France Visa FAQs

February 06, 2017

 

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, but the consulate to which the student applies for a visa may change its procedures. Students and advisers should confirm specific procedures with each relevant French Consulate, until the Visa Application Centers (VACs) are open, which we anticipate will be late July 2018.

Read the latest news on French Visas 

Where is my local consulate?*

French consulates in the United States

*Please note the French Consulates are transitioning to outsourcing via Visa Application Centers (VACs) and are expected to be in place by late July 2018. Refer to the latest news link above for details. 

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 contact the appropriate French Consulate 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?

While most student visa requirements are similar from consulate to consulate, the student must check the appropriate consulate’s website for the exact requirements. An interactive map with links to the individual French Consulates in the United States can be found on the Embassy's website at: http://ambafrance-us.org

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 the Consulate to obtain a student visa?

Starting in Spring 2018, all applicants must appear in person at a local visa processing center organized through VFS, where biometric data will be collected. VFS centers will be located in Washington DC, New Orleans, Houston, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, and New York.

Once all VACs are fully operational, the goal is for all applicants to be able to select any VFS center they want to submit their application. Before such time, home or school address will still dictate where an applicant must go. 

VFS does provide a service of coming to a 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 here.

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 VFS process will take a minimum of two weeks.  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.

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 with their visa, the student should contact the VFS Center directly: http://www.vfsglobal.com/france/usa/English/index.html.  

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

Education abroad advisers 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, and the message will be automatically routed to the appropriate NAFSA Subcommittee member. NAFSA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members have contacts at the majority of consulates in the United States and 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.