Thursday, May 10, 2012

What to Expect: Italian Student Visas

Right around this time of year, there are always LOTS of questions about the process of getting Italian Student Visas.  Some students are traveling over the summer, so they have very specific time frames to work with; some students have had bad experiences trying to get student visas before, so they’re anxious about the process (totally understandable!); some students just like to have their ducks all in a row.  So what more appropriate than a post about getting Italian Student Visas. 
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read - closely - our webpage on obtaining Italian visas: http://www.sais-jhu.edu/admissions/admitpack/MAFall2012/VisaInformation.htm.  This page includes most, if not all, the information you’ll need to get your visa.  
I strongly recommend using the SAIS visa service.  If you’ll be traveling over the summer and need your passport, you may still be able to use the visa service (depending on your departure date).  I’ll be doing an early trip to the consulate to accommodate anyone who needs to leave the country earlier than the end of June.  If this applies to you, please contact SAIS Admissions as soon as possible (I’ll include specific contact info at the end of the post.)
If you use the visa service, just follow the instructions on the website.  My big suggestion is that you get your materials to us before the deadline so we can review your visa application and materials before going to the consulate.
If you’re not using the visa service, here are a few notes to keep in mind:
  • All consulates are not created equal.  There are “rules” that each consulates follow, and they aren’t consistent from consulate to consulate, despite the fact that they all fall under the Italian government.  So make sure that you contact the consulate well in advance to verify what materials you’ll need and how long the process will take, and get the name of the person you speak with.  Some consulates require appointments and book up weeks in advance, so call early; some consulates may take weeks to process your application, so plan in advance. 

    My experience (anecdotal from students in years past) is that most of the Italian consulates are easy to work with, and process visas quickly.  But if the person on the phone is difficult (or they don’t return your calls), it’s likely that working with them will be difficult as well.  (A word to the wise: the NYC is notoriously difficult and is to be avoided at all costs.)  In such a case, you’re welcome to go to the Italian consulate in Washington, DC.
  • Make sure all your financial docs are notarized.  This doesn’t apply to your financial aid award notice, but it DOES apply to the Affidavit of Support, if you have one.  All banks have a notary, and services are usually free if you won an account at the bank - just ask them to notarize the paperwork when they give it to you.
  • Getting your Italian visa while working/interning/studying abroad: it is possible.  You don’t necessarily have to come back to the States to get your visa.  If you’re in another country, contact your local Italian consulate and inquire.  If you’re currently on a visa for whatever country you’re in, the consulate there is obligated to handle your paperwork.  If you don’t have a visa, it’s up to the discretion of the consulate, so be courteous and respectful.  They’ll probably help you out.
  • Letters of Support: they provide almost all the documentation that you’ll need.  Many consulates ask for proof of health insurance, copies of plane tickets, admission letters, proof of accommodation, etc.  It’s a LOT of paperwork to gather up.  To make it easier for you, we can provide letters of support that basically addresses all of this in one or two documents.  To request letters of support, visithttp://www.sais-jhu.edu/admissions/admitpack/VisaLetterSupport.html.
Do you still have questions?  We’ll be having an online chat next week just for questions about Italian Student Visas - watch for an email with chat information, which we’ll send out today or tomorrow.  Alternately, you can email erin.cameron@jhu.edu or call 202-663-5700 with specific questions.
Thanks for reading!
– Erin Cameron, Associate Director of Admissions
Coming soon on a future blog post … What to Expect: US Student Visas