How to Get a Student Visa for France

Got accepted to a French university and decided to say ‘Bonjour!’ each day for around a year or so? You’re about to embark on a fantastic study abroad journey. Before you grab your French dictionary and place it in your luggage, figure out if you need a student visa for France and if you do, start preparing all the required documents and find everything that you need to know about it.

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If you decided to study abroad in France and come from an EU/EEA country, good news! You won’t need a French student visa. If you're from a non-EU country here are some visa details depending on your nationality:

Read below to follow the steps and prepare to apply for your French student visa.

1. Decide on a university to apply to and get your acceptance letter

If you’re still not sure where you want to study in France, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a French university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.

Find the right universities depending on the discipline you want to study:

Consider some of the best universities in France:

2. Find out what type of visa you need to study in France

  • Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa)– available up to three months. This type of visa is mainly for short-term study programmes or language courses. It is free of charge, you won’t need a residence permit and you can apply for a new one when it expires.
  • Visa de long séjour temporaire pour etudes (temporary long-stay visa) – available between three and six months; you will need a residence permit and you cannot renew it.
  • Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa) – available for the entire duration of your course in France (three years for Bachelor's, two years for a Master's and four years for a Ph.D.).

The advantage of this visa is that you don’t have to apply for a residence permit in addition, as this visa is considered your residence permit and is called VLT-TS.

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3. When and where to apply for the student visa

You can get a student visa either at a French consulate in your area or through Campus France (an institution promoting higher education in France, having a local office in almost all countries worldwide). Some countries require you to register first with Campus France in order to get a student visa.

Schedule an in-person interview/appointment through the official website of the French consulate in your area; check the online calendar that shows the available dates and hours. Try to schedule the date of the appointment at least 90 days before your departure to France. Usually, it takes at least five to seven business days for a visa to be granted, or in exceptional cases, a little longer.

4. Language requirements for my study in France

When you apply for a university in France, you have to provide proof of:

  • French language proficiency – if you apply for French-taught degrees (accepted tests are: DELF/DALF or TCF)
  • English language proficiency – if you apply for English-taught degrees (accepted tests are: IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge)

If you have an acceptance letter from a French university, the French consulate won’t require additional language requirements for your study visa for France.

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5. Required application documents for the French student visa

  • Visa application form
  • Two passport type photos
  • Valid passport and copies of your previous visas
  • Official enrolment or acceptance letter from the university
  • Proof of financial means (around 615 EUR per month) to cover all your expenses during your study period
  • Airline ticket/reservation showing date of departure
  • Medical insurance that might cost between 300 - 715 EUR/year
  • Documents stating the accommodation arrangement during your studies
  • French language proficiency certificate (if you have enrolled in a French-taught course)
  • Proof of payment of the visa fee (99 EUR)
  • Proof of civil status (if applicable)

More detailed information for students coming from countries outside the EU

6. Residence permit in France

During your first year of studies, you only need the student visa as proof of your residency status. Within a month of your arrival in France, you will have to register at the local French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) and have a medical examination to validate your visa.

If you plan to stay for more than one year, starting from the second year of studies you will need to apply for a Carte de Séjour (CDS) or 'titre de séjour', an official residency card in France.

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7. Working in France as an international student

All international students are allowed to take a job during their studies under a few conditions. Legally, you are only allowed to work part-time (around 60 per cent of full-time employment for a year) and only if you have a valid residency permit. When you apply for a job, make sure to inform your employer you are a foreign student so they will only consider your application for a part-time position.

You may also find work opportunities within your university, and if you really don’t want work to affect your studies, you can only take these offers during holidays between semesters.

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