Study Abroad Blog

So You Want A Student Visa…

Posted on May 8th, 2007 by Matt Brattin

I mentioned before I was going to take some time to write about the visa application process I’ve been going through the last few months, so that is what this post is all about. I initially wrote a lot of side information about my INS-esque experience with the Spanish consulate, but I have opted to omit this information for the time being. I will merely mention it has been extremely difficult (borderline impossible) to contact the consulate in any way other than in person if you have questions, and if by chance you do manage to get someone on the phone, you have about two seconds to spill your guts before you are transferred to a machine and subsequently hung up on.

What is the result of this sort of customer service? Try this one on for size: The four individuals applying for visas with appointments before mine were turned away by the officer for not having the appropriate documentation and copies of said documents. When the would-be applicants stated there was no evidence the consulate would need this information they were told “It is written on the wall in the lobby! You need to learn these things ahead of time because we are very busy and you are making our jobs difficult!” Right…should have known that one, what with this consulate having jurisdiction through Alaska, a student in Juneau applying for a visa should have no problem moseying on down to San Francisco to read what is written on the wall before gathering their documents…but I digress…

The following is a pretty descriptive to-do list including various tidbits I have learned as I’ve rounded up my documents. I will offer this disclaimer: This list I am about to provide is what was requested of me by the Spanish consulate in San Francisco, specifically for a student visa. What this means is that these particular documents may or may not be required by other consulates (Spanish or otherwise) for a student visa, as it seems each consulate sets its own rules. If you are also going through the student visa application process, your best bet is to do as much research ahead of time and bring multiple copies of anything you think they may want. Lastly, please, if you will need a visa in the near future, begin to research what you will need as early as possible to allow for extra time in case things go array! Either way, hopefully this will prove helpful for future visa applicants.

1) Schengen Visa Application
First things first, if you’re heading to any of the Schengen states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, or Sweden) for longer than your passport allows (up to 90 days with US passport) you need to fill out a Schengen visa application.

Application instructions were found online, but a lot of the instructions didn’t make complete sense to me. Additionally, I write incredibly small, and even for me squeezing some of the information they wanted into the boxes provided became quite a chore, so be forewarned and get used to making a few rough drafts of the application before you go in for a final with a pen. You’ll need an original and two additional copies of your finished product, but make an additional copy for your own records.

2) A passport valid for a minimum of six months from your expected return date
Ask yourself when you are planning on returning from your voyage. Know the answer? Great, now add six months to that date. Got the new date? Ok, now go grab your passport, open it up and look at the expiration date. If your passport expires before that date you’ll need to get it renewed before you apply for your visa. When I first saw this requirement, it was poorly translated and I misinterpreted it to mean you need to have had your passport for at least six months in order to be issued a visa, which would have been bad news for my wife. Luckily this proved to be untrue after further research. Once your passport is good to go, make three copies of it (to be safe) and while you’re at it, make three copies of your driver’s license or other identification card and put these in your pile of docs to bring.

3) Three passport photos
I needed only three – one per application copy. These should be taken in front of a white backdrop and you will later staple them to the front of each of your applications in the notated position. Some places ask you to write your name on the backs as well, but I didn’t need to. I’ve heard some consulates ask for four photos, which is just as easy to get as three because most places that take these pictures sell them in sets of two, so you’ll likely end up with four anyway. Costco has the cheapest (and best quality) I’ve found at $4.99 per pair.

4) Original acceptance letters from the programs involved
If you are an American student going on exchange, you’ll need an original letter from both your current school, and the exchange school. For me, I just needed the letters ESADE mailed me. I ended up with four documents with official language and stamping that I brought to the appointment. One of the papers says I’m in the program, another says I will have housing arranged upon my arrival (another required document, evidence of housing). The other papers explain the length of the program and show proof it is a recognized university by the Spanish government. I made about four copies of these just to be safe and only needed the originals.

5) Evidence of funds
This needs to be provided by way of any of the following:

  • A statement from the school explaining they assume full financial responsibility. I will not find out about scholarships until June, so in the interim I will be using my letters from Sallie Mae showing I just took out a whopping $65k in loans…ouch.
  • A notarized letter from your parents explaining they will assume full financial responsibility of you, which means they need evidence that they have $1,000 available for every one month you will be in the country. (ie, if you’re going for 18 months like me, you’ll need a bank statement from them showing they have at least $18k in there, plus a notarized letter explaining they will provide you with at least $1,000 per month throughout the duration of your stay).
  • I had also read I needed to provide bank and credit card statements, but what bothered me was that it notated they will only accept the kind that come in the mail, not printed from the computer…well, I only get online statements for all my accounts, so I don’t even get these things in the mail. Either way, I printed up my most recent online statements and current balances for everything, and it was all accepted.
  • Additionally, I included my 06 tax returns and two most recent pay stubs and they took these as well. I don’t know if it really matters, because my loans more than cover me, but I still included these things just in case and had multiple copies of each on hand.

6) Evidence of health insurance with a minimum of 30,000 euros coverage
I thought surely this document would be my downfall. On the document list it indicates they need an “original letter” from my insurance provider. Silly me, thinking this would be no big deal, I started the process two months before my appointment date. ESADE has a relationship with insurance brokers in Spain and I’ve been going back and forth with a representative now for the last two months trying to simply get coverage.

The problems I have had were that the company absolutely refused to allow my coverage to start in August. I was told that if I want evidence of coverage now, the policy has to start now and I have to pay now. Well, I certainly didn’t mind paying now, but why does my policy need to start now? Why can’t I prepay three months in advance? The answer, “That is not our normative.” Ok, so I sucked it up, as the cost was considerably less than other prices I’ve seen, and wired $120 to them for coverage in May and June…despite the fact that I’m arriving the end of July. Well, what they did after they got the money was email an electronic copy of my temporary card and a letter stating I’m covered. The problem, it’s not original, nor does it state the coverage amount.

From there I tried repeatedly to contact the company and request they mail the original ASAP, but I got no response. Finally I contacted the school, who contacted them, and finally someone brought the original to the school (I have no idea why they didn’t just send it themselves) where it was sent FedEx to me three business days before I had to leave to San Francisco. The tracking showed the package arriving the day of my appointment, which was one day too late, but by divine intervention the package arrive literally one hour before I left for San Francisco, a full day ahead of an already tight schedule…it was incredible, to say the least!

I presented this document with a copy of the form I filled out to get coverage (which showed I selected 30,000 euros of coverage) and they accepted it without question.

7) Visa Fee: Money order or Cash only
I ended up just giving them five, crisp $20 bills and that worked out fine. I guess if I wasn’t using a US passport the fee is $79.20. Definitely check with the individual consulate you’re going to to verify the correct fee.

8 ) Self-addressed USPS Express Mail envelope
It says you need the envelope with postage for $14.40 or $18.80 so they can mail you back your passport. I guess the price range is dependant on the type of envelope you get, I just got the $14.40 one.

9)Evidence of Immigration Status in the US (Non-US passport holders)
This means, in my wife’s case if she was using her Mexican passport, she’d need her Alien Registration Card or a US visa with I-20 / IAP-66…this doesn’t apply to me.

10) Certification of “absence of police record” (for stays over 180 days)
This one didn’t seem like much, but it turned out to be a doozy! Thankfully I’ve lived in the same city for the last five years, otherwise I would have had to do a lot more running around. Basically, in California and I would assume other states as well, the following is the order of operations I would recommend to get this document:

  • Contact a mobile notary! If you know a notary, buy them lunch and have them help you out for the day. I wish I had known this step when I first embarked on my journey, but hey, you live and learn. I found a nice lady who charged a flat $25 fee and she did great. First place to head to is your local sheriffs department (don’t do what I did and go to the local jailhouse…I almost got detained for being on a cell phone in the building and they looked at me crazy when I asked for an “absence of police record” document…maybe because they were about to give me a record). What you are looking for is actually called a “letter of clearance.” It cost me $20 and I got two official copies. Have your notary ready to do his/her thing and notarize the deputy’s signature.

    ***Updated Info*** In light of a situation we encountered while getting Blanca’s letter of clarance, I would highly recommend you see if your notary can do an acknowledgement of the letter, if possible in addition to just a stamped version. If you tell the notary this is what you want, they will know what you’re talking about and it shouldn’t be a problem, nor would I imagine it will cost more money, but honestly I don’t know what other notaries charge. If you want to try to spare yourself the headache, call the county clerk’s office first, ask if an acknowledgement is necessary for them to certify this document, and depending on their response you can fill the notary in when they go to work their magic. Hope this new information makes sense! When this is all done, pay the notary and you’re ready to take the next step.

  • Take your freshly notarized letter of clearance and head to your local county clerks office. Once there, they need to “certify’ the notarized document. This cost a whopping $2.25, but it is a necessary step in order to get the icing on the cake…
  • Certified and notarized letter in hand, head now to the nearest Secretary of State office (call ahead of time to find out if they do Apostille certifications, I was set to go to Sacramento and learned just in time that we have an office in Fresno). What you need to do here is ask for them to give an Apostille certification of the now certified and notarized letter. They will only give this certification if you’ve taken the first two steps, so do it properly and this should go smoothly. The Apostille certification validates the document for use by another country’s government, and without it the consulate will not accept it. You can get the Apostille certification by mail for $20 and it will take about three weeks, or you can get it done in about five minutes in person for $26, so pick your poison! Once you’ve got this done, make three photocopies of all the pages and you should be good to go!

At the consulate, they stamped the original in about four places and gave it back to me. This is one of the documents I will need to present in Spain when I apply for my student card, which gives me the right to stay in Spain for the first year of the program. I’ll have to renew it at the start of the second year.

11) Medical Certificate (for stays over 180 days)
This is a document that is written and signed by an MD, within two months of your appointment, that says basically you are in good physical and mental health to travel and study abroad and are free of contagious diseases. Make three copies of this, just to be safe.

For this, I made an appointment with my doctor for a standard check-up. I told him I needed the letter, he called someone who knows international travel laws and instructed that I needed to be free from Hep A & B and TB. He checked my records and I really wish I had saved my vaccine records from college, but I didn’t. I had to get a blood test to check for the Hep antibodies and such, and get a TB skin test. 48 hours later I walked in and picked up my letter. The consulate also gave this original document back so I can present it when I apply for my student card.

12) If you’re under 18 years of age, you’ll need a notarized letter of authorization from your parents allowing you to go on your trip.

13) Round trip airline reservations
This one bothered me for the longest time. It says in many places on the website that they do not recommend you purchase your airline tickets before you apply for the visa. However, you are expected to provide proof of “reservations.” I didn’t know how to make reservations on a flight without paying, but I still called (at random) Delta to ask how this could be done. At first I was told this is silly and airlines don’t work this way…then after some further discussion, here is what happened:

I mentioned I was going to be an international student and merely needed proof that I had a reservation for a flight. The woman asked for my email address, asked the day I was going to go, and badda-bing, she said to check my email. I opened it up and there it was, a seat reservation good through my appointment date on a flight to Spain. I was in shock, but I got it and the consulate accepted it without question – so it can be done! Given the duration of my trip, they did not need evidence of return tickets.

As an aside, I was going to just buy my tickets and get the insurance just in case, but moments before I finalized a transaction on Orbitz I called to ask if I would be covered under their insurance if I didn’t get my visa in time. I was told no, late travel documents is not grounds for coverage of a cancelled flight…which really isn’t cool, but now that I know I’m going to wait just a bit longer before I buy my tickets…even if it costs more.

Translation: we may decide to send you packing and have you come back some other time if we don’t like the cut of your jib. Thankfully, I was extremely organized and was actually thanked for having all the necessary documents, in order, ready to go. The woman was very kind to me and even commented that ESADE is a very good school and that I should be proud having gotten in, which made me all tingly.

So, my two months of working on this finally paid off and I wasn’t turned away and all my documents were accepted on my first try. One last thing to note ahead of time is that the consulate says you may only apply “not more than 90 days, nor less than 60 days from your expected date of departure.” That left me a 30-day window to successfully apply around my expected date of departure, which is July 23rd.

In the end, it was an incredibly stressful and frustrating experience, and at times I almost wanted to give up. But after really thinking about it, and telling myself I am not the first American student to get a student visa to study in Spain, I knew there was hope for me yet. Granted, I don’t have my visa yet, but the hard part is over and now all I can do is wait and hope for the best…until it comes time to apply for my wife’s visa…but we have bigger fish to fry before I’m ready to worry about that.

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” – Fred Brooks

60 Responses to “So You Want A Student Visa…”

  1. ogaga Says:

    i will like to have the student visa so to studying the course i have in mind.

  2. ExchangeStudentMom Says:

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, especially of the police clearance procedure–I couldn’t logically put together the incomplete explanations of the Sec. of State, exchange program & Spanish consulate site until I read this. Muchas gracias!!

  3. Matt Brattin Says:

    ExchangeStudentMom, De nada! I’m glad I could help clear things up for you! This is exactly the reason I was motivated to write in such detail, because I was very much in your shoes when I first went down the “to-do list” and I had no guidance. Most everything seemed pretty unclear, and it was difficult to get straight answers from anyone. It wasn’t until I just sucked it up and made a bunch of completely unnecessary mistakes (unnecessary because had there been a clear explanation somewhere it wouldn’t have been an issue) that I finally stumbled onto the right path and figured out what I was doing. Thank you for writing, and if you learn anything new that perhaps I didn’t cover, please come back and share if you think it would benefit others in the future!

  4. michelle Says:

    This has been the best source of information yet. I’m actually IN Spain, on a tourist visa, trying to figure out everything, and from this end it’s not any better (maybe even worse) in terms of misinformation and unfriendly government agents and telephone calls where you feel like they’re trying harder to get off the phone with you than to answer your question.

    Congratulations on having made it through the process and THANK YOU for throwing the rest of us a lifeline!!

  5. Matt Brattin Says:

    Michelle, Thank you for your post! It’s comments like yours that make all my difficulties worthwhile. I am very glad you found my post useful and certainly wish you the best of luck in your dealings. I’ve personally heard it is, in fact, more difficult getting visas for Spain from within (heard some real horror stories from past and present students) but I’m sure if you just hang in and stay proactive you’ll start to get things straightened out. If you learn anything useful above and beyond what I’ve posted, please feel free to post again and share what you’ve learned! Thanks again!

  6. Tuan Nazeer Nafeer Says:

    Dear Sir

    i wish to study a computer programming cpurse i kindly requesting you to advice me how can i appy a student visa from Sri Lanka.

    kind regards

  7. Matt Brattin Says:

    If you are wanting to take a programming course in Spain (or anywhere, really) I would advise you first decide the school or institute where you plan do do your studies. If you have already done this, I would next advise you contact them to see what they recommend you do to obtain the necessary visa.

    Personally, I am not sure if there is a Spanish consulate in Sri Lanka, so my guess is you may need to contact the one in India (assuming this is the consulate with jurisdiction in Sri Lanka).

    I apologize if this is not much help, but again I would urge you to contact the school where you intend to study and perhaps they can provide a better answer and help you get the ball rolling.

    Best of luck!

  8. OSMAN A KARIM Says:

    Dear Sir/madam,
    i am from Ghana and i want to study very well.i am 18 years of age and i want a visa to study abroad so help me please.tell me more about your terms and condition i will be here waiting for your reply.

  9. Matt Brattin Says:

    I apologize if there has been a misunderstanding as to my capabilities and expertise in the area of student visas, but I am afraid there is little advice I can offer with the information you have provided, aside from what I said to Nazeer in the above comment.

    If you wish to study abroad, I would first advise you figure out where and what you wish to study. From there, begin to research the visa requirements you will need to meet in order to pursue this course of study. Finally, contact the program or school you wish to attend and request their assistance on gathering information you will need for the appropriate visa.

    I do not wish to turn questions or comments away, however, I would encourage anyone looking to study abroad to do a little more research before posting questions here, as I posted a disclaimer when I originally made the above post that this was what I did for my specific situation. Unless you are necessarily pursuing a program very similar to the one I am, you will likely have very different requirements to secure a visa.

    Hope this is at least somewhat helpful, best of luck.

  10. Cindy Says:

    I’m applying for a schengen visa at the french consulate in los angeles. One of the requirements is to have confirmed hotel reservations in all the countries that I plan to visit. i don’t have any of these since I’m planing on backpacking w/no reservations. Do you know if they’re flexible with that?

    Thank you!!!


  11. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Cindy,
    This is an interesting question, and while I wish I had a concrete answer for you, I honestly don’t know whether or not the consulate will be flexible on an item like this. I believe my application had a similar question and the same requirement, but since I’m not backpacking before I arrive, I just put N/A and no questions were asked. Now, my plans could easily change (as could yours) and it would make no difference at this point. They just want to make sure you know what you’re doing and don’t end up sleeping in the streets somewhere.

    If I were in your shoes, and since I’m an avid/borderline insane planner, I would just map out my travels, make some reservations at hostels online, then use that as my evidence. Then, if during your journeys you decide to make some changes, just do it, at least you’re there and got your visa.

    Again, I’m sorry I don’t have a more direct answer, but hopefully this is helpful.

    Happy Travels!

  12. jolaoso ayodeji emmanuel Says:

    i want to study and get a visa

  13. Varun Arora Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am from India.I just read your blog on getting a student visa for spain. I found the information you have provided very helpful since i am in the process of applying for a student visa for spain.I have an admission offer from Instituto de Empresa , Madrid. I would like to know if you have received your visa . How long do you think based on your (bitter) experience will it take to get a visa if all the documents are accuarate.
    Also you will be glad to know that my brother has a definitive admission offer for the 2008 intake from ESADE.He did apply for the 2007 intake but was a little late so the school after the interview put him on the wait list for about a month and subsquently he received a definitive admission offer for 2008 intake.Very likely he will be there next year provided he could arrange the finances.
    Cheers and Good Luck

  14. Amy Says:

    Wow, you had great information on here! I applied for my schengen visa July 20, and am supposed to be leaving Aug 26. I have yet to receive my visa! I am kind of doubting I will get it in time. I wish I had read your post before I traveled the 500 miles to the Spanish consulate in San Francisco. I did not have ‘absence of police records’ nor did I realize all the details that went into it. Hopefully your instructions will clarify things for people applying for visas. Nice blog!

  15. Matt Brattin Says:

    Varun, I apologize for the late response, but congrats on getting into IE, it is supposed to be a very good school (and one I strongly considered). I don’t know if this is still relevant, but I would expect the visa to take about one month to get, assuming no errors and accurate info provided on your part. Also, congrats to your brother, if he ends up coming here next year I will very likely run into him at some point. Sounds like both of you have competitive profiles, so nice work!

    Amy, I certainly hope you get your visa in time, did they make you come back with the letter of clearance? Anyway, it took them about exactly one month to get my visa back to me, so if they work the same with you as they did with me, you should receive it soon…hope so! Keep us posted if you’d like!

  16. manifold Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am from india & got the admission for masters at a architectural school in Barcelona.I have submitted the requisite documents at the spanish embassy in delhi.I have been given date in next month for the interview .I would like to ask you,what questions meight be asked there & what are the chances of visa denial.(as i am getting very worried) thanks!!

  17. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Manifold,
    I just talked to one of my indian colleagues here and he said that they do not ask you questions, you just need to present the documents to them. This is much the same as the process was for me – there was no interview, just a collection of documents. He did mention that Indians are having a very difficult time getting visas here lately, but isn’t sure why. Usually people with higher degrees (Doctors) and in areas like the sciences. For example, there are three Indian students who did not get approved and had to have their admission deferred. This is a very unfortunate situation for everyone and I feel especially bad for the Indian students themselves. Really, it’s politics and there’s nothing you can do other than come prepared with the appropriate documentation and hope it goes smoothly. Hope this helps, best of luck!

  18. manifold Says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks sir for your valuable inputs.I have already submitted the documents 2 months ago,now I cant do anything but keep my fingures crossed.will keep you posted.

  19. manifold Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am back from delhi & although I dont have my visa with me for the moment what the visa officer told me is that My documents had been cleared but she cant issue the visa then as she is awaiting for some ministry clearence.I spoke to one of my friend & he told me that this means that I will get the visa and almost every student has to face this ministry problem. Now it seems the only problem remains if I will get it in time.
    Let me know if you know anthing more.bye

  20. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Manifold,
    Sorry for the delay, I talked to a few of the other Indian students here and they all said this is normal and the only reason you would get hung up at this point is if you have a background in chemical/bio/nuclear sciences or something. If you don’t have a background like that, they said it should take about 1.5-2 months for your visa to process. Hopefully you get it in time, but please keep me updated. Best of luck.

  21. Aneesh Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am an indian and have applied for a portuguese visa for study of masters in industrial engineering at the New University of Lisbon. My experiences were somewhat similar to yours.

    I had applied for visa submitting all documents on 12th september and my interview was on the 13th of september. My classes have started since the 24th of september but I am still awaiting my visa.

    Do you have any idea about how long I will have to wait for my Portugal Study visa. I have applied of visa of 2 and a half years. Do they give one year visa and i have to renew it next year? or is it a full visa for that duration?

  22. Aneesh Says:

    Oh by the way, you can contact me at and please send me a copy of your reply as I dont frequently visit this blog.


  23. Matt Brattin Says:

    While I cannot say I know for certain how the Portuguese visa process works, I will assume it operates at least similarly to Spain. If this is the case, I would think the process could take anywhere from 1-2 months…probably not good for your situation, but again, I do not know for certain. Have you discussed the prospect of deferring admission with the school?

    I also don’t know about the specific duration of the visas they offer, but if they issue you a visa good for 2.5 years, just make sure you won’t also need a residence card or anything. Once I arrived I had to apply for a residence card which is a month long process by itself. Basically once I got here I learned the visa means little and is only a means to getting the residence card.

    I hope this helps you somewhat, but I apologize, as I said I am not sure about the Portuguese visa process. Good luck!


  24. Ahmad hasssan dar. Says:

    I want a student visa for Spain and my father was also there.

  25. Matt Brattin Says:

    Where do you presently live and when are you planning on studying in Spain? Have you begun the visa process?


  26. Jared Dimick Says:

    Hey Matt

    Great info! I was accepted into the University of Helsinki Finland, and am finishing up my “documentation” for the Visa. I think I’m going to take out a huge loan now that you mention the money requirements. I know Finland is much different.. for example, they don’t require flight info. The police clearance doesnt exist. I AM going to do 2 copies of my application now that you mention it. And the return envelope is always a great idea.. Finland has been wonderful on the phone. I talk to somebody everytime I call and they are so polite. I’m probably going to give them a call tomorrow to verify some of the things you listed to do because I’m scratching my head over a few things now.. I’ll write back again soon for any person thinking of going to Finland.

  27. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Jared,

    Thanks for sharing about your experiences, and please do follow up! I know when I had to get my visa to study in Sweden I didn’t even have to talk to anyone, just mailed my application with my passport and a couple documents and got it back in about a month or less. I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Finland, I got to visit Helsinki one time during my stay and it was quite nice, just extremely cold (and snowing!). Looking forward to hearing what you find out.


  28. Roshan Says:

    hi matt
    This is me Roshan here from nepal.I want to study over there in spain to make my future .so how can i get student visa.

  29. Shelley Says:

    Okay, I’m in the process of trying to get a student visa. My consulate is Chicago so the expectations are a bit different. Reading your blog, however, has both comforted and concerned me! For proof of absence of record, I just got myself fingerprinted and had a background check done. My consulate doesn’t specify so I hope this will be okay.
    I have never heard of a consulate approving a student visa for longer than nine months. I’m hoping to have one for one year. You said yours was 18 months and you had no problem, correct? Ahh… how stesseful.

  30. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Shelley,

    I’m assuming this is for a Spanish visa, is that correct? If you went the whole nine with fingerprints and a background check…common sense would say you’re good. Then again, it is going to boil down to whoever it is you meet with when you plead your case. I believe two or more of my classmates applied through the Chicago office, and none of them have said anything outrageous went down, so perhaps this is a good thing.

    As for the time period, if you will be here for a year, you will likely have to do the same thing as I did. Basically, my visa was approved and, while I thought it would be good for 180 days, it was actually only 90 days. All this is good for, in the long run, is one of the many other documents you’ll need when you arrive and have 30 days to apply for your student resident card, which will cover you for the duration of your stay so long as you renew it each year of your studies. I also made a post about this process more recently, so if you’re interested take a look at that to kinda get an idea of what will be expected upon your arrival.

    I hope you found this information helpful, please keep us posted on your progress!


  31. Dushyant Arora Says:

    Hi Matt,
    My brother(VARUN) got in touch with you through this blog and he told me that you pursuing Mba at ESADE.
    As I have an admission offer from ESADE for 2008 intake , I beleive that you can provide wih some information.
    I have just re activated my admission procedure.and the deadline to reserve my place is Dec. 12.
    But before i can reserve my place , i am required to show my financial plan regarding how i intend to finance my living expenses and tution fees .
    NOW:As per my budget i cannot stretch beyond 1000 euros per month for living expenses. do you think this will be sufficient to get an approval from financial aid office.
    Please let me know.
    Best Regards,

  32. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hello Dushyant,

    Yes, your brother was in touch with me, and in fact he confused me at one point because one of my classmates (and team members) is also named Varun, so I was confused why he was asking about another school. At any rate, I would not be too concerned over the financial plan, they just want to see you know what you’re getting yourself into financially and that you’ve thought about it well enough to put it on paper. To hopefully help you out, the following is actually a copy of my financial plan from back when I applied:

    Dear Ms. Fina López-Cózar,

    I, Thomas Matthew Brattin, accept my place in the ESADE 18-Month MBA program starting Fall 2007. I intend to finance the tuition fees and cost of living expenses via the following means:

    1) Apply to receive the full amount of federal financial support available for graduate studies through Sallie Mae ($18,500 per year).
    2) Apply to receive additional support through private loans to cover the remainder of tuition costs and cost of living expenses.
    3) Apply to a number of scholarships for which I qualify. It is unknown at this time how much, if any additional funding will come of these pursuits.
    4) Personal savings will provide secondary support in the event loan financing and potential scholarships become inadequate.
    5) Family contributions may provide a tertiary source of support in the event loan financing, scholarships, and personal savings become inadequate.
    6) Additionally, my wife is negotiating with a potential employer in Barcelona where she is seeking employment through a personal acquaintance. Should this lead to a paid position, her wages will contribute to cover daily expenses.

    At the present, I will likely pay the 6,000 euro deposit out of pocket, which will lower my total future financing obligation. Please advise if this financing plan needs revision.

    So, while I know you won’t have US federal aid, you can kinda get a general idea of the things you should perhaps try to put into this. Please let me know if you have any more questions and I’m looking forward to meeting you for the 08 intake! You’ll be class of 2010!


  33. Dushyant Arora Says:

    Thanks for the information,Matt

  34. oje Says:

    hi Matt Brattin, i am from nigeria and i hope to study in the sister nd her husband who is currently with the british armed forces lives legally in the uk.Back here in nigeria,i have heard alot of cases of study visa refusal by the british consulate,and it bugs me much that i was considering not applying again.Most of the cases i heard of,the applicants will have everything in place but they will jus be refused.although my sister and her husband are in the uk,my sponsor is different(my cousin,a businessman)and lives in nigeria.i have every docs in place,sponsors bank statement,senior school certificate with good grades,and all but its just that i feel nervous about the whole thing cos i hate being refused when i know things are in place.i will really need ur advice.although this would not be a problem for me but i’ve read stories posted in the net where people will just be refused study visa just because there are not good looking(LOL).just exaggerating,but what i mean is that most study visa refusal is on no grounds.jus talk to me and thanks for this whole thing.

  35. Kalyan Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am so lucky to find this page and friend matt.I am planning to apply for Spain Student visa for 2008 feb intake. can you please suggest me good univercities and colleges and there application fee.from there i will move further.I am India, Hyderabad.

  36. Sabah Says:

    Dear, I have a Q,
    Can i ask for asylum in one of EU countries if I have already got Shengen visa in my passport?
    What if I did not use this Shengen visa to get in EU countries but other ways? I mean there is no stamp in EU airports or boarder authorities?

  37. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Oje,
    I cannot tell you much about the visa process for a Nigerian like yourself studying in the UK. All you can really do, as it sounds you’ve done, is do your homework, make sure you have all your docs in order, multiple copies, and that’s pretty much it. If they deny you, which I certainly hope they don’t, I would hope they would give you a reason that can be corrected. Just stay positive and sit tight, best of luck!

    Hi Kalayn,
    What exactly are you planning on studying? Are you going to be an exchange student, or try to study here for a full program (like me)? There are a lot of good schools here in Spain for all different areas of educational focus, so once you have an idea of that, you can start searching for programs from there. If you’re interested in Barcelona, of course ESADE has great undergrad and graduate programs, but I may be bias 😉

    Hi Sabah,
    I know nothing about being granted asylum in the EU, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Why did you get a Shengen visa? I am sorry if I am no help, but I’m just an MBA student talking about my experiences here, outside of very, very basic visa items, I do not think I will be very helpful for you and I would recommend contacting government agencies where you would like to go for further clarification.

    Thank you all for writing! As always, I appreciate the comments.


  38. Rakhi Says:

    Hi Matt,

    I ‘m from India and my husband is studying with IE ,Madrid . Please suggest how can I apply for my visa ? my husband is there only for next 4 months , should I apply for Tourist visa or spouse visa ? IE can send me invitation letter easily.Do let me know what all documents will be required?


  39. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Rakhi,

    Just based on experiences I’ve heard from my fellow Indian classmates and the trouble they went through to be here, I would lean toward the tourist visa, but I honestly don’t know. Do you know how long a tourist visa would be good for? The thing about the spouse visa, in my mind, is that if your husband is leaving in four months, it will be a lot of work and who knows when you’d be approved. Really, it depends, but if a tourist visa for you is good for three months, as it is with me, I would imagine that would be the easiest way for you to go. I hope this helps, but just look into the processes for each and hopefully it will work out well, believe me, I know how hard it can be!

  40. Ath’s Mom Says:

    Hi Matt,
    I cant thank you enough! You are obviously a meticulous person and have gone about describing the procedures to obtain a Spanish visa so much in detail. Now I’m getting worked up about my son’s forthcoming visa interview (in early May ’08). He too has got accepted into the 18-month MBA program at Esade. He has sent in the loan application with all documents they required to Banc Sabadell. Its been a week or so since he sent them. I have a few questions:
    1. How long does the bank take to sanction the loan? Is there any need to send them reminders?
    2. Once the loan is sanctioned, does Esade respond at once and when we wire the amount for reserving a seat in the program, do they send the other papers required for the visa interview immediately? I mean the admission letter, note to say that the insurance is covered by the loan etc?
    3. I read somewhere that the letter from the university recommending you for the visa, has to be addressed to the Consulate General of Spain. Is this so and does Esade do this?

    I have a whole lot of questions about accommodation, cost of living etc etc. But I’ll keep them on hold for now. i dont want to frighten you off! I am more concerned about the loan and visa as of now.
    Thank Matt and God bless!

  41. Angie Says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’m also from Northern California and have been accepted by ESADE for the 2008 intake. I guess Dushyant and I will be classmates! I really appreciate all the information you’ve given – it seems like a mystery to navigate the process from so far away. That 9-hour time difference with ESADE’s office is rough.

    I’m wondering what your experience has been with acquiring loan funds…you said you took out $65,000 in loans…are you finding that as the value of the dollar plummets, your funds are too tight to cover living expenses or tuition?

    I need to finance tuition fees as well as living expenses, but can pay the 6,500 deposit out of pocket. I’m going to apply for the Sabadell loan for tuition expenses and finance living expenses through either a Stafford loan, Federal Grad PLUS loan or a private loan. Any recommendations?

    Thanks so much and looking forward to seeing you in Barcelona this fall!


  42. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hello Ath’s Mom,
    Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you, I’ve been vacationing in Lisbon and Madrid the past week and chose to stay away from the computer the whole time. I survived, but now it’s time to catch up! I’ll try to address your questions and hopefully you will find this somewhat helpful.

    First of all, congrats to your son on his admission! Second, as hard as it is, try not to let the process intimidate you. When it’s all over, you’ll see it wasn’t so bad…although at times it certainly can be! Now, on to your questions:

    1. How long does the bank take to sanction the loan? Is there any need to send them reminders?

    I actually went through Sallie Mae and took out Federal and Grad Plus loans, so I cannot really comment with authority on the Banc Sabadell process. However, I will say if you’re American applying to a Spanish bank for a student loan, I wouldn’t be shocked if the process takes a few weeks. If you do choose to follow up with them it couldn’t hurt, but don’t be surprised if you get little response – they’ll go at Spain’s pace.

    2. Once the loan is sanctioned, does Esade respond at once and when we wire the amount for reserving a seat in the program, do they send the other papers required for the visa interview immediately? I mean the admission letter, note to say that the insurance is covered by the loan etc?
    3. I read somewhere that the letter from the university recommending you for the visa, has to be addressed to the Consulate General of Spain. Is this so and does Esade do this?

    ESADE was very good about sending the necessary documentation to me quickly, and I’ll assume they’ll do it well for you too. The folks who process these things are very familiar with what the consulate needs, so they’ll send it how it needs to be presented, so don’t worry about that stuff. When the money is wired, all I’d say is make sure the folks at ESADE know it’s coming, so shoot them an email, and you should be good.

    I hope this is at least a little helpful, and if you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to post them up and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.

    Warmest Regards,



  43. Matt Brattin Says:

    Hi Angie,

    Congrats on your admission to ESADE! You should be very excited!

    Now, for the nitty gritty of your post…loans. It’s a scary word these days, but there is really little I can do about it at this point and will trust this was an investment for the long run, so it is all going to be worth it in the end.

    As for the funds I took out, bear in mind the transaction went through when the dollar was still around $1.30/euro, so it has weakened a good bit since then. Either way, once those funds were disbursed to ESADE, they converted it all and transferred the remainder into my Spanish account. So, I never really dealt with dollars and have therefore been able to manage my budget just fine, dollar fluxuation and all.

    I also paid the deposit out of pocket, and if youre going to use the Sabadell loan (are they pushing that these days?) for tuition, I would recommend for living expenses to first max out the Federal funds and then go to Grad Plus for the rest. There is really no reason you should have to go private, unless you’re looking to blow some serious dough, but I’m guessing this isn’t the case.

    Finally, and I don’t know if you’ve already got this figured out, but with regard to how much to take out I would use the guide on the welcome site to gauge how much you’ll need and form your initial budget around this. Then, do a conversion to dollars and maybe add a little to be safe and, if you convert it all up front, you’ll know how much in dollars you’re going to owe in the end and you’ll know how much in euros you’ll have to budget going forward and won’t have to concern yourself with the dollar’s changes after that.

    I hope this is helpful, please feel free to ask more questions if you have them and I’d be happy to try to help!

    Take care,


  44. Ath’s Mom Says:

    Thanx Matt… u should get paid for your efforts!

  45. abood Says:

    hi thx for ur amazin replay ..

  46. Mohan Says:

    I am indian citizen, got Phd admission in spain with scholarship. Can i take my wife along with me for a study period of four years.


  47. Matt Brattin Says:

    I believe you can, as I know a few Phd candidates studying here who have their spouses with them. I can’t really speak on the process of application and how it may differ, I would just assume though that it can be done. You’ll love Spain if you’ve never been, I definitely recommend you come! Congrats on your admit.


  48. Emmanuel Olaitan Says:

    I am Emmanuel,i am a good and a talented guy that wants to study i am a good and a Equipped university over sea so that i can be able to achieve my dreams,i am Electronics Engineer,i do little electronics at home myself with out going to any technical school or reading text books.
    I believe that God gave me the talent from heaven that i should be an engineer and i my self,i developed myself and made myself a good boy….i use to build speakers and standing fan,sound systems(home theater) but of little grade and they look funny… thats why i want to live and study in abroad,so please any help you think that you can give to me to help me achieve my dreams cause my family is not rich that i would say i would do every thing myself……Regards

  49. dhruv boruah Says:

    Hello Matt,

    This is dhruv from India. I got a definitive admission from Instituto de Empresa Business School for Master in Telecom and Digital Business and in the process applying for the Spanish VISA.

    Exploring my finance options I will need to apply for a loan. I have started the process, but the approval will take time. I have also applied for scholarships, but yet to hear from the Scholarship Committee.

    Keeping in mind the lengthy VISA process with my classes starting on Sep 15, I would need to apply for the VISA before the loan approval.

    I have already paid 20% of the fees to book my seat and the remaining amount would be 38000 euros (with tution and living expense) for 16 months.

    My personal bank balance is 7000 euros and my parents dont have liquid cash in their account but can provide a solvency certificate( with FDs etc as they don’t have any liquid cash) worth 32000 euros.

    Will presenting these financial documents before the Spanish Consulate help me in the VISA process ? Or they are looking for more of them .

    Appreciate your time and looking forward to your reply.


  50. Maptik Says:

    HI,everyone just want to say
    that i want to take a visa for student that under age 16
    Hope that I can take it
    and someone can hepl me in this :))

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