Every year France draws in and hosts a slew of international students because of its supreme quality education system, low tuition fees, and top-ranking globally renowned universities.
During the 2017-18 academic year, France received nearly 343,000 international higher education students. By the year 2027, the country aims to host nearly 500,000 international students.
In particular, France is a great pick for those aspiring to undertake studies in business-related subjects. This because France is deemed to be a hub for international business and management education and imbibes several business schools in the worldwide rankings. Speaking of degrees, French universities usually entail a format popular throughout the EU: license, master, and doctorate.
In light of the spike in international students from across the globe treading for their higher education in France, you might also be looking up to France to give a new direction to your career through a high-quality education. Thus, if you such plans in mind, you might want to equip yourself with the French student visa and its requirements.
Well, here’s a take on the France student visa.
Who needs a French student visa?
Whether you require a for France or not is dependent on the fact that whether or not you are an EU national.
Thus, if you are an EU national, or national from the EEA, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not need a French student visa. Instead, all you need to legally be able to study in France is a valid passport or other valid travel ID.
Whereas, if you are a national from anyplace else in the world, you will require to obtain a student visa for France to be able to undertake a study program in France.
There are different types of France visas depending on your stay in France. Broadly the France visa is categorized into the following two duration categories-
1. Stays equal to, or shorter than 90 days
Such a short stay is usually undertaken for purposes like tourism, business trips, or family visits. Thus, for stays which equal to, or are shorter than 90 days, a short-stay visa is issued.
This short-stay visa is also issued to individuals visiting France to take part in short-term training programs, internships, conferences, and corporate meetings, or to participate in remunerated activities of any form.
2. Stays longer than 90 days
For such purposes that would require you to stay longer than 90 days in France, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay national visa.
However, whatever be the exact duration of your planned stay, the span of your long-stay visa must be between three months and one year. And if you wish to extend your stay ahead of the period of validity of your visa, you would be required to apply for a residence permit at a prefecture.
During the period of validity of your long-stay visa, it is equivalent to a Schengen visa, allowing you to travel around and stay in the Schengen Area outside France for periods not exceeding 90 days over any stretch of 180 consecutive days, under the same conditions if you hold a Schengen visa.
Further, the long-stay visa in France is split under the following categories:
- Stay for an extended period for tourist or personal reasons;
- Carry out a professional activity;
- Pursue education;
- Join family members.
French Student Visas
The different types of student visas for France include the following:
- Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa): You can visit France and study for up to 3 months on this visa, without the requirement for a separate residence visa. This is usually suitable for those students enrolling in a language course or short-term programs.
- Visa de long séjour temporaire pour etudes (temporary long-stay visa): This visa would allow you to visit and study in France for a period between three and six months without the requirement for a residence permit. This visa is non-renewable.
- Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa): If you wish to study in France for a period longer than six months, then you will be required to apply for this long-stay visa. This type of study visa persists for the duration of a student’s course in France i.e. three years for a bachelor’s degree, two years for a master’s degree, and four years for a Ph.D. The long-stay visa is deemed as a residence permit and is called VLT-TS.
When and where to apply for the French student visa
To apply to your student visa, you can reach out to either a French consulate in your region or apply through Campus France (an institution supporting higher education in France, having a local office in nearly all nations worldwide). Some countries will, thus, first require you to register with Campus France to obtain your student visa.
You will be required to schedule an in-person interview/appointment through the official website of the French consulate in your region; you can check the online calendar that displays the available dates and hours. Try scheduling the date of the appointment at least 90 days prior to your departure to France.
Usually, it takes at least five to seven business days for a visa to be issued, while in some exceptional cases, it might take a little longer.
How to apply for a student visa for France
To apply for your France student visa, you will first need to contact the French consulate in your home country and present them with the following documentation, when requested:
- Official acceptance letter into an accredited program at a French institution. This must be on an officially headed paper, entailing your full details, the details of your study program, and the dates when your program will start and end.
- Proof of adequate funds for living in the country (France). The prevailing amount required is €615 (US$820) per month, which can be exhibited with a bank statement, a guarantor’s letter, or funding notice of a bank loan, scholarship, or grant.
- Proof of return ticket to your home country. Usually, this is included in the form of the actual ticket or reservation confirming the date of departure, but it can be a handwritten statement of intent, including expected departure dates.
- Proof of medical insurance– minimum cover €30,000, US$40,150
- Proof of accommodation. This can be proved through student housing confirmation or a certificate of board and lodging or ‘attestation d’accueil’ (if you’re residing with friends or relatives).
- Proof of proficiency in the French language, if you intend to study a French-language course.
Working in France with a French student visa
Along with a valid residence permit (the VLS-TS functions as such), as an international student, you are eligible to undertake paid work for about 964 hours annually (this equates to nearly 60% full-time employment).
These number of specific hours is configured for work between the periods of 1 September to 31 August.
On the other hand, eligible work hours between September and June are up to 670 hours, while for the period of July to August is up to 300 hours.
When you apply for a job, you must also make sure to inform your employer that you are a foreign student so that they only consider your application for a part-time position.
Residence permit in France
During your first year of the study program in France, you only require the student visa as proof of your residency status. Within a month of your arrival in France, you will be required to register at the local French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) and also undergo a medical examination to validate your visa.
And if you plan to stay in France for more than one year, starting from the second year of studies you will require to apply for a Carte de Séjour (CDS) or ‘titre de séjour’, an official residency card in France.
Language requirements for your study in France
When you apply for your study program at a university in France, you are required to provide proof of:
French language proficiency
If you apply for French-taught degrees, you will be required to prove your French language proficiency through these accepted tests-DELF/DALF or TCF
English language proficiency
If you apply for English-taught degrees, you will be required to prove your English language proficiency through these accepted tests- IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge
Moreover, if you have received an acceptance letter from a French university, the French consulate won’t require any additional language requirements for your study visa for France.
Thus, more or less, you’d find everything relevant to the France student visa covered here. However, since the visa rules and regulations tend to vary for residents of different countries, it’s highly recommended to check the country’s student visa requirements and procedure on their official website and prepare yourself accordingly.