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Formalities for international students coming to study in France

Studying in France

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  • Enrolment

    Enrolment

    Each year, the enrolment period for international students is between 1st December and 31st January. © Only France

  • The CEF Procedure carried out by Espaces Campus France

    The CEF Procedure carried out by Espaces Campus France

    An Espace Campus France (Campus France office) carries out an administrative review of the applicants’ file and verifies the authenticity of their degree. © Photo Alto

In order to come and study in France, students from countries outside of the EU must obtain a student visa and be in possession of a passport. For those students from EU member countries, an identity card is sufficient. Each year, the enrolment period for international students is between 1st December and 31st January. If you plan on enrolling on a course, find out more information from the cultural service of the French embassy in your country and from Centres pour les Etudes en France (Centres for Studies in France, or CEF): the conditions of admission are different depending on your nationality, your country of residence and the nature of your studies.

The CEF procedure carried out by Campus France offices

Since 2005, a programme has been in place in France which "aims to provide support for international students in order to ensure that their course of study in France is successful". This programme, established by Campus France (the Agence pour la Promotion de l’Enseignement Supérieur, l’Accueil et la Mobilité Internationale, or French National Agency for the Promotion of Higher Education, International Student Services and International Mobility), is called the CEF procedure (Centres pour les Études en France, or Centres for Studies in France).

Today, 231 higher education establishments have acceded to this convention and there are now Espaces Campus France (Campus France offices) carrying out the CEF procedure in a total of 31 countries.

This scheme enables the applicant wishing to study in France to benefit from support and advice throughout the entire procedure up until the requesting of a visa and to monitor developments by consulting their online file.

  • The Espace Campus France provides applicants with information online, which includes both assistance and guidance using a personal messaging system; helps applicants schedule language tests; conducts the administrative review of the applicants’ file and verifies the authenticity of their degrees; schedules interviews with applicants concerning their educational plans.
  • The higher education establishments that have acceded to the CEF convention consult the students’ file online; access interview reports; request additional information from the local Espace Campus France via the messaging system; select applicants; send online offers of preliminary admission to applicants and their local Espace Campus France.
  • The consular department examines applicant files online; examines the full consular file submitted by students; decides whether to issue a student visa; records this decision in the applicants’ online file.

Student visas

Students from countries outside of the EU must obtain a student visa. There are four possible types of visa.

The Visa de Court Séjour pour Etudes (short stay student visa)

This enables students to come and study in France for a period of up to three months. This type of visa cannot be renewed and its holder is exempt from having to obtain a residence permit.

The "Etudiant Concours" visa for competitive entrance examinations

This visa allows its holder to sit a competitive entrance examination in either a public or private higher education establishment. If the student passes the examination, he or she can obtain a residence permit valid for one year (renewable) from their nearest prefecture without returning to their country of residence.

The Visa de Long Séjour Temporaire pour Etudes (temporary long stay student visa)

Holders of this visa are permitted to study for between three and six months in either a public or private higher education establishment. This cannot be renewed and its holder is exempt from having to obtain a residence permit.

The Visa de Long Séjour pour Etudes (long stay student visa)

This is issued to international students wishing to study in France for a period longer than six months. It enables them to obtain a residence permit valid for one year (renewable) from their nearest prefecture.

Means testing

Students that are not eligible for a grant from the French Government or any foreign government or international organisation, and who are not funded by any EU programmes must prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence (€615 per month), equal to the basic monthly maintenance allowance paid by the French Government to foreign scholarship students.

Pre-enrolment

If you have gained advanced level qualifications (e.g. A-levels) in a country outside of France and you want to enrol in the first year of a French university course, it is compulsory that you fill out a Demande d’Admission Préalable (Preliminary Application for Admission, or DAP). There are two types of DAP form:

Enrolment

You must enrol directly with the establishment concerned in the following cases:

  • student that is already enrolled on a degree or master’s degree course at a French university
  • when enrolling in a post-graduate degree, whether it be in a university or in any other establishment of a specific nature
  • applicants taken on after carrying out a competitive entrance examination

You must enrol directly with the university via the Admission Post Bac website in the following cases:

  • those who have passed the French, European, Franco-German or international Baccalaureate
  • applicants that are nationals of countries in the EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss nationals
  • students involved in an inter-university agreement
  • students eligible for a grant from the French Government or an international organisation or foreign government, whose grants are managed by a certified French body
  • stateless individuals or political refugees in possession of the card issued by the Office de protection des Réfugiés et les Apatrides (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons, or OFPRA)
  • students whose parents are diplomats and live in France

Within the framework of this compulsory procedure, applicants must sit a French exam in order to assess their written and oral comprehension of the French language and their written expression. This exam, organised by the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (French International Centre for Educational Studies, or CIEP), costs €63 euros to sit and takes place at French universities in February and March.

Those exempt from sitting this exam are:

  • nationals from countries where French is the official language
  • foreign students who have received teaching in both their native language and French (list established jointly by the French National Education and Foreign Affairs ministries)
  • those who have passed the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (Diploma of Advanced French Language Studies, or DALF) and level B2 of the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française (Diploma in French Language Studies, or DELF)
  • those who have sat the test set by the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris) and obtained at least 14/20 in the written section of the test

Enrolment on certain courses is directly via the Admission Post Bac website:

  • students currently enrolled in a Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Ecoles (or CPGE, two intensive years of study in preparation for further education)
  • students currently studying a Section de Technicien Supérieur (or STS, a two-year technical course following the French Baccalauréat)
  • students currently enrolled at an Institut Uuniversitaire de Technologie (University Institute of Technology, or IUT)   

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