If you are not a national of one the 28 countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (Island, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland), Andorra, Monaco, Saint-Marin or the Vatican, you must obtain a visa to study at a university. This must be done before your arrival in France. Citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican may stay in the European territory of France without a visa for longer than 90 days.
The different types of visas for studies in France
Short stay visa (-3 months)
Short-stay visa i.e. a “étudiant/étudiant-concours” (Student examination)
If want to enroll in a higher education establishment that requires you to pass an entrance examination organized in France (European and non-European countries).
If you pass the entrance examination, this visa will enable you to regularize your situation at the Préfecture (police station) in your place of residence in France without having to return to your habitual country of residence to apply for a long-stay visa to study.
Important : to benefit from this, you must apply for a short-stay “étudiant/étudiant-concours” (Student examination) visa even if you do not need a short-stay Schengen visa.
The short-stay “étudiant-concours” (student examination) visa, whose duration may not exceed 90 days, can only be issued when the results of the entrance examination are known i.e. usually within 90 days.Should you fail the entrance examination, the prefectural authorities will not issue the residence permit and you must leave the Schengen area once your short-stay visa has expired.
Short-stay Schengen visa
The short-stay visa is a Schengen visa. It allows you to stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Your visa will be valid for a specific period. This period may be shorter than 90 days. You can travel freely between the 26 Schengen countries while your visa is valid.
If you want to leave and re-enter the Schengen area within the 180-day period, choose the multiple-entry option when making your application. Nothing must be done upon arrival or departure from the territory.
After the 90 days you must leave the Schengen area. The Schengen visa is renewable but you must wait 6 months before applying for another Schengen visa.
This visa does not allow you stay permanently in France.
Long stay visa (+3 months)
Long Term Visa used as Residence Permit: VLS-TS ‘’étudiant’’ (Visa long séjour valant titre de séjour)
The VLS-TS student visa allows you to pursue studies in France for a period of four months to one year.
It must be validated upon your arrival in France. If you would like to continue your studies after it expires, you may apply for a multi-annual residence permit (carte de séjour pluriannuelle).
Once you’ve arrived in France you must contact the Immigration Office (OFFI) to finalize your stay on the French territory.
Holders of a multiple-entry VLS-TS student visa (VLS-TS « étudiant » à entrées multiples) are entitled to travel outside of France and in the entire world whenever they wish.
Please be aware, however, that you must have validated your visa to travel outside of France beyond the three months following your arrival in France.
This Visa is used to study in France, and lasts four to twelve months. It cannot be renewed.
It allows you to travel freely in countries included in the Schengen Area and benefit from the French social security (after having registered in a higher education institution) during your stay and benefit from a part reimbursement of your health expense. You don’t need to validate your VLS-T in a ‘’préfecture’’ at your arrival. There is no process to follow during your visa validity period.
Unfortunately, contrarily to the VLS-TS this visa does to allow you to work during your studies, benefit from VISALE (free rental deposit service for students), receive housing subsidy with the CAF or extend your stay.
You must leave France once the visa expires.