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Feeling tired of American culture or American foods and clothes? It might be time for a trip to Europe! Europe is always a good idea to give yourself a chance to see the world from a new perspective. Plus, Europe has tons of new cultures to experience and plenty of shopping. You can visit Europe at any time of year: see the Northern Lights in the winter, the romantic and sunny Greek beaches in the summer, Dutch cities in the spring or golden Italian towns in the fall. Plus, applying for a Schengen visa is way easier than you think! Keep reading to get all the details on how to apply for a student visa to Europe.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-term visa that allows a person to travel to any countries in the Schengen region. The Schengen area consists of 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The validity of a single visa is 90 days.
The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. Once you have a Schengen visa, you can travel freely throughout any of the countries in the Schengen region for the duration of the visa for tourism or business purposes. You can also enter Europe or leave from any of the Schengen region countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
Which Country Should I Apply to?
There are 3 rules to help you choose the right Schengen country to apply for your visa through.
- If you are going to visit multiple Schengen countries, file your application at the embassy or consulate of the country where you will stay the longest.
- If you will be spending an equal amount of time in each country, apply at the embassy or consulate of the country where you’ll first arrive.
- If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, file your application at the embassy or consulate of that country.
When To Apply
You can begin to apply 3 weeks before your trip if you have settled your plans.
How to apply?
Once you’ve determined what country you need to apply for a visa with, you’ll next have to check how your destination country has regulated visa submission in your country of residence. You’ll have to file your Schengen visa application at one of the following:
1. Their embassy
2. One of their consulates
3. A visa center to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
4. The embassy or consulate of another Schengen state to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
Next, you’ll need to book a Schengen visa appointment in order to proceed with your application. Check the website of the embassy you’ll be applying at to find out how to make your appointment.
Most of the countries will give you the option to book your appointment online. For others, you will need to make the appointment in person at the embassy or consulate of your destination country.
It’s a good idea to check the available appointment spaces several times. Also, keep in mind that even if you’re traveling with your friends, everyone needs to make an individual appointment. You’ll also need to prepare your documents and applications individually.
What Documents are Required?
- The Schengen visa application form
- Two identical passport photos (see detailed instructions below)
- Your passport and a color copy of the information page. Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your visa application date.
- A color copy of your valid US visa
- For F1 students:
- the original and a copy of your i20
- Proof of enrollment
- Proof of employment (your employment contract)
- Leave permission from the employer
- Current bank statement of the last 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary.
- Past 3 months of bank statements (to guarantee you have enough money to complete your travels)
- Travel Insurance policy that meets the Schengen visa insurance requirements:
- Must have a minimum coverage of at least 30,000 EUR (equivalent to 50,000 USD).
- Must cover all member states of the Schengen Area.
- Must cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.
- Round-trip flight tickets
You can download your itinerary from StudentUniverse using your confirmation number. Or, you can contact customer service through the StudentUniverse WeChat and print the itinerary through WeChat. Not sure about your trip yet? StudentUniverse allows most flights to be cancelled within 24 hours of purchasing.
- Proof of accommodation.
Include a copy of all of your hotel reservations. Be sure to include the names of all the people who will be staying with you. If you will be taking an overnight train at any point, include the printed train reservation in this section.
- Proof of financial means
- Copies of any past Schengen visa
- Additional materials may be required. (For example, a brief outline of your trip plan may be necessary.)
- Visa fee: €60 per person.
On the day of your appointment, show up on time at the embassy or consulate. Once there, you’ll meet a visa consular to whom you need to hand the collected documents, as required. You’ll also have a brief interview while you’re there.
The process varies from embassy to embassy, but during the interview, you may be asked personal questions about your destinations, the intended trip and other travel details. Make sure your answers are firm and correct, and that they comply with the information in the application form and the other documents. The interview may last around 10-15 minutes.
Getting your Visa
In most cases it takes no more than 15 days to process your Schengen visa, but there are times when this process can take much longer. That period can be extended up to 30 days in some countries. It’s best to apply as soon as possible.
You can pick up visa on your own, just remember to bring the receipt with you. If you’ll need your visa to be mailed to you, bring a prepaid envelope with your return address with you when you go in to apply and interview. (Check the embassy’s website in advance and make sure mailing visas is supported by the embassy you’re applying at!)
And that’s it, you’re off to Europe! Ready to start planning your own European adventure? Check out the cheap flights to Europe on StudentUniverse.