France Student Visa Guide

Image of the French flag flying on a flagpole with a light blue and white background

France is a major western European country with a population of nearly 70 million residents. The country has a centuries-old history as a centre for art, culture, design, fashion and European politics.

Today, France is home to some of the world’s largest companies across industries with about 28 million employees. France is well-known as a major European destination for African as well as Asian communities, with almost 7 million French residents being foreign-born immigrants.

France is also an immigrant-friendly country, and with almost 75% of residents in French cities speaking English, travellers and students will find it easy to explore. International students, employees and residents in France enjoy visa-free access to most of Europe through the Schengen visa system.

The country’s excellent air and rail transport network allows for comfortable and fast travel, both within the country and to neighbouring countries such as Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom. Most French cities, including Marseille, Paris and Lyon, are known for their culturally vibrant lifestyles, world-class public infrastructure and, most importantly for international students, top-ranked universities in a variety of disciplines.

With 32 universities in the latest QS World University Rankings, France offers one of the world’s strongest and most well-respected university education programmes. French universities are well known for their world-class research and innovation facilities, tie-ups with leading businesses and employers, high quality faculties, and affordability when compared to similarly ranked universities in the USA and the UK.

France is one of the world’s five most popular university destinations for international students, and welcomes over 300,000 foreign students every year! Of course, this large number of international students means that competition for places at French universities is always high.

The France Student Visa

France usually provides international students with three types of student visas, depending on the length of your planned degree programme. These are:

  • Visa de court séjour pour études (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa): This student visa allows you to study for up to three months in France without requiring a separate residence visa. This visa is typically for international students enrolled in language courses and other short-term programs. This is a renewable visa type and you can apply for free
  • Visa de long séjour temporaire pour études (temporary long-stay visa): This visa allows international students to study in France for a period of three to six months without the need for a residence permit. It is a non-renewable student visa which is only given once
  • Visa de long séjour études (long-stay visa): This student visa enables you to live and study in France for for the duration of your course, which is usually three years for bachelor’s degrees, two years for masters degrees and four years for a doctoral programme or a PhD. This student visa is also a residence permit and is also known as VLT-TS

You must be 18 at time of entry into France, in order to apply for a student visa. Each French student visa type requires a different set of documents. But you should keep multiple copies, as well as originals, of the following documents ready as they are required in each student visa application to France:

  • Your Valid Passport: Must be valid for the entire duration of your university degree
  • Proof of Enrolment or Acceptance at a French university
  • Proof of Funds: You must provide proof that you can provide the tuition fees for your degree programme as well as a minimum of 615 Euros for every month of your planned stay
  • Two Passport-Size Photographs
  • Document known as a No Objection Certificate from CampusFrance, a French government-run organisation for international student support
  • Long stay application form for student visa types of more than 3 months
  • Your round-trip airline ticket if you are on a short-term student visa or a one-way ticket if you are on a long-stay visa
  • Proof of medical insurance that is valid in France
  • Your CV, previous academic degrees and other important academic certificates
  • Cover Letter or Statement of Purpose explaining your degree programme and post-graduation career plan
  • OFII form (Office Français de Immigration et d’Intégration)
  • Proof of residence in France, such as a lease agreement, electricity bill etc., for a minimum of three months

France Student Visa Process and Fees for International Students

In most countries, before you can apply for a France student visa as an international student, you must first log on to the CampusFrance website, upload all required documents such as CV and Cover Letter, and schedule an interview with a CampusFrance advisor at the nearest facility to your home town. Once you receive an ‘Interview Completion’ certificate from the Campus France advisor, you can approach your nearest French embassy or consulate to begin the student visa application process.

For non-EU applicants, a flat fee of 99 Euros is charged for long stay student visa applications. Additionally, you will be required to pay a processing fee of about 50 Euros as well as service fees to your local French embassy or visa processing facility.

France Student Visa Work Rules

Current France student visa rules enable you to work up to 964 hours during a calendar year alongside pursuing your academic degree. Many international students secure excellent part-time employment and internships with employers as well as university organisations all over France in order to offset tuition and living expenses. France provides master’s degree holders with a one-time non-renewable temporary residency authorisation known as the APS (autorisation Provisoire de séjour), which is valid for 24 months post-graduation.

With its world-class universities, colourful local culture and traditions, tourist-friendly cities and unique entertainment venues, it is no surprise that France remains a favourite destination for hundreds of thousands of international students each year.

For further information about student visas, see our International Student Visas article.

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