Does this sound familiar? One of your parents is a full-fledged American, while the other moved over from Ireland back in 1972. You were born and raised in the USA, but thanks to your good ol’ parentals, you have the option to claim dual citizenship with a country that’s part of the European Union (EU).
Problem is, you’d never even thought about your potential dual citizenship until you got accepted into that ah-may-zing university in France, and now your pulling your hair out cause you can’t decide whether to claim citizenship or get a visa. Well, pull no further. Here we’ve listed the benefits of both to make your travel plans that little bit easier.
Since both visas and passports are documents of entitlement (err, forms of ID), they both allow you to travel overseas. But because visas come in such a large amount of variation, their travel benefits depend on which visa you select.
In most European countries however, you’ll be required to enter on a student visa cause your reason for coming into the country is to continue your education studies (obvs). A student visa will allow you to stick around in the country for anywhere between three months to a year, depending on which country you’re headed to. On top of purchasing a visa, some EU countries will also require you to obtain a student residence permit once you arrive, so that you can legally reside there until your overseas course ends.
During your time abroad, your visa or permit will allow you to travel to most other European countries – which, FYI is a huge temptation during those late night revision sessions. The bad news is most student visas come with strict obligations, like not allowing you to enter the country until one month before the start date of your degree (UK) and preventing you from getting work (pretty much everywhere).
On the other hand, if you travel to Europe on an EU passport you’ll have access to a heap of benefits outside those provided on the visa. The first of which is that you can study in any country that apart of the EU, without having to apply for a visa (though you still might need a student residence permit). You can also skip that slow line of tourists when you reach your overseas destination – giving you more time to catch up on your much needed beauty sleep.
And, as if you needed more reasons to dash out and get an EU passport, it allows you to travel to and work in most European countries while your abroad. This is a huge benefit, cause if you ever fall in love with one place in particular (ahem, France) then you have the option to stick around for a few more years or get a full-time job.
As most travellers will tell you, this part of the processes involves a lot of paper work, followed by several weeks of obsessively checking the post-box. The paper work bit always seems like the less stressful of the two – until, that is, your mum admits she has no idea where her old Irish passport is, so you’ve got to dig through the files in the windowless upstairs attic. In summer (ew).
Once you’ve found all the required documents, you’ve got to send the original copies off to the country whose visa or passport you’re attempting to secure. If you apply for a visa, it will generally require less paperwork than if you apply for an EU passport, as you don’t have to prove your dual citizenship. Although a minor detail, the up side to having less paperwork to send off means visa applicants don’t have to pay as much for postage as passport applicants (okay, it’s a real minor detail – but at least you’ll save a few extra bucks!).
After you’ve posted the documents, you then have to wait for confirmation. The processing time for most countries is three to five weeks, although some passport applications can take up to seven weeks to come through.
The cost of a visa will depend on which visa you select and which country you go to. A general student visa can cost anywhere between $55 (France) and $420 (UK), but you may have to fork out a bit more dough if you also need a student residence permit (up to $335 – yikes!).
The cost of gaining dual citizenship is – surprise, surprise – a lot cheaper than most people would think. That’s because most EU countries will grant you a passport so long as you can prove you’re a citizen of descent (in other words, that your parent is their citizen). This effectively kills two birds with one stone, cause once your passport is approved, it acts as proof of your secondary citizenship (score!).
The cost of purchasing a brand new passport from an EU country averages out to around $140, depending on the exchange rate and which country you’re applying to. If you’re one of those people who got their EU passport back when they were in diapers and it’s now expired, then you’ll have to renew it before you depart. This can put you up to $110 out of pocket (UK), but often means you won’t have to do as much paperwork.
It’s also worth mentioning that all EU countries require you to send your application information and requisite documents to them via post. Best to add another $20 to your total.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All and all, travelling on an EU passport is definitely the way to go. It saves you time and money when entering most European countries, while also maximising your potential travel options.