Passports and Visas
All U.S. semester and academic year students must meet the requirements that the French government has in place in order to study abroad with IAU. Please follow the instructions below carefully and promptly, and the process will be much easier. The information is provided in the order that each step should be completed.
For non-U.S. citizens or those who retain citizenship within a Schengen country (specific European countries), please see the section at the bottom of this page that discusses those steps and/or requirements.
All students studying in France need a passport that is valid for at least 90 days after their date of departure. Passports should be applied for five months in advance of departure date through a US Passport Agency (Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC); through a Postal Clerk designated by the Postmaster General; Clerk of any Federal Court; or Judge or Clerk of any Probate Court. It is absolutely necessary to have a passport before applying for a visa.
Needed for a passport application:
- proof of identity
- proof of US citizenship (birth certificate, naturalization certificate, consular report or certification of birth, or previous passport)
- completed application forms
- photographs (two duplicate color passport-size)
There is also an expedited passport option for an additional fee. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for additional details.
On receipt of the passport, check that all information is correct. If not, return it for correction to the office of application; under no circumstances should you correct it yourself. Keep a photocopy of the information on the first two pages of your passport; in case of loss, this information will be very helpful in getting a replacement.
For students studying abroad for a short-term program, please note that your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond your period of intended stay.
Campus France Registration
Semester and academic year students must register with Campus France before obtaining their long-term student visa. Summer students with American passports are exempt from this requirement.
Start the registration process on the Campus France website here and click on “I am a study-abroad/exchange/dual-degree student” to access the user guide and create a My Etudes en France account. This will walk students through the creation of a Campus France Etudes en France application and completion of STEP 1.
Once the online application is complete, follow the instructions in the Campus France guide under STEP 2. This will give you two options to pay the Campus France service fee, a regular service option with a three-week turnaround time or an expedited service option with a 3-business day turnaround for an increased fee.
Next, send an email to Campus France at applicationfileUSA@campusfrance.org with the mandatory subject line: “REGULAR SERVICE + LAST NAME + USXX-XXXXX” and send them the following:
- The regular service cover page
- A photocopy of their official acceptance letter
- A copy of the online payment receipt
Complete Campus France STEPS 1-3 ASAP
After completing STEP 1-3 in the Campus France application, visit the France-Visa platform. This is how you will make an appointment at your assigned consulate (you can also find the France-Visa platform on your assigned consulate’s website). If you do not know where your assigned consulate is, please see the Consulate Finder.
**Please be sure that you make your visa appointment for no more than 3 months before your start date but with enough time to receive your mailed passport back from the consulate or visa processing center before arriving in France (generally 3-4 weeks before your arrival in France).
Begin this process as soon as possible so you do not risk delaying the arrival of your visa. Campus France recommends starting the process at least two months before you need to leave for France. Priority is given to students who start the process early.
Student Visa Application
Applying for Long-Stay Visa at the French Consulate
After registering with Campus France, students are required to apply for a long-stay student visa (90+ days). To obtain a visa, the student must apply to the French Consulate or visa processing center serving either the student's legal state of residence or the state in which the student's school resides. Individual French consulates operate autonomously regarding visa applications. The requirements may vary from consulate to consulate or change without notice. Therefore, students are advised to verify the number of accompanying documents currently required by the consulate in question at the time they request an application form, and to be sure to carefully complete the form with precise dates of arrival in and departure from France.
It will take approximately 2-4 weeks after the visa appointment for American students to receive their visas. For international students, it could take up to three months so please read all of the information on the visa website very carefully. **This means that students must schedule their consulate appointments for approximately 3 weeks (more than 3 weeks for international students) before their departure date. Otherwise, students risk not being able to leave on time for the program.
Tips for Completing Your Visa Application:
- Use European date format - DD/MM/YYYY
- National Identity number - leave blank
- In “Your Information:” Current occupation is "Student"
- List University name, city, country, and email address of your Study Abroad Advisor
- In “Your Stay:” Indicate the dates you are planning on arriving and leaving from France
- Your CEF number is your Etudes en France number.
- In “Your Contacts”: A company or organization will be accommodating me
- Recap - Continue
- Read carefully through the required materials for your appointment in your Visa-France application.
- This page will explain each supporting document needed for your visit to the consulate.
- Last completed degree would be your high school diploma.
- Accommodation is the Attestation emailed to you in your acceptance packet.
- A bank account statement is required to prove sufficient funds. 615 euros is about $725.
- The figure of $820 per month suggested on the Financial Guarantee form does not necessarily mean that each student will be spending this amount or that it will actually cost that much to live in France. Rather, this figure approximates expenses such as lunches, travel, and theater, and is a guarantee to the French government that the student will not be stranded in France without funds.
- The fee for the Visa-France application is 99 euros.
- Check to see how your consulate accepts fees here.
- The final step is to check a box that you made your appointment at your French consulate.
- You will be redirected and click on the “Whom do I contact icon”.
- Select the consulate assigned to you and click “set up an appointment”.
Consulate Contact Information
For a list of consulates, including their address, phone number, and the web address for student visa requirements and application information, go here.
Schedule Online Appointment at the French Consulate
Even though students are not able to apply for their visa at the consulate until the Campus France application is complete, students need to schedule an appointment at the consulate ahead of time (but no more than three months prior to leaving the U.S. because these appointments book weeks, sometimes months, in advance. This can be done by going to the appropriate French consulate website and making the appointment online. Students MUST visit the consulate they were assigned. The assigned consulate can be found on the first page of the Campus France online application.
In the coming months, the French consulates are moving to VFS: Global for booking appointments. During the summer of 2018, the consulates will be making the transition to the VFS platform. This platform charges a fee of $31.50 to make an appointment.
When making the appointment, please leave four weeks for Campus France to process your application. You do not need to wait for Campus France approval before scheduling the appointment. However, students cannot go to the consulate without their Campus France confirmation e-mail.
Passport and Visa Checklist
Before you go to your appointment, run through this checklist to make sure you have everything you need for a Visa!
- Apply for passport
- Register with Campus France and complete Campus France STEPS 1-3. Refer to their Step-by-Step Guide if needed.
- Schedule visa appointment online at the same time you commence your Campus France application. Consulate appointments book weeks/months in advance so if you delay, you risk not receiving your visa on time. You do not need to wait for Campus France approval before scheduling your appointment. However, you need the Campus France e-mail before you can go to the consulate so schedule your appointment for at least three-four weeks after you have completed the Campus France application in its entirety.
- Receive Campus France’s e-mail confirmation, print it out and write your Campus France ID number on it (beginning with "USXXXXXX").
- Receive Campus France's Proof of Payment message, print it out.
- Apply for student visa in person at the French consulate or assigned visa processing center. Make sure you have all of the required documents by reviewing the consulate website very carefully.
- Receive your visa and your residency form (if applicable); you will need to keep this form and take it with you to France to complete the process
- Complete your interview and medical exam once you arrive in France (if applicable)
Students with passports to the following countries are not required to apply for a long-stay student visa: Switzerland, Andorra, Vatican, San Marino, Monaco, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
For citizens of any other country, visit your country's French consulate website to determine the visa requirements. The visa process for non-US citizens may take much longer than that of US citizens so please begin the application process as soon as possible or you risk not receiving your visa on time. If you need a visa, please contact the U.S. Office immediately for assistance.
In addition, before arrival in France, non-US citizens must check visa requirements of countries to be visited and obtain visas necessary for travel within Europe.
Completing the Visa Process Once in France
Once students have their visas and arrive in France, some will need to submit the appropriate documents to the OFII (Office français de l' Immigration et de l'Intégration/French Office of Immigration and Integration). Students are responsible for completing the process once they arrive in France in order to abide by the French laws. Students who do not complete this process risk being deported. IAU helps students by scheduling the below medical visits as a group to facilitate transport. Students who miss these scheduled dates are required to arrange their own transportation.
According to the Chicago French Consulate website the OFII Form should be filled out by the following students:
- all students who will be staying in France for more than six months (180 days). This applies to all IAU Academic Year students.
- students who will be staying in France for a period of time between four and six months (for a total duration of 91-180 days) who wish to be allowed to work in France while studying.
Please note that an IAU internship or work-study are not considered "work" and don't require the OFII Form to be completed.
- students who will be staying in France for a period of time between four and six months (for a total duration of 91-180 days) who wish to be able to extend their visa once they are in France.
Please note that if you apply for a visa with the OFII Form, you must complete the registration process in France. It is better to apply for the OFII if you are considering extending your stay beyond one semester than to not apply for the OFII as you cannot apply for it one in France if you have not already been stamped in your US consulate. However, if you begin the process in the US, you are required to complete it in France.
Students will need to provide the OFII with:
- the completed residence form they submitted for their visa application in the U.S.
- a copy of the ID pages of their passport and of the immigration stamp received at the border
- although this is not required, it may be a good idea to have a copy of their birth certificate
Then, they will need to appear for an interview with:
- their passport
- a proof of accommodation/residence in France
- one ID picture (Students should have this taken in France. The cost is approximately 5€)
- means of payment for the processing fees of 60€
When the file is complete, a registration stamp will be added to their passport and it will allow them to stay and study for up to one full year.