Students who come from non-EU or Schengen zone countries who want to study in France need to first apply for a student visa and then – depending on the length of their studies – a carte de séjour residency card.
At present the carte de séjour application has to be done at the student's local préfecture, but now the French Interior Ministry has announced the creation of an online portal that students can use to apply for the card or renew cards.
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A ministry spokesman said: “Thanks to this service, students will now be able to apply for a residence permit from the comfort of their home, whether to obtain a first permit after a visa or to renew their residence permit.
“With this approach, foreign students no longer have to make an appointment at the préfecture or travel to ensure that their application is submitted.
“They will only have to go to the préfecture to collect their residence permit. At any time between the submission of the application and the issue of the permit, they can check the status of their application on their online account, respond to any requests for additional information and find out what decisions have been taken.”
Most of France's bureaucracy relating to residency permits remains a paper-only process, but the Interior Ministry recently opened an online portal to allow British people resident in France by December 31st by apply for their post-Brexit residency cards.
The portal has been described by applicants as notably user-friendly, and many people who don't speak fluent French also find it easier to use online services than face an interview with a French fonctionnaire.
The Interior Ministry states that after the student applications portal goes live, it will begin work by 2022 on other types of residency permit – which make up a total of 870,000 applications a year.
France has been working hard to market itself as an attractive destination for overseas students, and the online portal is part of making the process of moving to France to study simpler and more user-friendly.
Already around 350,000 people travel to France to study each year, but France has set itself an ambitious goal of upping that to 500,000 by 2027.
If you fancy the idea of studying in France, head to our Studying in France section for all you need to know about universities, visas and residency and settling into student life in France.