Do you need a French student visa? Whether or not you require a French Student Visa will depend on whether or not you are an EU national.
If you are an EU citizen, or citizen of the EEA, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not need a French student visa. Rather, all you will require to legally school in France is a valid passport or other acceptable travel ID.
If you are a citizen from any other place in the world, you will be required to obtain a student visa for France to be able to study in the country.
What category of French student visa will you require?
There are quite a few types of French student visa, and the one you need will vary depending on how long you intend to study in France for.
- Schengen student visa (short-stay)
If your schooling will not last for more than three months, and you are certain you will not be spending more than that time in the country, then you can apply for the court séjour pour étude, otherwise known as the short-stay or Schengen student visa. The Schengen student visa is granted without charge and is not renewable.
- Visa to sit entrance exams
If you have to travel to France to sit for one or more university entrance tests, you may put in for the visa de court séjour étudiant concours, which simply implies a visa for writing entrance exams. If you write your test and pass, you are then qualified to put in for a renewable, one-year residence permit. For additional details, get in touch with the admissions department of the French institution you are looking 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, you are not required to apply separately for a residence permit.
- Long-stay visa
Referred as the visa de long séjour pour études or the extended-stay VLT-TS, the long-stay visa is what you require if you desire to school in France for more 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 citizens do not need the VLS-TS, but are bound by other provisions. Contact your institution or the French consulate/embassy in your own country for more information.
How to apply for a French Student Visa
Individuals from a number of nations will have to put in for their French student visa through Campus France, the nation’s official national agency for higher education and foreign scholars. Those candidates would also have had to use Campus France to submit application to their selected French institutions, through the CEF process. See this list of nations to find out if you are required to put in for both your visa and your admission through this method.
If your nation of origin is not present on the link above, then you are on your own for both your university and student visa application. Only once you have received acceptance onto a program at a French institution will you be eligible to apply for your student visa for France.
To apply for your student visa, you will have to get in touch with the French consulate in your home nation and supply them with the following, when asked:
- An official letter of admission into a recognized program at a French institution. This has to be on legitimately headed paper, comprising your full information, the details of your program of study and the commencement and conclusion dates of study.
- Proof of sufficient funds for living in the country. The current amount required is €615 (US$820) per month, which can be shown with a bank statement, a guarantor’s letter or a notice of funding from a loan, scholarship or grant.
- Proof of return ticket home. Usually, this is in the form of the real ticket or booking evidencing the date of departure, but may be a handwritten statement of purpose, including planned departure dates.
- Proof of medical insurance (minimum cover €30,000, US$40,150)
- Proof of accommodation. Can be shown in the form of student housing confirmation or a certificate of board and lodging or ‘attestation d’accueil’ (if you’re living with friends or relatives).
- Evidence of adeptness in French language, if you are studying a French-language program.
Working in France with a French student visa
With a valid residence permit (like the VLS-TS), as a foreign student, you are allowed to take on paid work for 964 hours yearly (this amounts to about 60% full-time employment). This amount of hours is designed for work between the periods of 1 September to 31 August. Permitted work hours between September and June are (up to) 670, while July to August is (up to) 300 hours.
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