Acting as a bridge between your studies and new cultural experiences in Belgium, your student visa is an essential element of your international study experience.
By exploring tourist hotspots throughout your study gaps, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Bruges in northwest Belgium, an “ultimate picture-postcard tourist destination” says the Lonely Planet.
Or you could take a trip over to Ghent, one of Belgium’s oldest cities, laced with canals and home to one of the earliest-known oil paintings.
And don’t forget, Belgium is next to The Netherlands, Germany, Luxemburg and France, placing you in the perfect position to arrange trips to top European destinations.
So, if you’ve already found a university in Belgium to invest your academic interests into, and you’re looking forward to spending your study breaks somewhere new, find out more about the student visa process below.
Which visa do I need?
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss students must file for a student visa (D-visa) application with the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation in their own country, granted that they have been accepted to a Belgian university beforehand.
According to the Foreigners Department of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, you will be granted a visa to pursue your higher education studies if you:
1) Prove that you are a regular student in a higher education establishment organised, recognised or subsidised by the public authorities;
2) Prove that you have a sufficient means of subsistence;
3) Prove that you are not carrying any of the diseases which might endanger public health, with a signed medical certificate; and
4) Prove that you’re aged over 21 and produce a document stating that you have no convictions for crimes or offences under common law.
Please note, EU/EEA and Swiss students have the right to study in Belgium and will not need to go through this visa process. UK applicants can get further information here regarding their status pending Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Important event at the Embassy today: our “Study in Belgium”🇧🇪 seminar. Many Japanese students chose Belgium as study destination already but we’d love to have even more. Interesting presentations by @LeuvenU & @Wallonia_BE on why this is such a good destination! pic.twitter.com/utnkDNJxDk
— Roxane de Bilderling (@DebilderlingR) December 17, 2019
At which embassy or consulate shall I start my visa application?
As highlighted by Belgium’s Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, External Trade and Development Cooperation, you should apply for your visa in person at the Belgian embassy or consulate which is competent for your country of residence.
“In a number of cases, you can lodge your visa application through an external service provider (outsourcing partner). In some very specific cases, you can also be exempted from personally lodging your application,” they state.
So if you want to find out which Belgian embassy or consulate is competent for your visa application, click here for further information.
What documents do I need?
For your visa application, you will require:
- A passport that is valid for three months longer than the visa
- Two original visa application forms
- An acceptance letter from a Belgian university – the original plus two copies
- Photocopies of education certificates
- A cover letter to explain your motivation to study in Belgium
- Proof of sufficient financial means to cover all your expenses during an academic year
- A signed medical certificate
- A certificate of good conduct if you are over 21- including fingerprints
- Visa application fee
Bruge is a timeless medieval town with gabled houses on cobblestone lanes best seen during the festive period
— BestTravelBook (@besttravelbook) December 13, 2019
By ticking all the requirements above, you can look forward to an incredible study venture in the cultural hub of Belgium.
But please remember that the processing time for your visa application may vary, and as Belgium’s official Immigration Office notes, “the processing time is also longer at certain times of the year (summer, school holidays, end of the year)”.
So if you want to avoid additional processing time, ensure that your file is complete with all the necessary documents before sending it off, and plan ahead!