Students, researchers, and teachers invited by an academic establishment or laboratory in France, as well as holders of the Talent passport can now travel again to France.

Starting 17th August, 7 VFS centers (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Kochi) became operational to receive select visa applications, while complying with Indian travel regulations as well as the safety of the consular teams working in different parts of India, according to a French government statement.

Applications will be processed in small batches every week to ensure adequate safety measures at these centers. Social distancing and all other recommended protective measures are also being adhered to. Mobile biometric data collection, as well as courier services, are available to limit in-person contacts at the centers. Decisions on visa issuance remain tied to any future evolution of existing Schengen regulations authorizing third-country students to enter France.

Universities in France have also readied themselves to receive international students, either wholly or partly on campus, the statement added.

Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, remarked, “France is returning to normalcy and I am delighted that international students will be among the first to benefit from it. The French Embassy is fully mobilized to ensure that students can pursue their studies in France in the smoothest conditions possible, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a bold step in the right direction and reaffirms France’s priority to academic mobility.”

This facility is exclusively limited to – Indian students traveling to France in autumn 2020 for studies for over 3 months (long-term visas) as well as short-term studies or internships, with accommodation in France; professors or researchers employed or invited by a French academic institution or research laboratory who are traveling at the end of their studies or for teaching; those having a valid long-term visa or a Talent passport.

These persons must possess an International Travel Certificate to Mainland France (Attestation de déplacement international dérogatoire), available on the website of the French Interior Ministry. This certificate is to be presented to the travel company before departure and to border control authorities on arrival in France.

This certificate must also be accompanied by an undertaking that the person does not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and has not been in contact with an infected person 14 days prior to departure, according to the note.

Irrespective of the country of origin, all travelers displaying any symptoms of the COVID-19 infection upon their entry in French territory will be prescribed quarantine or self-isolation by the competent authority, according to the note.

In order to prepare students for a new life ahead, pre-departure sessions called Bienvenue en France, are scheduled online from 22nd to 31st August. These sessions will acquaint students with essential administrative procedures, ways of finding accommodation, tips from alumni, information about their destination, and practical advice to help them prepare for student life in France.

Besides studies abroad, around 118 Indian students are also readying themselves to travel to France at the end of September as English Language Assistants for a stint in French schools. The program offers an excellent opportunity for French-speaking Indian students to live and work in France and gain valuable professional exposure. Online orientation for the English Language Assistants will be announced soon, according to the note.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, France registered the record number of 10,000 students traveling from India to its shores for higher studies. France has a network of 3,900 public and private educational institutions and offers 1,600 programs in English.