Obtaining and renewing a residency permit
Upon the expiration of the initial residency permit (the one built into the VLS-TS visa), students and research scholars alike must renew their residency permit.
Upon the expiration of the initial residency permit (the one built into the VLS-TS visa), students and research scholars alike must renew their residency permit at the prefecture for the area in which they reside (in Paris, the prefecture of police). The new residency permit is a laminated card that is separate from the passport. The cost of renewal is €30.
Students and scholars are not required to return to their home country and apply for a new visa (CESEDA – Art L 313-7 and following).
Where to apply
Applications for a residency permit are generally made at the prefecture or subprefecture for the area in which the student resides. In some departments of France, the prefectures have established satellite offices for the convenience of international students.
Students residing in Paris must visit the website of the prefecture of police to schedule an appointment 2–3 months prior to the expiration of their residency permit.
When to apply
Applications must be submitted to the prefecture within 2 months of the date of expiration of the current residency permit. It is a good idea for prospective applicants to contact the prefecture before the beginning of this 2-month period in order to learn what will be expected of them.
Upon submission of a complete application, the student is issued a receipt that serves as an interim residency permit until a final decision is made on the student’s application. Receipts are issued for complete applications only!
Although the prefecture will process applications that do not meet the stated deadlines, it is strongly recommended that students adhere to the dates and deadlines set by the prefecture.
The student will be asked to provide evidence that he or she is indeed pursuing the course of study for which the original visa was issued. That evidence may take the form of a certificate of enrollment, grade reports, or other documents attesting to the student’s attendance and achievement.
The student must also furnish evidence, in a form satisfactory to the prefecture, that he or she possesses sufficient financial resources—at least €615 per month (CESEDA, new article R313-7). If the student has been working while in France, the income from employment is counted toward this requirement.
The role of the prefecture
The prefecture will not issue the residency permit on the spot. It must first verify that the applicant is indeed working toward a degree. Frequent repetition of courses, abrupt changes in the student’s field or level of study, and frequent absences not justified by serious personal or family circumstances may be grounds for refusal.
The prefecture is also responsible for verifying the applicant’s means of support in France.
Students enrolled at the master’s level or higher at a nationally recognized institution may apply for a residency permit covering their entire academic program up to a maximum of 4 years.
The list of programs and degrees eligible for multiyear renewals is set by ministerial decree. At the time of publication, the applicable decree was that of May 12, 2011 (Journal Officiel, May 15, 2011).
Students holding a multiyear renewal must send to the competent authority each year evidence that they have passed their final examinations for the year or that they have been admitted into the next year of study. That evidence must be sent by registered letter with confirmation of receipt.