Student visa for education
If you choose to study in another country, one of the main issues is obtaining a student visa, which allows you to stay in the country of your choice for the duration of your studies. In this article we will discuss the procedure for obtaining a French student visa, its types and mandatory requirements.
The main requirements that a student must meet in order to be able to apply for a student visa to France:
- Student must be over 18 years old;
- Student must choose an educational programme and institution;
- Student must be enrolled in a higher education institution. (Entry rules vary depending on your nationality). 
Short-term student visas to France can be obtained for study programmes with a maximum stay of 90 days per six months. It is important to know that this visa cannot be extended in France or converted to a long-term student visa under any circumstances.
If the study programme for which you plan to study in France provides for a short stay in France during the year, for example, 3-4 days per month (as in MBA Executive programmes or distance learning), you may qualify for a “visa court séjour circulation”.
The Schengen short-stay visa (visa Schengen court séjour) lets you enter and remain in a country in the Schengen area for a maximum period of 90 days. It may apply to an uninterrupted stay of 90 days or several stays with a cumulative length of 90 days. As with tourism and business, taking a short training programme, doing an internship, working after obtaining a temporary work permit are valid reasons for being granted a Schengen short-stay visa.
The Schengen single entrance short-stay visa (visa Schengen court séjour à une seule entrée) is only valid for one trip. If it allows two or more entrances, it is a travel visa which is valid for six months to five years. It authorises one or more successive stays that must not exceed 90 days total, over a maximum period of 180 days.
No formalities are required, either on arrival or on departure. After the 90 days, you must leave the Schengen area. The Schengen short-stay visa is renewable, but you will have to wait for six months to submit a new request.
Long-stay student visa
Long-term student visa is issued for study programs providing permanent residence in France for over 90 days.
Important note: Before applying for a long-term student visa, you you need to register on the website of Campus France (https://www.campusfrance.org/fr) and complete the necessary procedures “Etudes en France”.
Students wishing to attend a college in France will need to provide proof that they have a Visa to enter the country. These Visas are not required for periods of less than 90 days by individuals from the following countries: 
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Moldova (Visa waiver applies only to holders of biometric passports)
- El Salvador
- United States
- Vatican City
There are several other countries in which students who want to come to study in France for 90 days or less will not require a Visa. It is a good idea to take a look at the website of the French government to learn about the other countries if your country is not listed above.
If you do not reside in one of these countries you will need to apply for a short-term stay visa when staying for 90 days or less. You also need to apply for a long-stay visa if you are going to be there for a period of more than 90 days. In order to obtain a Visa to enter France and any other countries of Schengen Area, you must apply to the French consular authority.
There is a charge for the Visa application and you must also have a passport that is valid for a period of three months past your expiration date of the requested party. You must complete an application that you sign and must submit three photographs with the application. If you are a student under the age of 18, your parent or guardian must sign the application. You will also need to inform the application that you are intending to attend college in France, as it is necessary to put the desired reason for the visa.
When completing your application for a French Visa it is essential that you complete the application in its entirety. You shouldn’t leave anything blank as this can greatly delay the application process. You also need to make sure that you have all of the documents that are needed and submit them with the application. Without these documents, your application may not be able to be processed, and again will delay the application.
It can take up to two months for a Visa application to be approved, therefore you are advised to submit all the necessary information as quickly as possible before you plan to leave. If your Visa is issued you will receive it within a short time. A denied Visa will result in your passport being returned without the valid sticker for a Visa.
If you are applying for a long-term stay visa you must do all of the above as well as hold a travel passport that is valid for the duration of your stay. Again, there is an application fee to process the application and this is not returned even if your Visa application is denied.
Long stay visa as a residence permit for students (VLS-TS “ÉTUDIANT”, VISA LONG SÉJOUR VALANT TITRE DE SÉJOUR)
The VLS-TS student visa allows you to pursue studies in France for a period of four months to one year. It must be validated upon your arrival in France. If you would like to continue your studies after it expires, you may apply for a multi-annual residence permit (carte de séjour pluriannuelle).
What does a VLS-TS student visa qualify for?
This long-term student visa, valid as a residence permit for students (visa long séjour valant titre de séjour “étudiant”, abbreviated VLS-TS “étudiant”). It allows you to stay in France from four months to one year for the purpose of higher education.
VLS-TS student visa entitles the holder to:
- travel freely in all countries that are located in the Schengen area;
- work 964 hours a year (20 hours a week to meet your financial needs);
- use the VISALE, the free security deposit service for students,
- get a rental subsidy from CAF provided by the family benefit Fund (caisse d’allocations familiales),
- extend their stay in the country beyond the validity of the issued residence permit.
How to obtain a VLS-TS student (VLS-TS “étudiant”) visa?
If you live in one of the 43 countries subject to the “Études en France” (“Studies in France”) procedure and you need a visa to come study in France, you must first apply to enrol in a higher education institution through the platform “Études en France”.Your visa application will be automatically sent to the French consular authorities of your home country through the platform.
If you do not live in one of these countries and you need a visa to come to study in France, please contact the French consular authorities in your home country.
What is the MULTIPLE-ENTRY VLS-TS student visa (VLS-TS “étudiant” à entrées multiples)?
Holders of a multiple-entry VLS-TS student visa (VLS-TS “étudiant” à entrées multiples) are entitled to travel outside France and in the entire world whenever they wish. Please be aware, however, that you must have validated your visa to travel outside France beyond the three months following your arrival in France.
During the first three months after your arrival in France, you are authorised to travel freely outside France and in the entire world with your visa, even if you have not validated it.
After these three months, however, if you have not validated your student visa and you travel outside France, you will be required to apply for a new visa to return to France.
How to validate your student VLS-TS visa?
As soon as you arrive in France, you must validate your visa. The process is entirely digital: you can do everything remotely, at home, on your computer. You must validate your student visa within 3 months of arriving in France at the very latest.
What do you need to validate your VLS-TS visa?
You will need the following information:
- a valid email address,
- information on your visa,
- your date of arrival in France,
- your home address in France,
- a bank card to pay online the fee for issuing the residence permit. If you do not have a bank card, you can buy an electronic stamp (timbre électronique) at a kiosk, at a dedicated terminal, and pay in cash.
Online validation procedure
- Log in on the website of the Directorate-general for foreigners in France;
- Enter the information on your visa: visa number, date of beginning and end of validity, date of issue, reason for stay;
- Enter the additional information: family status, telephone number, email address;
- Indicate your date of arrival in France and your address in France;
- Pay the stay tax of 60 euros
After the procedure is complete, you will receive two emails. A first email with your login details. You will need it to access your account. It will contain the confirmation of the validation of your VLS-TS visa. A second email confirming the information you entered online. You can download the email of confirmation of the validation of your VLS-TS visa.
How to stay in France to continue your studies before your student VLS-TS visa expires?
If you would like to stay in France to continue your studies but your VLS-TS visa will expire soon, you may apply to renew it by applying at the prefecture: you will need to apply for a multi-annual residence permit (carte de séjour pluriannuelle). Everything is done in France two months before your VLS-TS visa expires.
The multi-annual residence permit that is issued to you under certain conditions will have a period of validity that corresponds to the number of years remaining in the study programme in which you are enrolled.
For instance, if you have finished the first year of your undergraduate degree (license) in France, you could receive a multi-annual residence permit valid for two years, i.e. until the end of the third year of the undergraduate degree. If you are studying at a Grande École, your renewed residence permit will be valid until you obtain your diploma.
Other types of visas
In addition to student visas, there are other types of visas in France that are also intended for education or work experience as interns. Examples of such visas are the long-stay internship visa and the “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa, which we will discuss in more details.
The LONG-STAY INTERNSHIP VISA, or INTERNSHIP VLS-TS
The long-stay internship visa, or internship VLS-TS, allows you to do an internship in France for more than four months. When it expires, you can request a temporary internship residency permit.
What does the LONG-STAY INTERNSHIP VISA authorise?
The “Visa long séjour valant titre de séjour mention stagiaire” (long-stay internship visa constituting a residency permit), abbreviated as the internship VLS-TS, allows you to stay in France for more than three months as an intern. Your internship must be part of professional training and take place in a company or public hospital.
The long-stay internship visa authorises you to enter France. You will nonetheless have to have it validated by the “Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration” (OFII -French Office of Immigration and Integration) as soon as you arrive. If your internship lasts lfor ess than three months, you must apply for a short-stay visa and the procedure is different.
How to obtain the LONG-STAY INTERNSHIP VISA?
Contact the French consular authorities in your country of residence to request an internship VLS-TS. To complete your application file, you must provide the following documents:
- a current passport;
- a three-party internship agreement stamped by the Prefect and signed by you, the training institute or your employer and your training organisation, company or the health institution in France. The Prefect’s stamp is obtained from the Direction régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consommation, du Travail et de l’Emploi (Direccte – the Regional Department of Competition, Consumption, Work and Employment);
- proof of financial resources;
- proof of a home or residency in France.
If you are a citizen of one of the 41 countries subject to the “Studying in France” procedure, you may make your request for a long-stay internship visa directly online, via the “Studying in France” procedure. Contact Campus France for more information on this subject.
How to obtain a temporary internship residency permit?
When your VLS-TS expires, you can obtain a temporary residency permit if your internship is extended or renewed.
If the company, training organisation or hospital that is receiving you decides to renew your internship, the Prefect must validate an annex to your initial internship agreement. If the Prefect does not respond within 15 days, the request for validation of the annex has been duly accepted.
Once your internship agreement has been approved, you must request a temporary internship residency permit from the Prefecture. This request must be made at least two months before the date of expiry of your visa.
The “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa
The “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa allows you to pursue a doctorate, conduct research or teach in France. It may be renewed in the form of a multi-year residency permit.
What does the “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa permit?
The Visa Long Séjour Valant Titre de Séjour mention “passeport talent-chercheur” (VLS-TS long-stay visa constituting a residency permit marked “researcher-talent passport”) allows holders of a Master’s-level degree to stay in France to conduct research or teach at a university level in the framework of a hosting agreement.
Who qualifies for the “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa?
The “researcher-talent passport” VLS-TS is reserved for doctoral students, researchers and professors-researchers.
Spouses and minor children of the holder of a “researcher-talent passport” VLS qualify for the simplified “accompanying family” procedure and come to France without completing a family reunification procedure.
What is a hosting agreement?
A hosting agreement is an administrative document which specifies the nature and length of the work assigned to the researcher or doctoral student. It also states the resources, lodging conditions and the medical coverage provided to the beneficiary.
The hosting agreement must be sent by the host institute to the beneficiary. The researcher or doctoral student must then have it stamped by the Consulate in his or her country of residence at the time of the visa request. This procedure applies if the researcher or doctoral student is employed to conduct research or give classes, regardless of the nature of the work contract: doctoral contract, Convention Industrielle de Formation par la Recherche (CIFRE – Industrial Agreement for Training through Research) or other.
Nationals of a European Union country, the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Romania do not need to obtain a hosting agreement. The same applies for Algerian doctoral students, whose situation is governed by the Franco-Algerian agreements of December 27th, 1968.
If you come to France to study for a doctorate in a French university without financing or on a scholarship, but without a doctoral contract or work contract, your host institute may refuse to give you a hosting agreement. You will then have to request a “student” long-stay visa.
How to confirm your “Talent passport” long-stay visa?
For stays of less than 12 months, you have a VLS-TS” research talent passport ” that is valid for one year. You must complete online validation of your visa within three months of your arrival in France.
In order to stay in the country for 12 months or more, you initially have a visa “passport of research talent”, which is valid for three months. Within two months of your arrival in France, you must apply to the local Prefecture for a multi-year residence permit “passport of the researcher’s talent”. It is valid for a period of time identical to the term of the hosting agreement, but no more than 4 years.
Do you have the right to travel with a “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa?
The situation varies according to the length of your visa and the validation procedure associated with it.
With a multi-entry “researcher-talent passport” VLS-TS valid for one year, you can travel freely within the Schengen area during the first three months following your entry in France. After three months, you must have your visa validated online.
With a “researcher-talent passport” visa, you can freely enter and leave the Schengen area during the first three months following your entry in France. Beyond that, you will have to have your residency permit to travel outside France.
Do you have the right to work with a “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa?
If you have a “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa or residency permit, you can freely work in France without the prior consent of the Direction régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consommation, du Travail et de l’Emploi (Direccte – the Regional Department of Competition, Consumption, Work and Employment).
The spouse of a doctoral student or researcher who holds a “family talent passport” long-stay visa, may also work in France.
How to renew your “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa?
When your “researcher-talent passport” long-stay visa expires, you can request a multi-year “researcher-talent passport” residency permit to extend your stay in France. Submit your application at the Prefecture. If you obtain your residency permit, it will only be valid for a period of time identical to that of the hosting agreement, to a maximum of 4 years. This formality is renewable and costs 269 Euros.
Family members may also request renewal of their “family talent passport” long-stay visa to obtain a multi-year residency permit under the same conditions.
Obtaining assistance with the procedures
Throughout France, Euraxess centres provide free advice and administrative assistance for researchers who have moved.
COVID 19: Considering the present COVID 19 situation in France at the time when this article was written (August 2020).
Ensure that the above information does not interfere with the requirements imposed by the French Government at the time you consider leaving your country to move to France to study.
If you consider you should learn the language or improve your linguistic skills before coming to France, the best way to study in France is to do it with native.