In this article, I will share my experience on how to apply for France Student Visa in U.S.A.
After you are admitted to MGIM program and received admission letter from IAE Graduate School, you can then start France Student visa processing.
Application to France Student visa is two step process.
- Campus France Application and Interview
- Attend interview at France Consulate in U.S.A ( I went to Atlanta)
By the time I got my acceptance letter from IAE, it was almost the second week of June.
Then you have to fill out your Campus France application online, and a representative from Campus France contact you with further details.
The PASTEL application (Campus France application is called PASTEL) mostly asks for your academic details, more of why you want to study in France, what do you plan to do, etc and you have to mail them a processing fee with your application.
You need the acceptance letter from Campus France before you can book your visa with the consultant.
One difficulty I faced with my Campus France application was, everything was in in French.
This PDF will be a life saver for you when you’re ready to fill your application. It has step by step instructions on how to properly complete your application.
You may or may not have an interview with Campus France depending on the representative. If they need more clarification from you, they might arrange for a phone interview. The phone interview would include simple question regarding your answers you submitted in Campus France Application.
French Visa Processing : France Consulate in Atlanta
It takes abut three weeks for Campus France to process your application.
Once your application is processed, you can book your interview date. You will see a letter in Campus France online account that is required before applying for France Student Visa.
I would suggest booking your France student visa interview appointment based on 3 weeks time estimate from Campus France.
Don’t wait until your Campus France application is processed.
- Visa : France via Consulate General of France in Atlanta
- Type : Long Stay Student Visa
- Required Documents
It’s not easy to get your visa appointment date with France Consulate in Atlanta. There are only a few spots that are available, so I would recommend to keep checking at least three times a day or more as spots open up randomly when people cancel.
My original France Student visa interview date was on July 28th, and I wanted an earlier date as I had my India tickets booked for the end of July.
After checking back about 10 to 15 times every day, suddenly an interview slot opened up on July 3rd. Guess what, it was July 2nd, 2 PM when I got that appointment.
It took me four hours to put together all my documents and we started to drive to Atlanta around 6 pm from Raleigh area.
We reached Atlanta at 1 AM. Appointment slot was at 9 AM. I made it to the appointment the next day.
One good thing with France Student visa was that they asked to give a hand written letter that “I will not travel before the date specified”. So, I didn’t have to book the flight tickets for the interview.
I told them about my India travel at the end of the July and I requested that they process my application faster as I would need my passport. They were kind enough to accept my request and I got my passport back with my visa stamped on July 13th (10 days from my visa interview)
What to Expect in the Interview:
Unlike U.S. Student visa interview, you don’t have to answer lot of questions and prepare a lot.
You walk to the interview for finger printing and photo taken. I was there for less than 10 minutes in the Consulate for my appointment. We spent 12 hours in travel for 10 minutes of work. Since, finger printing is required, you are required to be there in person.
Is OFII Application Required?
From the instructions page, I read that OFII application is required if you plan to work while studying in France. I wasn’t planning to work, so I didn’t apply for OFII, so I did not complete the OFII application.
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;
It’s an extra one page application that you submit along with other documents.
After arriving in France, IAE said OFII application was mandatory. Then I confirmed with France consulate that OFII wasn’t mandatory.
Many of my classmates applied for OFII but it was a hassle to turn in the application after arriving in France. With the class schedule, it is practically not possible to work in France and none of my classmates did. One of my class mate had some issues with OFII and wasn’t able to leave France to other countries during the midterm break. I will update here more info on why he was facing issues with OFII later.
I would recommend not applying for OFII considering the hassle that you have to go through for nothing.
Travel Around Europe with France Student Visa
France is part of the Schengen Countries. Even though we get France Student Visa, we are allowed to travel to Schengen Countries. When I went to Barcelona, check agent asked for visa to Spain. I said, France visa is sufficient to travel to Spain. That was the only instance where I was questioned. But, I didn’t have any issues going to Spain and other countries including Switzerland.
MGIM Series : Blog Posts
- MGIM : Application and Admission
- How to apply for France Student Visa?
- How to Find a place to rent and Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence?
- What to buy and pack for your trip to France?
- Traveling to Aix-en-Provence – Flights, Train, Taxi and Bus
- Getting around Aix en Provence in Bus
- FAQ’s about Living in Aix-en-Provence
- Which SIM card and data plan to Buy?