The Schengen Visa

Map of Europe showing the countries where a Schengen Visa is requiredThe Schengen Visa enables people from outside Europe the right to move freely within the signatory countries of the Schengen Agreement as internal borders checks no longer exist within Europe. You will need to apply for a Schengen Visa if you plan to study in Europe in any of the states listed below:

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden (but not Ireland and the United Kingdom) plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (which are not EU members).

Who needs a Schengen Visa?

If you are not a European citizen and you plan to come to study in Europe, you may need to apply for a Schengen Visa. Please, note that if you intend to study in Europe for a period of time of 90 or more days, you will also need to obtain a residence permit.

To view the list of countries whose citizens don't need a visa to enter Europe, please follow this link: EUR-LEX, consolidated version of Council Regulation no. 539/2001, as of 19 December 2009

Application forms and additional documentation

Along with the application form, you are also requested to submit the following documents:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Documentation to prove how you intend to support your stay in Europe. You may present the following as a proof of means of subsistence: cash in convertible currency, travelers cheques, cheque books for a foreign currency account, credit cards or any other means that guarantees funds in hard currency.
  • Supporting document regarding accommodation. However, you may be exempted from providing the required documentation if you have sufficient financial means to support your stay and accommodation costs while in Europe.
  • At least 2 passport-sized photos
  • Travel itinerary
  • Medical/travel insurance valid for your entire stay in Europe
  • Letter of acceptance from your university
  • A bank receipt to prove you have paid the processing fee

You can electronically fill in the form for a Schengen Visa and print it out.

The consulate or embassy of the country you are submitting your application form to, may also request you additional documentation, like for example, a certificate to prove you have no criminal records.

Please, always check with the consulate or embassy which additional documents you need to submit.

Where to submit your application

You have to submit your application for a Schengen Visa to the consulate or embassy of the country where you will spend most of your time.

How long is the visa valid for?

The Schengen Visa is valid for stays of up to 90 days. If you plan to study in Europe for more than 90 days, you will need to also apply for a residence permit. Some states allow you to apply for the residence permit once you are in Europe. You may use your residence permit to move freely within the signatory countries of the Schengen Agreement.

During the time your Schengen Visa is valid, you can move freely within Europe. However, you have to notify the authorities if you intend to make trips in and out the Schengen space.

When will I receive my visa?

The maximum response time for a Schengen Visa to come to study in Europe is 3 months. If you have not received any notification within 3 months, it means your application has been denied.

For student visas, the usual response time is about 1 month.

Source: Common Consular Instructions on Visas for the Diplomatic Missions and Consular Posts