So, I am going to be taking classes in Marseille at the Alliance Française (AF). I found that to be the most internationally recognized and trusted of the French language learning institutes around the world and so, I put my trust in them…and their methods. Anyone have good experiences with this organization? Have you taken long term classes there? What was the work-load like? Lots of Homework?
So, back to the real purpose … the AF, I am intending to get my student visa through enrollment there, can’t find a lot of info out there that says if people were successful or not so I will lay out my steps here and of course, let you know if I was successful in getting a student visa this way. (Disclaimer, I have not completed the process so I still have much to learn. Give me a couple months and hopefully I can report back with even more detailed explanations. Explanations done so that it can help someone else out in my situation! I hope!)
A few things I have learned thus far (for an American wanting a French student visa, this way):
- you MUST go through CampusFrance. Advice: READ EVERYTHING, multiple times. Check, double check and triple check that you do everything they suggest. Most info you need is on this website or it will link you to what you do need.
- CampusFrance called me, after I had sent in my paperwork ExpressMail with tracking number! (it’s important folks!) and said everything was great, my money order for $140, my application forms … however, my registration form says I am only registered for 8 hours of classes, unfortunately you MUST have 15 credit hours registered (and mentioned on this letter from AF) in order to apply for a student visa. Yeah, 15 … this was a tiny problem for me seeing as how I am also going to be doing some of my PhD research while I am there for these 7 months. However, I decided that it was going to benefit me in the long run to take more French and then the next time I travel to Marseille (probably next fall) I will go on a scientists visa, with a ton of French under my belt and be fine. The more French I have now, the better. So I resent a letter to CampusFrance in Washington, DC that registered me for 16 hours of french… Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 4 long hours! For at least November and December … ((sigh)) this will be a lot of work but again, worth it!
- Get your insurance figured out … you must take a document stating that you are covered up to a certain amount while overseas. Call your insurance company and see if this is the case, if not, figure out how to make it so. You must be covered! I have read stories of people being turned away for a visa because they didn’t show this. If you are under 28 there is the possibility of being covered under the French social security but better safe than sorry. Check out your own insurance just to be safe!
- Make a ton of copies of everything … you’ll need them.
- Make sure to take your original birth certificate with you to France. You’ll need it to get your carte de séjour. (a reminder to myself)
- Expect the process to be frustrating. You will jump through hoops. I am not done with the hoops. Oh well.
- You have to be able to show you have some dollaz saved to cover you while in France. Luckily, for students, this amounts to like $850 (ish) per month you’ll be in France (much less than if we were real adults looking to go to France, haha). So, print some bank statements to take to the consulate to show you have this much money saved OR you can have a notarized letter from your parents (or someone else that can help you I guess) saying they will cover you for this amount each month. MUST be notarized for legitimacy.
I am sure I have more but I must go for now. More soon, I promise!