The Definitive Student Visa Renewal Dossier*

*For my specific préfecture in my specific situation in June/July of 2017.

This always bears repeating, but any list of required documents you find on the internet regarding your visa situation even if you find it on the government’s website is just a list on the internet.

I recommend always, always going in person to your préfecture before you reapply and getting the list from them. You can ask your questions, explain your situation, and try to get the name of whomever gave you the information to use as a shield when you actually hand in your dossier. Can it take a couple of hours? For sure. But do you know what also takes a couple of hours? Waiting in line to deposit your dossier only to find out you’re missing a document.

So, what’s the story?

When I first arrived in France, I held a carte de séjour, which was, inexplicably, not a card but a giant sticker in my passport.

After my first renewal in 2015, I held a titre de séjour which was, in fact, a card.

Now, as I seek to receive a second titre de séjour for a longer amount of time, I need to submit the following documents no matter what situation I am in.

  1. The original titre de séjour card, and a front/back copy.
  2. My passport, and a copy of the identity page, and my first French visa plus my OFII stamp (received in January, 2015 after an awkward TB test).
  3. Proof of residence, in original and copy.The accepted proofs of residence are an electricity/water/gas/landline/internet bill in your name, or a rental agreement/rent bill in your name. If you live with someone but are not on any bills, then you need an attestation from the property owner.

    I will be brining the electricity bill (in my name) and the rental agreement AND a rent bill, all in my name, because you can never be too careful and if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

  4. Three identity pictures. I’m going to do my hair and put on some blush for this, because this picture winds up on your card *forever*. You can get 5 for 5 euro in the metro, and you’ll probably look like a serial killer thanks to the lighting and the dead-eyed stare they tell you to do, but hey, nobody takes good government photos.

Next, the specific documents depending on my situation.

If I am not accepted to the next graduate program, life is very easy. I’ll convert my visa to an authorisation provisoire de séjour, for free, by bringing in the same copy of my titre de séjour and a diploma from my Master’s program, or at least a certificate from my program. I already printed out the certificate in colour and in black and white, having requested it literally the hour after I received my grades. I’ve also printed a copy of those grades just in case, because for goodness sake YOU NEVER KNOW.

If I am accepted to this next graduate program, then things are more complicated and I get to spill some more ink.

I will need:

  1. An attestation that I have been accepted and enrolled, or “pre-enrolled.”
  2. A financial justification. The level has been raised in France to €615 per month, and the way I will justify this is by printing and highlighting the last 3 months of pay to my French account, and by printing and highlighting transfers from my parent’s account to my US bank account when they transferred me money from my educational savings. Finally, I tend to air on the side of caution and ask my mother to send a letter of financial support and her last bank statements, in order to say, “hello, yes, it is I, the financially stable adult, who will not let this person die while studying.” More is more, in this case.
  3. Justification of “social coverage” which essentially means a printed attestation of my insurance coverage (both my public insurance through LMDE and my private insurance through Henner) from the last year.
  4. Justification of “the reality and the success of the studies undertaken” which is truly hilarious when read in French. For this, I will bring my grades and the certificate that is given at the beginning of the term once you pay your annual fees.

I hope to be finished entirely with this frustrating, hair-splitting process within the next few years, but for now, I need to double down on my printing, copying, and stapling, to get this dossier ready for Monday!



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