Visa Woes

American Applying to HEC Paris navigates the French visa system

Fridays are good for problem-solving. You have the whole day to think of solutions, Saturday to implement them, and Sunday to figure out a list of phone numbers to call on Monday.

As an American planning to study in France, I have the fortune of navigating the complex web of French governmental agencies. In order to apply for a long-stay student visa, which is a visa for students who are studying at an institution recognized by the French Ministry of Education for longer than 90 days, you must first create a CampusFrance account and receive a letter from them after payment.

Here’s a list of things you need for the CampusFrance ID:

-your transcripts

-CV

-money order made out to “Maison Française- CampusFrance” for $120

-copy of your acceptance letter.

Once you have completely filled out the online form, you'll need a printout of your CampusFrance ID. So far, these are the difficulties I’m encountering:

1) The Campus France form is all in French, so you need to go by their PDF guidelines, which doesn't address little issues such as attachment sizes.

2) Transcripts from post-secondary institutions need to be uploaded as files. They only accept JPEG, GIF, or BMP files not over 300 KB.

3) Ditto for your CV to be uploaded. I plan to email washington@campusfrance.org for some help with this.

Next, assuming you have received your confirmation letter from CampusFrance, you will need to schedule a visa appointment with the French Embassy.

Here is a list of documents you will need to present IN PERSON at your appointment, taken from the San Francisco French Embassy's website.

-Passport valid for 3 months beyond the applicant’s last day in France-plus 1 photocopy

-2 Copies of the Long-Stay application forms filled out and signed - Remember to indicate a date of departure

-2 passport-size photographs

-For non-US citizens, proof of legal residence in the US (visa, permanent resident card…) 
plus 1 photocopy

-A letter of admission (pre-enrollment) from a university which the applicant will attend in France. This school must be recognized by the French Cultural Office- plus 1 photocopy

-Financial guarantee: either a notarized statement -from the parents- certifying that the applicant will receive a monthly allowance of 800 US dollars for the duration of her/his stay in France and their last 3 bank statements, or a proof of (student’s) personal income and their last 3 bank statements and a letter from the University stating that room, board and tuition are fully prepaid-plus 1 photocopy

-Proof of medical insurance with coverage valid for France if you are attending a school or university for a stay less than 6 months OR if you are 28 or older regardless of the length of your studies-plus 1 photocopy. You will have to prove that the coverage is valid while you study in France with a letter from your medical insurance.

-A printout of your ID number from CampusFrance

-A copy of your last Degree, Diploma, student ID, or transcript plus 1 photocopy

-Round trip ticket if you are studying 6 months or less, plus 1 photocopy, or a one way ticket only if you are studying in France more than 6 months-plus 1 photocopy.

Once you've secured your visa, you'll also need to apply for a Carte de Séjour (residency permit) once you arrive in France, plus you’ll need to submit the Attestation OFII form in France as well.

I have my work cut out for me.

Current status: CampusFrance account started, form not completed, attachments too large, passport sitting on an official desk somewhere, in the process of being renewed.

Like I said, Fridays are a good day for problem-solving.

Originally published on Peggy's blog in January 2010

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