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 and to be informed 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).
Once you receive your visa, please ensure that you check the exact wording as indicated in the remarks section of your visa (PDF, 88 ko):
- ÉTUDIANT– CESEDA R3
- 11-3 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 obtain a VLS-TS CESEDA R311-3 6 student visa.
The visa application process can take a long time and we advise you to begin the process three months before your scheduled arrival date. 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: transform your visa into a residence permit with the French authorities
Within 3 months of entering France, you must register your VLS-TS on the website of the French Ministry of the Interior.
To do this, you will need:
- a valid email address
- your VLS-TS visa
- your date of entry into France
- a credit card to pay the residence permit fee
At the end of the procedure, you will receive confirmation of the registration of your VLS-TS. You can download this document by logging into your online area.
This administrative step is compulsory and guarantees your legal status in France. Failure to complete this step will result in a non-regular immigration status and you will not be able to cross the Schengen border. For any questions, you can contact the Ministry of the Interior by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: +33 (0)8 06 00 16 20.
Other useful information
If you fail to complete these formalities by the three-month deadline, you will be liable for a fine.
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.
- Visa and Residence Permit Procedures (PDF, 250 Ko)
- 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.)