Student Visas

I got a mass email yesterday that was sent to all of the Erasmus Mundus students. Basically it said that the information is in the mail and that we should contact the British/Greek/Spanish/Irish Embassies in our countries to inquire about student visas. Well – let me tell you, this whole student visa situation isn’t as simple as one would hope. Well England isn’t so bad – I can study in England for 6 months without a visa, and the application is online anyway. One down.

The greek embassy said that I had to apply in person – in Montreal – and I would need a medical certificate, police check, proof of finances, passport, and the blood of a virgin. The guy from the Spanish consulate said that I can’t get a visa this far in advance and that I need to be in Canada when I am able to apply. I can get away with 3 months in Spain without a visa, which might be enough. However there is a small problem of the Schengen agreement which permits free travel between several European countries including Greece and Spain. This means that that three month window applies to this whole region, and since I have a term in each of those two countries, I am SOL.

I haven’t been in touch with anyone from the Irish consulate yet, so I’m not sure what the scene is there, but I suspect it is more like England and less like the other two. The guy from the Spanish consulate said that Canadians usually just end up staying [longer than the three months] and no one says anything because – well we’re not American and therefore welcome pretty much anywhere. The other thing is, while this program is new in terms of Masters programs, a similar undergraduate program known as Erasmus Socrates has operated for almost 20 years. So obviously I can’t be the first Canadian student doing brief stints at a number of different universities in Europe. I think that my next step (beside waiting to get my hands on the info package) is to snoop around the web site for the Erasmus Students Network (ESN) to see if there is any literature surrounding this whole visa process.

I guess all of this is to be expected, but for the mean time it is a perplexing issue that I’ll need to figure out. I’ll keep everyone in the loop.