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Apply for a visa and residence permit
Before you leave: apply for a visa
To study in France, you must comply with all French entry and residence requirements. Check with the French consular services to find out which type of student visa you need. You will also need to make a note of the list of documents you will need to provide when submitting your visa application.
Of the various types of visa, two will allow you to enter France to study. The visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour VLS-TS (fr.) (long-stay visa that serves as a residence permit) and the visa marked "dispense temporaire de carte de séjour" (temporary dispensation from requiring a residence permit).
Please ensure that you check the exact wording as indicated in the remarks section of your visa (PDF, 88 ko):
- ÉTUDIANT– CESEDA R311-3 6° AUTORISATION TRAVAIL LIMITÉE 60% DURÉE LÉGALE : this is the VLS-TS visa. You are exempt from obtaining a residence permit during your first year in France. You must however register with the OFII allowing you to obtain the OFII stamp.
- LONG SÉJOUR TEMPORAIRE DISPENSE TEMPORAIRE DE CARTE DE SEJOUR : this visa exempts you from having a residence permit and from registering with the OFII. You will be unable to apply for French housing aid with the Caf and you will not be authorised to work in France.
- VISA DE RETOUR CARTE DE SEJOUR À SOLLICITER DANS LES DEUX MOIS SUIVANT L’ARRIVÉE : this visa allows you to return to France. Upon arrival, you have two months to obtain your residence permit.
Please note: if you are staying in France for over a year, you must get a VLS-TS CESEDA R311-3 6 student visa.
The visa application process can take a long time, so you need to get started about three months before your scheduled arrival date (with a few exceptions). You either have to contact the French consulate or, for countries concerned by the CEF (Centre pour les études en France) procedure, apply on the Campus France website.
Citizens of European Union countries do not need a visa to study in France.
When you arrive: get your visa validated as a residence permit by OFII
If you have a visa for a period of over three months marked "student" and "CESEDA R311-3 6°", you are exempt from having to apply for a temporary residence permit for the first year of your stay in France. However, you do need to contact the local immigration office, OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration), within a few days of your arrival to validate your student visa so it serves as a residence permit (VLS-TS).
The OFII form (fr.) has to be processed within the first three months of your arrival in France and the whole process takes one to two months to complete.
Step 1: apply for an appointment
The first step is to send the documents below to the OFII in your département (fr.):
- The OFII application form (PDF in French, 33 KB), stamped by diplomatic or consular services if necessary, after clearly filling out the sections for your visa number, date of entry into France or the Schengen area, your address in France and your email address. It is very important to indicate your email address legibly on the OFII application form.
- A copy of the page of your passport showing your name, photo and dates of issue and expiry
- A copy of the visa page marked "étudiant" and "CESEDA R311-3 6°"
- A copy of the page stamped for entry into France or the Schengen area.
If you are living of Paris (including students studying on a regional campus), visit the welcome service for foreign students at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP). This one-stop shop service is open from September to November, to help you complete all the necessary paperwork. If need be, they may be able to tell you the date of your appointment.
If you are living outside of Paris (including students studying on a regional campus), you can contact us for guidance before sending your documents to the OFII in your département (fr.) by post. Once OFII has received all these documents, they register your file and send you first a certificate of receipt and then an appointment date for the validation of your visa, by post or email.
These immigration procedures are a priority. If, for reasons outside your control, you cannot attend your appointment, you must inform OFII immediately and the regional branch will automatically send you a new appointment date. But be warned, OFII will only reschedule the appointment once.
Step 2: documents to produce at the appointment and appointment process
On the day of the appointment, you must go to OFII with the following documents:
- the notification you received to attend the appointment,
- your passport with the visa,
- proof of address (rent receipt, lease, water or electricity bill, or a signed letter from the person housing you, called an attestation d'hébergement),
- an ID photo (fr.)
- fiscal stamps worth 60 euros purchased in a tobacconists or digital fiscal stamps paid for online (fr.) (remember to print the proof of online payment).
On the day of the appointment at OFII, once you've paid the tax, OFII validates the VLS-TS visa as a residence permit with a blue OFII sticker (59 Ko) in your passport. It is this validation that allows the visa to serve as a residence permit.
Other useful information
If you fail to complete these formalities by the three-month deadline, you will be liable for a fine.
It is preferable not to travel outside of French unti you have received your certificate of receipt and appointment date with OFII.
Shoud you have to travel, please note your responsabilities as listed below :
- Your VLS-TS multiple entry visa allows you to travel in the Schengen area.
- Outside of the Schengen area : your VLT-TS multiple entry visa allows you to travel without the OFII stamp only during the first three months after your arrival in France. After this period, it is compulsory to travel with the OFII stamp or with proof of your certificate of receipt and appointment date with OFII.
Algerian students, who are still subject to the Franco-Algerian MoU of 27 December 1968, have a student visa marked "residence permit to be applied for within two months of arrival" and are therefore not concerned by the procedure with the OFII. They must apply for a residence permit through Sciences Po or their local prefecture.
Students with a visa marked "dispense temporaire de carte de séjour" (temporary dispensation from requiring a residence permit) do not have anything further to do. This visa does not allow you to get a residence permit.
Students aged under 18 on the date of issue of their visa are not concerned by the procedure. When they turn 18, they have to apply for a residence permit through Sciences Po or their local prefecture.
- France visas : the official website for visa applications to France
- Coming to France (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)
- Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration (OFII)
- Service Public – Official website of the French Administration (fr.)
- Paris Préfecture de police
- Campus France (CEF procedure)
- Application for naturalisation (fr.)
More about Students
CONTACT THE RESIDENCE PERMIT OFFICE
9 rue de la Chaise, office S06 - 75007 Paris - garden level
- Monday to Wednesday, 9.30am to 12 noon and 1.30pm to 4pm
- Friday, 9.30am to 12 noon
From May to October: open non-stop from 9.30am to 4pm and on Friday from 9.30am to 12 noon