The primary focus of the ETIAS visa waiver program is to safeguard Schengen countries from problematic tourists. It was designed to root out terrorists, violent criminals, human traffickers, and drug smugglers while providing genuine tourists with access to the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days at a time.
You can’t work under an ETIAS visa waiver and it doesn’t last long enough to complete any long-term academic studies, either. However, it could be possible to use the ETIAS travel authorization program for short-term study in Europe, which is great news for eager students who want to benefit from some of the world’s best universities and schools.
Can I Study with an ETIAS Visa Waiver?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) was not created to exclude students and the only real issue is the time limit.
It limits all tourists to stays of no more than 90 consecutive days within a 180-day period. If you can complete your studies in that time, there should be no issue. If not, you will need to apply for a student visa, which allows you to remain in the Schengen Area for as long as you need to finish your course.
The ETIAS visa waiver can be completed following a quick and simple application process. It’s there for tourists, mainly. If you’re planning to visit as a student, it’s worth taking the extra time to apply for a student visa, as that will give you the freedom you need to study long term.
In any case, it’s important to be honest when you complete your ETIAS or student visa application. It doesn’t matter if you have a criminal record or have had problems with visas in the past. Lying might help you to avoid issues in the short term, but they will catch up with you before long and when that happens, any permission that you have will be revoked.
How Can U.S. Citizens Get a Student Visa for Europe?
To give you an idea of what to expect when you apply for a student visa, let’s look at things from the perspective of U.S. citizens looking to study in the Schengen Area.
The first step is to visit the embassy or consulate and provide proof of:
- Admission to an educational institution
- Academic qualifications
- Accommodation (tenancy agreements, dormitory contracts, etc.,)
- Health insurance
- Proof of financial stability (enough to cover living expenses, education-related expenses, and flights)
You will also need a valid passport and will be asked to provide proof of language proficiency. If you’re studying abroad, you can’t always rely on English and may be required to reach a certain level of proficiency in the local language.
Once you provide this information, you can expect to wait between 2 and 4 weeks for a Schengen visa to be processed.
If you are a minor, it gets a little more complicated and you will need to take a parent or guardian along with you.
Which Country is Best for International Students?
The UK is home to many great universities and is often the destination of choice for many international students. You can apply for a student visa to study in the UK, but it’s not part of the European Union or the Schengen Zone, and so the ETIAS rules don’t apply.
Germany is another fantastic place to study, as is Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, all of which are part of the Schengen Area. You can take part in a wealth of academic courses, explore some of the best museums in the world, and cram a lot of learning into those 90 days.
You can also visit these countries to complete some language courses while immersing yourself in the local culture. What better way to learn Spanish than to live in Madrid for 3 months and surround yourself with Spaniards? You can learn more in 2 to 3 months of immersion than you can from years of reading language textbooks.
Countries like Greece and Italy, which are also part of the Schengen Area, are great for history students as well. You can visit the Coliseum in Rome or the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens, all while learning a little Italian or Greek and enjoying some of the best food in the world.
It’s not a decision that you should take lightly. Look into the ETIAS, read up on student visas in the European Union and Schengen Zone, find the best universities and courses, and speak with your friends and family.
Studying abroad can change your life for the best, but it’s something that needs to be considered carefully.