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.

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