Procedures for foreign doctoral candidates

Procedures for foreign doctoral candidates

If you are a foreigner coming to France to do your Doctorate at Sorbonne University on a short or long stay, you will need a visa to enter. Consult the official website for visas for France: FranceVisas: you will find all the information you need to prepare your doctoral stay in France. 
Your visa and residence permit will depend on the length of your stay and the type of financing. For a stay in France between 4 months and 1 year: Long-stay visa valid as a residence permit - VLS-TS mentioning "talent or student passport": Public Service website.
A residence permit will be issued after you have provided the supporting documents relating to the category requested.
For a stay in France of at least 1 year and maximum 4 years: Long-stay visa mentioning “talent – researcher passport”.

If you are a foreigner (except citizen of a European country or Algeria) and wish to work in France for more than 3 months, you can benefit from a multi-year residence permit (talent passport). This card is issued in several situations (see the Public Service website). It is valid for a maximum of 4 years and is renewable.
If you are Algerian, more information can be found on the Service Public website.

The visa and the residence permit are the documents that attest to your legal situation in France. You must carry them with you in accordance with French law and renew your residence permit in due time, otherwise you will be in breach of the law.
More information on the site of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
For more information, see the FAQs.

Before your departure, remember to bring certain documents with you (non-exhaustive list).

Remember to have an international visa card before you leave. This will provide you with the necessary and sufficient funds to cover your first expenses while waiting for your first salary, scholarship or transfer from your country.

Useful documents for your stay in France

  • Your Passport
  • Passport photographs
  • Your birth certificate*
  • Your family record book, marriage or divorce certificate?
  • The original hosting agreement approved by the head of the approved research organisation and by the French consulate of your country if you benefit from it.
  • Your qualifications*

For your spouses and children
Ditto plus:

  • Children's health and vaccination records,
  • Their school records.

For family benefits

  • Proof of the family's income during the last fiscal year (latest tax returns, pay slips).

For health coverage

  • The European social security card for Europeans,
  • Or the form from your health insurance centre,
  • Or, if you are already affiliated to the social security system in France, your old social security certificate,
  • Or a private health insurance and/or repatriation assistance certificate

* you will need to present these documents translated into French by a sworn translator.
The list of sworn translators is available from your French embassy or consulate. 
Always keep the originals of your documents and a copy in case of loss or theft. 

Before you leave
Contact the French Embassy, the Alliance Française or the French Cultural Institutes in your country of origin to take a course in French as a Foreign Language (FLE).

After your doctoral registration at Sorbonne University
As of September, doctoral candidates can study: 

  • French courses adapted to their level 
  • intensive courses 
  • self-study courses 
  • for certifications at the Faculty of Arts, thanks to SELFEE (Service des examens de langue française réservés aux étudiants étrangers) 

Office SIAL-FLE Campus Clignancourt,

Pierre and Marie Curie Campus FLE Office international

Courses in communication for foreigners are also offered by the Sorbonne University doctoral college: Course catalogue

International student associations, such as Parismus, welcome students and organise events - outings, visits, trips, evenings - to encourage meetings and discussion. For more information, contact the student life services and the international relations department of the faculty to which the research team is attached.

The Parismus association welcomes and informs foreign students arriving on exchange programs from all over the world. Parismus also provides a bilingual guide to facilitate integration in France and can pair the foreign doctoral candidate up to practice French with a candidate who speaks it fluently. The principle is the mutual exchange of respective knowledge. The two learn each other's language by talking. 

Do you have a short-stay visa?
Stay and travel: This is a "Schengen visa". You can travel in all the countries of the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days per period of 180 days (unless otherwise stated on the sticker).
Residence permit: You do not need to apply for a residence permit.
Infos +: Schengen Area countries:

Do you have a long-stay visa that is equivalent to a residence permit = VLS/TS?
Stay: Your visa is valid from 3 months to 1 year.
Residence permit: Your visa is like a residence permit = You do not need to apply to the prefecture during its validity period (except for Algerian nationals and holders of multi-year cards).
However, you must still complete certain formalities at the competent territorial department of the OFII, the French Office for Immigration and Integration, within 3 months of your arrival in France.
Please note that without the OFII sticker on the passport, the long-stay visa is not equivalent to a residence permit.
You will need to apply for a residence permit 2 to 5 months before the end of the validity period of your VLS/TS visa.

What formalities are compulsory with a long-stay VLS/TS visa during its validity period (maximum 1 year)?
You must complete formalities at the competent territorial office of the OFII, the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII), within 3 months of your arrival in France.
Infos + : You reside in Paris: from September to November, you can visit the OFII branch of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris or the CROUS in Paris.

What about the renewal of your residence permit?
When to apply for renewal? You must apply 5 months before the end of your VLS-TS or your residence permit for Parisian residents and at least 2 months for residents outside Paris.
Where to apply for renewal of the residence permit? As a general rule, the application is made to the prefecture or sub-prefecture of your place of residence (find out more on the prefecture's website).
- If you live in Paris and are a newcomer, visit the CROUS or Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris platform between September and November.
- Outside the period of the start of the academic year, you must make an appointment in the "Making an appointment" section of the Paris Police Prefecture.
- If you live in a department other than Paris, you should contact the prefecture of your place of residence.
How long does a renewal of the residence permit last?
The residence permit can be granted for 1 year or more (multi-year permit of between 2 and 4 years) depending on the progress of your doctorate.
The real and serious nature of your studies will be verified when you apply for renewal.
Info + :
- More information on the renewal of the "student" residence permit: renewal of student residence permit
- More information on the renewal of the "scientist-researcher" residence permit: renewal of scientific residence permit.
For more information:

Are you allowed to work in France?
There are several different cases depending on your visa:
- A short-stay visa: You must apply for a temporary work permit to be able to carry out a paid activity.
- A long-stay VLS/TS "scientist-researcher" visa: yes, you can work in accordance with your "convention d'accueil d'un chercheur étranger" through which you obtained the visa. Another professional activity implies a change of status (in particular towards the "employee" residence permit).
- A VLS/TS "student" long-stay visa: yes, you can work without authorisation for a maximum of 60% of a full-time job, i.e. a maximum annual duration of 964 hours.
If you exceed this limit by 60%, you must obtain a "provisional work permit" from the foreign labour department of the DIRECCTE in your place of residence, before the start of the activity.
Algerian doctoral candidates are limited to 50% of the annual working time and must apply for a provisional work permit to accompany their residence certificate bearing the mention "student".
For information: if you are a doctoral candidate registered at UPMC and a citizen of the European Union and the European Economic Area, you have the right to work during your doctorate.

Is it possible to change the "status" of my visa once I arrive in France?
Once on French soil, you can no longer modify the visa or change the "status" unless, if you receive contractual funding during your doctoral studies, it will then be possible to have a "convention d'accueil d'un chercheur étranger" drawn up and to request a change of status from the authorities.

What about the Skills and Talents card?
This residence permit issued for a renewable period of 3 years is intended for non-EU foreign nationals (excluding Algerian nationals) with skills and talents and whose plans contribute to the economic development of France and their country of origin, or to the intellectual, scientific, cultural, humanitarian and sporting influence of these countries.
It authorises the person to practise the profession of their choice only within the framework permitted by the plans they have presented and wishes to develop, to the exclusion of certain so-called "regulated" professions (medical professions in particular). 

Are you of Algerian nationality?
If you are Algerian, your status is governed by a special residence permit/certificate of residence and work scheme:
The procedure for a long-stay visa valid as a residence permit is not applicable. You will apply for a long-stay visa mentioning "D" with the mention "residence permit to be applied for within 2 months of arrival" in France at the prefecture of your place of residence.

Your visa does not bear the mention "valid residence permit"?
If your long-stay visa (VLS) bears the mention: "Carte de séjour à solliciter à l'arrivée en France" or "Ceseda R311-3": you must contact the prefecture of the place of residence to apply for a residence permit no later than 2 months after entering France.

You're a doctor and you find a job, what happens?
If you hold a "student" status residence permit, once you have completed your doctorate, you can obtain a non-renewable one-year APS (provisional residence permit) to be applied for 4 months before the expiry of your residence permit. The aim of the APS is to help students to "complete their training with an initial professional experience" or to carry out a "business creation project in a field corresponding to their training".
You will be able to search for and carry out a professional activity in France. In this case, you will submit a request for a change of status to the Prefecture within 15 days of signing your employment contract.
If you are Algerian, the procedure is not applicable.

Multi-annual residence permit 
The law of 7 March 2016 on the rights of foreigners in France provides for the creation of multi-year residence permits which, after the expiry of the first one-year residence permit, will be granted for a maximum period of 4 years and will remain valid until the end of the studies. 

Need for help
The City of Paris, the Cite internationale universitaire de Paris (CiuP) and the Crous are installing a multi-service and multilingual platform available every year from September to November.
There you will find help from:
- the Préfecture de Police for applications for residence permits and provisional residence permits (APS)
- the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) for the validation of long-stay visas
- the CAF for housing allowance applications
- social security (CPAM)
- RATP for the issue of travel tickets

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