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I see lots of posts on staying in a country as a tourist after the expiration of a student visa. This is the opposite.

I will be studying in Spain from August 2016 through July 2017. I carry a US passport, and my Spanish student visa process is underway.

However, I would like to arrive in Spain in July 2016 to vacation with my family before school begins. So I have two options:

  1. Ensure my student visa begins in July rather than August
  2. Travel in July as a tourist, leave the Schengen area, and return after the August start date of my student visa

I am having trouble with #1 because one of the health/medical insurance visa requirement (must be covered for duration of stay). I am covered through my school (and have the appropriate documentation) for the months of my program, but not for July. And it's been difficult to find appropriate coverage for one month only.

So moving on to #2. My plan would be to enter Spain as a tourist and have onward travel plans to UK/Morocco. I would stay in Spain for two weeks, fly outside the Schengen area, spend a weekend there, and re-enter Spain on my student visa, which would be valid by that point.

Questions: Any ideas on #1? Do you see any potential issues with #2?

  • 2
    Off topic? I mean, I see how expats could answer this, and suggestion #1 would be. Be Suggestion #2 surely comes within our remit? – CMaster May 17 '16 at 14:15
  • Not got the legal info in front of me to answer for sure but - idea 1 seems unlikley - you'd be asking to extend your student visa for tourism reasons. Idea 2 however, sounds completely routine and not something that anybody should raise an eyebrow at. – CMaster May 17 '16 at 15:24
  • @CMaster That varies by country. For instance, if you tried to enter the US as a tourist a month before your student visa validity begins, you should expect some intense questioning and possibly to be refused entry and maybe even have your visa revoked. The US does not allow first-time students to enter more than 30 days before the start of classes, and the visa start date is set to that date. Given that we really don't deal much with student visas here, I think #2 should be answered at Expatriates as well. – Michael Hampton May 17 '16 at 15:42
  • As far as I understand the rules, you can just enter early as a tourist without having to leave. Schengen doesn't operate on the principle of status, as the US does, where you need to change your status. Rather, you have to abide by the 90/180 rule, but you exclude days that are covered by the student visa. – phoog May 17 '16 at 16:19
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Both your options should work without any problem, but you also have a further, much simpler and also legal option: Enter in July as a visa-exempt US citizen and stay. Assuming that your Spanish long-term visa is valid from e.g. August 1st, the period you stay until end of July will count on your 90/180 days visa-free allowance and the long-term visa will take effect on August 1st without any action from your side.

Your situation is similar to back-to-back short-term visas. Let's say you are from a country requiring a visa for any stay in the Schengen area and you already have a visa valid until July 31st. You are however planning a trip from July 20th to August 10th. Since overlapping visas are not allowed, you will if your new visa application is granted, be issued a new visa valid from August 1st. Since there is no interruption in the validity of the two visas, you can simply enter with the old visa and stay beyond the validity of the first visa. Also in this situation, it is not required by you to exit the Schengen area before the expiration of the first visa and reenter on the second visa later.

  • Thanks so much for your response - I did not understand the rules well enough to see this option. One follow-up question: the visa application requests "Intended date of arrival in Spain." Should I indicate my planned date of arrival in July, even though my other documents cover the year beginning August 1? OR should I indicate August 1? – Madison G May 18 '16 at 0:14

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