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By Way2k Way2k
Way2k 5 Oct 2012
Obtaining a student visa

For those of you who have got admission into a college overseas, the next crucial step is obtaining a student visa. For US, the student visa process begins in May-June and for other countries it is around June-July. Though there is time, it is advisable to get your papers together so that there is no last-minute panic. The visa is your pathway to live your dream of studying abroad. And most students are understandably anxious whether they will be successful or not, but remember all a visa officer looks for is genuine students who have spent time deciding on which college/ university to attend and how that school will help them meet their career goals.

 Obtaining a student visa

The officer ensures that the applicant can afford the tuition and other expenses and that the selected college/university and programme makes sense for the applicant. According to a spokesperson from the US Embassy, the visa officer evaluates whether the applicant intends to return to India. Every applicant is evaluated on an individual basis. That's why the US puts emphasis on the personal interview. Visa officers from all countries are unanimous in their advice to students - be honest and open. Another common concern among students is whether low scores in admission tests would work against them. Sugata Pal, “I have scored low in SAT but, I am applying for a fashion designing course in the US. Will this be a problem for me to get a student visa?" she asks.

Visa officers are aware that certain programmes do not require any standardised tests and admissions may be based on factors other than standardised test scores. Hence, having low test scores does not mean that your visa application will be denied. Though UK has made a few significant changes to the student visa, a spokesperson from the British High Commission reiterated that "the visa rules are there to support genuine, high quality Indian students and the education institutions in which they wish to study."

A few points to keep in mind when applying for a student visa to the UK:
While applying for Tier 4 student visa, follow the current Tier 4 published guidance. For more, visit

Ensure that your chosen UK education institution is on the Tier 4 sponsors' register when you apply and again when you leave for the UK. The sponsors' register is on the UKBA (UK Border Agency) website. If you are studying for a degree or a higher qualification at a university, you will need to be proficient in English language to B2 CEFR level, but your university will be able to assess your ability. Students who want to study in Schengen countries will have to check the visa requirements for the country they wish to study in.

For example, students applying for a French Schengen visa must go through a mandatory interview, while students applying for a Spanish Schengen visa must have a PCC from the Passport Office in New Delhi. Detailed information on the visa process is available on the respective consulate websites.

Check List:
The visa application process has been outsourced and students have to apply through visa application centres.

1. The general requirements for any student visa include:

  1. You must be a bona fide student intending to complete a full-time course of study at an accredited university or college.
  2. You must have sufficient funds to cover your entire education or you must be able to show a viable financial plan.

2. You must have strong ties to return back to your home country General documents that you would require include:

  1. Admission letter or I-20, CAS for UK
  2. Original passport, photographs and fees
  3. SEVIS fee receipt (US only)
  4. Visa application forms duly filled out
  5. Proof of funding including Income Tax papers
  6. Past mark sheets and degrees
  7. Standardised test scores sheets (if applicable)

Any other document showing your financial stability Each year, the US Consulate opens special days and appointment slots when they interview student visa applicants. Some countries such as Australia and Canada may not have mandatory interviews for all applicants. Students will have to first submit their papers through the visa facilitation centres. Similarly, chances are that you won't be called for an interview to the British High Commission but you would need an appointment to visit the visa centre to provide biometrics.

If you are planning to apply for a 'high tech' field such as chemical engineering or advanced quantum physics at the Master's or Doctorate level, there is a chance that your visa processing will take longer, especially if you are applying for a US visa. In such cases, special approval from the US is needed and, hence, applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. This does not mean that your visa interview will be more difficult, it simply means that it will take more time to approve your visa.

Students planning to go to Canada should submit their application for a study permit by December 1 for the session beginning in January and by August 1 for the September session. Apply for your student visa in good time, fill out the application forms fully and honestly, and submit the correct documents. If you do this, the visa process should be straightforward.

Courtesy: Times of India

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