If you wish to travel outside the UK whilst studying at GCU you may require a visa. 

What is a Schengen Visa?

This visa allows non-EEA nationals the right to enter these countries as a visitor (with the purpose of the visit being leisure, tourism or business). A Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel within the below listed countries for a maximum stay of 90 days in a 6-month period.

Travel to the Republic of Ireland

If you are a Visa National and are studying at GCU with a UK Short Term Study Visa you may not need to apply for a visa to visit the Republic of Ireland under the Visa Waiver Programme if:

  • Your visit is less than 90 days
  • You are a national of a country listed below
  • Your visit to Ireland ends before your UK 'leave to remain' ends 
Eastern EuropeMiddle EastAsia
Belarus Bahrain India
Bosnia and Herzegovina Kuwait* Kazakhstan
Montenegro Oman* People's Republic of China
Russian Federation Qatar* Thailand
Serbia Saudi Arabia Uzbekistan

*Note: Kuwait, Oman and Qatar

In the case of nationals from Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, the United Kingdom (UK) Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) cannot be used to travel to Ireland from a third country.

The EVW is only valid for a single journey and you have to specify the exact flight you will be getting to the UK.

Who needs a visa?

All Visa Nationals who are in the UK with a long-term visa including Tier 4, Tier 4 DES, Tier 1 GE, Tier 1 Start Up, Tier 5 and PBS Dependent are required to apply for an Irish short stay visa if they wish to visit Ireland for tourism or study for up to 90 days. Further information and to apply online can be found on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website.

European Union and EEA countries that participate
Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece Hungary
Iceland Italy Latvia Lichtestein Lithuania
Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden

The UK and the Republic of Ireland are not currently part of the agreement.

  • If visiting only one country in the Schengen area, you should apply to the embassy of that country.
  • If visiting several of the 26 countries, you should apply to the embassy of whichever country is your main destination - the country in which you plan to spend the most time during your trip.
  • If visiting several countries in the Schengen area without having a main destination, you should submit an application to the embassy of the country where you will first enter the Schengen area.

How to apply

You can find all the relevant information on how to apply for a student visa below. 

Application requirements
  • Application Form (each country produces its own form & fee varies between countries)
  • Original passport or official travel document
  • Recent passport photograph (number required varies between countries)
  • Evidence of purpose of visit i.e. invitation letter
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card
  • Medical insurance to cover the period of the trip
  • Means of transport i.e. return tickets
  • Confirmation of student status letter from the university
  • You should check current UK student immigration status will allow you to return to the UK after your trip. Most Schengen countries insist that your immigration permission to be in the UK should last for a certain period after you return from your trip
  • Evidence of finances which is usually 3 months bank statements (proof you can support yourself during your stay) some countries suggest a minimum amount required per day
  • Visa fee (fees charged vary from different embassies). Most embassies will only accept postal orders or cash
  • If you are travelling to several countries, you should include an itinerary of where and when you will be in each country and means of transport to each location
Invitation Letter

An invitation letter is advisable if you are travelling to visit someone – this should be written by the person you are visiting, and addressed "To Whom it may Concern". It should contain the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your nationality
  • Your passport number
  • Your relationship with them
  • How long you are visiting
  • The purpose of you visit
  • Where you will stay
  • Confirmation if they are responsible for your accommodation
How to apply

You should make your application to the embassy of the country that you are travelling to. The first place you should check is the embassy's website. Click the link to find the details of embassies in the UK. Most embassies are based in London, but you may also be able to apply in person at the consulate, most likely in Edinburgh. The entire procedure varies depending on the country.

Remember that a Schengen visa application can take up to four weeks, so you should apply in good time before you intend to travel, and be aware that you will not have your passport until the application is returned. 

You should not take holidays during your class time. On occasions when you need to travel abroad during term-time (perhaps for personal/academic reasons), you must get permission in writing from your school. Speak to your programme coordinator about this.

For more information, come to a drop-in session or make an appointment with a VISA advisor. You can find additional information on travelling outside the UK in our leaflet Leaving and Re-entering the UK and how to protect your student visa status in Protecting Your Student Visa Status 2019

Please Note: If you obtained your Short Term Study visa on arrival as a non-visa national it is a Single Entry visa and you will need to apply for a new one on your return to the UK. Please contact VISA visa@gcu.ac.uk  or GCU London visa@gculondon.ac.uk for advice to ensure you have all the paperwork required for this.