Here are some questions and answers about an important topic for students coming to SAIS Bologna from outside of Italy.
Who needs a visa?
Anyone who is not a citizen of a European Union member state needs a visa to study in Italy. If you are a dual citizen, with one citizenship in a EU member state, you will not need a visa.
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident you can use the SAIS Washington visa service. This service is available until May 31.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and need a visa, we will provide you with a letter that you can present to the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.
What kind of visa do I need?
You will need a visto per motivi di studio. This is a type-D visa that allows you to stay in Italy for the academic year.
How long should my visa be valid for?
The visa should allow you to stay in Italy for at least the full academic year. In the letter we provide, we ask the authorities to grant you a 12-month visa, leaving you time at the end of the academic year to organize your move to Washington and, in some cases, to work an internship in Europe during the summer between Bologna and Washington. However, whether or not you receive a visa for 12 months depends on your nationality.
Which documents do I need to make the visa request?
The documents can vary from country to country. In most cases you will need to provide a letter of admission, proof that you can support yourself financially, health insurance, passport-size photographs and last but not least: your passport. Please make sure to check the website of the Italian Embassy of your home country to make sure you have the right documents.
When do I receive the Italian visa request letter?
We will send you the visa request letter via email after you matriculate.
What if I am asked to provide proof of accommodation?
Some countries may require you to provide proof of accommodation in Bologna. If that is the case, please contact us as soon as possible.
What if I am not granted the visa?
This is unlikely to happen. But if you have been refused the visa, please contact us.
What if I already have a visa to a Schengen country?
If you currently hold a visa to another Schengen country, you may find getting a visa to Italy difficult. The rule is you cannot have two valid visas at the same time. Thus if you have a visa to a Schengen country valid to, for example, September 2011 you may not be able to get a visa to Italy valid from August 2011. If are in such situation, be sure to contact us as soon as possible.
Can I get a visa if I am not in my home country?
Our experience shows that getting a visa from outside your home country can be complex. Some people have managed to do so, while others have not. The process can take more time. And you face the risk of not obtaining the visa. So it's best to avoid applying from outside your home country if possible. Again, if you have questions on this, please contact us.
What about the second year visa to the U.S.?
We have a consultant come in from Washington every year. He usually comes in late March to advise and help students in getting their visa to the United States. Most students get their visa without travelling back to their home country.
I am sure you will have more questions on visas -- it's a complicated business. If you do, please comment on this post or send us an email and we will respond to your queries.