You are about to go abroad for a language trip, but you don't know which visa to choose and which formalities to do for the destination you are interested in? Doing a language trip abroad in immersion is a good way to progress or learn new foreign languages.
An official residence permit document
A visa is essential to ensure a proper stay in a foreign country. Indeed, whether it is applied for as part of a touristic, linguistic or professional stay, a visa is compulsory in certain cases and under certain conditions that vary depending on the country you wish to visit. The visa is nothing more than an official document that allows foreigners to enter or stay in the territory in question. The visa was originally introduced in order to maintain control over immigration flows. In order to obtain a visa, information must first be provided on the length of stay and the purpose for which it is issued. So, which visa to choose for a language stay depending on the destination?
Visa application formalities by continent :
1 - Europe
For residents of France, Switzerland and the European Union, a simple identity card or a valid passport is sufficient to move freely within the countries integrated into Europe. For minors, the identity card must be accompanied by a valid authorization to leave the territory that the town hall or a local police station will have issued beforehand.
1.1 - Post-Brexit England
How is the situation in England since Brexit on February 1st 2020?
To date, no changes will take place until at least 2021.
Therefore, there is currently no need to apply for permission to enter the country for a short-term language stay.
The rules that were already in force have not changed: minors must accompany their permission to leave the country with a travel permit, called "Consent to travel" in England.
However, in view of the somewhat unclear situation from certain points of view, language travel companies and agencies strongly recommend that foreign students in England carry a passport to enter the country. Although, at the moment, an identity card seems to be enough, it seems smart to take a few extra precautions.
2 - America
You wish to travel to the United States or Canada to perfect your English, discover the culture and deep yourself into the origins of the other side of the Atlantic:
2.1 - Visas for the United States
You want to do a language trip lasting less than 90 days? A short-stay visa is enough.
To obtain it :
- You will need a biometric passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months after the end of your language stay.
- Apply for an ESTA, electronic system for travel authorization, at least one week before your departure, on the esta platform.
Namely: the organizations strongly recommend that the procedures be carried out at least 3 months before the date of the stay, to avoid being surprised by delays that are sometimes longer than expected.
Your language stay should last more than 90 days or the number of courses on the territory will not exceed 18 hours per week? The American embassy will then require you to apply for a student visa. In order to do so:
- After you have paid for your student stay with the agency or organization you have chosen to deal with, a form type l-20 to be filled out will be sent to you by the school responsible for your stay.
- Set up an appointment with the US embassy. They arrange an interview to find out about your motivations.
- Pay your travel expenses to the embassy at least 3 days before your interview appointment. These are the fees in the SEVIS I-901 category to be paid from the fmjfee.com platform, and amount to approximately 140 euros (about $160).
- Please go to the US Embassy in your country of residence with the required documents.
2.2 - Visas for Canada
You intend to stay less than 6 months in Canada:
Good news, no visa will be required! To travel to Canada, a valid passport is enough, as well as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) that you will have to request before the start date of your stay. This formality is completely free of charge, the ETA application is made from the platform www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp in just a few clicks.
You plan to stay for more than 6 months in Canada:
In this case, a student visa will then be mandatory to stay in the "maple leaf country". You will have to apply for the student permit on the Canadian government website at:
You will need to apply for the Student Permit as soon as your language courses are booked and you received your booking confirmation/agreement. You will only have 3 weeks from arrival in the country where your courses will take place to provide the documents certifying that you have obtained your permit to your institution.
3 - Asia
3.1 - Japan
On the list of top destinations for language trips, you have chosen the Land of the Rising Sun and you plan to stay less than 3 months:
A simple biometric passport will be required upon arrival in Japan.
For a language stay of more than 3 months:
Remember to apply for a "Working Holiday Permit" type visa or a student visa, sponsored by the school that will welcome you with a "Certificate of Eligibility". An application form must be completed, documents must be provided and the school will liaise with the Japanese immigration authorities.
Please note: Please remember to apply for a student visa at least 4 months in advance.
3.2 - Dubai
For your language stay, you choose the city of "all madness" also known as Dubai!
You plan to stay less than 90 days:
If you are a French citizen, or a citizen of a European country, you do not need a visa to visit the Emirates, of which Dubai is a part of (see the list of visa-free countries here: www.emirates.com/fr/english/before-you-fly/visa-passport-information/uae-visa-information).
You wish to stay more than 90 days:
A visa will be required. Beyond 90 days, you can apply for a study visa, the price of which can easily vary depending on your status and the school you will be temporarily attending. Sponsored by the school in question, the visa is valid for 12 months and renewable annually.
4 - Oceania
4.1 - Australia
In this country, for language stays of less than 3 months:
You will need an eVisitor tourist visa, also called "Subclass 651". To obtain it free of charge, you have to apply for it at the immigration website (https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.
Moreover, please note that it is valid for a 12 months period which means that you can make several language stays, of 3 months maximum for each of them.
For stays of more than 3 months :
A student visa is mandatory to stay more than 3 months in Australia. This is called Student visa, also known as "Subclass 500". To obtain it, you will first have to justify the upcoming integration of a school or university in Australia. Also, you have to apply on the platform of the structure in charge of immigration at the following address: www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/stud
Namely: in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is strongly advised to carry out administrative procedures at least 2 or 3 months in advance.
5 - Africa
5.1 - South Africa
You hope to travel to Africa for a language stay of 90 days or less to learn English:
It will not be necessary to apply for a visa to travel to South Africa if you are a European student.
You will stay in South Africa for more than 3 months:
You will then need to apply for a student visa. To do so, apply to the South African embassy in your country of residence at least 6 weeks before your departure. Various documents will be required such as the original passport with a validity of more than one month (minimum) after the date of return from your stay, passport photos, a certificate of International Insurance, a copy of the International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever, photocopies of your passport, a letter from your school in South Africa inviting you to apply for a student visa.