"scientifique-chercheur" (research scholar) long stay visa

Research scholars living in France for over 3 months now benefit from a long stay visa (VLS-TS).

French consulates now issue a VLS-TS ("visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour", long-term visa acting as residence permit) to holders of a degree at least equivalent to the Master who come to France to perform research work or teach at university level.

Public and private institutions of higher education and research organizations may use this visa category to bring doctoral candidates, research scholars, and research faculty to France to perform research or to teach at the university level.

Holders of a VLS-TS "scientifique-chercheur" (research scholar) must, as in the case of a student visa, complete validation processes with the OFII. If the holder's stay on the French territories extends beyond a year, he/she will have to apply for a residence permit at the prefecture of his/her residence location.

Hosting agreement

The hosting agreement is an administrative document that defines the nature and duration of the work to be performed by the applicant. It is intended to support the application for the extended-stay scientific visa and is stamped by the prefecture and sent by the host institution to the research scholar before he/she files his/her demand. After this step, it is sent to the consulate.

The hosting agreement is the sole document attesting to the purpose of the stay, the resources to be made available to the research scholar, and specifying its housing and medical insurance. The same procedure applies to doctoral (PhD) applicants when he/she is employed to perform research work, regardless of the nature of employment contract: doctoral contract, industrial agreement for training through research (CIFRE), or other.

Doctoral students coming to France without a hosting agreement generally benefit from a "student" visa.

"scientifique-chercheur" residence permit

A residence permit marked “research scholar” allows the holder to perform research and teaching activities in France under the terms of the hosting agreement. Applicants must apply for the residence permit two months before termination of the research scholar visa. Applicants must pay a fee on issuance.

Foreign researchers may obtain residence permits for periods longer than 1 year but no longer than 4 years. The permit duration reflects the time required or expected to be required for the work described in the hosting agreement. The prefecture in charge of the applicant’s place of residence has jurisdiction (CESEDA, article L313-4).

Special cases:

1/ You may not obtain a hosting agreement if you are:

  • a EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway citizen, since you don't need a visa.
  • an Algerian doctoral (PhD) student under contract in the framework of the French-Algerian agreement of the 27th of December 1968.
  • a Rumanian doctoral student

2/ If you come to France to study in a Doctoral course and you are registered in a French university, and if you don't benefit from any subsidies or your subsidies is a scholarship grant (without doctoral contract or employment contract), the host university may refuse to issue a hosting convention and you will need to apply for a student visa.

Research scholar's family members

Family members of the research scholar visa or residency permit holder are eligible for a residence permit marked "vie privée et familiale" (private and family life) subject to satisfactory incomes and medical-accident-evacuation cover (for spouse and children who entered France as minors, article L. 313-8 of CESEDA) . We recommend to file all applications for visas at the same time to benefit from the status "conjoint et famille de chercheur" (research scholar's spouse and family).