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An Expat Student Guide to French Visas

UNESCO statistics revealed that France has the third highest population of international students in the world, with 271,339 calling the country home for academic purposes. Universities in France are incredibly modern and students can benefit from being surrounded by people from all areas of the world whilst being enveloped in the unique French culture.

Whatever your reason for choosing to study in France, getting to grips with the visa application process is key to ensure a smooth transition abroad.

How to apply for a French student visa

CampusFrance is the French national agency for higher education and international students. Some countries will require international students to apply for study and their visa through this portal and this information can be obtained from the CampusFrance website. Alternatively, students will be required to apply for their desired course via the university website and then get a Visa from the French embassy or consulate in their home country.

Students that are NOT from the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Anybody who wants to study in France but is not from Switzerland or a country in the EU or EEA will need to apply for one of the French student visas below:

Short-stay student visa (visa de court sejour pour etudes)

This visa is mostly applicable to students registering on language courses or any short-term courses as it only spans three months. It is completely free and non-renewable.

Entrance exam visa (etudient concours)

Students who need to undertake entrance exams to secure a place at their chosen place of study will need this visa. Upon passing the exams students can apply directly to their local French authority (prefecture) for a one year renewable residence permit.

Temporary long-stay visa (visa de long sejour temporaire pour etudes)

Students with this non-renewable visa can study in France between three and six months without the need for a residence permit.

Long-stay visa (visa de long sejour etudes)

If a student is applying for a course that is over six months then a long-stay visa is the answer. This student visa, which also doubles as a residence permit, last for the duration of a course in the country. They are also known as VLT-TS.

Students that ARE from the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Students from any countries in the EU and EEA, or those who live in Switzerland, will only need a valid passport to study in France once securing a place on a course. Your college or university will provide any further details.