I have been the Visa Director at SAI for 16 years so I think this makes me a pro when it comes to students and their study visas. I’ve heard so many visa stories from students that have made me laugh and cry. Like the time when a student was about to depart for their program and told us he didn’t get a visa because he already had a Master Card. That one student made me both laugh and cry.
When a student first thinks about studying abroad they hear a lot about visas, Consulates, and appointments, oh my. I wanted to take a moment to calm those who must navigate these waters and go through some of the steps needed to obtain a student visa and simplify this process. For the sake of this blog, I will be speaking to those students going to Italy to study abroad.
What is a visa and do I need one?
Students studying in Italy for 91 days or more are required to obtain a student visa.
A visa allows you to stay for an extended period of time – passed 90 days. It will be attached to a page in your passport.
How do I get one?
Visas are obtained through Italian Consulates – official Italian offices throughout the country.
Where should I go?
There are 10 Italian Consulates in the US. You may only use the Consulate in the jurisdiction of your permanent address or your address while at school. There you will submit your application to request a study visa.
What is an Honorary Consulate?
They assist your main Consulate. They are located in states where there is no main Consulate and have more available appointments.
How do I make an appointment to bring in my visa application at the main Consulate?
Go to their website and click on visas and follow their directions for setting your appointment. If you are unable to find an appointment due to the high demand of requests, Consulates suggest that you check their appointment system several times a day for cancellations.
How do I make an appointment with an Honorary Consulate?
To contact an Honorary Consulate, go to your specific Consulates, click EN for English and click on Consular Network. There you will find a list by states of available people to contact. You will email or phone to make your appointment.
Once you have confirmed your appointment the rest is pretty easy – just collecting all the documents needed to complete your visa application. I say this is easy because if we know what is needed by the Consulates – who are quite clear about what they want – our job is to just give them what they want and not ask questions like “why do they want that” or “do I have to” or “will they make an exception for me”? It is less painful if we just surrender to their process.
When the time comes just remember I’ll be with you all the way, step by step. We’ll do this together. We might even have a few laughs while we do it!
Rose is the Student Visa Director at SAI.