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Types of Student Visas to Study Abroad in Europe

Types of Student Visas to Study Abroad in Europe

Studying abroad in Europe for a semester or even a year is a special opportunity to discover, to learn a new language, and to experience life outside your regular routine. But with great opportunity comes the need to navigate a foreign country’s requirements and applications for obtaining a Student Visa. This article describes the types of visas available to students visiting Europe from the United States.

In most cases, the length of the program or course you are taking in Europe will determine the type of student visa you will need. For most countries in the Schengen Area (France, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, and Italy, you may not be required to obtain a visa if the program in which you are enrolled is less than 90 days. For stays up to six months or up to a year, the types of visas and respective requirements may differ between each country.


Types of Student Visas for France

Visas are available for students enrolling in higher education to complete an academic program either independently or part of an exchange, for students wanting to learn French while working as a nanny or assistant for a French family, or for parents of a minor student enrolled in a French school. For stays longer than 90 days but less than 6 months, you can apply for a Temporary Long-Stay Visa. For stays longer than 6 months, you can apply for either a Long-Stay Visa for up to one year or multiple years depending on your circumstance and if you fulfill the required criteria. For more details on requirements and applications, click here.


Types of Student Visas for The Netherlands

To participate in an academic or training program that is longer than 90 days, your school or university in The Netherlands will apply for a Provisional Residence Permit (also known as an MVV) and an Immigration & Naturalization Service Residence Permit (IND) on your behalf. If you already have a bachelor’s degree and will be traveling to The Netherlands to complete a master’s program, you have an option to move to the The Netherlands up to one year prior to your start date to prepare for your studies. Once you have completed your studies, there is an option to extend your visa to look for a job in The Netherlands if you would like to stay. For more information regarding visa applications and requirements, click here.


Types of Student Visas for Spain

For studies longer than 90 days but less than 6 months, students accepted into a university or school in Spain can apply for a National Visa, and submit the application with their certificate of admission into the program. Applications must be submitted in person (with an appointment) to a Spanish Consulate in the United States, within 90 days of the start of the program. For programs longer than 6 months, students must apply for a Foreign Identity Card (TIE) or a Spanish Student Residency Card when they first arrive in Spain, the process for which can take up to three weeks. Note that some of the documents required for your application will need to be translated and notorized. Click here for more information on applications and requirements for studying in Spain. 


Types of Student Visas for Belgium

The education system in Belgium is separated amongst three communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish community, the German-speaking German community, and the French-speaking French community. Depending on the educational institution in which you are enrolled, your student visa application will likely require you to show proof of proficiency for the language of instruction. Along with your visa application, students must submit proof of registration in the school or university, an employer’s statement describing the requirement of your studies in Belgium, or a certificate of completion of a bachelor’s degree if applying to a master’s program. Additionally, the application requires a description of the courses to be taken in the Belgian academic institution as compared to similar courses in the United States. For more resources regarding Belgium's student visa requirements, click here and here


Types of Student Visas for Germany

There are three types of student visas for Americans studying in Germany: the first option is a Language Course Visa which is valid up to a year can requires proof of registration in a language program at the time of submitting the application. A Language Course Visa cannot be extended or converted to any other type of student visa, meaning you cannot apply for other programs or work while in Germany. The second option is a Student Applicant Visa for a student who is still awaiting confirmation from an academic institution in Germany and fulfills the requirements of a promising candidate to the program. Upon acceptance to a program, a Student Applicant Visa can be converted to the third visa option: A Student Visa. Student Visa holders can extend their Visa within reason if they have not yet completed their program, and can work at most a part-time job. Additionally, visa holders can apply for a residence permit valid for 6 months beyond completion of the studies to allow time to look for a job. For more details on the requirements and applications for a student visa for Germany, click here


Types of Student Visas for Portugal

For any study program longer than 3 months, you can apply for a Student Visa from a Portuguese embassy in the United States, and then file for a Residency Permit from a Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service office once you arrive in Portugal. Your Student Visa application will require you to submit an official acceptance letter from an academic institution along with confirmation of your accommodation in Portugal. The visa will be valid for the entire length of the academic course. Click here for more detailed information on Portugal's student visa application.


Types of Student Visas for the UK

Depending on the type of course you are looking to do, the UK offers two types of student visas, the first of which is a Short-Term Study Visa for students enrolled in language courses, training courses, or conducting academic research. The second is a General Tier 4 Student Visa, for students accepted into a formal academic course. Some differences between the two type of visas are cost (a Short-Term Study Visa is £97 for 6 months or £186 for 11 months, whereas a General Tier 4 Visa is £348 for the duration of the course) and the ability to bring accompanying dependents with you to the UK (it is not permitted on a Short-Term Study Visa, but it is permitted on a General Tier 4 Student Visa). For more information on a student visa to study in the UK, click here.


Types of Student Visas for Italy

For programs longer than 90 days, students can apply for an Italian National Visa for Study if you have proof of acceptance in an Italian academic institution, or a letter from your university in the United States if you are participating in an exchange in Italy. Additionally you must submit proof of funds to cover your stay in Italy, confirmation of housing in Italy, and a flight or travel itinerary showing entry and exit from Italy. The length of validity of the National Visa for Study is dependent on the amount of time needed to complete the program. Click here for more information on how to apply for a student visa for Italy.


When preparing for your trip to Europe, you may want to consider your transportation options when living abroad. A car is a great way to see a country at your own pace, and Auto France has short-term lease options specially designed for students from the United States. Click here to read more about the Open Europe Program and get started on reserving your delivery. 

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