The first lesson I learnt while applying for a Spanish visa – so I could spend my Winter quarter studying at IE Business School in Spain – was this: you don’t want to apply for a Spanish student visa! The process can be complicated, and you may not get multiple entry visas that allow you to visit other countries within Europe. What I did instead was apply for a Schengen tourist visa, with Spain as my main destination. This option allows me to study for a period of up to 90 days in Spain, and to visit any of the European countries in the Schengen agreement: 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 process for applying for a Schengen visa is pretty straightforward; all the requirements are listed here. A couple of pointers on the application:
1. Original Local Police Invitation or Hotel Reservation: Your host school is likely to provide you with a letter stating that your accommodation will be taken care of when you arrive, and that letter should fulfill this document requirement.
2. Round Trip Flight Reservations: You can do a search flights on on Expedia, and then save the detailed information of a specific flight as a PDF. You don’t need to pay for the flight before saving as a PDF.
3. Health/Travel Accident Insurance: Kellogg has an international insurance offering that all students making international trips are required to purchase, and this was good enough for this requirement.
Please feel free to post any questions you might have about the application process and I’ll do my best to answer.
I’d advise scheduling your visa interview about a month before your trip as Schengen visas are sent out about 2 weeks after the visa interview. From my experience, visa interview appointments at the Chicago consulate are pretty easy to get, and the atmosphere at the consulate is pretty laid back compared to other consulates I’ve been to. The US consulate is definitely the most hard core… 🙂