Obtaining a student visa for Belgium
The starting place is the website of the Belgian Embassy to the United States.
Here you will find the application form to download, print and fill out. You will also find a set of instructions. Carefully follow the 12-point list of documents you need to provide for your visa and all explanations.
|Please notify IFE :
when you have filed your application
when you receive confirmation from the consulate that your application is complete
when you notify IFE of your application confirmation, send the file number you receive so that we can track your application
Here are a few more detailed notes on those required documents:
1. Your passport must be valid for at least 15 more months after your proposed entry into Belgium. Please check your passport expiration date now.
2. Application form: Two originals are required. This means one cannot be a copy of the other. And if you are notarizing your signature in order to be able to file through the mail, without visiting a consulate in person, both originals must be notarized.
3. Language form: this is an administrative form since Belgium has three official languages and all have the right to choose in which language they wish their affairs to be treated. You should choose French.
4. Two recent passport photos. It is best to have these taken wherever you would have passport pictures taken, to make sure they are not refused. Most of the photos IFE receives from applicants as ID photos would not qualify and any such photos will slow down your visa. The photos must be signed on the back.
5. 5. Nationwide criminal history record. All students over the age of 18 who plan to participate in a "non-accredited" program (IFE-Brussels is in this category) must fulfill this requirement. As explained on the website – under “Option 2” - you need to go through an FBI-approved "channeler." The criminal history record must be either 1. printed on blue tamper-proof paper, or, since not all channelers use tamper-proof paper 2. On regular white paper that is put in an envelope, sealed, and sent to you by postal mail. The whole envelope must be sent to the consulate without opening or unsealing the envelope. No pdf’s will be accepted by the Belgian consulate. Students must use a channeler. Students should not in any case go directly through the FBI. This will take many many weeks or months and you will miss your semester.
6. Medical certificate. Read all instructions carefully, especially about notarizing the document AND obtaining an "apostille" in addition. Students will do well to ask the doctor’s office about this before scheduling the appointment. Some offices may be better equipped for at least the notarizing.
7. Financial Documents. Read all instructions carefully.As in the Language Form (above) you should choose the “French form”.
- COMMON MISTAKE: Students fill out the sample form which is provided in French-English bilingual format. This sample is simply to help you understand the French form. The form you file must be the French form, that is, French only.
- ANOTHER COMMON MISTAKE: Students’ sponsors have the “declaration of support” notarized. If you wish to file your visa application by mail, it must include a notarized photocopy of an official identification document (driver’s licence, passport) of the person serving as sponsor and signing the declaration. The declaration itself is to be signed but not notarized.
8. Attestation from an academic institution: IFE will provide this document.
9. Transcripts: “certified” means an official transcript from your school’s registrar. You will need two transcripts, both certified. “Latest” means your college transcripts. It is highly unlikely that the Belgian Consular Services recognize the new electronic versions of official college transcripts.
10. SASE. Only for students filing at a distance, and not planning to visit their consulate to pick up their visa. This should be an overnight or other, tracked, form of mail.
11. Two obligatory fees: There are two separate fees to be paid. The Visa Application Fee may be paid by certified check or money order. It is denominated in USD. The New Contribution for Visa Long Stay must be remitted by bank wire to a bank account in Belgium. This fee is denominated in EUROS. Currently the amount of the fee owed by IFE applicants is 2I5 EUR. You must verify with your bank that any wire fees they deduct are taken out of your account in addition to the amount of the Fee. If the full amount of the Fee does not arrive in the consular bank account, your file will be considered incomplete. You should carefully read the instructions concerning this fee. For example, you must provide valid proof of payment of the fee, as explained in the instructions.
- COMMON MISTAKE: Students pay the fee but fail to include proof of payment with the visa application. You must include valid proof of fee payment in full.
The Consulate is not sending your actual passport along with the visa application to Belgium for the approval of your visa. So your passport stays at the Consulate. The visa is approved electronically and will then be printed in the Consulate and put in your passport. Since this process takes several weeks, you are allowed to send in your application with a copy of the first page of the passport so you can use your passport in the meantime.
Once the visa is approved and needs to be printed, the Consulate needs your actual passport. You may bring your passport to the consulate to obtain the visa or you mail it, using a tracked or overnight service and including a tracked or overnight SASE for the return. The passport must be mailed from an address in the US and the passport bearer must be physically present in the US.
The application may be filed by mail, but if so the following must occur:
- − the two original application forms, signed by the applicant, must be notarized by a US notary public;
- − a tracked or overnight SASE must be provided with the application.
All documents requested must be provided in the original along with 2 photocopies.
If the student is not going to be studying in a Belgian university, the process takes longer, and so a maximum amount of time should be allowed. The recent rule-of-thumb offered by the Belgian consulate is "6-8 weeks". If the process seems to be unusually slowed down, contact IFE.
The FBI clearance from the "channeler" (see above) takes at least one week, and so that request should be set in motion first thing.
There are four Belgian consular services where the application may be filed in person. These are in Washington, Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles. New York and Los Angeles require applicants to schedule appointments on-line before appearing.
A student visa is required for all academic sojourns longer than 90 days.
- THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO FOR YOU IF YOU BEGIN THE PROCESS LATE. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
- NOR IS THERE ANY RECOURSE IF YOUR FILE IS HELD UP BECAUSE INCOMPLETE DUE TO YOUR NOT HAVE FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY!