If you are an EU national, or national from the EEA, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not require a visa to study in France. If you are a national from anywhere else in the world, you will need to obtain a student visa for France. You need to have secured a place on a course at a French educational institution before applying for a visa.
There are different types of student visas, depending on how long you plan to study in France:
- Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa) - If your studies will last less than three months. It is issued free of charge and cannot be renewed. 41 countries may not need a visa for a stay of less than three months.
- Etudient concours (visa for sitting entrance exams) - On this visa, you can come to France to take an entrance exam at an institute of higher education. If you pass, then you can apply directly to your local prefecture (French local authority/administrative office) in France for a one-year, renewable residence permit.
- Visa de long séjour temporaire pour etudes (temporary long-stay visa) - This visa allows you to study in France for between three and six months without the need for a residence permit. It is non-renewable.
- Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa) - If you want to study for longer than six months. This type of study visa lasts for the duration of your course in France. Long-stay visas act as residence permits and are called VLT-TS.
- Extended stay research scholar visa - If you have a Master’s degree or higher and want to come to France to take part in research or teach at university level, then the institution can bring you over on an extended stay research scholar visa VLS-TS.
Some countries require you to register first with CampusFrance (www.campusfrance.org), the French national agency for higher education and international students, in order to apply for admission and get a student visa through the CEF procedure. Otherwise, you should get your visa at the French embassy/consulate in your home country.
There is an official website for visa application to France: https://france-visas.gouv.fr/. You can find an overview of the necessary documentation for your visa application there.
It can take up to two months for a Visa application to be approved, so you should submit all of the necessary information as quickly as possible before you plan to leave.