I’ve been incredibly busy for the past three weeks and have finally decided to not stay dormant and talk to you all about my busy weeks 😛 The first two weeks was the most exciting as my family visited me in the UK and we managed to squeeze in a tiny Euro-trip in our calendars. The best part about travelling with family is that one – you don’t have to stress over being the only one responsible for the trip 😛 and, two – you get to do touristy stuff which you would never come around to doing because of the ‘I have a whole year to explore London in leisure’ attitude and, third and the best – you are with family 🙂
The tedious bit was, of course, preparing for the visit. Euro-trip demands you to have a Schengen visa stamped on your passport and thought I’d tell you more about that. Did I already mention students get plenty of discounts in the UK? It’s pretty much applicable everywhere including visas. In order to apply for a Schengen visa, you’ll first need to make sure the country(ies) you wish to visit is in the Schengen Area. Most details are available online. My trip was to France and Italy. It really helps to get your itinerary in place before you start preparing your documents for the trip.
To start off, you’ll need a letter from the university. It is basically a no-objection certificate that you can apply for on the student self-service portal and collect it at the Student Services on Campus after 2 working days. You’ll need to mention what countries you are travelling to, how many days, and the purpose of visit; in case of conferences, (i think) the letter would state it and you could get your visa fees waived which is about 60 euros (53 pounds currently) for transit or short stay tourist visa. There’s an important thing to know about applying for the Schengen visa. Although the 26 states that fall within this area do not exercise any mutual border control, it still matters to them where you enter from and exit. If your trip is to France and Italy, you can apply for a visa at the French Embassy if France is the country of the maximum duration of stay. If you are likely to be spending more time in Italy but still want to ride the train from London to Paris, you are required to apply to the Italian Embassy. If you decide to spend an equal number of nights in both the countries, you’ll need to apply at French Embassy i.e. France is the point of entry into the Schengen area. It is not as complex as it sounds, believe me. I was quite fascinated by their rules. Although the embassies are where you can apply for visas, it is recommended that you go to the visa service centres like vfs or tls contact and so on. They charge you a service fee of around 25 to 30 pounds, but they do most of your work for you – like checking your documents, sending it to the embassy, returning passports and so on.
Other documents you’ll need are Filled visa application form, Confirmed (or blocked) travel tickets – to and fro. Confirmation of accommodation at all places of visit (booked or blocked), photographs, letter from the uni, an itinerary, old and new passports, Your Biometric Resident Permits – BRP (your life), TRAVEL INSURANCE – can buy them online; the websites usually recommend some, and most importantly, if you’ve blocked and not BOOKED your tickets and hotels, you’ll need to show proof of financial means of support. i.e
3 months worth of bank statements or traveller’s cheques. You’ll need to submit bank statements anyway to show that you have enough money to sustain yourself during the period of travel. You’ll be familiar with the process on the day of the appointment, given that you would have done something similar for your UK Visa by then. Lucky for us London is close-by and you could get to your appointment on time and easily.
As I now realise that this post is long and has no pictures, here are a few from my trip! 🙂
Moving on to Rome..