To study abroad, you must have a signed, valid passport from your country of citizenship that will not expire for a minimum of six months after your planned return date. If you do not have a passport, or it's about to expire, make sure you apply or renew as soon as possible. U.S. Citizens can refer to the U.S. Department of State's website for more information regarding passports.
A student visa is official permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. All U.S. passport holders studying for more than 90 days must obtain a student visa prior to departure. The process begins online by registering with Campus France, and then making an appointment to apply in person at VFS Global. VFS will not accept student visa applications more than three months before departure, but it is advisable to apply early within that timeframe. During part of the process, VFS will have your actual passport while your visa is being processed. Traveling internationally prior to the start of your study abroad program will interfere with your visa application process.
As of 2020, all France study abroad students will need to register onsite for a residence permit within the first three months of arrival. This ensures you are registered as a legal resident of France.
Further information will be posted to your Gateway account in the Visa Guide, which you will receive typically four months prior to the program start. The Program Advisor in the Central Office are also available to answer visa questions you may have.
All costs related to obtaining a visa, including travel, are your responsibility.
You may be required to apply for your French student visa in your home country. Check with your home country consulate, as well as the French Embassy, regarding visa requirements. Permanent Residents of the U.S. should check with U.S. Immigration as leaving the country for more than one year may jeopardize permanent resident status. Tax clearance and re-entry forms may also be necessary in these cases.