Many AUCP students take advantage of their semester abroad to travel in France and its neighboring countries. While AUCP students have breaks during their semesters, they often have questions about travelling before or afterwards and the implications it may have on their visas.
The AUCP is here to help!
The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that function as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. The Area is named after the Schengen Agreement. Countries in the Schengen Area have eliminated internal border controls with the other Schengen members and strengthened external border controls with non-Schengen states.
American and Canadian students/citizens who wish to travel in France or within the Schengen Area may do so legally for 90 days as a tourist but MAY NOT cumulate their student visa and the tourist visa without leaving the Schengen Area and re-entering. Thus, students must leave the Schengen Area at the end of their visa, but may return the very next day in order to legally remain in the Schengen Area as a tourist for 90 days. The United Kingdom and Ireland are outside of the Schengen Area, so a quick round-trip to London or Dublin will do the trick!
The easiest and most common way to get around this requirement is to inform the consular officer during your visa appointment of your intention to travel within the Schengen Area before or after your study abroad semester or year. They can usually accomodate your request and modify the dates of your visa accordingly.
Disclaimer: This information is accurate as of October 2015. The French consulate officer will be the most apt person to answer any and all questions related to your visa request.