An exchange student goes abroad to study. That’s why they call it “study abroad,” right? But there may be numerous other motivations besides study that send someone to live in foreign lands, and, for some, the title of ‘exchange student’ becomes the front for what they are really in search of. 

In Paris, a city where people from around the world gather to eat, drink and study, Excite News investigated a different kind of exchange student with a different set of circumstances…

In France, online dating services are filled with the personals of Eastern European women who have come in search of French husbands.  A residence permit for France is what they want, and a French husband can get them one.  The easiest way to reside legally while on the hunt for someone to marry is to enroll in one of the many language schools in France as an exchange student.

However, it has become difficult for even non-husband-hunting foreign students these days to gain a residence permit.

Excite News spoke with an instructor at one of the language schools traditionally attended by children of European and American politicians. According to the instructor, in France, you have to be enrolled in more than 20 hours of classes per week before you can get a proper student visa to stay longer than 90 days.  Due to the struggling economy, applications for work-study are not granted, leaving people with few alternatives. Furthermore, foreign student class attendance is reported to immigration to ensure that those in the country on student visas are actually hitting the books staying true to their word.

In this competetive environment, some schools were established solely to cater for those seeking residence permits, recruiting students wishing to stay in Paris. But getting residence permits even through these schools is difficult, so people apply to the bona-fide schools even if it means having to take classes just to stay in the country.

Another reason that some foreigners want to marry is for a work visa.

Foreign student are only permitted to work a maximum of 964 hours a year. However, if they marry a French national then that restriction no longer applies. France also has something called PACS, a civil solidarity pact which is a form of civil union between adults for organizing their joint life.  It brings rights and responsibilities but the contract is considered less binding than marriage.  If a foreigner can form a PACS with a French person then they are free to work in France and can obtain a residence permit.  But in order for a foreigner to form a PACS with a French person they must first live with their partner for at least a year.  Which mean they need a residence permit…

As shocking as it sounds, prostitution is often considered by some foreign women as a means of earn the money required to apply to a language school, find a French partner and get the ball rolling on a residency permit. Prostitution is not illegal in France unless it is solicited in a public place like a street corner. In the past, the vast proportion of foreign prostitutes in Paris were Brazillian, but in more recent times the number of Russians and women from former eastern bloc countries engaging in prostitution has increased.  The instructor that Excite News talked to recalls a student from the Dominican Republic who, as well as studying full-time and working as a prostitute, had a five-year-old son to take care of.

There appear to be many stories hiding behind the guise of the language school enrollment. Of course, for the most part, people enroll to simply to study a language, but for some, education in European countries is merely a front for those seeking permenant residency, and even then there may be a number of pitfalls to overcome…

Source: Excite Bit News