This is the second part in a series of FAQs regarding Erasmus Mundus IMIM (International Master in Industrial Management) programme. In this part, I will cover the information relevant to Spanish student visa application such as Apostille on degree certificate, and also Declaration of Value (DoV) required for Italian student visa application. If you have decided to join IMIM, this information will be very useful for you. And if you haven’t already, please click here to read the first part.
Q. How is the student visa process for Spain? How long does it take to get the visa?
A. The actual visa processing (from the day of your interview till you get visa in hand) takes about two to three weeks. But before you apply for the visa, you need to have certain documents ready with you, and that may take a few weeks. The most important and time consuming steps are: Apostille on degree certificate, and Declaration of Value (DoV) for Polimi enrollment and Italian visa. Apostille process will take around two weeks, and you cannot start DoV process until that. But since DoV is not connected with Spanish visa, you can apply for Spanish visa as soon as you have Apostille ready. Still as you can see, Apostille + actual visa processing in total take 4-6 weeks to finish. And sometimes depending on the volume of applications, visa appointment given to you by Spanish consulate might be 1-2 weeks from the day you apply.
Q. When is the best time to start visa process?
A. The orientation in Madrid is normally in second week of September. So assuming you need to have visa ready before beginning of September, and 1.5 months for the whole visa process (including Apostille), you should begin the Apostille process latest by mid-July, preferably in mid-June to have sufficient buffer period.
Q. Can you give me information about the documents required for visa application?
A. You can easily find the latest information on the Spanish embassy/consulate website. So I would suggest you to refer that.
Q. What is this Apostille?
A. Apostille is essentially a long process for getting your degree certificate (and consolidated transcripts in some cases) verified from Ministry of External Affairs according to Apostille Convention. Such documents with Apostille (basically a stamp) are considered internationally recognized as valid documents for legal purpose in more than 100 countries part of this treaty (which thankfully includes the whole European Union). The process basically involves 3 parts: first at the university level, then at the state level, and then national level. It depends on your scenario whether you need to do all 3 steps or not. Refer this for more information. The whole process, if you do it on your own, takes about 2-3 weeks, and travel to different cities, depending on where you live and where the state/national government offices are.
I will now explain the process I followed (Note that some parts may differ in your case). After receiving authentication on my degree certificate from Pune University, which was step 1, I went to regional Mantralaya office in Mumbai. Once I got the sign from Education department and Home department (if I am remembering it correctly) I was able to send my original degree certificate to Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi. Getting those signatures took more than one trip to Mumbai due to the whims of our beloved Government officers. Fortunately I did not have to go to Delhi in person to do the third step. I gave it to VFS, one of the designated third-parties, and paid some ₹500-600 and they got it done on my behalf and mailed the degree certificate with Apostille stamp to my home address within a week. I did not have to do the process for consolidated transcripts (marksheets), but I know some other Indians in later editions of IMIM who had to do it. So check the required documents in your case and follow the process accordingly.
If you take help of some agent, he/she will charge you anywhere between ₹2000-5000 for this whole process. In some cases, the money and time you will end up spending by doing everything on your own might be more than what the agent would ask for. But at the same time it can be a bit risky to hand over your degree certificate to a stranger and then have to apply for a duplicate copy if he/she loses the original.
Tip: If you have received admission and have decided to join the programme, you can start this process even in May/June. That way you can finish this part without any tension or hurry.
Q. What is Declaration of Value? And why do I need it?
A. Declaration of Value is a piece of Italian bureaucracy that you need to have in order to enrol in second semester at Politecnico di Milano, and of course to apply for Italian visa (from Madrid towards the end of first semester). Once you have your degree certificate with Apostille ready, you should get it translated into Italian from one of the authorized translators (Italian Consulate has the details of that, check their website or ask them) and then along with DoV form, submit the degree certificate and translation at the Italian consulate and they will give you DoV in few days. The translation cost me ₹1000 for my degree certificate in 2013. So expect somewhere around ₹1000-1500 per page.
Tip: If you have to travel to another city for visa process, you can combine the second trip to Spanish consulate (to collect your visa) with submitting DoV application in Italian consulate. And since the Italian consulate provides the option of sending your DoV by mail to your home address, this way you will not have to make multiple unnecessary trips.
Q. Do I need Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) or medical certificate for Spanish student visa?
A. I did not have to do it and the other Indians enrolled in IMIM that I have talked to did not have to do it. So most probably you too will not have to do it. But since I am not 100% sure about this as the rules may have changed recently, I suggest you to confirm it with Spanish consulate just to be safe.
Q. For your visa purpose, did you show the accommodation proof provided by the university or the actual accommodation that you found?
A. I used the accommodation proof provided by the university.
Q. Do you have any idea on how much money they are asking as financial proof for issuing Spanish visa?
A. I am not aware of exact amount, and you can refer the embassy website for details. But to give you a rough idea, the amount will be around 700€ a month, or around 4200€ for the six month visa.
Q. What did the visa officer ask you during the interview?
A. You do not have to worry about this part. Interviewer asked me basic questions such as: why am I going there? What will I study? When does the program start? What is the duration of the program? etc.
To read third part of this series, covering pre-departure FAQs, click here.