If you want to travel outside the UK, check with the embassy where you would like to travel to find out if you need a visa. Some countries require students to have between two and six months remaining on their student visa. This means you may not be able to travel towards the end of your stay in the UK.
Who does NOT need a Schengen Visa?
The following nationalities do not need a Schengen visa provided that they will be visiting only for tourism and have valid medical insurance:
* Holders of biometric passports only
**Passport must contain identity card number
Those students wanting to travel to Europe may be able to take advantage of the Schengen Visa Scheme. The Schengen Visa Scheme allows people wishing to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) to travel using only one visa for a trip. At the moment there are 26 countries who have signed the Schengen agreement and who make up the Schengen area, these countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Most non EEA nationals will need to apply for a Schengen visa to travel within the Schengen area. You are advised to check with the embassy or consulate of the country that you wish to visit before making travel arrangements. Most countries have their own websites which provide full details of the application process, documents required and application forms.
Where to apply for a Schengen visa
If you plan to visit only one country in the Schengen area you should apply to the embassy or consulate of that country. If you plan to visit more than one country within the Schengen area then you should apply to the embassy or consulate of whichever country you plan to spend the most time in during your trip. If you plan to visit several countries in the Schengen area without having one main destination, then you should apply to the embassy or consulate of the country you will visit first.
How to make your application
Each of the Schengen member states have slightly different application procedures, ask for specific documents and make different charges. Information on application procedures for each of the countries is available from their embassy web sites.
Most will ask for the following documents:
1. Recent photograph(s)
2. A completed application form(s)
3. Current valid passport
4. Proof of the purpose of the visit - you will need to provide your return travel documents and accommodation reservation. If you will be staying with a friend or relative then they will need to provide you with an invitation letter. This may have to be verified by the local town hall/city hall. This may take time and you should start to make arrangements as early as possible.
5. Time remaining on your visa - you should check that your current student visa will allow you to return to the UK. Most Schengen member states ask for a specific period of leave remaining on your student visa. The time varies but could be as long as 6 months from the date of return to the UK.
6. Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip - you have to show that you can support yourself during your stay in a particular country. Evidence confirming this can be recent bank statements or credit card statements showing the current credit limit. As a guide you would need to show at least £35-£40 per day for every day you will be overseas.
7. The visa fees - the fee charged by the different embassies and consulates vary and you should check the current fee and which forms of payment are acceptable before you submit your application. Most embassies state the fee should be paid in cash and they will not accept cheques or credit card transactions. The fee is usually non-refundable, whether the application is successful or not.
8. Proof of student status - You need a letter from the University confirming that you are a full time student - you can request a Student Status letter online (please allow at least 5 working days).
9. Travel Insurance including medical insurance to cover the period – some Schengen member states require proof of medical insurance which covers the entire trip.
How much will a Schengen visa cost?
The fee is 80 Euros (approximately £67 depending on currency exchange). You can usually pay by debit or credit card or postal order, some Embassies only accept cash. The visa application fee is non-refundable.
How long will the application take?
You can apply for your visa from 3 months before your travel date.
Most embassies say that the process takes several weeks, but this can vary considerably. Most embassies do not issue Schengen visas on the same day and require that you submit your visa application at its partner agency. If you do need to make the application in person you will need to arrive and be prepared to start queuing very early in the morning.
Embassies close on days which are national holidays in their own country. Always check on their websites to check when an embassy may be closed.
For further information and advice please see the UKCISA website
Re-entering the UK
If you travel outside the UK during your stay, you can normally re-enter the UK without any problems. You must make sure that your permission to stay in the UK does not expire while you are away. To show that you are still a student, you should take an up-to-date Student Status letter with you.
You should also show evidence that you still have enough money for tuition fees and living expenses and, if you are travelling during term time, you should have a letter from a tutor confirming that you have permission to be away and that the course is still available to you when you return. You may need to show these documents to an immigration officer when you come back into the UK.
If you travel outside the UK after you have finished your course, you should have documents with you to show why you are returning to the UK, for example to extend your student visa to do another course, or to apply for a Graduate visa, Skilled Worker visa etc. If the Immigration Officer is not satisfied that you will be making a visa extension application in the UK you may be refused entry.