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Last Updated: May 08, 2021

France Student Visa

Overseas education, in a modern era, is opening up new horizons for students. There are seemingly endless benefits one may consider while opting for studying abroad. Many countries are adopting courses that can help students get an internationally acclaimed job. France has one of the most well-respected education systems in the world. The country also provides good quality research opportunities and is student-friendly too!. France has more than 250,000 international students who have the option of studying in English. To fulfill this dream, getting a student visa in this country is important, so let's first understand the process of procuring a visa.

Choosing a Course

France offers a lot of lucrative courses allowing international students to choose from a wide range of options:

Types of Student Visas and their Validity

There are three types of student visas offered in France. Students need to apply for any one of these visas depending upon the course they are pursuing: The long-term visa acts as a Schengen visa if the students travel to other Schengen areas outside France for up to 90 days. This gives them the flexibility to travel to other areas without any additional formalities.

If a student is under a European Union program, they will have Student - Mobility marked in their visa. This is a program where the student has the mobility to study in two or more European Union Member States. In this case, the student can be issued either:

Who Needs to Apply for the French Student Visa?

The nationals of the European Economic Area are exempt from a short-term visa and can enter France for short-term courses, not exceeding 3 months. For all the courses exceeding 3 months, the student has to apply for a long-term visa irrespective of their nationality. Additionally, the student needs to:

Cost of French Student Visas

The cost of a French student visa depends upon the type of student visa being applied for and the country where it is applied from. There are a few fees required during the entire visa process. For applying from the USA, the following are the fee required:
  1. Campus France fee $190 for regular 3 week processing time, $340 for expedited 3 day processing time
  2. Consulate fee $30 paid online at the time of scheduling the visa appointment
  3. Visa processing fee $60 paid at the time of the interview
  4. Express mailing fee (optional) $35 if the student chooses to have the passport mailed to them. They have the option to pick up the passport themselves from the VFS center in which case this fee is waived.

Steps to Applying for a French Student Visa

Applying to a French university

The first step to getting a French student visa is deciding what studies the student wants to pursue in France. The international student needs to be accepted by a higher education institute or be invited by one for an entrance exam. A short-term visa is issued in the latter case, which can then be used to apply for a residence permit upon being granted admission by the French university. The student will not have to come back to their country for the process.

French language proficiency

French is a widely spoken language, not just in France, but in most of Europe. French language proficiency may be a requirement depending upon the course chosen by the student. If the student is required to have basic French knowledge, they can prove it by taking a French language test or a diploma. Some accepted options are:

Financial resources to cover up the costs

The students have to show proof that they have enough funds to sustain themselves during their stay in France. They are required to show that they can pay for the tuition and accommodation costs for their entire stay in France and still have 615 euros per month in their account for additional expenses. This can be done by providing:

Proof of accommodation

The students need to submit proof of temporary address of stay or permanent address if they have found accommodation. The students are encouraged to have some French address where they can go upon arrival in France, however temporary it may be. They can then search for more permanent accommodation upon arriving in France. It is preferred to provide proof of the first 3 months of accommodation. If the student is unable to do so, they at least need to provide proof of accommodation for their first week of stay in France and how they plan on getting permanent accommodation. They can choose from the following three options:

Applying at Campus France website

The French visa process is started at the Campus France website for long-term visas. This step is skipped for short-term visas, but it is a mandatory step for long-term visas. The student has to first submit all the documents at the Campus France DocBox and make the payment. Campus France is a French Government agency that will check for accuracy and eligibility of the student before they can initiate the visa process. Once their application is successfully processed, the student will get a confirmation email.

Schedule an interview appointment

The student then has to complete the visa application online at the VFS website and schedule an interview. The interview has to take place in person. The student is required to take all the documents listed below along with the proof of payment of the Campus France fee.

Pick-up or wait for the French visa

The visa application is then sent to the French Consulate for processing. The student can be asked to send in additional documents at this point. After the visa is approved/denied, the student can pick up their passport and other documents from the VFS office or request it to be mailed to them.

Documents required to apply for French student visa

The student needs to bring all the original documents along with a copy of each to their interview. All the originals, except the passport, will be returned to the student, after reviewing at the embassy and the copies will be kept for records. Following is the list of the documents needed at the time of the interview:

Steps to be Taken to Extend the Stay in France

Working While Studying in France

Students who have a valid residence permit are allowed to work part-time in France. Students on short-stay visas or long-stay visas are not allowed to work in France unless they obtain their residence permit. With a residence permit, an international student is allowed to work part-time which is a maximum of 964 hours in a year. They are eligible to get at least a minimum wage of 9.76 euros per hour.

While some students choose to work outside their university for better pay, the majority of the students in their first year in France, choose to work in their university campus for ease of schedule management, and getting to know their environment better. Some jobs on the campus include library helper, event organizer/helper, assisting people with disabilities, and many more.

Appealing Visa Refusal

International students have the option to contest visa refusal if they are denied a French visa. The visa refusal can take place in one of two ways:
  1. Express refusal where the student gets a written notification from the consulate stating the denial.
  2. Implied refusal where the student does not get any response from the consulate till after 2 months of applying for the French visa.
The French consulate is required to justify their denial reason and the student can appeal without charge within 2 months of the refusal.

Some Things to Remember

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