Planning to study in France? Year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

During his visit to India, French President Emmanuel Macron introduced a promising initiative to open the “French doors” for Indian students. Shortly after gracing the 2024 Republic Day parade as a chief guest, Macron announced that by 2030 France plans to induct 30,000 Indian students into their universities.

The commitment by the French president was also incorporated into the France-India Horizon 2047 Roadmap which was adopted during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in July last year.

To achieve the goal of welcoming 20,000 Indian students by 2025, setting the stage for the larger goal of 30,000 by 2030, France implemented several initiatives in 2023. One of the most prominent ones was the “Classes Internationales” programme.

The aforementioned initiative provides Indian students with direct admission into French-taught undergraduate programmes. This is done after students undergo a foundational year of French language training in France.

Apart from this, the French government also introduced an “alumni visa” which would allow Indians who hold a Master’s degree or above from a recognised institution and have spent at least one semester of study in France to be eligible for a 5-year validity short-stay Schengen visa.

While speaking to Firstpost, the Embassy of France in India mentioned, "Students who are not fluent in French can enrol in the ‘Classes Internationales’ programme or choose one of the 1700 academic programmes taught entirely in English.”

Initiatives like “French For All, French For a Better Future” also provided school students in India to learn French in public schools. A testament to strong Indo-France ties can be seen in the fact that the French government has already taken measures to make it easier for Indian students to study in France. In 2018, the French government launched a programme called "Campus France" which provided information and support to Indian students to study in the European nation.

While on paper the initiatives and the ambitions seemed promising, the ground realities may be quite different. Firstpost spoke to a bunch of Indian students and professionals to find out what it was like studying, staying and working in France.

The first year is a smooth ride

When asked about the ease of getting a student visa and enrollment in a French university, almost all students interviewed gave a favourable response. They maintained that it was easy to get a one-year visa and institutions like Campus France kept them informed about the admission process.

“It was all smooth and fine for me. I didn't face any issues,” said Tanuja, who is currently pursuing a double master's, MIM and MSc, in Luxury and Design Management. “I didn't go through any agency for my master application. I did everything on my own. So, after my application was shortlisted, I had to go to Campus France for the visa interview. They have been very helpful,” she added.

Tanuja’s sentiments were echoed by other students who are currently pursuing several skill-based degrees in France. The Embassy of France in India also told Firstpost that there has been a “significant uptick in applications of Indian students for France”. The consulate maintained that visa applications witnessed a steady increase of over 25 per cent each year since the Pandemic.

In the year 2024, Campus France witnessed over 60 per cent increase in visa applications for long-study programmes compared to 2023.

Year 2 and trouble begins…

However, this is the place where the smooth ride ends. After students complete their first year, they face delays in getting their visas renewed.

It is important to note that, unlike other countries, France only provides a student visa for one year irrespective of the duration of the course. A student has to get his/her visa renewed if they want to continue with their stay in France.

planning to study in france? year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

While speaking to Firstpost several students narrated that they have either faced issues in getting their visas renewed or acquiring Autorisation Provisioire de Séjour (APS) which allows students to stay in France for one year after completing their course. France provides APS to nationals from 13 nations including India.

Tanuja herself stated that while she underwent a smooth process to get her first visa, she faced delays in getting her visa renewed.

Tanuja claimed that the upcoming Paris Olympics are part of the reason for the delay. “It has been very difficult. As I was saying, because of the Olympics and everything, each prefecture had been delaying student files because they were giving importance to tourists who were coming here, especially for the Olympics and everything,” she told Firstpost.

Another student named Daina* faced similar delays. She mentioned that for 2-3 months she was without a visa which also meant she was without a job or any form of internship. “For 2-3 months, I was not having my visa. Because of that, I was not able to work and I had college issues also,” Diana who is pursuing a Global MBA told Firstpost.

“So basically, it was more of a work thing. Because if I didn't work, I couldn't pay my rent. My friends were supporting me to pay my rent,” she added.

She also mentioned that she constantly asked Sous-préfecture du Raincy (the prefecture she was dealing with)  about the reason behind the delay. However, she did not get a solid response.

planning to study in france? year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

When asked about these concerns, the embassy of France in India stated that once a student arrives in France, they must register and obtain their residence permit within the first three months of arrival. “The procedure is quick and simple and ensures that the student is registered as a legal resident in France,” the Embassy stated in response to Firstpost’s queries.

“In many cases where visa renewal issues crop up, the reason is that this registration was not initiated early on. In any case, students who face visa renewal issues during their stay in France or when they come back to India in between academic years can count on the assistance of the Embassy of France to help them sort out the issues. We encourage them to reach out to us in case of need,” the French consulate furthered.

Beyond the gold gates, there’s paperwork

While students easily get their first visa, the delays in getting documentation after they are done with their courses come with several challenges. These challenges can be divided into three categories:

1. Lack of documentation

It's been 6 months since John* has been waiting for his APS. However, an address change has delayed the authorisation process for him.

“It was pretty easy when I was a student because they have a process for it, so I could apply when the visa was going to expire. You could apply one month prior, and they will give you an attestation in one or two weeks and then you're good to go till you get the final one,” John, who pursued a Master’s in Operational and Strategic Marketing told Firstpost.

But things went downhill for John when he tried getting an APS which he applied for back in October. “After the master, I changed my address to some other place. That's when I started facing some issues because the authorization was taking a long time. They said it would take two months but now it's been almost six months and I have had no reply from them which is really annoying,” he added.

The lack of paperwork is also affecting John’s career prospects as he is unable to get a job and pay his bills without documentation. “They just say verbally that they're processing it, but they don't give you anything in writing. If I get checked by any cops or anything, they will know that I don’t have my paperwork. I can’t show them anything physically,” he exclaimed.

planning to study in france? year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

Sometimes lack of paperwork also makes these students vulnerable to scams, exploitation, harassment and even racism.

planning to study in france? year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

2. Instances of exploitation

Due to a lack of information, international students often get exploited and scammed. Diljit Singh who leads a Facebook group called “Indians in France” narrated how young students to save money often live in extremely poor conditions.

“Call it a harassment problem, I witnessed a case where a man gave a 4BHK house on rent to 25 students. He divided each room into multiple sections by putting plastic sheets. Imagine the condition they must be living in and mind you, they all come from good families,” he said.

Anuj* who pursued a Diploma in Pastry from Cordon Bleu Paris, recalled the time when he was hired by a famous restaurant that promised to give him an employment visa.

“I kept asking them, you know, when is it happening? When is it coming? The human resource management person kept saying, it'll come and then one day he said, oh, I'm so sorry,  they're not doing it for you,” he said.

“So after 10 months of struggle, they refused to do my visa. My student visa was only valid for 12 months. After they refused, I said, I'm sorry. I was waiting for you to give me an employer visa, but you stalled me for 10 months and now I have to look for another employer,” he added.

Anuj mentioned that after facing a similar situation in another job, he had to quit and only survived on his savings from July 2023 to March 2024. However, the problems for Anuj did not solve here. While he is currently working on a self-employed authorisation and paying all his taxes, he is still unable to enjoy social or “any sort of benefits” one gets when paying taxes.

He also pointed out that he is being paid way less than some of his peers and sometimes even less than some of his juniors.

planning to study in france? year 1 is a breeze, then paperwork takes over, say students

The lack of documentation also causes mental distress among students. Diljit mentioned the time when a student jumped in front of a train because he was struggling to pay his loans since he could not get a job without papers. At that time the railway authorities did not give much details, but only mentioned that the traffic was being “disrupted due to personal accident”. Firstpost has seen the copy of the death certificate.

3. The language barrier

One of the major issues Indian students and professionals face in France is the language barrier.

“The major issue is language. They speak English but English is not their first language. We speak in French to communicate with colleagues. No one speaks English here,” Diljit explained. He pointed out that the inability to speak French can also lead to students losing out on big job opportunities.

Both Diana and Tanuja also highlighted that it took them and their friends longer to get an internship in comparison to people who were well-versed in French.

The Embassy of France in India also highlighted the importance of learning French to work in France. “Contrary to many countries, France does not require fluency in French to apply for a visa for studying or working in France,” they said in their statement to Firstpost. “It is true however that knowledge of French is very often an asset when considering a career in France. In this respect, students who undertake the ‘Classes Internationales’ programme will have a significant advantage, as they will become fluent in French,” the embassy added.

While the French government stated that they will be providing French classes to students, both Anuj and Diljit highlighted that some of these classes can be very advanced and the fast pace can also dampen the learning experience.

The community is the support

When asked from all the students why they were not contacting the embassies and sharing their grievances, they insisted that the embassy would ask them to go back to the Prefectures. Diljit also pointed out that sometimes embassies are stuck in the protocols.

However, the cooperation among the Indian community in France provides a glimmer of hope. John told Firstpost, that his friend provided him with a place to stay for free while he struggled to get paperwork.

The students also mentioned how they cope with their mental agony by sharing their experiences. While Diljit opened his Facebook page during the pandemic to help the students on an online platform, he has been helping Indians in France for over two decades.

However, there’s still more that needs to be done. When asked about what are some of the initiatives both the French and the Indian governments could take to help Indians stuck in France, he gave the following suggestions:

  • Due to the strong ties between India and France, Diljit suggested that there could be separate posts in the prefectures where Indians can go and be able to resolve their visa issues. 
  • Introducing campus placements
  • Indian consulate taking help from the Indian community to set up placement drives to help Indian students. 
  • International colleges can set up seminars where students can understand how to apply for and renew their visas. 

Overall, with initiatives like "Classes Internationales" Indian students and professionals are hoping to get relief for a better tomorrow.

*Some names have been changed to provide anonymity

OTHER NEWS

12 hrs ago

In farewell speech, Calcutta HC Judge Chitta Ranjan Dash says he ‘was, is RSS member’ — ‘ready to return’

12 hrs ago

Video of Japanese Men Showing How To Beat Mumbai Heat With Chai is Leaving Internet in Splits | Watch

12 hrs ago

Scars of 2020 riots & his own past — obstacles INDIA bloc candidate Kanhaiya faces in Northeast Delhi

12 hrs ago

'Lok Sabha election is not....', says Jairam Ramesh on INDIA bloc's formula for PM face

12 hrs ago

Banks will be closed in these states on May 23 | Details

12 hrs ago

CitiGroup fined Euro 62 million over 2022 trading blunder case

12 hrs ago

Harish Kalyan's 'Parking' to be remade in 5 languages

12 hrs ago

Thamizhum Saraswathiyum actress Nakshathra Nagesh welcomes home a brand new SUV; see pic

12 hrs ago

'very strong...quite attractive...' - Stock market expert bets BIG on 3 shares ahead of election result 2024

12 hrs ago

Vivek Oberoi recalls how 'buddy' Abhishek Bachchan and Ajay Devgn carried him to the hospital when broke his leg on 'Yuva' set, Mani Ratnam got a heart-attack

12 hrs ago

Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals shares sink 9% as Q4 net profit tanks over 90%

13 hrs ago

Swiggy HDFC Bank Credit Card revises cashback structure: Here are the details

13 hrs ago

From Boss to Versace: Isha Ambani and Mukesh Ambani are bringing these 6 global brands to India this year

13 hrs ago

Jasprit Bumrah Fans Hit Back After MI Pacer Called 'Choker' Post Mitchell Starc's Match-Winning Spell vs SRH

13 hrs ago

Gaza War Day 229: IDF raids Hamas compound, seizes weapons cache from hidden tunnel in Rafah

13 hrs ago

Indian counter-terror team to help France secure Paris Olympics 2024

13 hrs ago

Bangladeshi MP Anwarul Azim found dead in Kolkata; Dhaka calls it 'planned murder'

13 hrs ago

No driving test at RTOs from June 1? What the new driving licence rules say

13 hrs ago

Kartik Aaryan’s Chandu Champion Movie Trailer Review: How it’s going to be different from other biopics?

13 hrs ago

Maldives says India and China agree to use local currencies for imports

13 hrs ago

IndiGo’s ‘extra’ passenger: What exactly happened, explained

13 hrs ago

After threat to Virat Kohli and RCB's security, team cancelled practice and press conference ahead of IPL Eliminator: Report

13 hrs ago

SAIL Share Price: After a 100% rally in a year, the stock may fall to ₹85 on balance sheet worries

13 hrs ago

BHEL shares are up 4x in 12 months, but analysts continue to see a 40% downside

13 hrs ago

Did RCB Cancel Net Session Because of Terror Threat? Here’s What We Know

13 hrs ago

Realme launches GT 6T, India’s first smartphone with Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 SoC

13 hrs ago

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders: This defence PSU stock is trading 1900% above its IPO price; what lies ahead?

13 hrs ago

Actor Pradeep Rawat says Shah Rukh Khan was a ‘true chain smoker’: ‘He would light a cigarette, use it to light another…’

13 hrs ago

Awfis Space Solutions IPO opens today: Latest GMP, price band and key details

13 hrs ago

FLiRT COVID variant cases cross 300 mark in India: Unusual COVID symptoms to know (not cough or cold)

13 hrs ago

Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai once again: Ratna Pathak Shah, Rupali Ganguly play Maya and Monisha, fans demand ‘encore’

13 hrs ago

Hurriyat Chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, IAS Officer Booked In Major Custodian Land Corruption Scandal

13 hrs ago

LeBron James And Carmelo Anthony Get Hyped Spectating Their Sons' Basketball Match

13 hrs ago

BLACKPINK achieves historic milestone: First K-pop girl group to earn BRIT gold certification in the UK

13 hrs ago

How parents can help children fight Hinduphobia on US campuses

13 hrs ago

NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Jayson Tatum Hits 36 Points, Boston Celtics Edge Indiana Pacers 133-128

13 hrs ago

Apple iPhone And Mac Users In India Warned About Major Security Threat By Govt: Here’s What You Should Do

13 hrs ago

Wasim Akram Picks 'Best Candidate' For India Head Coach, Says ''Quality That Isn't Part Of Indian cricket''

13 hrs ago

Black Mirror Episode: Elon Musk Worried About Microsoft’s New AI Tech That Takes Screenshots Of Your Screen

13 hrs ago

Terror threat against Virat Kohli: RCB cancel practice, press conference ahead of Eliminator; here's why

Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch