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.
Beware of fraudulent sites: Visa applicants are advised to be cautious in all dealings with companies that claim to offer assistance in obtaining visas
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 by completing the online portion of the Campus France Application (my Etudes en France account). Please follow the Campus France user guide very carefully to be sure that you have completed the process correctly! You can find this on the Campus France website here by clicking on “I am a study-abroad/exchange/dual-degree student”. 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, for the regular service option, 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
Or, for the expedited service option, send an email to Campus France at applicationfileUSA@campusfrance.org with the mandatory subject line: “EXPEDITED SERVICE + LAST NAME + USXX-XXXXX” and send them the following:
- The expedited service cover page
- A photocopy of their official acceptance letter
- A copy of the online payment receipt
Complete Campus France steps 1-3 ASAP
Student Visa Application
Applying for a Long-Stay Visa Student Visa
After registering with Campus France, students are required to apply for a long-stay student visa (90+ days). 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.
You will need to first complete the France-Visas application. Visit the France-Visas platform, register for an account, and complete the full application immediately after completing steps 1-3 in the Campus France application process. Please be sure to complete the application carefully, with precise dates of arrival in and departure from France.
Upon completion of the application, students will be provided with a list detailing the required supplementary documents to gather and bring along to their visa appointment. Follow this list closely as required documents may vary depending on the Visa Application Center visited.
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
- Your CEF number is your Etudes
- In “Your Contacts”: A company or organization will be accommodating me
- Recap - Continue
Read carefully through the required materials for your appointment provided upon completion of your France-Visas application. This page will explain each supporting document needed for your visit to the Visa Application Center. Bring along at least 2 copies of everything.
- 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.
Booking and Attending Your Visa Appointment
Students will attend their visa appointment in person at a VFS Global Visa Application Center (VAC).* A full list of these centers' locations can be viewed here. Students may make and attend their appointment at any VAC location in the U.S.
You will schedule your appointment at a VAC immediately upon completion of the France-Visas application. Appointments appointments book weeks, sometimes months, in advance and can fill up very quickly. If you delay, you risk not receiving your visa on time to depart. An appointment can be scheduled by visiting the VFS Global appointment platform. Register for an account, select a VAC location, and schedule your appointment. There will be an appointment booking fee of $29.79.
**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).
To make an appointment, visit the VFS Global appointment platform, register for an account, select a VAC location, and schedule an appointment. There will be a fee of $29.79 to book an appointment.
When making the appointment, please be sure to schedule it for 3 weeks after the date you emailed your Campus France documents, or 3 business days after the date you expedited your Campus France documents. This will allow enough time for you to receive the confirmation email from Campus France for your visa appointment. You do not need to wait for Campus France approval to schedule your appointment. However, you will be unable to attend your visa appointment without the Campus France confirmation email.
It will take approximately 2-4 weeks after the visa appointment for American students to receive their visas following their appointment. 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.
*The French Consulate in Washington, DC is the only consulate that still provides visa appointment slots. Students visiting the French Consulate in Washington, DC will have the option to book their visa appointment at either the VAC or the Consulate.
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.
- Complete the France-Visas application and schedule your appointment at a VFS Global Visa Application Center. Appointments book weeks/months in advance and can fill up quickly. 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 3-4 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.
- Gather supplementary required documents. Bring at least 2 copies of everything.
- Apply for
studentvisa in person at a VFS Global Visa Application Center. Make sure you have all of the required documents by reviewing the checklist from France-Visas 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
- 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.