Students Consider Cancelling Study Abroad Plans Due To Brexit Visa Delays
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British students are considering giving up places at Spanish universities due to delays in securing visas as a result of Brexit.
The Foreign Office has told The Independent that it has raised the issue with the Spanish government, but with just weeks before classes are due to start, the new immigration rules are putting plans in jeopardy for some of the thousands of students who study abroad each year.
Students wishing to study in Spain must now compile a dossier of documents, including a medical certificate, proof of income and a criminal-record check.
“Delays in visa processing this year are causing real anxiety among students who are due to travel to Spain soon,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International.
The organisation has said that increasing numbers of its members are reporting that it’s ‘impossible’ for students to get visa appointments, meaning they will miss the start of the Spanish semester.
Ms Stern has written to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urging them to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
She has suggested a number of alternatives including ‘block visa applications’ as well as a temporary solution to allow students to enter the country under the tourist visa before completing the necessary paperwork in Spain.
A spokesperson for Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that ‘some adaptation time is still needed’ to adapt to the new post-Brexit regulations, but that Spanish Consulates are ‘offering all the facilities in order to speed up the visa procedures’.
As visas must be issued within 90 days of departure, most students began the application process in June.
Speaking to the BBC, Sam Downes, an economics student who is set to study in Granada, said he has heard nothing since he asked for an appointment in June.
One of a whole host of students speaking about concerns that their study plans could be derailed, Mr Downes said: “I paid September's rent for my accommodation and my deposit - but it's looking unlikely that I'll be going in time.”
Having been told that the university cannot offer online learning if he doesn’t arrive in time, he added: “So in the next week or two I might have to decide whether to cancel the whole year abroad.”
With correspondence to Spanish authorities going unanswered, some report they have spent hours queueing outside the embassy in London a bid to secure a direct appointment.
One student who managed to speak with embassy staff told the BBC he was now hoping to receive email confirmation of a visa appointment soon, with his flight and accommodation already said to be booked for September 6th.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We have raised the issue with the Spanish government, and are supporting Universities UK International.”
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