What You Need to Know About Getting a Visa to Study in Italy
ISI Abroad provides extensive assistance to students as they navigate the visa application process, though it is the responsibility of each student to stay informed of visa requirements and obtain the legal documents necessary to study abroad. It is also each student’s responsibility to carefully read all visa information provided and to closely follow guidance.
Note that most ISI Abroad students come from the United States or the European Union. Though our visa materials are designed around the needs of Italian consulates in the U.S., the application process and requirements are similar for students of other nationalities, and our team is prepared to offer individualized guidance. EU students do not need a visa so if hold an EU passport it is important to inform our admissions team right away.
Once you submit your visa application, do not stop it as it is very difficult to secure a new appointment. Therefore, if you have any independent travel plans before your semester begins, it is important to plan ahead when initially booking your appointment.
IMPORTANT: You cannot apply for a visa from within Italy! You can only apply for a visa from your country of legal residence*, and from within the appropriate consular jurisdiction.
*some international students pursuing a degree abroad (ex. you’re from Ghana but are getting your degree at Penn State in the U.S.) are, for visa purposes, considered residents of the country hosting them for study. If you are studying short-term in a country (ex. you are studying in London for a semester or year and want to come to Italy next) then you are not considered a resident of your host country and will need to return to your home country to apply for an Italian student visa.
Book your Visa Appointment EARLY
You will need to apply for your student visa from an Italian Consulate representing the jurisdiction where a) You live at a permanent address, or b) where you attend college/university. This will not necessarily be the nearest consulate. Consulates are responsible for certain states, and the consulate for your state may not be the nearest consulate to your residence. A list of Italian Consulates and their addresses can be found using the “Consular Network” list found clicking here. From this site, you will be able to link to any consulate office in the US.
What To Do and When to Do It:
Booking an appointment is the most difficult aspect of the visa application process. Please carefully read the instructions below and follow them to the letter.
IMMEDIATELY: Follow the link in your acceptance email to create an account in ISI Abroad’s Visa Processing Portal.
You will need to fill out the “My Information” page to gain access to the rest of the portal (ex. sample documents and the opportunity to submit your files for review by our team).
You will need to carefully review the advice provided for each document required in your application. This requires a lot of reading so we often advise focusing on one section of the portal at a time as the information is all needed to ensure you have a smooth visa application process.
IMMEDIATELY: Follow the guidance above and in the Visa Processing Portal to determine which consulate you need to use and find out if your study abroad office offers Batch Visa Processing or not (the batch process is typically available to students at Penn State, UConn, Endicott, Roger Williams, but also other schools). Book an appointment following this guidance:
IMPORTANT: WHEN SHOULD YOUR APPOINTMENT BE?
Your appointment must be booked within 90 days of the start date for your program. If you book an earlier appointment, you will be turned away. However, appointments typically appear 2 months in advance so you need to log in to book early for dates in the ideal window for your program. Note that spring students should book visa appointments in October or November, but no later than the end of the first week of December. Fall students should book appointments in June or July, but no later than the end of the first week of August. The earlier you book in this window, the better.
A FEW WEEKS BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT: Work your way through ISI Abroad’s Visa Processing Portal and cross reference that with the checklist of required documents offered by your consulate. Create a folder of these documents that you can bring to your appointment and make photocopies of everything that you keep in a separate folder for personal reference.
ANY TIME: Contact our admissions team if you run into any questions or concerns throughout the visa application process.
Once your passport and visa have been returned to you, please submit a scanned copy of the primary page of your passport and the visa page to your Institute’s application dashboard.
The Health Insurance Requirement
All students are legally obligated to have international health insurance that meets specific international requirements.Check with your study abroad office to see if they have a plan for you. Domestic policies are not acceptable, even if they say that they include some sort of international health insurance extension. We have seen such policies be denied by Italian consulates. If you must purchase a plan independently, here are some links to insurance providers that are popular among our student body:
Every Italian consulate office retains the right to amend its visa process at any time, without notice. We encourage you to refer back to your consulate’s website frequently throughout the process. As ISI Abroad becomes aware of changes in the visa process, we will alert you by email. However, we cannot always guarantee that we’ll receive this information in time for your appointment.
Be sure to make copies of your entire application for your records. If you are submitting by mail, all documents will need to be notarized. Most financial institutions have a notary public on staff but they don’t always work full-time. We, therefore, recommend that you schedule notary appointments in advance.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are responsible for any Italian visa regulations that pertain to your particular citizenship. For more information, contact your local Italian consulate. You can also contact your ISI Abroad admissions advisor for assistance relative to your country’s requirements.
IMPORTANT NOTE: ISI Abroad staff will review your profile in the Portal to offer advice in regard to any documents you submit. This DOES NOT replace your Consulate’s website and checklist and ISI Abroad DOES NOT take responsibility for any aspect of your visa application. However, we’ve found that offering this kind of support can provide comfort to students as they navigate a complex immigration process
You can log back into the portal at any time (here).
Documents to Pack for Italy
Please bring any and all documents returned to you by your consulate (we strongly suggest that you carry these in your carry-on luggage). These and other documents necessary upon arrival in Italy are listed below.
All (original) documents returned to you by the Italian consulate
Proof of your ETIAS approval (this is new as of 2024. Further guidance will be sent to you by email from our admissions team, as it becomes available)
The original and a photocopy of the Health Insurance Letter
Photocopies of the primary page of your passport and of the visa page
Make sure to keep a record (electronic or otherwise) of the contact numbers for your bank and/or credit card providers. These can come in handy should you lose your card(s) while abroad or need to set additional travel notifications as you explore on weekends.