Se fini!!! I got my Student Visa today!! I can now go to France legally for one year!!! hurrah!!!
Getting it has been quite the process. Check out Part 1 for the full scoop. The full process (minus getting my acceptance letter from Le Cordon Bleu has taken about a month). A lot of the time was spent gathering paperwork or waiting. Not too bad but you definitely have to be organized!
Step #4: Wait for your confirmation email from Campus France. It says congratulations! in the email and you’ll only see it come through in your Campus France email. They said to allow a 2-3 week turn around from sending in your information. Mine only took a week!
Step #5: Sign up for an interview at your closest French consulate. Mine’s in Houston a 3.5 hour drive from Dallas. yeehaw! haha There was actually a TON of availability. I was so worried that I would have to schedule it several weeks out. I’m sure this as well as the time for Campus France to review your paperwork is dependent on the season.
Paperwork you’ll need to bring depends on your consulate. For the Houston French consulate I’ll need to bring:
- My Passport w/ at least 2 Visa pages blank and issued less than 10 years ago and valid for more than 3 months from when I get back.
- Processing Fee. For a long term student visa the fee is only 50 euros. I was totally expecting 100-300 euros. It can be paid in dollars, with a credit card or cash.
- An Application Form
- Residency Form (This actually isn’t saying where I’ll be living when I get to France, but rather a precursor to the final validation step I’ll have to do once I’m in France).
- Attestion from Campus France (this is the “congratulations” email)
- Proof of registration or enrollment into a university. (Original + 1 photocopy)
- Financial Guarantor. Either a note from your parents saying they will be sending $820/month or proof of income while abroad.
- A Green Card or the paperwork proving the replacing of social security cards (Only if you’re not a not a US citizen)
- Self-Addressed Prepaid envelope to send your passport/visa back to you!
Two things they didn’t list on the site that they required:
- Proof of Health Insurance for the length of your stay- I went with HCCMIS
- 6 Month Apartment Lease
What was the interview like you ask? Well the two things above should give you an idea. I was SUPER nervous the night before because getting my visa makes or breaks this whole thing! I had read to look nice so I was fretting over what to wear till midnight- and the fact that it was going to be about 50 degrees didn’t make it any easier to decide. I got up at 5:30am and was out the door by 6- brutal.. The drive was brutal. I got there about 45 minutes before my appointment and figured out which office building it was in and settled down in the Starbucks across the street to wait.
15 minutes before I headed to my car- off to find a parking spot and get to the office right on time. Well parking is a little tricky- It’s around back in a parking garage. Not bad but added a little extra time. I took the elevator up, again shaking in my boots with all my paperwork. Stepped through the door indicating Visas and it looked like the DMV. Why had I stayed up so late to pick out what to wear?! The ladies behind the glass were helping someone so I put my appointment slip under the glass and took a seat (as indicated by the sign). 40 minutes later… quite a while after the person they were helping had left, and they still hadn’t called my name. The glass was see through (I checked!) and they saw me come in! I’m not one to mess with the process especially if it’s something as super official as this so I waited. and waited. Another person came in and walked straight to the window. Then they happened to see that someone was sitting in the waiting area. About 15 minutes later I was ushered over.
The ladies running the show were very French. One was wearing a Cowboy belt buckle and ties though. 🙂 If you speak French, now would be the time to pull it out. I was only able to muster a “Bonjour” without getting intimidated. They do speak English but it’s not as well understood as if you were speaking French. The “interview” consisted of passing through the appropriate documents. I thought I was good until- “Where’s your apartment lease?” uh I don’t have it with me? “Well we’ll need your apartment lease” ok. I can send it to you. “How long is your lease for?” 3 months I think? “Well it has to be for 6 months.” I booked it online and we want to find our next apartment when we get there so we can check the location and such. “I still need a lease for 6 months.” Can I get the landlady to write a letter saying I could extend it to 6 months? “That might work..” ugh. Then the next question. “Do you have your Health insurance?” No… “You are not covered by the national system if you’re going to the Cordon Bleu. If you were going to a university you would be.” ok I can get it to you.
oh brother. But totally expecting something like that to happen. haha
I was able to fax both forms thankfully, so another trip down to Houston wasn’t required. Fingerprints and a headshot were.
I emailed my landlady to ask about the letter and she offered right away but said three Dutch people had rented the apartment and it was not available during that time. dilemma! I went ahead and faxed my lease over without the letter to see what would happen. My landlady emailed again, saying she wouldn’t mind writing it to say if it were free we could extend the lease. I said sure! why not! best to have a back up. She got it to me within a day! I sent it over to the consulate and gave them a call- my visa was already in the mail! Ends up they didn’t look too closely at the lease. haha Hurrahhhhh.
Visa Appt Tips:
- Required documents vary by consulate (even though you’re going to the same country…)
- Call ahead to confirm what you’ll need
- Make sure to hand every form to them. They didn’t ask me for the residency form which I’ll need when I get to France. They had to stamp it for it to work.
- Make a effort to speak a little French.
- Ask about the Schnegen region and visiting it (haven’t quite worked that out but I did forget to ask when I was there) I think you have to have a special sticker to visit countries outside of it which includes England?
It wasn’t too too bad but definitely nerve racking!