Tag Archives: France

Those Pesky Visa Documents Explained!

So, I said it before and I will say it again. The documents are the biggest pain in the ass about your visa application. Hands down. In my last post I added the list of what you are required to have at the appointment in the consulate.

You might not be asked to show some of the papers – for my appointment I went in with everything ready and they asked for about four papers and nothing else. That is not me saying “don’t bring this, this, this, and this”, no bring everything because you never know what they will ask you to present.

What you must have to apply for a Visa at the French Consulate-

  • Your Passport & Copy of Passport – No where on the website did I see “Bring a copy of passport”, it completely blind-sided me when the Visa guy behind the desk asked for that and a copy of my driver’s license. So, just FYI bring one of each.
  • Your License & Copy of License – Same story, just bring them or you’re waiting longer than you expected.
  • Short Stay / Long Stay Schengen Application – This document is a must have when showing up for your appointment, after all it is the entire reason you are there. Don’t forget it at home otherwise you will have to reschedule your appointment and fill it out correctly according to the instructions.
  • Financial Guarantee #1- Another must have. Have your sponsor, most likely your parent, fill this out and have it notarized it is one of the first things they ask you present at the booth. No notarization, means a no-go. All the paper is is a pledge saying that they will support you financially during your stay.
  • Financial Guarantee #2 – Yes, there are two, separate forms to guarantee you will be supported through your stay. All it is is the amount your parents plan to allow you per month (min. 820 euros) and their signature in front of a notary public.
  • Payment authorization form- It is exactly what it says it is, an authorization of payment. Credit Card only is accepted and it must be signed by the cardholder. Don’t forget – $66 for a student Visa.
  • OFII Form – The OFII form is extremely important. Only fill out the top half for your appointment and then the Visa people will do their magic and hand it back to you at the end of your appointment. DO NOT LOSE IT. When you arrive in France it is your responsibility to send the form into the “territorial authorities” (it explains on the back where to send it based on your location. You must do this within the two months that you first arrive but I strongly suggest you send it ASAP. Once the form is sent in and processed you are allowed to leave France and return as well as apply for a job if so desired.
  • Acceptance Letter from the Institution- I’m not completely clear what they are asking for as far as this letter. I brought my acceptance letter from campusfrance and was told that this was not what they wanted but it is what I was told to bring by my counselor. In the end they accepted it.
  • Copy of Birth Certificate Translated to French – I was never asked for it but bring it anyway, most institutions require this when you arrive.
  • Proof of Residence – Never asked once for this but have it just in case. For students living in Campus housing you will need confirmation from the head of housing. Those of us who are leasing apartments need the certificate of lodging for the landlord, proof of residence of landlord (a bill with address that is less than three months old works), and a copy of their passport.
  • 3 PHOTOS OF IDENTITY of the face, nothing on the head, format 3.5 x 4.5 cm, recent and resembling the applicant. I got mine done at CVS for ten bucks, my only tip is not to smile otherwise they have to retake it at the consulate.
  • Proof of Medical Insurance – A letter from your insurance company is required. This letter has to mention that you will be covered in Europe for any medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses during your whole stay. The medical expenses have to be covered for at least $40,000 or 30,000 euros. Please note that a photocopy of your insurance card will not be sufficient enough to meet the  requirements. You have to contact your insurance company to get this letter. If your insurance company does not provide such a letter/coverage,  purchase an international insurance prior to your appointment at the visa section and do not forget to bring the letter. On the site they offer a list of providers whose offers meet the requirements. I just used USAA, except for the repatriation part – that one gets tricky.

 There you have it. Everything you need for your appointment and then some. Before your appointment put everything into a neat folder for easy access at the consulate!

Bonne Chance!

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You’re Accepted … Now What?



Congratulations! If you are reading this post it means that you were accepted to University in Paris!

If you are anything thing like me, then next thing that went through your mind when this happened was “Holy Craaaaapp

I am moving to PARIS!” Applying for a visa was the farthest thing from my mind on the day but it is a necessary evil. I know it seems like the french love putting us Americans through the ringer in terms of all of the hoops we have to jump through to actually get there, but the Visa process doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

 Step One: Make an appointment with the closest French Consulate. Mine was in Washington D.C. but be sure to check which location is closest to you, often times they are in different cities or even states. Chose a date that you will remember and also gives you an ample amount of time to collect every document you will need for the appointment. Another wise choice would be selecting a date that is at least 3 weeks before you leave for France. Trust me, when I arrived for my appointment they told two other people that they would have to cancel their trip in order to comply with Visa regulations.

 ***Notice that it is the consulate NOT the embassy. The consulate is, sometimes, a separate building in a separate location which can cause many problems when applying.

 Step Two: The Paperwork. It is the BIGGEST pain in the ass about the Visa process but no paperwork means no entry.  Here is a list of everything you will need to bring to your Visa appointment.

*** Passport, Driver’s License, Short Stay or Long Stay Schengen Visa Application, Financial Guarantee  for Student Visa (Notarized),  Financial Guarantee form (Notarized), Payment Authorization form, OF II form, 2 passport photos taken recently, Medical insurance valid for the Schengen territory, Proof of residence in France, Acceptance letter to your university, Flight Itinerary or Proof of Travel Date.

 I will further clarify the documents listed on my next post.

 Step Three: Going to your appointment at the Consulate. Be sure to arrive no more than 15 minutes early for your appointment since they won’t let you in sooner than that. The best piece of advice would be to be prepared. Have all of your paper ready for starters. Understand that the people behind the desk will be blunt, sometimes even downright mean, but keep your cool. It’s not going to help if you get emotional, it will if you listen to every instruction they give you.

 They will first call you up to explain why you want a visa. This first interaction will consist of a few questions, mainly, “Why do you need a Visa?”, “When are you leaving for france?”, etc. Then they will either hand you a number and you will have to wait to get called or send you straight over to the person handling student visas. The second part of your application interview will consist of handing over all of the necessary documents and answering more questions. After that you will either keep your number or receive one and wait to be called again.

 The next time you will be called up is for payment, this is the one that made me break down in tears. By accident some credit card information was missing and the elderly frenchman manning this post was extremely crass with me in an already stressful situation. Long-story short make sure the cardholder signs where it says signature of applicant on the payment authorization form. In the end the old man took pity on me and I moved on to the next step.

 *** DO NOT FORGET that you will not be refunded if your visa is denied.

 Now, the last step is pretty easy. They will go over your paperwork again, confirm the date you plan to leave for france and off you go.

 My appointment was on a Wednesday and the letter that said my Visa was ready to be picked up came that Saturday. I was super impressed with the time efficiency from the consulate – seriously there must be a shortage of Visa applicants in DC or the tears really struck a chord. I chose to go pick up my Visa at the consulate which took all of 15 minutes. If you do decide to pickup just bring in your Driver’s license and Passport to the consulate at your earliest convenience, no appointment necessary. You can also chose to leave your passport and when done they will mail it back to you.

 So that should be all you need to know about your Visa appointment. I wish you all luck with your applications, Bon chance!

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So You Want to Apply to University in Paris



So, you decided to be brave, throw caution to the wind and study in Paris. Applying for a visa is a tough process, not for the faint of heart, and will be one of the most stressful experiences of  your life. Trust me, I picked up my visayesterday. But when you do get accepted, it will be so worth it.

 Now, be prepared for a few months of agony. I love the french but they are not the timeliest of people.

 Step One: KNOW that you want to study in France. The application process is difficult and time consuming, not-to-mention the fact that I received my acceptance letter from the Sorbonne in late May when I was told that it would be sent in early April. It was nerve-wrecking. Here is a tip – have a back-up school in mind so that you can send a deposit in just in case the process takes longer, like mine.

 Step Two: Choose a school, actually choose three. The campusfrance website requires that you choose three schools and programs that you want to complete. I chose Paris-Sorbonne IV, Diderot, Catholic University of Paris. Make sure you know what the program consists of and that you don’t mind enrolling in any of the three. If you do not get into your first-choice school the form is then sent to your second, then third.

 Step Three: Complete the Campus France Form. Ask your assigned Campusfrance adviser about the process, they will be much more helpful. When you turn in your form it will be sent to your first choice institution until they make a decision. Be prepared to wait more than a few weeks.

Bon chance, mes amis!

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