France has a lot to offer international students, from iconic cultural sites to buzzing nightspots to top-class educational institutions. If you’re aiming to make the leap and settle in France to study, there are a number of factors to take into account – from obtaining the right visa to sorting out where to live.
At Remitly, we know it can all be a little overwhelming to think about. That’s why we’ve put together this condensed guide which covers the most important things to keep in mind as you prepare to say ‘Bonjour’ to life as a student in France.
Applying for a student visa
It almost goes without saying that the first step to becoming a student in France is securing your place at a university or other educational institution. Then, if you’re coming from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you’ll need to look into applying for a student visa. In most cases, this will be a long-stay ‘VLS-TS’ visa, and the application is made through your local French embassy or consular authorities.
Depending on where you’re based, you may be able to fill out the application form online here. The supporting documents you’ll be expected to show include:
- Valid passport
- Two passport photos
- Official letter or certificate of acceptance on your course
- Proof that you have accommodation secured for your stay – for example, an official letter from the university, or official rental agreement with a private landlord
- Proof of a minimum monthly income of €615 – for example, a recent bank statement or a letter from an officially identified guarantor
Once this is done, you can book your in-person appointment at your local French consular services to provide biometric data and complete the application.
Note that if you’re moving from one of the many countries in the ‘Études en France’ scheme, you’ll have to first register on the Études en France platform here. The list of applicable countries is on that page.
The cost of the process is €50 for Études en France students, and €99 for everyone else.
Finding the right place to live in France is, of course, a hugely important part of the process. There are a number of possibilities open to you:
- University accommodation that’s managed by CROUS, an organisation that oversees halls of residence. The rent is low and the properties are located close to campuses, with plenty of opportunity to mingle with other students. Demand is high, and – unless your accommodation is taken care of as part of a formal exchange program – international students need to apply through this page.
- The International University Campus in Paris. This is a sprawling network of dozens of residences in Paris, and is the largest site hosting international students in the region. Priority is given to students studying for Master’s degrees and doctorates, and prices vary depending on the kinds of rooms and amenities you require. Applications can be made here.
- Private residences. There are plenty of apartments and other properties available for students across the country, and you can browse many of the options at specialist listings sites like Les Estudines and Adele.
- Homestays with French families. This can be a great choice if you’d enjoy home comforts and the chance to get to know local people. You can check out possibilities at CoHomly.
Finding a part-time job while studying in France
Many international students will want to get a part-time job while they study. Not only is it a good way to supplement your income, but it can help you get a deeper feel for the culture and make new friends. The good news is that the VLS-TS visa permits you to work 964 hours per year.
Chances are there’ll be lots of opportunities in the city or town you settle in, with jobs in retail and hospitality always popular among students. It may be worth taking time out to polish your résumé before you move to France. After all, moving to a new country and settling into your course will be a hectic and exciting time, and working on your résumé may not be uppermost in your mind at that point.
You’ll be able to search for jobs using online listings, checking noticeboards at the university, or even by exploring the local area and popping into shops, bars and restaurants in person.
Setting up a bank account
Opening a French bank account means you’ll be able to more seamlessly integrate into your new life abroad. As you might expect, there’s no shortage of great banks to choose from, and you can browse their websites long before you move to France to see what kinds of services they offer. When comparing the options, it’s useful to keep these questions in mind:
- Does the bank charge administration fees for your account?
- Can you access your account and manage your money through a phone app?
- Does the bank have staff who can speak your first language?
- Can you make use of overdrafts, insurance, savings accounts and other potential services?
Sending money back home
While your mind is sure to be on the details of your upcoming course and the excitement of getting to know a new city and new people, we know that many international students will also be thinking of how they can send money back to support their loved ones at home. Some international students in France may simply want to transfer gifts for birthdays and other events, while others will need to provide ongoing financial support to family and friends.
In either case, you’ll likely want to ensure you get the most value from your remittance service. This is where doing some homework comes in very handy. You may find that using an online-only money transfer company will be more cost-effective than banks and traditional land-based firms. As exclusively digital companies don’t have to cover the high running costs of physical premises, they’re often able to provide customers with lower fees and highly competitive exchange rates.
Ready to start sending?
Here at Remitly, our mission is to help people all over the world provide financial support to the people they love. We’re proud to offer a quick, easy service with a clear fee structure and great exchange rates, which prioritises convenience and security. Like to know a bit more? Delve into our website, or why not download our user-friendly app to try us out now?
Further reading: 8 Essential Apps for Immigrants Living in France