The hardest part of becoming an international student is getting the grades, writing the essay, and finally being accepted into a study abroad program. But for most of you, the work isn’t done yet… Now is the time to get going with your application for a student visa.
Not all international students will need a visa. EU students studying in another European country, for example, do not need a visa, but those who do should start the process of getting a student visa as soon as possible.
Here is an overview of how to start your application for a student visa, as well as important information about common requirements for student visas. Scroll to the bottom of this article for rules about student visas for each country.
The most important thing about applying for a student visa is to do it a long time before you leave your home country. In some cases, the process can take up to six months, or even longer if your visa application is missing information, so it’s best to get started as soon as you know you’ve been accepted to a study abroad program.
How to start the process of getting a student visa
Visit the website of the embassy or consulate of the country where you want to study to find out how to apply for a student visa and find out other important information. This website should have everything you need to know about applying for a visa, filling out forms, gathering documents, and going to interviews. If you can’t figure out how to find the rules, you can call, email, or go to the embassy or consulate.
You can also get help from the university you plan to attend if you have any other questions about the type of visa you need or any more general questions about the practical side of studying abroad. International students who are going through this process will get help from most universities. In some countries, you can even get a visa through the university. This means that the university takes care of a lot of the paperwork. To find out if this is true, get in touch with the university’s international admissions office and ask if they can help you in any way with your application.
Putting your application together
To give yourself the best chance of getting a student visa, make sure to fill out your application as completely as possible and take into account all of the country’s specific student visa requirements. If you make a mistake on your application, you should fix it right away. If you don’t send in a required document or make a mistake on the forms, your application could be delayed or even turned down.
Once you’ve sent in your application, be ready to answer any questions the visa office may have right away. Check your phone, email, and mail often, and make sure you have time in the next few weeks to go to an interview.
Visiting the embassy
Even though there are different ways to do things, many countries require that you have an interview in your home country. The purpose of this interview is to make sure that you are serious about studying abroad and to find out if you were completely honest in your application. You will need to bring a number of documents to this planned interview. Most of the time, these include the following;
1. Proof that you have enough money to pay for your whole stay
This is needed to show the government that you have enough money to pay for tuition, rent, and living expenses. You can do this by showing proof of a student loan, scholarship, savings, or a family member who is paying for you. The amount you need to have varies a lot depending on where you want to study abroad.
2. Proof that your program has accepted you
This will probably come in the form of a letter, and it must come from a well-known college or university.
3. Valid passport
Don’t lose this, because it’s your way in and out of the country. Usually, your passport needs to be good for at least six months after you finish your studies abroad.
4. Needs not listed here
In some cases, you may also be asked to show a clean bill of health from your doctor, the results of an English test, and proof that you plan to go home after you finish your studies (i.e. a return flight ticket).
Other things to think about
Duration of study
When you apply for a student visa, you should think about how long your studies will be. If your course or program lasts less than six months, you may be eligible for a shorter-stay visa. For very short study programs, you may only need a regular tourist visa or no visa at all.
Keeping this in mind, you should also think about whether you want to extend your visa to give yourself more time to travel or work in the country after you finish your study abroad program. If your visa runs out before you leave the country, you might run into some strict officials and even get a fine.
Student visa fees
Visas aren’t free in many countries, so be prepared to pay an application fee. This varies from country to country, but you can expect to pay between $100 and $400.
Depending on where you come from, there may be times when you don’t have to pay for a student visa.