How do I apply for a student visa to legally teach English in Europe?

For non-EU citizens who want to teach English in Europe it can be a frustrating experience when it comes to getting a work visa. Due to this frustration, many teachers decide to work with only their initial tourist visa in their passport. Although this is technically illegal, it is a widespread practice in some of the most popular destinations such as France, Italy and Spain, and it rarely causes any problems. However, if this approach does not appeal to you, a student visa might be the answer. By enrolling in a local language course, you get to learn French, Italian or Spanish, while also being free to legally work as an EFL teacher for a certain number of hours each week.

What is the application process for a student visa in France?

It is recommended that you allow a minimum of four weeks for the application to be processed. You should also ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your trip to France is completed. Documented proof that you have enrolled on a study course that is recognized by the French government (typically a French language course) will be crucial to your application. The first step is to register with Campus France, a French Government program that can be found here: www.usa.campusfrance.org/en. A registration fee of $70 is required to obtain an 'attestation'. Next you must visit your nearest French Consulate in person to lodge your application. The exact requirements are subject to change, but are typically:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport
  • Additional passport photo
  • Photocopy of passport ID page
  • Documentation regarding your study course in France
  • Proof of available finances (bank statement showing funds of $1,000 for every month of your stay, or notarized document from parent or similar declaring they will guarantee the funds)
  • An 'attestation' from Campus France
  • Completed French immigration form
  • Airline reservations showing date of departure
  • 50 euro processing fee

How can I check that I have the right documents?

It is recommended that you visit the consulate website for the current documentation requirements before submitting your application.

What should I do on arrival in France?

If you plan to stay in France for more than six months, you need to register with l'office français de l'immigration et de l'intégration (OFII) within three months of your arrival. To complete your registration you will need to provide the following:

  • Valid passport, plus copy of ID pages
  • A passport size photo
  • Proof of residence in France (utility bill etc)
  • 55 euro tax fee

How easy is it to get a student visa for France?

Although it is not guaranteed that your student visa application will be accepted, if you supply all the required documentation throughout the application process, you should find you are able to head to France to begin your adventure teaching English abroad.

What is the application process for a student visa in Spain?

To start the process you should visit your nearest Spanish Consulate at least three months before you plan to leave. At this visit you should verify the exact requirements, collect an application form, and make an appointment to submit your application. You also need to enroll in a government recognized study program in the area where you wish to live in Spain. The documentation required may vary, but typically includes:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport
  • Four extra passport photos
  • Private health insurance policy
  • Police criminal background check in English and Spanish
  • Medical certificate in English and Spanish showing negative test results for yellow fever, cholera, the plague, mental illness, and drug dependency
  • Proof of enrollment on study course in Spain
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of finances (bank statement showing funds of $1,000 for every month of your stay, or notarized document from parent or similar declaring they will guarantee the funds)

What should I do on arrival in Spain?

Once your student visa has been approved and you have arrived in Spain, you then need to apply for a Número de Identificación (NIE) within 30 days. To do so you must visit a police station or immigration office with the following documents at hand:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport
  • Copy of passport ID page
  • Two additional passport photos
  • Your Spanish address

How easy is it to get a student visa for Spain?

As long as you follow the exact requirements laid out by the Spanish Consulate, you have an excellent chance of receiving a student visa that allows you to live and work in Spain. Whether you prefer Madrid or Barcelona, Seville or Valencia, a student visa could be the key to an unforgettable trip.

What is the application process for a student visa in Italy?

The process of applying for a student visa can take up to a month to be processed. You will need to visit your nearest Italian Consulate in person to submit the required documents. Before applying you should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after your stay in Italy is completed. You also need to enroll in a study program such as an Italian language course that is recognized by the Italian government. The required documentation may vary, but the typical requirements are:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport
  • Additional passport photo
  • Photocopies of passport ID pages
  • Documentation regarding the study course in Italy
  • Proof of finances (either a bank statement showing access to $1,000 per month during your stay, or notarized document from parent or similar declaring responsibility for providing the funds)
  • Health insurance documentation
  • Proof of round-trip flights
  • Proof of accommodation during your stay

How can I check that I have the right documents?

To ensure you have everything in place it is recommended that you visit the website of your nearest consulate to check the exact details of any documentation required.

What should I do on arrival in Italy?

Once you have received your student visa and are on the ground in Italy, you then need to apply for a Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno). Your application should be made at a local post office within eight days of your arrival in the country. Processing time can be up to three months and requires the following documents:

  • Completed application form (obtained from post office)
  • Valid passport, plus copies of ID and visa page
  • Four passport photos
  • Tax stamp (obtained from post office)
  • Acceptance letter from study program
  • Public health insurance (49 euros for six months, 98 euros for twelve months. Obtained from post office)
  • Once your application is sent, you also need to apply for a tax number through the government tax department

How easy is it to get a student visa for Italy?

If you supply all the necessary documentation throughout the visa application process, things should run smoothly. However, it is by no means certain that every application will be approved so it is important that you follow the instructions supplied by the Italian Consulate to the letter.



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