France is a popular destination to study due to its prestigious colleges and graduate employment possibilities. Each city, from Paris to Marseilles, Bordeaux to Lyon, has a unique personality and offers students something new and distinct.
Before relocating to France, students must apply for a student visa. Foreign nationals who wish to study in France must first submit an application for a long-stay visa valid residence permit (VLS-TS) indicating student status (valid for 4 months to 1 year). After a 12-month period of time, you can apply for a temporary student residence card (valid for one year) or a multi-annual student residence card (valid for 2 to 4 years).
The purpose of a long-stay visa is to enable the bearer to obtain a residence permit and dwell in France for a predetermined duration. The visa also permits the holder to apply for a residence permit at the Prefecture, where you reside in France, to settle on French soil. As soon as the holder of the visa arrives, they must call the appropriate Prefecture to commence the process and inquire about how to submit his residence permit application file.
A French Student Visa is an entry permit to the Schengen Zone provided to nationals of third countries who intend to enter and reside in any member state for short-term study purposes.
This Schengen Visa allows its holder to stay in the Schengen area for up to three months. If your course of study or training is longer, you will need to apply for a Long-Stay French Schengen Study Visa at the embassy of the nation in question. Student Schengen Visas are required only for nationals of third countries that have not signed a visa-free agreement with Schengen Area member states.
French Student Visa Application Process
The Schengen regulations stipulate the following timeframes for submitting a Student Schengen visa application:
- Three months before your Schengen travel, at the earliest.
- No later than 15 days before departure.
It is essential to apply approximately four weeks before your departure date, as this will allow the embassy enough time to complete your visa.
There is no age restriction for Schengen visa applicants who desire to attend a training or study program in the Schengen Zone.
If you choose to enrol in a higher education institution that needs you to pass an entrance exam administered in France, you must take the exam in France (European and non-European countries).
If you pass the entrance exam, this visa will allow you to regularize your position at the Préfecture (police station) in your place of residence in France without returning to your home country to apply for a long-stay visa to study.
Important: even if you do not require a short-stay Schengen visa, you must apply for a short-stay “étudiant/étudiant-concours” (Student examination) visa to profit from this.
The “étudiant-concours” (student examination) visa, whose duration cannot exceed 90 days, cannot be awarded until the entrance exam results, typically within 90 days.
Failure to pass the entrance exam will result in the prefectural authorities not issuing you a residence permit, and you will be required to leave the Schengen area once your visa for short-term stays expires.