Thousands of students in the United Kingdom have been unable to pursue their studies in the EU on time or even participate in internships after facing bureaucratic problems while applying for visas to several European countries.
The Guardian has reported that students have been struggling with visa applications in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium; however, they mostly complained about the visa process in Spain. Many of them have been left in uncertainty whether they will be able to keep their places at Spanish higher education institutions for the next semester starting in September.
Students also claimed that they have experienced financial hardships due to visa applications, costing them almost thousands, Erudera.com reports.
A modern-languages student at Bristol, Natasha Kerr, said that she has already completed the right documents and is waiting for her visa application to be approved by the Spanish consulate in London. She added that visa application costs reached £700, which was more than she expected.
“There was a lot of miscommunication and the university reached out to the consulate but they didn’t get any response and there wasn’t a lot they could do,” Kerr told The Guardian.
Following the surge in applications at the Spanish Embassy in London, the UK government has required Spain to establish a fast-track visa process for UK students planning to study and work in Spain. Nevertheless, Spanish officials have rejected the request, adding that students should make sure they have all the necessary documents in order to avoid delays.
A potential plan foresees students to travel to Spain on a tourist visa in September in order to keep their spots at their chosen universities. Under the plan, upon their arrival in Spain, students must apply for a student visa. However, this plan was quickly rejected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the plan is impossible to implement, claiming that the visa process for British students is now the same as for all other students coming from non-EU countries.
“This is the first academic year that student visas are needed after Brexit. Therefore, British students and universities need to get used to the new regulation and the necessity of applying for a visa, and some adaptation time is still needed,” she told The Guardian.
Over the past month, the UK universities organization asked the Foreign Office and the Spanish Embassy in the UK if British students expected to pursue studies next academic year are allowed to apply for a visa to Spain. Responding to the organization’s question, the UK government said that the responsibility belongs to the Spanish embassy.
The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31, no longer being an EU Member State. Following its departure, British nationals, including students, are obliged to apply for an EU visa.
After Brexit, the United Kingdom also decided to leave the Europe Erasmus Exchange Program, meaning British students would no longer participate in the study abroad program. Instead, the UK created its own program named the Turing Scheme. According to a press release issued recently by the UK government, 40,000 UK university students and pupils will be able to pursue higher studies abroad and work at the same time under the scheme.