Saturday, March 10, 2007
Obtaining a Student Visa
Students from outside Europe (that is, students from countries other than the 18 countries of the European Economic Zone, plus Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, San Marino, and the Vatican) must obtain a long-term visa marked étudiant if they intend to study in France for more than 6 months.
After the first year of study, visas are automatically renewed, provided the student holding the visa is able to produce the required documentation.
Three Pieces of Advice
1 - A tourist visa cannot be converted into a student visa in France or in any other country of the European Union.
2- If you plan to complete two programs in succession (such as a program in French as a foreign language, followed by an academic program), obtain admission to both programs before applying for your visa so that your visa will be valid for the duration of your period of study. French visas can not be extended in France.
3- A special visa exists for prospective students. The so-called étudiant-concours visa is granted for stays of no more than 90 days for the purpose of taking an entrance examination or visiting institutions of higher education. Prospective students who pass their examination receive a full student visa without returning to their country of origin. The prospective student visa also may be granted to students whose admission to a higher education institution is contingent upon their completion of a short course of remedial or refresher work.
To obtain a visa, visit the French consulate in your place of residence or the visa office of the French embassy.
Two Points to Remember
•Under no circumstances may a tourist visa be converted into a student visa. This is true throughout the European Union.
•International students of all nationalities intending to stay in France for more than 3 months must obtain a student identification card.
What documentation do I need to get a visa?
- A Passport
The passport must be valid for the entire period of validity of the visa.
- Proof of enrollment
The following documents will be accepted as proof:
• An offer of preliminary admission
• A statement of preregistration in a public or private institution of higher education. The document must specify the level of study and the student's subject. If the institution is private, the statement must indicate the number of course hours and state that registration fees have been been paid in full.
- Proof of financial resources
Each French embassy sets the level of financial resources to be demonstrated by prospective students from that country. The amount is on the order of 3,000 francs
( about 450 euros) for each month to be spent in France.
•Students receiving scholarship grants must produce a statement indicating the amount and duration of their grant on the letterhead of the granting organization.
•If the required resources are guaranteed by an individual residing in France the student must produce a signed statement of financial responsibility, a photocopy of the national identity card of the guarantor, and proof of the guarantor's own financial resources (such as the guarantor's three most recent pay stubs and most recent tax return).
•If the resources come from abroad, the student must demonstrate that a bank account has been opened into which the necessary funds will be deposited and produce a promise of payment, translated into French and bearing the authenticated signature of the individual responsible for making the payments, or a statement of payment of funds from the authorities of the student's country of origin.
- Proof of insurance coverage
Proof of insurance must be provided by students over 28 who are nationals of a country that does not have a reciprocity agreement with France or who are enrolled in an institution that is not recognized by the French government to participate in the student health insurance plan.
- Parental authorization
Minors (individuals under 18 years of age) must furnish proof of consent by the person or persons having parental authority.
- Required vaccinations
In some cases, the consulate may require proof of vaccination (e.g., against yellow fever, cholera…) before a visa will be issued.
International students of all nationalities residing in France for more than 3 months must obtain a student residency permit (which is distinct from a visa), within two months of their arrival in France
Complying with legal requirements once in France
As soon as you arrive in France, you'll want to take two important steps to comply with French immigration regulations. The sooner you get these formalities out of the way, the smoother and more pleasant your stay will be.
1 - Report to your new university or school and register for classes.
2 - Apply for a student residency permit (if you will be staying for longer than 3 months.
Pay close attention to the documents that you will have to present. Originals are often required. All students must report and register each year. The procedure is the same in all universities. In nonuniversity institutions of higher education it differs from institution to institution.
Your Residency Permit
The second thing you'll have to do once you arrive is apply for your residency permit. All international students must obtain such a permit, even those who are entitled to reside in France without a visa.
International students who intend to study in France for more than 3 months must visit the préfecture (or government center) for their area to obtain a temporary residency permit showing their student status. The temporary residency permit is valid until the expiration date of the applicant's passport or until the date of completion of the applicant's academic program, whichever comes first. The permit must be renewed annually.