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My girlfriend is an Iranian citizen resident in the UK where she’s a Ph.D. student. She will defend her thesis the next 13th of December. At the moment she has a “Tier 4 student visa” until the 31st of January 2017. After the defense of her thesis, she will be able to change her visa for a working visa and she will have a research contract, still in the UK. I am an Italian and British citizen, resident in Florence.

Would it be possible to her to apply for a visa to visit me and my family during the next Christmas holiday?

While we understand that she cannot apply for a “long-term Schengen visa with multiple entry” (since she will soon have a transition from student to working visa), it’s not clear to us if she can apply for a “single-entry visa” for just the period of the Christmas holiday, say 15 days, clearly with a re-entry in the UK before the 31st of January 2017 (ideally on the 6th of January).

Does the Tier 4 need to be valid at least three months after the UK re-entry date?


[Gayot's (edited) edit, moving low quality answers into the question]:

(Regarding: Are you in a "durable relationship"?)
@phoog: Yes, we are. We have been together for over three years, but with no official status. Does it help?

(Regarding: I believe her current British visa should be valid for at least three months. / Did you check the VFS website, I believe Italy uses VFS?)
@dumbcoder: I was afraid so, do you have any official link? I searched the whole web but couldn't find anything relevant.

  • Are you in a "durable relationship"? – phoog Nov 15 '16 at 15:49
  • I believe her current British visa should be valid for atleast 3 months. – DumbCoder Nov 15 '16 at 15:49
  • fr.tlscontact.com/gb/LON/page.php?pid=tourism_less90 Check here. This is the third party France uses to process Schengen visas. But don't assume they know all the rules, which cannot be further from the truth. How did you search ? Did you check the VFS website, I believe Italy uses VFS. it.vfsglobal.co.uk/tourist.html – DumbCoder Nov 15 '16 at 16:25
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    From your comment-as-answer: "yes we are. We have been together for over 3 years, but with no official status. Does it help?" If the Italian consulate will accept her as your "partner in a durable relationship" then they should grant her a visa under EU freedom of movement rules. In that case, the UK visa validity should not matter. I don't know what Italy's criteria are, however, for accepting her as your "partner in a durable relationship." See eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/… – phoog Nov 15 '16 at 19:44
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    Just in case anyone else has the same issue. The consulate told me that yes, there is the 3 month rule, but that they can make exceptions and give a short Shenghen visa for the required period. This information arrived from 2 consulate (London and Edinburgh) – Daniele Nov 17 '16 at 18:43
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+200

Does the Tier 4 need to be valid at least three months after the UK re-entry date?

Other answers have pointed out that the visa (or BRP, or etc) must be valid for at least 90 days after returning to the UK, and that stipulation is uncontested. I wanted to add that this is not necessarily a hard requirement and that the Visa Code has provisions for discretion, especially for cases where returning to the applicant's home country would be "excessive". The Visa Code Handbook provides several examples, among these are...

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If your girlfriend can make a plausible case for 'excessive requirements', then the Italian consulate in London can go ahead and process her application. How to go about demonstrating that the requirement is excessive can be tricky and it might be worthwhile instructing a solicitor to handle it.


TL;DR

All things considered and based upon the information you provided, it's advisable to pursue the Schengen short-stay visa and establish that it is an 'excessive requirement' for your girl friend to return to Iran to apply. Instructing a qualified solicitor with a renowned practice area in free movement can make a big difference.

  • "Alternatively you can check to see if the Italian policy on 'durable relationship' is less rigorous." How is the Italian policy relevant when it's a UK-issued document we're talking about? – Crazydre Dec 19 '16 at 0:25
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    @Crazydre because the goal here is a visit to Italy. If Italy accepts the relationship as qualifying under directive 2004/38/EC then it doesn't matter when the UK document expires. – phoog Dec 19 '16 at 15:16
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The website you should refer to is THIS - the Italian visa application centres in the UK have outsourced applications to VFS Global.

One of the requirements for a tourist visa (including, it seems, for family members of EEA nationals) is:

UK Residence permit valid for at least 90 days beyond the return date of the trip to the Schengen Area. Please also bring a photocopy if the residence permit is not endorsed in passport.

In other words, it is not the Tier 4 visa the visa officers will want to see, but the residence permit card (called biometric residence permit, or BRP for short). This one has to be valid for at least 90 days after the date she returns to the UK from Italy.

However, it is worth for your girlfriend to seek the assistance of a qualified solicitor specialised in the field, to establish whether it would be possible to be waived from the requirement.

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