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I’m starting to lose my mind over this so I thought I’d post on a forum to see if someone can help confirm some things for me. This is regarding a Belgian visa specifically but I imagine this rule would apply to all Schengen-area visas as well.

I’m an American, currently back in the US, and just finished my first year of a two-year master's program in Belgium. A year ago I applied for a Belgian Visa-D long-stay student visa, and it will be set to expire before the next school year. Thus, my current visa needs to either be extended for a year or I need to apply for a new one.

My understanding is that I can’t apply for an extension on my visa as I don’t meet the requirements (I’m not in Belgium and I am experiencing a force majeur, medical issue, etc.), so an extension is off the table and I need to apply for a second visa.

The school I am enrolled in requires that I arrive at their office in person at the beginning of the school year to re-register for the next academic year, and after the exchange of several passive-aggressive emails from le secrétariat-étudiants, it seems that they’re unwilling to electronically send me the certificate of enrollment for next year (a required document for the long-stay student visa). According to them, I’ll need to travel to Belgium, just to sign a piece of paper and pay a nominal fee in person in mid-august, to receive this certificate. No way to work around it.

Given the current situation with the coronavirus and recent restrictions set out by the EU, I don’t believe I can return to Belgium without a valid student visa. So I’m in a cyclical issue where I can’t return to Belgium to get this essential document, but this essential document is needed in order to return. I hope that makes sense…

Le secrétariat-étudiants seems to believe that I can just hop over to Belgium on a tourist visa (even during coronavirus times) and once I’m there, I can apply for a long-stay visa. This is confusing to me and I have a couple questions:

  1. As an American, do I really not need a student visa at this moment to go to Belgium? Can I just return on a tourist visa but say I am a student? I understand that the EU is allowing students to come, but can I really return without a visa or any documentation that I am enrolled for this coming academic year? The Belgian and EU sites make me believe that this is not true, though perhaps I am missing something.

  2. Is it possible for me to apply for a long-stay student visa outside of my country, specifically in the country where I am planning to study? I’ve spent hours scouring the Belgian Office of Aliens/Immigration (both in English and French), the EU website, forums, travel blogs, anything on the subject. All sources seem to say that, I have to apply for this visa from my home country. This is what I did last year, as I needed to travel to complete an entrance exam, and then I returned to apply for my visa after receiving the documents.

I am hoping to avoid having to fly to BE, quarantine in a hotel room for two weeks, go to the school to register, fly back to the US, quarantine again, lodge by visa app, and then return to BE after my visa is complete… It's very possible I am missing some key information and perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way, but the way I see it, it doesn’t seem possible to avoid.

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    This sound more like the eighth task of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. I would advice contacting the consulate where you made the original application last year, documenting the whole situation (especially the mails from the school). Without their assistance, you will get nowhere very fast. Jul 8, 2020 at 14:23
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    Questions about long term visas belong on Expatriates Jul 8, 2020 at 16:20

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