t do on this visa?
As long as your student visa is valid, you are authorized to travel within the Schengen area for 3 months.The Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland. Furthermore, bear in mind that this “VLS-TS” allows you to travel to, but NOT reside (study or work) in Schengen countries. If you go to another country for an internship or an exchange program, you must enquire at the embassy in Paris of that country.
Work part-time to earn some financial resources. With a valid residence permit (the VLS-TS functions as such), as an international student you are eligible to take on paid work for 964 hours annually (this equates to about 60% full-time employment). This number of hours is configured for work between the periods of 1 September to 31 August. Eligible work hours between September and June are (up to) 670, while July to August is (up to) 300 hours.
Receive housing subsidy “CAF” based on the type of accommodation.
Take advantage of VISALE (free rental deposit service for students).
Extend your stay in France after the first year.
Obtain a full-time work as a salaried employee for more than 6 months (964 hours maximum).
A tourist visa cannot be converted into a student visa in France or in any other country of the European Union. If you have come to France as a tourist, exempt from a tourist visa due to your nationality and you intend to stay in France to study, you absolutely must return to your country of origin to obtain your student visa.
No organisation, individual, or entity has any right in the visa-granting process, which is the sole responsibility of the French consular service.
For further information please go to the official French website Service-Public.fr or France-Visas/student
Renewing your student visa (Titre de Sejour – étudiante)
- To renew your student visa:
- A document from your school stating that you are still a student enrolled in the school.
- Photocopy of your first-year transcript (marksheet).
- Photocopy of your School ID.
- Photocopy of your passport (all pages that are stamped).
- Passport size photo (you can get it at any machine named “Photomaton”).
- Address proof:
- If you are living in a colocation, ask your landlord/landlady to provide you with attestation d’hébergement (proof of residency), ID of the landlord/landlady, electricity bill/internet bill
- If you are renting a place all by yourself, a recent electricity bill (in your name) and quittance de loyer (rent receipts) of the last 3 months.
- Document of Funds/Financial proof
- Once you applied for a renewal, you will receive a Recepisse valid for 3 months. Now you can go and collect your renewed Student Visa (Titre de Séjour) which will be valid for one year (in some exceptions 2 years) from the application of renewal (which needs around 2-3 months to be ready).Reminder : If your « Titre de Sejour – Etudiant » is not ready within 3 months, you can request for the renewal of your Recepisse. The documents required for the renewal are the same as mentioned above.
- When you are approaching the end of your studies, you will have to take care of renewing your visa which is a little different. When you go for a renewal, you will not receive a one-year validity. Instead you will get a short period varying from 3-6 months. This can either be a Recepisse / temporary APS (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour).
Finding a job after finishing your studies
- APS is a special visa status given to students who pursue an RNCP certified course or in a public university course.
NOTE: Not all schools in France are eligible for APS status for their students, so one must enquire with their school about this.
- APS is issued only for students who have FINISHED their course i.e. finished their jury and have “attestation de réussite” or “attestation de jury” from their school (which means it is issued only after the mandatory internship).
- Before the Recepisse / temporary APS (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour) expires, you will have to apply for a APS.
- APS will be valid for one year and can be renewed for one extra year. You can stay, travel and start working full-time in France.
- You can start working on your APS Visa but will have to change the Visa type depending upon the job contract.