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How to Get a 1-Year Europe Study Visa Through Language Schools

If you’re thinking about moving to Europe but aren’t sure what visa you’re eligible for, I’m going to let you into a little secret. You can apply to live, study, and work in Europe on a student visa without ever getting a university or college acceptance letter. How? Well, instead you apply to a local language school and become a student there!

In fact, you can stay for up to a year in many European countries on a study visa gained through a language school. The best part is that anyone can apply for a place in a language school and you still have plenty of free time to explore your new home.

So, how can you get a one-year Europe study visa through language schools? Let’s dive in and find out more. 

How do Study Visas in Europe Work?

In many European nations, study visas follow a similar process. You’ll send a ton of paperwork, including an acceptance letter to your chosen institution, and you’ll receive a three-month visa back in return. 

Now, we all know that’s not long enough to cover even a semester at most universities, so how it actually works is that you have to go and get your resident’s permit when you first arrive in the country to be eligible to stay longer.

For countries like Italy, you need to do it within the first eight days in the country, but some say the first 14 days, so check with your specific country. 

Once you apply for your residence permit, you’ll receive permission to live and study in that country for the duration of your study program, which can be as long as a year. Each year you have to renew your study resident’s permit, and in Italy, for example, you must prove that you’ve passed between one and three exams and still have adequate funds to stay even longer.

So, even if your study visa only lasts a couple of months, it’s all about the resident’s permit. That being said, you need your valid study visa to gain your resident’s permit so do not miss this step out!

How Long Do Language School Visas Last?

Getting a visa through a language school can vary in length. As I’ve mentioned, resident permits are given based on the duration of your course, so if you’ve enrolled in a year-long course, you can stay a year. If you’ve only been accepted on a three-month intensive course, then that’s how long you’re eligible to stay.

Some countries, like the UK, have dedicated short-term study visas which are specifically for language courses, training courses, and other shorter qualifications like that. As such, the maximum length of that visa is eleven months.

It depends entirely on the country that you’re applying in and the course that you’ve been accepted to.

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Which Countries Offer Language School Visas?

Not everywhere offers language school visas or mentions language schools in their study visa explainers, so here are the most popular ones that do, together with some of the rules and logistics around their study visas.


So, Germany is probably one of the most straightforward countries in Europe to go to on a one-year language school visa. That’s because they literally have a language school visa option within their student visa selection. It makes things super simple and easy to process.

concrete buildings

One thing that you should know about a German language school visa is that you can’t convert it into another type of student visa while you’re there and you also can’t extend it past the one-year mark. However, you can apply for a resident’s permit that lasts six months longer than your study period so that you can look for a job or alternate visa situation.

Schools that offer visa sponsorship in Germany:


Interestingly enough, Spain is where I did my language school experience, at the amazing Camino Barcelona Spanish language school. The length of your language school study is going to dictate whether you need a Foreign Identity Card (TIE) or a Spanish Student Residency Card or not. 

If your studies are under six months, you don’t need a student residency card, but if it’s between six months and a year, you need to apply for one and the process can take around three weeks, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

Schools that offer visa sponsorship in Spain:


For Italy, if your language school course is longer than 90 days, you need a study visa which you can then supplement with a resident permit within eight days of your arrival in Italy. You need your application approval letter from your course as well as proof of accommodation, funds, and much more. 

Your resident’s permit lasts as long as the duration of your course up to a year. Otherwise, you have to renew your permit each year up to a total of three years, showing that you’re completing and passing between one and three major exams each year.

Schools that offer visa sponsorship in Italy:


If you’re on a course that’s longer than three months, you need a student visa to stay and study in Portugal. Once you get there, you can get a resident’s permit that lasts for the full duration of your studies, so if you’re on a language course that lasts a year, you can stay in Portugal for a full year!

Schools that offer visa sponsorship in Portugal:

yellow and red buildings


Although you can only stay in the UK for up to eleven months on a short-term student visa for language, it’s still good that there’s a dedicated visa path for studying English abroad in the UK.

Your short-term visa lasts for the duration of your course plus an additional 30 days as long as the total stay doesn’t go over 11 months. So if your course was six months long, you could stay for six months and 30 days.

If your language course is under six months long, you do not need this short-term visa as the standard visa-free stay in the UK lasts for six months, unlike the Schengen agreement which is 90 days out of a 180-day period.

Schools that offer visa sponsorship in the UK:

boats and the ferris wheel

Where Do I Apply for a Language School Visa?

As with any other visa, you can apply for your study abroad language school visa at your local embassy, consulate, or visa application center in your home nation. 

How Much Does a Language School Visa Cost?

The cost of a short-term study visa varies from country to country. For example, in the UK, it’ll cost you £200. In Italy, the visa will only cost you €116, but you’ll also need to pay €40 for the resident permit and around another €75 in administrative costs. 

It’s always best to check directly with each country’s visa website to get up-to-date information and figures so that you can budget properly!

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What do I Need to Apply for a Language School Visa?

Requirements for your visa are going to vary depending on the country and the type of study visa you’re applying for, but in general, you’re going to need the following:

  • A completed application form
  • Two passport-size photos
  • Valid passport which expires at least three months after the visa ends
  • Proof of accommodation in the country
  • Proof of funds to support yourself
  • Proof of valid health insurance
  • Proof of acceptance into a language school with enrollment information.

Of course, check the individual requirements for your visa. They’ll be spelled out pretty clearly and you’ll need all of them ready for your visa appointment in your home country. 

Can I Work While I’m on a Language School Visa?

Whether you can work on a language school visa depends on the country and the visa. For example, in Italy, you can work up to 20 hours a week, the same as any other student visa. In Germany, you cannot work on a language school visa, but you can on a full student visa. 

If you know that you need to work alongside your studies in order to support yourself while you’re in Europe, you might need to check out which countries allow you to work on language school visas, or whether you need to apply for a full student visa so that you can have a part-time job at the same time.

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Can I Extend My Visa?

Again, this depends on the country and visa type. On a German language school visa, it explicitly says you cannot extend or transfer to another student visa type.

However, in Italy, you can extend your student resident permit for up to three years as long as you’re still enrolled and still passing exams year after year.

It’s completely down to the individual country. However, some people do use the language school visa opportunity as a time to help them find a sponsored job in the country so that they can stay after their language courses are complete.

For example, although the German language school visa can’t be transferred into another type of student visa, it doesn’t say you can’t then apply for a work visa instead. 

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