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Student Visa for Italy Questions

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I am traveling to Italy for graduate studies in Milan. Classes start on August 26th and I submitted my documents to obtain a student visa to the Italian consulate in New York (I am American), including my airline tickets showing that I intend to travel on August 19th, so I have a few days to find accomodations etc. I am all set to go tomorrow, but I just noticed that my visa start date is August 30th -the day school starts!!

It is too late to try to go to the consulate as you need an appointment and takes weeks. No phone calls or other ways to ask a question. In addition to not wanting to show up in the country the day classes start, I have already made arrangements for airport pick ups, temporary hotel accomodations, etc. Can I enter Italy before the day of my visa start or would I be allowed to enter as a tourist for 5 days -for which I would normally not need a visa?

Any advice would be extremely appreciated as my flight leaves in about 14 hours.

Susan

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