Student Visas/Schengen Zone

May 19th, 2014, 07:04 PM
  #1  
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Student Visas/Schengen Zone

I have a question that has been troubling my feeble little brain.

So here's the gist: My program requiring a student visa "begins" October 1st. Rumor has it that the consulate will typically issue the student visa for September 15th.

I am planning to enter the Schengen Zone on July 29th. This plan arose with the idea that I would be able to travel visa-free for 90 days. But when I enter the Schengen zone will they stamp my passport or my student visa?? If my visa starts on September 15th will they turn me away if I try to enter before the 15th of September? How does this thing work, exactly?!

I have heard a rumor that in order for this to work I must enter the Schengen Zone on July 29th, do my traveling then exit the Schengen Zone before September 15h and re-enter on, say, September 17th.

So here's the part around which my feeble little brain cannot wrap (never having had a student visa before): is this going to work? Are they going to turn me away when I first enter the Schengen zone if my visa doesn't start until September? How does leaving and re-entering "reset" my student visa--I feel like that cannot possibly be a realistic option? Will they really let me back in when I need to come back!?

Any advice or resources to assist me would be much appreciated!
brwatts is offline  
May 19th, 2014, 07:10 PM
  #2  
 
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>>>How does leaving and re-entering "reset" my student visa-<<<

That wouldn't be resetting a student visa. It would be ending a tourist visa (you would be arriving on a 90 day tourist visa) and starting the student visa.
kybourbon is offline  
May 19th, 2014, 07:29 PM
  #3  
 
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Students do this all the time, but each country has different rules. Here are the rules for Spain from the Q&A page for Spanish Consulate in LA (my son is dealing with this right now):

Do not enter Spain prior to the start date on your visa!
If you enter Spain as a tourist prior to your visa start date, your visa will not automatically switch to your student
visa. You will need to leave the country and then return to Spain to activate your stay with your student visa.

This means you can enter and travel within the Schengen zone before your studies begin, but if you're going to Spain, you need to wait until the date on your visa and present yourself at immigration. If I recall, the rules for Italy were different.
crosscheck is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 03:22 AM
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Ok, that makes me feel better. So they don't "take away" your tourist visa just because you have a student visa? (Again thank you for your patience, I am new to this and my regional consulate does not have any of this information on the website and does not respond to emails or phone calls).

Crosscheck-- I am going to Spain too so that information is very helpful. I'm not going through the consulate in LA however, I'm going through a different regional consulate. So, if I'm understanding correctly, we don't have to exit the Schengen Zone we just can't go to Spain until the student visa starts?

Thanks for all your help!
brwatts is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 06:20 AM
  #5  
 
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You need to exit Schengen and reenter otherwise you will not see an immigration officers to validate the student visa.
There is no passport control between Schengen lands.
hetismij2 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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You CAN enter Spain from another Schengen country, but you must present yourself at immigration. So let's say you're flying from Paris (or wherever you're culminating your tourist experience) to Madrid. You will need to fly to an international airport and go through the immigration line to activate your student visa. You can discuss this with the consulate when you get your visa.

Good luck - maybe you'll run into my son!
crosscheck is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 08:13 AM
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Just to reiterate. You can enter Schengen on 29th July, and as it's before the 'valid from' date on your type D student visa, you will just get a Schengen entry stamp on a separate space/page to show you are there for 90-in-180 days. Then you must leave Schengen (for UK, Ireland, North Africa etc) and then re-enter Spain in or after 15th September to activate your type D visa. The entry officer will put a stamp OVER your type D to effect this. While you can re-enter via another state (e.g. France), I always recommend arriving directly in the country that issued your visa so that you get Spanish entry stamp. This will help when you need to apply for Spanish residence permit (residencía) from the foreigner's office or ayuntamiento.
Alec is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Most airports keep Schengen passengers separate from non Schengen and you will not see an immigration official when exiting the airport. You can only cross to the non Schengen area if you are transferring.
Better to leave the zone, even if only for a day trip to Morocco, and be sure you will go through immigration.
hetismij2 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 08:49 AM
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Good advice. Sometimes border officials don't bother stamping non-EEA passenger's passport and just wave them through, so insist they stamp yours - very important.
Alec is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 03:35 PM
  #10  
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Thank you everyone, this is all very helpful information. I will be an expert once I'm through with this experience! Until they change the rules…
brwatts is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 06:58 PM
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I have a similar issue and am wondering - how do you ensure that they stamp yours? When I've traveled within Schengen zone countries before and never seen anyone to stamp my passport.
landla7809 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 01:46 AM
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Nobody stamps your passport WITHIN Schengen - there isn't even a passport checkpoint. It's when you ENTER or LEAVE Schengen (called external border) that you should under EU law get an entry or exit stamp as non-EEA or Swiss citizen. What sometimes happens is at a busy border and at busy times, they sometimes wave people through without individual checking and stamping. It's against Schengen rules but it happens. Not by a strict country like Switzerland, Netherlands or Germany (they scrutinise everything) but I've seen in France, Spain and Italy. If that happens, and you need a stamp to show your entry and exit, insist they stamp yours, and don't leave the border until they do. It's very difficult to get stamped later.
Alec is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 09:13 AM
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We are returning to the Spanish consulate tomorrow because my son's program originally sent the wrong documentation (for LA, the acceptance letter has to have a raised stamp - lots of bureaucracy for this visa!). Will get to the bottom of the pre-travel issue and report back.

I know there was a "visa desk" in the Florence airport available to students arriving from Schengen countries so the kids could activate their student visas without leaving the Schengen zone (even though they didn't have to go through immigration). Will find out if something similar exists in Madrid.
crosscheck is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:13 PM
  #14  
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Alec-I was just looking at my passport and noticed that I only had stamps when I entered and exited the Schengen Zone so your information has been very helpful. Thank you for your input as I would hate to waste time/money exiting the Schengen Zone without getting the proper stamp

Crosscheck-I'm sorry to hear you have to go back. I definitely hear you on the bureaucracy thing. How did you like having to get to the bottom of what the heck and Apostille of the Hague was!? I am very much looking forward to what you learn, please do share it will be much appreciated!
brwatts is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 11:02 PM
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Luckily the consulate is only a few miles from here. A student who had flown in from Denver (because you have to apply in person) also had the wrong letter from his school, but luckily they said he could mail the correct one. There were also three students from San Diego who had to drive up at 4:30 in the morning during finals to get there for their appointment. And several people were turned away for trying to pay with cash instead of money orders.

My son didn't have to deal with the bizarrely titled Apostille - not required in LA, but my husband did have to make a visit to the notary.

I just spoke to my older son about his experience entering Florence three years ago and he said his passport was never stamped. He flew from LA through Frankfurt - entered the Schengen area there when changing planes, then arrived in Florence where nobody ever looked at his passport or student visa. Sounds as if Spain is not quite as chill, but will let you know what they say tomorrow.
crosscheck is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 10:24 AM
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Just returned from the consulate. The woman in charge of visas said U.S. students CAN enter the Schengen area as tourists before their programs and they do NOT need to leave Europa before entering Spain.

They just need to:

- get their passports stamped at their point of entry
- register with the police when they arrive in Spain - that will activate the student visa. There is an oficina de la policia in the Madrid airport open 24/7. If they're entering and/or residing somewhere else, they should go to the local police.

She also said many universities meet the kids upon arrival and handle the police registration as a group. (I suspect this was the case for my older son in Italy - that is why he doesn't remember registering.)

So, brwatts, you can travel away. (But to be absolutely certain, confirm during your consular appointment.) ¡Buen viaje!
crosscheck is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 10:41 AM
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I still won't take what the consular officer said at face value. She won't be dealing with your immigration when you enter Spain, and I know for a fact those entered Schengen before their type D was valid and didn't re-enter Schengen on or after the start of validity to get it activated, who faced problems when trying to obtain their residence permit (residencía). Saying the consular officer in US gave a different interpretation would cut little ice. So I would proceed cautiously and get type D activated through re-entering Schengen.
Alec is offline  
May 23rd, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Hi Alec, So sorry to belabor this, but I'm curious about where you're getting your info from - Do you live in Spain? Do you have a son or a daughter who is studying there? We know MANY kids who have gone in the last few years and nobody has faced the challenges you have described.

Only asking because your info affects our family vacation...We're planning to travel in Europe with our family before our son enters Spain as a student and don't have time to zigzag back through non-Schengen areas. If this is truly a concern, we might go to Croatia to avoid issues and need to decide fairly soon. I'm certain that the university gets everyone their residencia cards in a group, so not very concerned about that.
crosscheck is offline  
May 23rd, 2014, 12:38 PM
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I'm well clued up on Schengen rules as an advisor (not professional).
Alec is offline  
May 23rd, 2014, 12:42 PM
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What I am trying to say is while Spain isn't the strictest country to impose Schengen rules to the letter (like Switzerland, followed by Germany, Denmark and Netherlands), the rules are clearly laid down and there is a small possibility that those who don't follow them can get into difficulty. As a responsible advisor, my suggestion is always to do things by the letter and not cut corners just because some others have got away with it.
Alec is offline  

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