Do I Need a visa to study in France?
Depending on your native country, it may be necessary for you to obtain a visa if you wish to study and/or learn French while residing in France. Citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, or nationals of the European Economic Area can thus study in France without demanding a visa beforehand.
Nationals of other countries who do not have a French residence permit must therefore obtain a visa to stay in France and learn French, whether as a student or on a personal basis.
The type of visa varies depending on whether you are a student or not, and also depends on the length of your stay.
Long- Stay Visa (visa long séjour)
The long-stay visa as residence permit is the most suitable for students who wish to learn French: it can indeed be extended for those who wish to pursue higher education in France.
Valid for 4 to 12 months, this long-stay visa exempts its holder from the obligation to apply for a residence card and offers many advantages: the later can indeed travel throughout the Schengen zone, work part-time in France and ask for housing benefits paid for by the CAF (caisse des allocations familiales) Holders of such a visa who wish to extend their stay in France beyond the validity of their permit must however apply for a residence card at the prefecture 2 months before visa expiration.
The long-stay visa as a residence permit is also intended for workers, trainees and visitors who, for a period of between 4 and 12 months, will have the opportunity to learn French in France.
Temporary long-stay visa
This temporary visa is also granted for a period ranging from four to twelve months but differs from the long-stay visa in several fundamental points : it cannot be extended in France and does not give its holder the possibility of working part-time or apply for financial aid from the CAF. It is therefore aimed at people who wish to take a few months or even a sabbatical year to learn French.
Working holiday visa or “young traveler”
The working holiday or “young traveler” visa addresses people aged 18 to 30, and concerns 16 countries. In order to obtain this visa, one should meet certain specific conditions, the reason for the trip being the tourist and cultural discovery of France – which includes of course learning French language. With a maximum duration of one year, this visa cannot be extended but will still allow you to exercise a salaried activity.