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I have two questions:

  1. What docs are needed to renew a student visa in France? some people online claim you need a birth certificate? which i don't think it's right.

  2. Assuming, I don't renew my visa, can I stay past it just to travel Europe? or should I exit the Schengen area (say to the UK) and come back as a tourist?

I think the visa time frame doesn't affect your visa-free 90 days period right? I asked this at the consulate and they just said there should be no problem but you know how consulates are. Just want to make sure.

  • If you have two questions, ask two questions. :) Among other things, this make it easier for people to find them (remember that answers on StackExchange should not help just you, but also other people like you). – fkraiem Sep 1 '15 at 16:56
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Typically, to stay past the first year in France, you would not renew your visa but get a “carte de séjour” instead. That might also be why you do indeed need a birth certificate (cf. vosdroits.service-public.fr for an official source confirming this and a full list of what you need to do). French officialdom is very keen on birth certificates so for a French person this is not at all surprising.

Regarding travel in the Schengen area at the end of a long-stay visa, it is allowed (with or without Schengen visa, depending on your citizenship). You can refer to the travel website for more details, e.g. this question.

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At my university the process is this:

  1. Birth certificate, translated and certified by a traducteur assermenté. It cost me 50 euros for mine, plus 12 euros per copy.

  2. A letter from your university or tutor saying that you are making adequate progress and will proceed to the next part of your course.

  3. Next year's registration paperwork, if available.

  4. "Quittance de loyer" or a receipt for at least the past 3 months of your rent.

  5. A copy of your housing insurance form, has to say something about "responsibilité civil" on it.

  6. Your passport and your visa and your 'vignette'.

  7. A copy of your rental contract.

  8. Bank statements for at least the past three months, or proof of your income if you have a scholarship.

  9. A transcript.

  10. Two copies of all of this, certifications not necessary.

This may or may not be exhaustive. It seems that this differs which each university and each préfecture.

Your first step should really to go to the international office in your university and ask them. They probably have an office constantly facilitating this. At my university, you'd get a list of the documents, and you'd make an appointment to show your documents to the university people, who would then create an appointment for you at the préfecture. (Effectively an appointment to make an appointment, bienvenue en France!).

I may have left out a few things because my visa isn't a student visa, but I know the process pretty well, and some references seem to agree.


I forgot to answer the rest of the question. Once you show these documents to your university, they will create an appointment for you at the sous-préfecture (or an antenna office thereof). You will then show up, hand over everything (with two copies of every document and all of your originals as well) and hopefully get your first carte de sejour (a visa and a vignette in one). They will also ask you to bring an interpreter if you don't speak French very well. Go early, because they threaten to cancel all appointments for which you are > 5 minutes late.

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    (+1) I think you needed a specific letter because you were doing a PhD? For lower levels, exam transcripts might be enough. – Gala Aug 31 '16 at 16:54
  • So now, PhD students get scientist visas which is much easier and makes this irrelevant. A masters student would need a letter (if in M2) and a transcript (if in M1) and an undergrad would just need the transcript. In the olden times (last year) PhD students got student visas and needed the letter. If you're a PhD student your uni might not know this and may tell you to just get a student visa. Don't do that. Your rights and ability to stay in France once you finish are much better if you have a scientist visa. – la femme cosmique Aug 31 '16 at 17:40
  • PhD students need an ultra-special elusive document called a convention d'accueil, which is signed by the lab, the university, the police, and a few other people. – la femme cosmique Aug 31 '16 at 17:41

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