France Visa FAQs

October 25, 2018

 

french flagThe following information is designed to assist education abroad advisers as they guide their students to obtain a student visa to study abroad. NAFSA’s EA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members review these pages regularly for accuracy and update them as needed. 

As of July 2018, all visas are processed at the Consulate General in Washington DC and consulates are no longer taking appointments for visa applications (this includes DC). In lieu of going to a consulate, students will visit a Visa Application Center (VAC) all of which are operated by VFS Global. Application materials will be collected by VFS staff and sent to the DC Consulate for processing.

French Consulates still exist within the U.S. to assist French Nationals, but all student visa applications must go through the Visa Application Centers. VACs are located in Washington DC, New Orleans, Houston, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, and New York (the same cities in which the Consulate General are located).

 

Read the latest updates on French Visa Regulations

Applying for a Student Visa

Is a student visa required?

  • Less than 90 days: Not required for U.S.-passport holders. Students of other nationalities should check the website, France Visas (https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en_US/web/france-visas) to determine whether or not they will need a visa to study in France.
  • Over 90 days: A visa is required for all students. E.U.- and E.E.C.-passport holders are exempt from this requirement.
  • All following questions and answers apply to long-stay visas (over 90 days).

What is the process for applying for a student visa?

Before applying for their visa, students must first complete an on-line application with Campus France.

Once Campus France has validated a student's dossier, they may proceed with their visa application.

What are the requirements to obtain a student visa?

After completing a series of questions in the section entitled, “Do You Need A Visa?” on the France Visas website (https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en_US/web/france-visas), the list of student visa requirements will appear, including the visa application fee.

Is batch processing (a single institution submits visa applications on behalf of its students) possible?

Unfortunately, this is not possible for the visa application. CampusFrance does offer a group mailing option.

Does a student have to appear in person at a VAC to obtain a student visa?

All applicants must appear in person at a VAC, where biometric data will be collected.

As of July 27, 2018, students may select any VAC they want to submit their visa application. Jurisdiction no longer applies.

VFS provides a mobile service in which they will go to a university campus to collect visa applications. This service comes with a fee based on the number of applicants (an increased flat fee where the per student cost changes based on the total number using the service).  More information can be found at http://www.vfsglobal.com/france/usa/.

Can a non-U.S. citizen apply for a student visa through VFS in the U.S.?

All students at a U.S.-based institution may apply, however, nationals of other countries must be in possession of a valid visa to re-enter the United States after their time in France.

Does the student have to complete any additional procedures once overseas?

If an applicant did not opt out of the OFII procedure at the time of their application in the US, they must register with their local OFII office upon arrival in France. A French student visa permits travel around the Schengen area (100kb). Students may leave and re-enter France (from outside the Schengen area) for 90 days from the date they first arrive in France. After this point, students must have the OFII vignette (sticker) in their passport or an "Attestation de dépôt de dossier OFII" (receipt of submission). Students who do not have one of these will need to apply for another visa to re-enter France in their country of residence.

Processing Time

How long does a student visa take and when should my student apply?

The Campus France process takes at least three weeks (unless an applicant pays additional for the expedited three-day service) and the visa process will take a minimum of two weeks.  As of this writing, the visa process is taking 2-4 weeks for U.S. passport holders, and sometimes longer for non-US citizens. The application process can begin no sooner than 90 days before the departure date, but students may start the Campus France application as soon as they have received their acceptance letter.  It is strongly recommended that students begin the process at the earliest possible time in the event of unforeseeable delays.

Will VFS make exceptions and allow for emergency applications if a student is leaving sooner that than the standard processing time?

CampusFrance offers an expedited service for an additional fee.  VFS does not offer an expedited service.

My student cannot get an appointment time at the VFS processing center in time for departure.  How can the student get an earlier appointment?

It is recommended that the student first sign up for the earliest possible open appointment.  The student may regularly check VFS’s website for cancellations.  When there is a cancellation, an earlier appointment time will become available.  It is important that the student check the website multiple times per day because the openings will be claimed quickly by others seeking to advance their appointment.  The VFS appointment system uses passport numbers as reference numbers and only one appointment can be assigned to a passport number. This means that students, and in particular those who may need to change their appointment, need to be careful to keep their appointment confirmation number as this is the only way to access the system to change or cancel an appointment.

Per the DC Consulate, students that cannot secure appointments should write to them directly at visas@consulfrance-washington.org. Students should include their name and the city in which they would like to submit their application with VFS.

Changing Visas While Abroad

Can a student obtain a student visa once overseas?

Students with legal residency in another country may apply for their visa through a Consulate in that country, however, as students at a U.S.-based university, they still must complete the on-line Campus France USA application because there are Campus France offices around the world.

Can a student extend his/her visa in country (for a second semester, for example?

Students who completed the OFII may be able to extend their visa at the préfecture for their département, which requires that they begin the renewal process at least 2 months before the end of their visa's validity. Otherwise, students are required to apply for a new visa in the United States. Students in this situation would also need to re-activate their previous Campus France application.

Can a student travel after the program even if their student visa has expired?

Students should leave the Schengen zone on or before the date that their visa expires and re-enter after

that date. Please note that students whose citizenship requires that they apply for a Schengen visa may need to return to the US or their home country to do so.

Problems with Visa Applications

If a student is having a problem obtaining his/her visa, what should s/he do?

If a student is having a problem obtaining their visa, the students may contact VFS by phone at 1(212) 784-6157 or 1(347) 252-3055; or via e-mail at info.FranceUSA@vfsglobal.com. The student may contact the French Embassy via email only using this address: visas@consulfrance-washington.org.

Is there a way to track the visa application one it has been submitted at the VAC?

On the day of the visa appointment at the VAC, students will be given a tracking number they can use to track their visa application online. It is important that students retain this tracking number. In the event of any unforeseen delays with their application, the tracking information will be helpful in determining where the visa is in the process. Use the following steps to look up one’s visa application:

Step 1: go to France-visas.gouv.fr

Step 2: click on VFS Global centers  

Step 3: on that page, go to Track your application

Step 4: enter last name and reference number

How do I ask for assistance from NAFSA’s Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee?

NAFSA members may submit a request online in order to request assistance from NAFSA's Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee. Submit a request to www.nafsa.org/eavisahelp in order to request assistance from the Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee. The message will be automatically routed to the appropriate NAFSA Subcommittee member. We encourage you to use NAFSA's EA Visa Help tool in lieu of emailing and calling subcomittee members directly.  This help NAFSA track where the issues arise and with what frequency so that we can better advocate with French Consulate officials and VFS. NAFSA's Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members will respond promptly to the request for assistance. The link for EA Visa Help is also at the top of this web page's sidebar.