Travelling outside the UK
If you are planning to travel outside the UK whilst you are a student, you will probably need to apply for a separate visa.
Travelling in Europe: the Schengen Visa Scheme
If you are planning to travel in Europe and you are not a national of the European Economic Area (EEA), the Schengen Visa Scheme allows you to travel in certain countries with just one visa. At present, 25 countries are participating in the scheme:
Please note that the UK is not a Schengen territory and you cannot use a Schengen Visa to enter this country, nor can you travel in other European countries using your Tier 4 student visa.
How do I apply for a Schengen Visa?
You can apply for a Schengen Visa at either:
- The embassy or consulate of the country you plan to spend all or most of your time in (your main destination); or
- If you intend to spend approximately the same amount of time in more than one country, the embassy or consulate of the country you will go to first (your first port of entry).
Each Schengen country operates its own application system and you will find that visa fees, eligibility criteria and other factors vary depending on which embassy or consulate you are applying to. Most of the UK embassies of Schengen countries have their own websites that provide details of how to apply for visas. We suggest checking the relevant embassy website – you will often be able to download an application form and other information.
Some embassies have automated information lines, although these are often very expensive (sometimes £1 per minute), so make sure you know exactly what you need to find out before phoning).
Many Schengen countries will require you to make an appointment at the consulate or embassy (usually in London) so that you can submit your application in person or attend a short interview.
What type of Schengen Visa should I apply for?
There are generally three main types of visa:
- The airport transit visa
This allows travellers to transit through the international transit zone of an airport of a Schengen member state but not to exit this area before they fly on to their next destination.
- The transit visa
The transit visa enables a traveller to pass through the territory of one or more Schengen member states on the way to another country outside the Schengen space.
- The short stay or travel visa
This allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. If you are planning to visit Europe for a holiday or conference, this is the visa that you will probably require.
Applications can sometimes also be submitted for multiple entry visas. This allows people to travel more than once into Schengen space during a three-month period. For example, this would allow you to travel to France for one week, then return to the UK before visiting another Schengen country on a second trip.
When should I apply?
It is a good idea to plan and apply for your Schengen Visa early. Your application may take several weeks to process, although many Embassies will provide you with your visa more quickly than this. To make sure, we suggest you allow at least 6 weeks for your application.
What advice is available?
You will need to apply for a Schengen Visa yourself, although advice and support is available on campus - we suggest making an appointment with DSU Welfare, on the first floor of the Campus Centre.
Various companies offer help in arranging Schengen Visas and many advertise their services online; however they will charge a fee for this service. Most international students manage to obtain Schengen Visas without a problem, provided they allow enough time for their application.