Travelling with your visa
You may need to apply for a Schengen visa if you are a non-EEA national wishing to visit certain countries within the EEA (and Switzerland).
UWE Bristol's sponsor licence permits the Immigration Advice Service to assist with UK student visas and closely related matters. Other types of UK visa, and visas for other countries, are outside our remit, and we will signpost external specialist advice if students require detailed guidance.
What is the Schengen visa scheme?
If you are a non-European Economic Area (EEA) national and want to travel elsewhere in Europe, a Schengen visa lets you visit many countries on one visa. It's different from your student visa.
- The Schengen visa scheme lets you visit 26 countries using only one visa for a trip lasting up to three months.
- You can visit Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The following EEA countries are not part of the Schengen zone:
- Republic of Cyprus
However, these four - plus a number of other non-EEA European countries - permit entry to holders of Schengen visas. Nevertheless, we strongly advise you check the entry requirements in advance with the authorities of any country you plan to visit.
The Republic of Ireland is not part of the Schengen zone, but forms part of the Common Travel Area with the UK (and islands). See 'Common Travel Area' below for details.
Do I need to apply for a Schengen visa?
Nationals of the following countries will usually require a visa to enter the Schengen area. However, it is important to check with the embassy, consulate or high commission of the country that you wish to visit before making travel arrangements.
Countries starting with A-C
- Burkina Faso
- Faso Burma/Myanmar
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire Cuba
Countries starting with D-K
- Dem. Rep. Of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- North Korea
Countries starting with L-R
Countries starting S-Z
- Sao Tome & Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
Types of Schengen visas
Short stay or travel visa
The short stay or travel visa allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. This is the visa that most students will need to travel within Schengen areas as a tourist, on a field trip, or as conference attendees.
The transit visa enables the traveller to pass though the territory of one or more Schengen member states on their way to another country outside the Schengen area.
Airport transit visa
The airport transit visa allows the traveller to transit through an international transit area of an airport of a Schengen member state, but not exit this area before they fly to their next destination.
Where to apply for a Schengen visa
- If you are visiting only one country in the Schengen area, apply to that country.
- If visiting more than one country in the Schengen area, apply to the country that you intend to stay the longest time in - your main destination.
- If you intend to visit several countries in the Schengen area without having one main destination, apply to the country you will visit first.
How do I apply?
Every Schengen member state has its own application procedures. Information on application procedures including visa fees, eligibility criteria, multi-entry visas and the documents you will need to provide are available from the website of each country's representation (embassy, consulate etc.) in the UK. It will usually direct you to a visa application centre run by a third party such as TLS, VFS etc. Contact an Immigration Adviser for a link to the correct website if you are in any doubt.
Please be aware that payment of the immigration health surcharge does not entitle you to health care outside the UK, and you will need separate travel insurance for your trip to cover medical attention, as well as other events. This is usually a requirement of the Schengen visa. You are unlikely to be granted a Schengen visa if your proposed return date is less than three months before your UK visa expires.
How long will the application take?
Most application centres describe the process as taking around three weeks - longer at peak times. Visas are not issued on the same day, so don't delay.
Schengen visa letter
Students who are applying for a Schengen visa normally need to provide a letter from the University confirming their status.
Please complete the online form (InfoHub login required) to request a Schengen visa letter.
Please note: the turnaround time for producing letters is five working days. Therefore, it is important that you allow enough time before your visa appointment before requesting a letter. We may not be able to produce letters at short notice.
Common Travel Area (CTA)
The CTA is an arrangement between the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey). It allows relatively free movement, and as a result you are unlikely to encounter immigration officials if travelling between these areas.