VISA Application Checklist
It is still a little early to apply for your VISA but I'll go ahead and post this so you know what to expect.
FIRST, make sure you have a passport of course.
SECOND, make sure you apply on Campus France first, if you will be studying in France. This is where I messed up. I did not realize I needed to do that before the VISA appointment, so I ended up rushing and having to pay to have that part expedited. I paid $340 USD for this portion to receive it before my VISA appointment. Normally, the price would be about half of that, if not less. Just make sure to do this part in advance.
To start go to https://www.usa.campusfrance.org/regular-service-how-to-apply-for-a-student-visa They explain there that you need to first create your Etudes en France account. They provide the link depending on your studies.
After, you pay the fee (the one I was talking about earlier), and you submit the documents they request. I believe it was just the receipt of payment and the acceptance letter to your school, however my acceptance letter did not include an end date of my studies, so they ended up emailing me and asking for a school calendar or a new acceptance letter listing the end date as well as the start date.
After you have done this you will receive, by email, a conformation which you will need to print and provide at your VISA application appointment.
To make the VISA appointment you'll need to go to https://france-visas.gouv.fr/
You will need to fill out the online application portion. I believe I just had to fill out basic information and list where I would be staying in France (So, unfortunately you will need to find housing ahead of time - I will write another article about that). Then you can book an appointment online, where you will pay an appointment fee that can not be reimbursed. It was around $30. Make sure to schedule your appointment at least a month before leaving to insure time to get your passport back with your VISA inside. However, I would schedule my appointment as early as possible. Because I messed up with the Campus France portion, I ended up having my appointment exactly 3 weeks before my departure date, and it was very stressful, I do not recommend. LUCKILY, my VISA arrived just after 2 weeks, but I do not think that is very typical.
Once you have completed the Campus France portion and the online portion and you have booked an appointment date, you will need to gather the following to take with you on the day of your appointment (I took extra documents just in case and I will list everything I took because I can not remember exactly what I submitted, but the lady did allow me to submit extra documents just to help insure I got the VISA. So it can never hurt to provide too much!)
- Campus France confirmation email
- Passport (with at least 2 blank pages)
- 2 VISA photos (they differ from Passport photos, but I had a hard time finding a place that
could take VISA photos. I ended up going to CVS, getting passport photos taken, coming home, scanning them in and resizing them to fit the requirements for a VISA photo, and then I reprinted them. These are just for the application but they will take your photo on the day of to be the photo that will go on your actual VISA - They also take your fingerprints at the appointment digitally so do not worry about doing any finger prints or criminal background checks ahead of time for France!) Here is the link to see VISA photo requirements - https://france- visas.gouv.fr/documents/66002/47558890/ISO_IEC_FV_Visa_Photograph_Requirements_EN.pdf/3a830943-2167-47db-b55b-a822225b288a
- Birth Certificate Copy (apparently it is supposed to be translated into french ahead of time. I did not do this so I must have been lucky to get by without it. However, I recommend doing it as you will need a translated version in France if you would like to receive free housing aid, social security, etc.)
- Copies of all pages of my passport
- Copies of my ID front and back
- Printed bank statements proving I have enough money to live. (I think the minimum in France is 650 Euros per month)
- School acceptance letter and calendar
- Proof of payment of the $30 for the application appointment
- The filled out actual application form they will have you download at some point after the online portion. MAKE SURE TO FILL OUT DIGITALLY. I filled it out by hand and they would not accept it. I got lucky and the lady let me run down to a UPS store and re-fill it out online and print it during my appointment. You will just sign it by hand at the end.
- Proof of housing in France
- Proof of flight. I only had a one way ticket but some people say you need to provide a return ticket, but I think as long as you show proof of funds to purchase the return ticket, it is fine.
- Proof of travel insurance (I will make another article about the best and cheapest kind to get)
- Language Certificate. I had passed a language course previously giving me a certificate certifying that I had a level of B2 in french. I submitted a copy of this just because, but it was not required. It is just a bonus if you have it or proof of any language ability.
I believe that was all that I brought, but it never hurts to be overly prepared. If you have any other important documents, scan them and bring copies just in case! Show up ahead of time and don't be nervous! I don't think that they deny many VISA requests so you can relax. Make sure to get everything taken care of as early as you can. I was lucky to receive my VISA as I did everything late and had filled out my form by hand. If you are late, there is no way to expedite VISA applications for France, trust me I asked! SO try to be ahead of things, and if you aren't, hopefully you will be lucky like me! Haha