Minor Students

Minor Students

Admitted students who will not yet be over the age of 18 upon their arrival in France will have different requirements for various aspects of their transition. Because minors may not legally enter into any contracts on their own behalf in France, obtaining a student visa and opening any kind of personal account requires the involvement of a parent or guardian.

*Note: the information included in this memo is intended as a general overview and should not be considered binding legal advice.

Visas | Bank Accounts in France | Mobile Phone Plans

Visas

Minor students are required to apply for a separate type of extended-stay student visa (Visa Long Séjour Mineur Scolarisé). The requirements for supporting documentation may vary from region to region, as each French Consulate operates autonomously. Students are therefore advised to refer to their local consulate’s website, as well as the Campus France website, to confirm which documents must be provided in order to obtain a student visa for minors.

A non-exhaustive list of the types of documents that may be required includes:

  • Birth certificate with parenthood noted (both parents)
     
  • Copies of photo ID for both parents (driver’s license, state ID, or passports)
     
  • Financial guarantee by a parent (view a sample), a notarized statement certifying that the applicant will be provided with a monthly allowance of at least $600 for the duration of his or her stay in France or proof of personal income along with a letter from the school stating that room, board, and tuition are fully prepaid
     
  • Copy of a recent bank statement for one or both parents reflecting sufficient funds to provide a living allowance to student, per the requirement noted above
     
  • Notarized parental authorization form (view a sample) signed by both parents indicating the name and occupation of the person appointed as guardian of the minor for the duration of the stay
     
  • Proof of payment of all or part of tuition in the event of enrollment in a private school (N.B. proof of payment of deposit on admission is usually sufficient)
     
  • Immunization certificate (specifically showing BCG and DTP vaccinations), verifying that all immunization/vaccines are up to date
     
  • Proof of medical insurance valid in France (letter from the family’s U.S. insurance company). Minors are not eligible to enroll in the French social security system until they reach the age of majority and must therefore arrange for their own medical insurance until that time. The French OFII form, which must be filed by students 18 years and older in order to qualify for French social security, including health insurance, is not required for minors studying in France. This also means that minor students are not required to submit to a physical examination upon entry into France. However, once the student turns 18, he or she must submit the OFII form to the local French office and schedule a physical examination.
     
  • Proof of Civil Liability Insurance (personal liability insurance) valid in France (which will also likely be required of all students, regardless of age, to open a bank account in France; see below). There are options to purchase an annual policy for under €50; options are available from Assistance Etudiants and My French Lifeguard.

The processing time for a minor student visa is frequently longer than for students over the age of 18. Students should plan accordingly to ensure that they receive their visas in time to arrive in France before the Welcome Week for their campus. The parent or guardian who accompanies the student to their visa interview at their local Consulate must also be the one to return on the appointed day to pick up the visa, as students are not permitted to pick up their visas.

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Bank Accounts in France

Opening a French bank account for a minor student has additional rules and requires additional paperwork. A debit card will not be issued to a minor student until the following requirements are met:

  • A minor student will not be permitted to open the account solely in his or her own name. The account must be jointly held with an parent or adult co-signer.
     
  • Some banks may also require that an American parent or adult co-signer submit a W-9 form using the parent's or adult’s social security number instead of the minor student’s social security number. The French government does not issue the equivalent of an American social security number to children until they reach the age of majority.
     
  • Proof of Civil Liability Insurance (personal liability insurance)
     
  • Some banks may require a notarized “Legal Opinion” (the equivalent in the U.S. to a “Special Durable Power of Attorney” by the parent or guardian giving the minor student authority to engage in certain activities with respect to the specific bank account). Some banks may require a translation of this document. For a sample form that can be modified, click here. The Power of Attorney must attest to the following information:
    • Nationality and residence of the minor student, including the minor student’s local French address
       
    • Relationship details between the adult affiant and the minor student (essentially swearing that he or she is the parent or guardian of the minor with all legal decision-making authority with respect to same)
       
    • The scope of authority granted by the parent or guardian to the minor student with respect to the bank account (i.e., withdrawing and depositing funds, receiving bank statements, utilizing the appointed debit card, etc.)
       
    • Reference to the specific bank account number, and address of the local bank branch

The debit card that is issued to a minor student (e.g., BNP calls them “Electron Visas”) is physically different from a typical debit card, and there are restrictions on use that also impact a minor student’s ability to enter into other contracts (such as a cell phone account with a French provider).

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Mobile Phone Plans

Minors are not able to enter independently into mobile phone contracts. Most phone providers will not allow minors to be listed on plan contracts, which are usually a fixed length, either 12 or 24 months. However, mobile provider Orange does allow for a plan to be opened on a minor’s behalf. Orange stipulates that the parent or guardian acting as the account holder (“titulaire”) must confirm that the minor student will be a user (“utilisateur”) on the account and will act as a third-party payer. A parent or guardian must give written consent for their child to be included on the account, and the parent or guardian will remain the account owner throughout the duration of the contract. Before subscribing to a mobile phone plan, providers will ask for a number of documents:

  • “Justificatif de domicile” (proof of inhabitance which can be demonstrated with either an electricity or gas bill for the apartment in the student’s name)
     
  • Cancelled check from a French checking account. In situations where the primary user on a mobile phone plan is a minor, this cancelled check must come from the jointly-held account between the student and his or her parent or guardian.
     
  • “Relevé d’Identité Bancaire” (RIB) from the jointly-held bank account

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