Got accepted at a French university and decided to say ‘Bonjour!’ each day? 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. If you do, start preparing all the required documents and find out everything you need to know about it.
1. Apply to a French university 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.
Consider some great universities from France that we recommend:
- Institut Polytechnique de Paris
- KEDGE Business School
- Emlyon Business School
- HEC Paris
- ESCP Business School
- ESIEE Paris
2. Find out what type of visa you need to study in France
- Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa) – for studies shorter than 3 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) – for studies that take 3 to 6 months to complete.
- Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa) – for studies that take more than 6 months to complete. You need to also apply for a residence permit in order to extend the duration of your stay after this long-stay visa expires (one year).
To see if you need a student visa, use the official tool on the France-Visas website.
3. When and where to apply for the student visa
You can get a student visa either at a French consulate in your country 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.
Simply follow these steps:
- 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
- Pay the visa processing fee: 50–100 EUR depending on your nationality
- Wait to receive the visa. The processing time depends on your nationality, on how many students are currently applying for a visa, and so on. The sooner your start the application the better.
4. Language requirements for studying 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, PTE Academic or C1 Advanced)
If you have an acceptance letter from a French university, the French consulate won’t require additional language requirements for your study visa.
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 (Learn more about international student insurance for students studying in France)
- 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 (50–100 EUR)
- Proof of civil status (if applicable)
6. Residence permit in France
During your first year of studies, you only need the long-term 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 residence permit in France.
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 residence 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 the holidays between semesters.