Student visa and visa interview - International Students

Foreign students who are not residents from the European Economic Area must obtain a student visa to enter the country for further studies. Depending upon the length of stay and the duration of the degree program, different types of student visas are issued.

Student Visas

Short-stay visas

Short-stay visas are issued under European regulations. The new community visa code provides for short-stay visa regulations for students within the Schengen area. Two types of short-stay visas are issued namely:
  • Airport Transit Visas:  they allow the holder to arrive at the international terminal of the airport only.

  • Uniform Visa: this is valid within the Schengen area. It authorizes the visa holder to stay for up to 3 months within a 6 month period. The number of days a visa holder can stay is specified on its sticker with the dates of the validity as well. The validity is up to 5 years given that the passport is valid for that period as well.

Consulates also grant visas valid for one Schengen country.  The uniform visa is provided for one, two or multiple entries. The issuance of the short-stay visa is free of cost for students, according to community visa code, article 16.  Students who have enrolled in short-term study programs should apply for this visa.
  • Citizen of the European Economic Area, European Union, and Switzerland.
  • Nationals of Albania,* Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bosnia,* Barbados, Canada, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Croatia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Mauritius, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, San Marino, Paraguay, Vatican City, Taiwan, Seychelles, Uruguay, Montenegro,* Macedonia,* and Serbia.
    (* exemption is only for holders of biometric passports)
  • Nationals of  Australia, Brazil, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Singapore, United States, and Venezuela.
  • Holders of passports from the special administrative regions of Hong Kong (People’s Republic of China) and Macao (People’s Republic of China).
  • Holders of a French residency permit that is valid.Holders of a residency permit provided by a state that has followed the Schengen agreements; holders of certain travel documents issued by EU nations.
  • Holders of the "British Nationals Overseas" passport.

Student Examination Visa

The student examination visa is for those holders who need to be in France for entrance examinations or any other test for the purposes of applying to public or private higher educational French institutions.  Students who pass the exam must then apply for a renewable one-year residency permit at the prefecture relevant for the area in which the host institution is located. International students who apply for this visa must opt for the CEF procedure if it is in effect within their country.

Schengen Visa

The consular authorities at France are in-charge for examining applications for visa. The application form must be completed and submitted with a passport and photograph. The visa fee must be paid and biometric identification data of the students is also recorded. Applicants must give proof of purpose and circumstances of the visit to consulates. They must also demonstrate that they have the financial means for completing their studies.   

To qualify for this student visa, applicants must have medical insurance valid during travel which has coverage of at least €30,000.

Those exempted from a visa for short stays in France comprise:


VLS-TS Visa

The extended-stay visas with residency permit (VLS-TS visa) apply to all students from foreign countries who want to pursue higher education in France. Only Algerians are exempt for this visa as they are subject to other provisions. This visa is valid for 1 year except for those that consider the issuance of visa with a lower validity period. When the VLS-TS visa is issued, the applicant has to fill out an official form provided by the consulate.  This must then be presented to the OFII( French immigration office).

Those holding a VLS-TS visa do not have to obtain a residency permit issued by the prefecture, yet they must report to the OFII and complete key administrative formalities.

Getting a VLS–TS Visa under the CEF Procedure

In 33 countries where the CEF procedure is followed, the Campus France offices are set up in 2007 by a partnership between the following ministries and organizations:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE),
  • Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR),
  • Ministry of Culture and Communication (MCC),
  • Conference of University Presidents (CPU),
  • Conference of Directors of French Engineering Schools (CDEFI)
  • Conference of Grandes Ecoles (CGE).
International students are advised regarding their visa application and given support for tracking it by the Campus France office.  Students can also submit online applications via the website. Once students have received confirmation regarding their admission, they can then apply for the visa.

Getting a VLS-TS in a non-CEF Country

International students who have to enrol in first or second year at university or a school of architecture in France use the DAP procedure for admission purposes. Once the student gets a certificate of preliminary admission from the embassy, he or she can apply for the visa. Supporting documents may also be required by the consulate.
Since 2011, French consulates have also started granting VLS-TS visa to those who possess a master’s degree or higher and wish to enter France for scholarship or research.

Visa Interview

International students are required to attend a visa interview at the consulate. They also have to pay visa processing fee. You also have to carry all the required official papers and photocopies when you come for the visa interview.  The visa section of the consulate does not make any copies, so you need to ensure you have all the requisite documents with you. If you applied for two programs, check if you have been admitted to both before applying for the visa. Campus France emphasizes that students should dress appropriately for the interview and they should respect the policies of the consulate. 5 to 7 days of processing are required before the visa is issued.

Conclusion

The procedure for granting a student visa is simple. International students should follow the required procedure applicable to them.
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