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Frequently asked questions

Answers to your most frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to the most common questions, as well as downloadable documents that may be useful.

If you cannot find the answer to your question, contact us directly.

The various stages of your stay

When I arrive, will Espace Ulys welcome me and organize my transfer from the airport to my place of accommodation?

No. The Espace Ulys team is small so we are not able to greet researchers individually at the airport and take them to their accommodation. To reach the city center of Lyon from Lyon St Exupéry airport, either take the fast shuttle that goes directly to Part-Dieu station in the city center (link to Rhône Express) or bus 47 to the Meyzieu tramway station on the T3 line (link to the line 47 map).
To get to Saint Etienne, take Regional Express Trains (TER) from Lyon stations.

Can a member of Espace Ulys accompany me to appointments to complete formalities?

No. Espace Ulys assists you with formalities but cannot be physically present for appointments with official bodies. We do our best to explain the formalities to you by email or at meetings, but the team is too small for members to attend meetings off site.

Which documents should I bring with me to Lyon?

We provide a list of necessary documents for your move to Lyon. They will be required for formalities in France. You will find the list here. This list is provided for information purposes and may not necessarily cover your personal situation.

Visa and residence permit

I have just arrived in France and I have to apply for a residence permit. When do I have to submit my application?

The procedure varies depending on the type of visa. You will find the necessary information on the following pages:

When should I renew my residence permit?

A residence permit must usually be renewed two months before expiry of the current permit. You will find the necessary information on the following pages:

Can I travel outside France with my valid visa for “France +1 transit Schengen”?

You can travel back and forth between France and your country of origin with a valid visa. NOTE: "+1 transit Schengen" on your visa means that you are only entitled to one transit in the Schengen area using this visa.
For example:
  • You arrive from Beijing and have a stopover in Frankfurt on your way to France: you can no longer travel in the Schengen area using your visa until you have received a temporary residence permit (APS). However, you can make direct trips between China and France during the validity period of the visa.
  • You arrive from Beijing in France without a stopover: you have the right to make one trip in the Schengen area using your visa while waiting for your temporary residence permit (APS).

I have a visa. When can I start traveling outside France?

  • Long-stay visa valid as a residence permit with the mention “étudiant”/“visiteur”/“passeport talent-chercheur ou famille R311-3-9”: you can travel during the first three months of the visa’s validity. After this period, you will only be able to travel if you have validated it online.
  • “Passeport talent-chercheur” long-stay visa: request residence card within two months: you can travel back and forth between France and your country of origin as long as your visa is valid. NOTE: "+1 transit Schengen" on your visa means that you are only entitled to one transit in the Schengen area using this visa. When you submit your application at the Préfecture, you will obtain a temporary residence permit:Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour (APS) which will give you the right to travel after the dates of your visa.
  • “Scientifique-chercheur”/“conjoint de scientifique” visa for Algerian nationals: you can travel back and forth between France and your country of origin as long as your visa is valid. NOTE: "+1 transit Schengen" on your visa means that you are only entitled to one transit in the Schengen area using this visa. During the meeting in the Préfecture you will be given a receipt for your residence permit application. This receipt does not allow you to travel outside France after the expiration date of your visa. Algerian citizens require a special agreement. They cannot receive a temporary residence permit.

Do I need to provide original documents with my application for a residence permit at the Préfecture?

Yes. The Préfecture needs to see the originals of the documents to ensure their authenticity. However, it will only keep copies of the documents with some exceptions.

I have a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen country. Can I settle in France without applying for a visa and completing migration formalities here?

NO. To be able to live and work in France you must have a long-stay visa issued by a French consulate. A residence permit issued by another Schengen company only allows you to stay 90 days in other member states.
Only exception: if you hold a “résident longue durée UE” EU long-term residence permit, you do not have to apply for a visa and you can apply for a French residence permit directly on site.

I am exempt from requiring a visa to enter the Schengen Area. Do I have to apply for a visa to live and work in France?

YES. To be able to live and work in France you must have a long-stay visa issued by a French Consulate.
The visa waiver for certain nationalities only applies for short stays (90 days maximum).
For information about your situation see France VISAS.

My residence permit expires soon but my thesis presentation is in three months. What should I do?

réponse à rédiger

What are my rights to work with my visa/residence permit?

  • You have an “Etudiant” visa/residence permit (excluding Algerian students): you can work 60% of the annual legal quota (= 964 h/year maximum). If you wish to work more hours, you must apply for a work permit from DIRECCTE (French organism for business and work).
  • You have an “Etudiant” visa/residence permit and you are Algerian:you do not have the right to work, even part time. You can apply for a work permit from DIRECCTE. In all cases, this work permit is limited to 50% of the legal quota.
  • You have a “Visiteur” visa/residence permit: you are not allowed to work.
  • You have a “Passeport talent-chercheur” or “scientifique chercheur” visa/residence permit: you have the right to work on your arrival in France on the basis of your hosting agreement and your long-stay visa. Your right to work is limited to the assignment stated on your hosting agreement. You can only work for the establishment that issued the hosting agreement.
  • You have a “Passeport talent-famille” or visiting scientist spouse visa/residence permit: you have the right to work in any sector in France. You do not need to get a work permit.

I have a "Passeport talent-chercheur – exercice d’une activité salariée". Do I have the right to work in the private sector, even part-time?

No. "Passeport talent-chercheur" status only allows you to work in the areas of research listed in your hosting agreement. Some private companies can issue hosting agreements. You cannot work in the private sector, even on a part-time basis, without a hosting agreement.
Professional activities not included in a hosting agreement require a work permit and, where applicable, a change of status at the Préfecture.

Health insurance

I have an employment contract. Will the French social security scheme reimburse my healthcare costs?

YES. You are eligible for French social security benefits because of your employment contract. However, the registration process is not automatic. You must apply for a social security number with the healthcare system (CPAM) in order to claim reimbursement of your health expenses.

I am European and I am coming to France. Do I have to register with the French social security scheme?

If you have a French employment contract, you can register in France and be reimbursed for your health expenses.
If you are coming for a short stay in Lyon, we advise you to apply for a European health insurance card in your own country.
If you are coming for a long stay with an employment contract in your country of origin, you must ask for an S1 form from the social security scheme in your country of employment. With this form you can claim your entitlements to be paid by the French social security scheme. In this case you must submit an application to the local healthcare agency (CPAM).

Will the French social security scheme pay all my health expenses?

No. Reimbursements from the French social security scheme are calculated according to a set rate. Reimbursement from the French social security scheme is limited to 70% of this rate. It is therefore recommended to take out supplementary private health insurance (mutuelle).

Administrative formalities

I arrive in Lyon in one month. I would like to open a bank account before arriving. Is that possible?

No. You can only open a bank account once you have arrived in France. All banks will ask you for proof of your address in France to open a bank account. Procedure for opening bank accounts must be done face-to-face.

I have just arrived in France and obtained my "chercheur" residence permit. Can I drive in France with my foreign driving license?

Yes, for a maximum period of one year and subject to being able to present a French translation (certified by a sworn translator in France) of your foreign driving license. Beyond this period you will not be able to drive with your foreign license. If you are staying for more than one year, it is recommended to exchange your driver's license as soon as possible after your arrival. To be able to do this, your foreign license must have been issued by a country with a reciprocal agreement with France. The process of exchanging licenses is long so begin early.

I am a PhD student with an "Etudiant" residence permit. Do I have to exchange my foreign driving license?

No, holders of "Etudiant" residence permits do not need to exchange their foreign driving licenses. You can drive using your foreign license provided you can present a French translation (by a sworn translator in France).


What is the average rent for a home in Lyon?

In Lyon, rent for a furnished studio is approximately €600/month.
In Saint-Etienne, rent for a furnished studio is approximately €550/month.
The shorter your stay, the more expensive rent will be.
Keep in mind that the rental market is very tight in Lyon. You may find lower offers than the average rate, but competition will be intense.

How far in advance should I look for an apartment?

Start your search for accommodation as soon as you know your dates. Espace Ulys has partnerships and will do its best to help you. However, accommodation fills very quickly so it is important to start looking as early as possible.
If you plan to arrive in Lyon between September and November, start your search well in advance.

Will I receive CAF (family benefits) assistance to pay my rent?

We cannot answer that question. Funding from the CAF is conditional and we cannot guarantee that you will be eligible. To find out if you are eligible, carry out a simulation on the CAF website.

A real estate agency has told me I need a guarantor. What should I do?

In France, real estate agencies and student residences often request a guarantor. This is a person who agrees to pay your rent if you do not. They must reside in France.
Your application will be refused if your rental agency requires a guarantor but you don’t have one. However, you can ask the agency if they accept the Visale public guarantee (if you are eligible) or private guarantees (insurance companies which you can pay to act as guarantor).

I have heard about the Visale warranty. Am I entitled to it?

The Visale guarantee is a free public guarantee. It is often used by public and private student residences, as well as by some real estate agencies.
  • People aged between 18 and 31
  • Non-EU citizens with a long-stay visa or residence permit


I would like to learn French. Can Espace Ulys help me?

Yes. Espace Ulys offers French courses to senior researchers and spouses of researchers and PhD students. For conditions, see our page about learning French.
If you are a PhD student, we will do our best to inform you about the various possibilities. Contact us.

Preparing for a successful stay in Lyon!

The booklet "Preparing for a successful stay in Lyon" was made for you! You’ll find all the useful information to prepare your stay in Lyon.

Documents to bring with you, costs of life in Lyon, registering to the French healthcare system, housing and insurances will no longer have secrets for you!

Download the booklet

Downloadable documents

Administrative formalities