Studying in France is a wonderful experience for anyone, since it is a country with internationally renowned educational centres that have excellent academic track records.

However, for a foreigner, the process to be able to study in France is extensive and requires a lot of organisation. As well as being accepted by a centre, each future student must also request a visa suitable for the type of course they will be studying.

European Union citizens do not need a visa to travel and stay in France. They only need an up-to-date passport or some type of ID. If they are staying for more than three months, they must go to the town hall and request residence.

Those students who are not citizens of the European Union will need a visa to enter France, although certain nations are exempt from requesting a visa if their stay is less than ninety days. To find out whether or not you live in one of these countries, you should ask in the French Consulate where you need to go to sort out your paperwork.

If your case is none of the above, this article will tell you the steps to follow to make this process as easy as possible.

When you have been accepted by the centre where you wish to study, you need to start the process to request and obtain your visa. Bear in mind that you will only obtain a student visa if:

  • You are accepted in an exchange programme or a dual-degree programme.

  • You have been accepted on a French course with a duration of between three months and a year.

  • You have been approved to study higher education through a platform other than “Études en France”.

In order to obtain a student visa, you need to present various documents with your visa application

  • Your passport should be valid for at least the duration of your stay in the country.

  • A document that proves that you have been accepted in a study programme accredited by a French institute.

  • Proof that you have funds to support you during your stay, such as a bank statement, a guarantor’s letter or a financial support document.

  • You must have proof of medical insurance to cover your stay.

  • You must also prove that you have somewhere to stay on arrival. This can be done by means of a document issued by the owner of your accommodation in France or a certificate stating that you will live in students’ halls of residence.

  • You need to show that you have knowledge of the French language if you are going to the country to study French.

  • A return ticket to your country or a letter declaring your intention to return.

Depending on the course you are going to study, you can choose one of the following types of visa:

  • For courses with a duration of less than three months, you will be granted a short-stay visa or a Uniform Schengen Visa. This visa is issued by countries belonging to the Schengen space for transit purposes or for a stay in one of the Schengen countries. This visa has a duration of 90 days within any 180-day period. When this type of visa is granted, it states which countries can be entered and is valid for multiple entries.

  • If your course requires you to stay in France between three and six months, you will need a long-stay visa that does not require any further formalities when you arrive in France.

  • If your studies are going to exceed six months, you will be given a long-stay visa, equivalent to a residence permit, which will be subject to further formalities on your arrival in France. In this case, all the formalities must be undertaken within two months of your arrival in France, in the prefecture of the town you are staying in during your time in France.

You need to be aware that all of these procedures have a cost and you will not be refunded this money, even if your visa is refused.

If you have already made up your mind and have been accepted by a study centre, I recommend that before starting the visa procedures, you do some research and make sure that you are clear on the whole process. You should also take into account that these procedures often take some time, so make sure that you leave enough time.

It is essential that you perform the whole process in a calm and organised manner. Take care with every detail so that you get the result you want and don’t have any unpleasant surprises. Although the process can be very tedious, like most of this type of procedure, the result is worth all the effort.