Simply put, a visa is an official travel document. The visa which is usually stamped or glued on to one’s passport allows him to legally enter a foreign country. A visa can be of multiple types. For instance a Tourist Visa is issued for people looking to visit a country for tourism, there is a Student Visa for students looking to travel to a foreign country to pursue education and so on.
This visa is a special approval added to a government passport issued to students registered at qualified educational institutions. Student visas are non-immigrant visas that do not require the holder to obtain citizenship. Any prospective student seeking higher education in another country must obtain a student visa from that country.
While getting admission in the university is extremely important, these legal documents stand in the way of all students’ pursuits. Each and every country has its own immigration laws. These could vary in terms of the requirements of documents to the different proof of funds. However, there are some broad commonalities that are visible in all student visa applications.
Most countries will issue student visas to allow foreign students to attend school within their borders. Although, in most cases, the student must first be enrolled at a post-secondary institution of higher learning. Therefore, if you are from another country and you want to go to the United States to study, for example, you will actually need both these two visas:
- A non-immigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence
- A student visa
When to Apply for a Student Visa
Studying abroad requires precise planning. Students are always advised to plan their admission/ application process knowing the university deadlines and start working backwards. Students are required to take language eligibility tests according to the university policy and present documents for the smooth processing of their application. Hence, students are always advised to start applying 3 to 4 months in advance to avoid any last-minute rush. Candidates seeking financial aid, scholarships and education loans should add another couple of extra months to the process as these applications take more time.
Types of Student Visas
Student Visas are often classified on the basis of two broad distinction points:
- Student Visa Classification Based on Program’s Duration
Depending on the length of the program the applicant is planning to participate, the countries often divide the student visa into:
- Short Term Student Visas
Often, the short-term visas are given to students who plan to take a short course of a language or a diploma certificate course and the entire duration is often limited to 90 days (3 months).
- Long-term Student Visas.
Long term visas, are given to students who are planning to take up degree courses extending beyond the 3 month period. These could include the internships and small certificate programs of 6 months and so on. European Union Countries often have this broad classification.
- Student Visa Classification Based on Type of Program/ Student
Regardless of the duration of the course, some countries classify the student visas based on the type of student. This could be:
- The level of degree applied for (undergraduate, graduate or doctoral),
- Exchange student or student applying for a vocational/ diploma course.
Generally, these visas also depend on the type of the course the student is applying for, and are somewhat related to the tenure. However, in these categories, the first point of distinction is not how long the program would be for. If a student is an exchange student, she could be going for 3 month or 3 years, the category would still be based on the type of student and not the tenure.
Applying for Student Visa
When putting together an application for a student visa, first students need to research the admission policy for their university of choice.
Every country, depending on their immigration laws has a specific list of documents. However, while the exact requirements are different in terms of actual terms, the list is generic. The following items will probably be on that list though:
- Academic Eligibility
Every school has different academic eligibility criteria. Schools give notice of what their requirements are in their websites and media.
- Financial Stability
Proof to show that a student can support themselves without having to work. Most countries would require students to prove that they are capable of not only taking care of the tuition and college expenses but also have the requisite funds to afford their stay in that country for the intended study period. While many countries have a stipulated amount of funds it would require, some have broader more extensive guidelines. For instance, many countries in Europe (like Germany, Netherlands, etc.) have a minimum living cost computed as per government standards. Students applying for student visas in these countries, accordingly, must provide proof that the said amount is available with them in ready cash.
- Health Insurance
Proof of health insurance in order to cover any medical expenses a student may and whether she will need any medical assistance.
- Valid Passport
This is the primary requisite. It is also important to know that for different countries, the requirement of the validity of the passport might vary. Some countries would want students to have the validity until the end of the course even at the time of applying for the student visa. Some, on the other hand, might let them apply but request to have a validity that extends beyond the intended stay in the country. They also need to ensure that they have at least two blank pages in their passport for stamping for a visa. What is important to note is that in case of having any expired passports, they would still have to submit a copy of all such passports.
- Proof of a Bonafide Student
If one is applying for any category of Student Visa, she must be able to prove that she is a bonafide student. This is often done by producing confirmation of admission with an educational institute of that country.
- Language Proficiency
Another thing which is required perhaps across various countries is proof that the students can communicate in the language which would be their medium of instruction. Since most students plan to study in English speaking countries, most of them would require the students to provide proof positive that they can communicate in English – both written and verbal. This is usually done by a minimum score requirement for various English Language Tests like TOEFL, IELTS and/or PTE.
Accordingly, if they plan to take up a course in any other language (say German for instance), they would be required to provide certification for that language in accordance with the CEFR Certified Levels.
It is important to note here that while universities might accept different any or either of the above-mentioned tests, for Visas, at times, the requirements are set. For instance, the UK does not recognize TOEFL for visas. Hence, it is important that before a student take an English language test, they should check whether or not the country’s immigration department recognizes that test. Also, visa guidelines for different countries usually mandate a minimum score. While universities might offer admission at a lower score, visas would be rejected until the minimum standard is met.
The complete list would depend on the country the students are applying to. While some countries would require medical proofs, some might require a blocked account. Many countries also require an SOP (Statement of Purpose).
The Process for Applying for a Student Visa
The process for applying for a student visa starts with when the university offers a letter of acceptance. Students who have received their letter of acceptance are required to apply for their visa in two ways:
- Online Visa Application Process
Candidates can apply for their student visa through the online method by simply creating a student profile. The forms are all online and would have to be correctly filled by the student.
- Offline Visa Application Process
The offline visa process would require candidates to download the application form, fill in the details and submit it to the required authorities.
The next step includes paying a Visa Application Fee. Every candidate would be required to pay a student visa fee for her application process. The final process would include the student submitting his application process along with their supporting documents.
Requirements of Visa Extension
If in case, a student’s study permit expires before completion of her studies then she will need to apply for the renewal of study permit and a visa is issued for a specific time period. Ideally, she should apply at least 30 days before her current permit expires. Candidates can submit their application through mail or online.
At Cross Border Freedom, we analyze every individual situation carefully, offer the possible options. Our experienced team deal with government procedures quickly and efficiently on your behalf. By working closely together as a team, our specialists put together their knowledge and experience to reassure the specific details of each case are considered from all perspectives.
For more detailed information on the requirements for your Student Visa, please contact one of our advisers in the UAE, Denmark, or Canada, or fill in the enquiry form so that we analyze your eligibility and contact you.
We will accompany you and your family through your Student Visa process.