If you’ve been waiting to get into Uruguay because the borders have been closed, we’ve got good news. Travel for education is one of the exceptions to the Uruguay travel ban.
We talked to Academia Uruguay, a reputable language school based in the Old City of Montevideo. They’ve been successfully processing applications for people from the US and Europe to study Spanish and they tell us about how it works.
Academia Uruguay building in Montevideo
How long has it been possible for people who want to study Spanish to get into Uruguay despite the borders being closed to non-citizens?
Since June 2 last year when a government decree (159/020) defined those allowed exceptional entry to Uruguay with a foreign passport. Although the borders of Uruguay are still closed for tourists, this decree enabled entry for study purposes. Traveling for educational reasons is one of the exceptions that nowadays allows people who are neither residents nor citizens to come to Uruguay.
How do your students get their travel permission?
To obtain the entry permit to Uruguay, students first contact us, receive general information about the courses, the school, accommodation and anything else they may have questions about. Then they book a course which is paid upfront. At that time, Academia Uruguay issues a confirmation or acceptance letter with the student’s personal data. With that letter, the interested party can directly complete their special entry permit application to Uruguay. This involves filling out an online form which is approved by the Uruguay Immigration Department.
How long does the whole process take?
Once the student has completed the online application for the special entry permit to Uruguay, the process usually takes between 5-7 business days. Finally, a certificate will be issued that includes the name of the person, identity document, a QR code and the URL to verify its authenticity, and the digital signature of the Ministry of the Interior. This is used to travel.
Are there any restrictions regarding being able to study?
No. It’s for anyone of any age or background interested in studying Spanish in Uruguay. To process the application, we request a minimum reservation of 4 weeks of group classes or its equivalent in individual classes. If by any chance their permission is denied, they get a full refund. So far all our applications have been accepted by Immigration.
Is it possible to stay in Uruguay once studies are finished?
Yes. One of the questions in the online application form for the special entry permit is if the person is staying indefinitely or if he/she already has a set departure date. You can choose to check the ‘to be decided’ box if you’re planning to stay after study ends.
One thing to note is that the special entry permit does not modify the maximum length of stay in the country (90 days for people with a foreign document who are neither citizens nor residents). This period can be extended for another 90 days by requesting it from immigration. People who are interested in applying for residency in Uruguay can also start the process.
What are the obligations for your students arriving in Uruguay and how do you help them while they are in quarantine?
Anyone entering Uruguay at the moment needs to meet a number of travel requirements including mandatory 7 or 14 quarantine on arrival. Our students of course have to do the same as well as have travel insurance which includes COVID-19 coverage. We make sure all our students are very well aware of how things work here and the precautions that everyone is expected to take due to the pandemic.
We can help students with accommodation and prearrange airport pickup so they can go straight from the airport into quarantine as smoothly as possible. We will do our best to help students and have prepared a special “welcome information pack” with specifics about where to order food, medication, etc. during quarantine. We are also available during office hours and in the case of emergency 24/7 by phone.
This article was possible thanks to Academia Uruguay, a small privately-owned language school on the colonial square of Montevideo. The school is in a well-ventilated colonial building with high ceilings, a central open-air patio and double-doors opening onto wrought-iron balconies. They teach Spanish to people of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world, online and face-to-face. “Safety and peace and quiet” are the main reasons travellers come to Montevideo to study Spanish, according to staff at Academia Uruguay.
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