Coming to France? What you need to know about visas and residence permits
As a scientist or student coming to work in France, you may need a visa and a residence permit. Here is what you need to know about immigration procedures to come to France.
If you already have a French residence permit, do not launch any further procedure and please contact the International Office.
This guide was designed to help you understand the immigration procedures. The requirements and application process vary according to your nationality, the duration of your stay, the Consulate, the Prefecture, etc. Feel free to contact the International Office to know exactly what to do in your case.
If you are a non-EU national
First you must apply for a scientist/researcher visa ("visa scientifique-chercheur").
- Contact the nearest French Consulate to know more about the documents required for a researcher/scientist visa application (the list of required documents may vary according to the Consulate). If you are coming with your spouse or children, make sure to inform the Consulate on your first contact, as your spouse and children will need a visa as well.
- Once you have received your hosting agreement (“convention d’accueil”) by mail, make an appointment at the Consulate.
- Show up on the date and time of your appointment with your application and all the required documents (including your hosting agreement).
- Ask for a multiple entry visa. This will allow you to leave the Schengen area and to come back to France, including for scientific seminars.
After processing your application, the Consulate will deliver a scientist/researcher visa. This visa, along with your hosting agreement, will allow you to enter and work in France for up to 90 days.
If you are staying in France for more than 3 months, you will have to apply for a residence permit. The CEA Saclay International Office will guide you and your family through your residence permit application on your arrival.
If you are coming with your family, your spouse will need to apply for a family residence permit ("Titre de séjour vie privée et familiale") at the same time as you. This residence permit will allow your spouse to work in France. Your children under 18 will only need a document called DCEM. If you are coming with children over 18 or other members of your family, contact the French Consulate in your country for more information.
What you need to know about the new VLS-TS visa
VLS-TS refers to a new type of visa which is valid for up to one year. If you are issued this type of visa and you are staying in France for more than 90 days, you will not need to apply for a residence permit. However, even with this type of visa, you will need to go through certain procedures at the OFII within the first two months following your arrival. The Consulate will give you the OFII certificate application. You will need to send your application to your local OFII agency as soon as possible, by registered mail with proof of delivery. In case of difficulty, do not hesitate to contact the International Office.
If you hold a passport exempt from visa requirements
If you hold a passport from a country listed here, you can enter and stay in France for up to 90 days. Please note that if you want to extend your stay beyond 90 days, you will need to apply for a long stay visa. You can not apply for a long stay visa in France. You will have to go back to your country to do so. Therefore, if you think you may stay in France for more than 90 days, you must apply for a long stay visa at the Consulate before coming to France.
If you are a citizen of the European Economic Area or Switzerland
As a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you can travel, live and work in France for an unlimited period of time. You do not need a visa or residence permit. You only need a valid passport or ID. Your family members have the same rights (i.e. your spouse, any children under 18, any parents or grandparents if they are dependent on you) if they are citizens of the European Economic Area or Switzerland. If they are not citizens of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, please contact us to know more about the visa and residence permit procedures.
Coming from Bulgaria or Romania?
As from January 1st, 2014, as a Bulgarian or Romanian citizen, you can work freely in France without holding a residence permit. Your family members have the same rights (i.e. your spouse, any children under 18, any parents or grandparents if they are dependent on you) if they belong to these nationalities.
- Complete the CEA form "Fiche préparatoire aux dossiers des scientifiques internationaux" as thoroughly as possible
- Keep in mind that you will have to pay for your visa application: from 60 to 120 euros for a visa and about 350 euros for the new "VLS-TS" visa (paying in tax stamps ("timbres fiscaux") when you go to your OFII meeting in France)
- Make sure you have all the required documents with you before leaving
- Wait for the confirmation of your contract dates before reserving a flight or a train ticket to come to France
- French Government website for the Promotion of Economic Migration : information for Scientists and Researchers, information for interns
- Campus France : Studying in France
- Finding a French Embassy or Consulate
- French official photo standards
What to do if you have just moved house
If your new house is in the same département
Go to the Préfecture (or sous-préfecture) which issued your resident permit and bring a new proof of address.
If your new house is in another département
Go to the Préfecture (or sous-préfecture) of your new département with your current residence permit. The new Préfecture will contact the former one.
Should you be experiencing any difficulty, please quickly contact the International Office.