The 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.
Applying for a Student Visa
Is a student visa required?
Less than 90 days: No longer 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.
Does a student have to appear in person at the Consulate to obtain a student visa?
Yes, all applicants must appear in person at the Consulate to submit biometrics.
Can a non-U.S. citizen apply for a student visa through a consulate 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?
All students must register with their local OFII office. A French student visa permits travel around the Schengen area (100kb Adobe PDF). 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.
How long does a student visa take and when should my student apply?
The Campus France process takes at least three weeks and the Consulate process take a minimum of two weeks. The application process can begin no sooner than 90 days before the departure date. It is strongly recommended that students begin the process at the earliest possible time in the event of unforeseeable delays.
Will consulates make exceptions and allow for emergency applications if a student is leaving sooner that than the standard processing time?
Unfortunately, there is no means by which a student’s application can be expedited. CampusFrance does not begin to review the case until the stated three-week processing time has elapsed.
My student cannot get an appointment time at the consulate 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 the consulate’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 consulate 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 application.
Can a student extend his/her visa in country (for a second semester, for example?
Students 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 for a period of at least 90 days before undertaking any extensive travel.
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, please have them contact the Consulate directly. If the problem persists, the education abroad advisor should contact the Consulate on the student’s behalf to try and resolve the situation. However, if this still doesn’t resolve the problem, the education abroad advisor can request assistance from NAFSA’s EA Consular Affairs Subcommittee.
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 your request to www.nafsa.org/eavisahelp, and your 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 your request for assistance. The link for EA Visa Help is also at the top of this web page’s sidebar.
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