With the exception of Algerian nationals, who are subject to other provisions, the VLS-TS visa applies to all international students wishing to continue their studies in a French higher education institution.

In most cases, the extended-stay visas used as residence permit ("visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour", VLS-TS) is valid for 1 year, "except in specific circumstances calling for the issuance of a visa with a shorter period of validity."

When the VLS-TS visa is issued, the consulate will give the applicant an official form (with instructions) to complete and transfer to the French office of immigration and integration (OFII).

Holders of the VLS-TS visa have to report to the OFII and complete several administrative formalities.

Specifically, a VLS-TS holder must send to the OFII by registered mail (return receipt requested) upon arriving in France:

  • The official OFII form received from the consulate that issued the visa.
  • A copy of passport pages showing the visa holders identity and the stamp indicating entry in France or the Schengen area.

As soon as you receive these documents, the regional OFII directorate will send by mail a reception certification of the form to the address used by the applicant and will set up a meeting (if applicable) to a medical inspection if none has been done in the country of origin or to a welcome visit.

Special cases:

1 - Students with a housing in Paris must bring the housing documents to the OFII office in the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (from September to November), or, if out of this period, in the OFII centre in Paris.

2 - Specific institutions (including several universities) have a convention with the OFII: all documents must be delivered to the foreign students welcome desk of your institution. We strongly encourage you to check out which solution suits you best in your host institution.

In any case, a 58 euros fee must be paid.

The fee is paid with a fiscal stamp that must be sent to the OFII during the medical examination session.

You may buy fiscal stamps:    

Algerian students applying for their first 1-year “residence certificate” are also subject to this tax. However, because they cannot obtain an extended-stay visa with residence permit, they may not buy the digital stamp purchased. Instead, they must purchase the physical paper version.

Obtaining a VLS–TS under the CEF procedure

Thirty five countries have Campus France local offices equipped to administer the CEF procedure. This process is the result of a partner agreement that became in 2007 the CEF master agreement involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR), the Ministry of Culture and Communication (MCC), the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), the Conference of Directors of French Engineering Schools (CDEFI), and the Conference of Grandes Ecoles (CGE).

The scheme provides students intending to study in France with advice and support while preparing the visa application and, later, in tracking the prospective student’s applications for admission. 

Applicants who open an account on the Campus France website in their home country gain access to a digital process that allows them to file online applications to approximately 230 French institutions and to chat with the staff of the Campus France office in their country and with participating institutions from which they may obtain a preliminary offer of admission (often under the preliminary admission process known as DAP).

Students interested in nonparticipating institutions must contact them directly.
Campus France offices in the 31 countries where the CEF process is used provide prospective students with information and guidance. The procedure includes a messaging system that allows students to chat with local Campus France staff.

Campus France local offices make arrangements for language-proficiency tests where these are required.
They also review students’ applications for completeness, authenticate degrees and arrange interviews to explore the prospective student’s study plans.

Link: http://www.campusfrance.org/fr/page/a-partir-dun-pays-a-procedure-cef

 Obtaining a VLS-TS in a non-CEF country

International students wishing to enrol in the first or second year in a university Licence course are required to follow the DAP procedure: students must complete a registration form obtained from the culture and cooperation office (SCAC) of the French embassy in the student's country. The student may not apply for a visa until he or she receives from the embassy a certificate of preliminary registration.

In the other cases, students must directly contact the institutions of their choice to obtain a certificate of preliminary registration. With such a certificate in hand, the prospective student may submit to the French consulate his or her application for an extended-stay visa, along with any supporting documents required by the consulate.

Criteria for the granting of an extended-stay student visa

The "academic" criteria to grant a visa are defined in an interministerial circular (Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Higher Education and Research) dated January 27, 2006.

Consular officers are required to take into consideration general factors, such as the likelihood that the applicant's training in France will result in "professional success," the likely contribution of the student's plans to the economic and social development of his or her home country, and France's relationship with that country.

The circular also lays out more specific criteria:

Criterion 1: The applicant's academic background, with priority given to applicants prepared to enter a master's or doctoral program, holders of a French baccalauréat, applicants admitted to a program to prepare students for the grandes écoles, and applicants admitted to selective short programs (IUT, STS).

Criterion 2: The applicant's level of preparation (notably in assembling and sending to French institutions "information designed to facilitate their autonomous decision to offer preliminary admission to the student through indications of how the institution is likely to complement and enhance the applicant's academic preparation"), the reliability of the grades and evaluations claimed by the applicant, and the overall fit between the applicant's international study plans and his or her prior preparation and background.  

Criterion 3: The institutional framework of the applicant's international study plan, with priority accorded to applicants participating in exchange programs governed by agreements between French institutions and institutions in the applicant's home country, to recipients of French government scholarships, and to students who have graduated in their home country from a degree program offered by or involving a French institution.

Criterion 4: Language proficiency, as determined by an assessment of the applicant's command of French, without prejudice to applicants showing exception academic potential.

Three additional criteria are also used, but are not specific to the grant of a student visa:

  • absence of any threat to France's security or public order;
  • authenticity of the documentation produced by the applicant (degrees, grade reports);
  • evidence of sufficient financial resources.

The last point is dealt with in general guidelines on the issuance of visas, since France's immigration code (CESEDA) does not specify a minimum amount. Prospective students must prove that they have resources equivalent to the monthly base amounts paid to recipients of French government scholarship grants, about €615.  France's consulates have discretion in applying these guidelines.