France is one of the world’s more research-intensive nations and a popular destination for international students and researchers. Here are some practical things to know before you move.
Visas and Permits
If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA, you will not need a visa or residence permit to study or research in France. Make sure your travel documents and health insurance are valid. If you are not a citizen of the EU/EEA, you will need a visa and residence permit to study or research in France.
Doctoral students, researchers, and professors-researchers can apply for the “researcher-talent passport” long stay visa (Visa Long Séjour Valant Titre de Séjour mention “passeport talent-chercheur”). If you are are staying for less than 12 months, your visa will be valid for one year and must be validated by the Office of Immigration (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) in the three months following your arrival. If you will be in France for more than 12 months, your visa will be issued for three months and does not have to be validated by the Office of Immigration. However, before your visa expires, you must make an appointment at your local Prefecture (Préfecture) to request a multi-year “researcher-talent passport” residency permit. This permit will be valid for the length of your contract up to a maximum of four years.
Bringing Your Family
With the “researcher-talent passport” your spouse and children under 18 can accompany you to France on a “family-talent passport” visa. Your spouse is permitted to work with this visa. Like the “research-talent passport” visa, the family-talent passport visa is issued for three months and then must be converted into a renewable for a multi-year residence permit at the Prefecture. Your family can apply for this visa at the French embassy in your home country. If your spouse and children are EU/EEA citizens, they do not need to apply for a visa to accompany you to France.
Students and researchers from EU/EEA countries should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to France. The EHIC card will allow them to be reimbursed for any medical costs incurred while in the country.
If you have an employment contract in France, you (as well as your spouse and children) can be insured through France’s general social security (sécurité sociale) system. You will have to register and once your application is accepted you will receive a social security number and a French health card (Carte Vitale).
If you will be in France for more than a few months you should set up a French bank account. While you can use a foreign account temporarily, there are some things (such as health insurance reimbursements) that require French bank account. To set up a bank account, you will usually need proof of identity, your residence permit or visa, and proof of a French address. It is also a good idea to have a few weeks worth of living expenses available in your home bank account when you move in case it takes a few weeks to get your bank account and salary deposit set up. Check with your home bank before you travel to make sure you will be able to use your bank card abroad.
There are several degree programs in France that are offered in English, so it may not be necessary to learn French in order to complete your degree. However, French remains the predominant language of everyday life, especially outside of Paris. Being able to speak basic French will improve your experience in the country immensely. Many universities offer French courses for foreign students and have language clubs where students can practice their French. There are also many quality language training centres throughout the country that offer courses at for all levels.