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Students welcome new EU Visa Directive

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union welcomes the steps forward to make EU education systems more accessible to non-EU students. Yesterday, the European Parliament approved   harmonised EU entry and residence rules for non-EU students – a new Visa Directive that will ensure that non-EU students have the right to stay at least 9 months after finishing their studies; the right to move within the EU during their stay and the right to work at least 15 hours a week.

ESU has been contributing to the debate on the new directive since its early stages in 2013. While ESU welcomes the steps forward to increase brain circulation and support cooperation with third countries, students wished the final text better reflected the needs of non-EU international students, by for example, granting them the same right to work in the hosting country as domestic students.

Unfortunately, the right to stay after finishing the studies was cut down by half (Commission proposed 12 months, and Parliament 18), the right to work has been reduced from 20 to 15 hours a week, and students’ families have been excluded (only researchers will be able to bring their families with them).

“The final document represents half of what we would have loved to see, as the proposals from the European Parliament were way more advanced in rights for non-EU students, but still some of our postulates have been watered down.” says Fernando Galan, Chairperson, European Students’ Union “We hope that this Directive is only a first step in ensuring that Europe attracts more non-EU students to its campuses and encourage and increase internationalisation”.

Member states will have 2 years to implement it, but we call the governments to do it as soon as possible, for the purpose of improving the situation of the students from the third countries and ensure their enrollment and advancement of academic careers.

Background information:

08/03/2015 – Students disappointed with the European Council’s proposal 
05/12/2014 – ESU Resolution of the Board Meeting 67 on visa directive 2004/114
28/02/2014 – ESU welcomes a European Parliament’s decision affecting non-EU students
27/03/2013 – ESU welcomes the European Commission’s push for student mobility 


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