Study abroad means a lot of red tape
Don't worry about how worried you are. Getting a student visa is a nightmare.
It is a tedious and often intimidating process. Approach it as you have everything so far: as an adventure.
If you wanted to be an immigration lawyer in the future, this is a great place to start. After all, you are about to learn way more than you wanted to about the entire process.
Getting a visa can be easy or hard depending on the requirements set forth by a particular country. They may also be different depending on how long you want to stay there.
The most important thing that you need to know is that you must have a visa if you intend to stay there and study. Otherwise, you may get turned back at the border.
Do you want to work? That's something else you'll have to look into.
The good news is that universities will provide you with assistance, or we can here at International Education Advisor. You should still know what to expect.
Getting your visa can take from a few weeks, to a few months, to about a year. It depends on the country you want to study in, how far into the application process are you and other fun bits.
You must start at least three months in advance. At least.
Still not sure about a particular country? Below is some information to make your life a little bit easier.
Do I Need a Bunch of Documents?
You definitely need a bunch of documents. They'll be country specific, and they may include any of the following, or all of them.
- Letter of enrolment confirmation. You will have to provide proof that you were accepted into your programme with an official letter from your institution.
- Proof of tuition payment. Have you paid for your tuition? Your institution should send you a letter to this effect to show to immigrant officials.
- Proof of enough money. You need to have enough money to survive. After all, you are not going to receive public funds. They need to make sure you'll be fine on your own, so make sure to get proof of your money.
- Fingerprints. They'll need your fingerprints before giving you a visa.
- Passport-sized photographs. You'll need passport style photographs for your visa and visa application.
- A passport, if applicable. You'll need a passport to travel, and perhaps for visa purpose.
The United Kingdom
There are two different type of students visas in the UK. One of them is for student visitors, the other one is for an extended student visa.
Student visitors are only there for a short period of time and cannot work part time. Students on an extended student visa, known as a Tier 4 visa, are allowed to work part-time.
The Tier 4 criteria is a little harder to meet than the student visitor criteria. You'll need something called a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). You'll also need to prove you speak somewhat fluent English and that you can afford studying abroad.
Once you get a CAS, that'll be forwarded to immigration officials without you having to do anything. If you are in the European Union, you may not need to apply for a visa, but you should get an EEA Residence Card. You can learn more here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/studying/
The United States
Once you are accepted into a program, your institution is likely to provide all the visa information you need. Just so you know, you'll need to apply for something called an F-1 student visa. You'll have to go for an interview as part of the process.
You can apply a few months in advance, but may only be able to get into the country up to one month before your programme starts.
To learn more about obtaining a student visa to study in the United States, go to the U.S. Department of State’s website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#vwp
Australia is a really popular destination. It's also a pretty efficient one in regards to getting a visa, as long as you have received a confirmation of enrolment from the institution you are going to.
You can learn more about the necessary visas for students heading to Australia at Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website at http://www.immi.gov.au/Study/Pages/Study.aspx
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