Extended-stay student visa, with residency permit (VLS-TS)

 
With one exception, the new VLS-TS visa applies to all international students wishing to enroll in a French institution of higher education. The exception is Algerian nationals, who are subject to other provisions.

 

In most cases, the extended-stay visas with residency permit (VLS-TS) is valid for 1 year, "except in circumstances calling for the issuance of a visa with a shorter period of validity, as in the case (…) of some students." 

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

Holders of the VLS-TS visa no longer have to obtain a residency permit from the prefecture having jurisdiction over their place of residence in France, but they do have to report to the OFII and complete several administrative formalities. 

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

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

Upon receipt of these documents, the local office of the OFII will send the visa holder, by regular mail to the address provided by the visa holder), a letter acknowledging receipt of the form and possibly asking the holder to report for a medical examination if such an examination was not performed in the holder's country of origin or upon entering France. 

Special cases:

  1. Students enrolled at an institution in Paris must send their documents to the welcome center (Cellule d'Accueil) at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP), 17 boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris.
  2. Some institutions (including many universities) have entered into agreements with OFII whereby their students' documents are to be submitted to the international student office at the institution. Students are strongly urged to check this point with their new institution before arriving in France.

In all cases, a tax of €55 must be paid by purchasing a tax stamp marked "OMI" or "ANAEM."

The stamp may be purchased:   

  • online at www.timbresofii.fr
  • in certain shops that sell tobacco products (Tabacs)
  • at tax offices.

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

Obtaining a VLS-TS in a non-CEF country

International students wishing to enroll in the first or second year at a university or school of architecture are required to use the so-called DAP procedure, under which the student must complete an application for preliminary admission obtained from the culture and cooperation office 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 admission. 

Students who are not seeking to enter the first or second year at a university or school of architecture may contact the institutions of their choice to obtain a certificate of preliminary admission. 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

In making their decisions on applications for academic visas, France's consular officers use the criteria spelled out in an interministerial circular dated January 27, 2006. 

Consular officers are required to take into consideration general factors, including 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 circlar 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.

Also mentioned are three other criteria whose relevance is not limited to the decision on whether or not to issue a student visa.  They are:

  • the absence of any threat to France's security or to public order
  • the authenticity of the documentation produced by the applicant (such as diplomas and 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. Under the guidelines, prospective students must demonstrate that they possess resources equivalent to 70% of the monthly base amounts paid to recipients of French government scholarship grants, about €455.France's consulates have discretion in applying these guidelines.