Recently I’ve been getting quite a few questions about study visas! A lot of you have been asking about which courses are best to enroll in. While there’s no hard and fast answer (it depends a lot on what you’re interested in), I can tell you a little more about which courses are eligible for an Italian study visa and how certain courses may impact the duration of your study visa.
Which courses qualify for an Italian study visa?
Unfortunately, you can’t just enroll in any old course in order to get an Italian student visa approved. The Italian Consulate has specific requirements for the course because they want to make sure that you are really studying and not just frolicking around Italy (although who says you can’t study and frolick at the same time?!).
From my experience, these are the course requirements for an Italian study visa:
- the course must be a minimum of 20 hours per week
- usually it’s better if you can demonstrate that there is a final exam/certificate at the end of the course
In addition to these, you’ll also need to obtain several official documents from the school you are enrolling in. For more information on these documents and other requirements, please read through How to Obtain an Italian Study Visa.
Something to keep in mind is that the type of course you enroll in will effect how long your student visa lasts. For example, a 6-month long Italian language course will probably only give you a 6-month long visa, after which you must return home. On the other hand, if you apply for 3-year University course, you will most likely be granted a 1-year long visa, that may be renewed in Italy each year of enrollment (you must demonstrate each year that you are passing a minimum number of exams).
I remember the difficulty I went through when I applied for my second Italian study visa (from the Boston Consulate). I wanted to attend an intensive Italian language course at ARCA Italian Language School in Bologna. Even though the course met nearly all the requirements, the Boston Consulate nevertheless denied my visa application because they claimed that studying Italian was not a “strong enough motive” to live in Italy for 6 months.
Sorely disappointed (and I’ll admit slightly pissed off), I took my application to the Miami Consulate since I also had residency in Georgia. In one week they had approved my application and mailed back my passport with a new student visa.
Moral of the story? Every consulate plays by their own set of rules and there is no guarantee that your visa will be issued.
Italian Consulates are pretty difficult to deal with, so brace yourself. If you need some help and encouragement, you might want to check out my 8 Tips for Visting the Italian Consulate.
By the way, Bologna is a fantastic city for studying (ok, so I’m a little bit biased)! It has one of the largest universities in Italy (it also happens to be one of the oldest in Europe), with tons of courses to choose from. Bologna is also a good place to take an Italian language course because there are not a lot of English speakers around (meaning you’re forced to speak more Italian on the street), but it still has a good mix of cultural events and city night life. If you’re curious to know more about my study experiences in Italy, you can read the following posts:
- My First Day of Italian University
- ARCA Italian Language School (in Bologna)
- How to Obtain a Dichiarazione di Valore (necessary document for studying at University in Italy)