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Study Visa - How to Get a Student Visa

A study visa is necessary for those who plan to attend a college, university or vocational school in a foreign country. Before you can apply for a student visa, you have to be accepted into an educational institution. You can start the application process immediately after you receive official notice of acceptance. However, not more than six months before you plan to start your program.

Study Visa Requirements

Background Check

It is common for countries to request background information of study visa applicants. The purpose of this is to establish that you have ties that bind you to the United States. You have to show that there are things in the U.S. that serve as motives for you to return after you have completed your studies.

At the visa interview, consular officers try to determine that you have adequate funds to avoid unlawful employment while in the country where you will study, a credible support arrangement for yourself while there, specific and realistic travel plans and strong ties in the U.S.

Language Requirement

Most countries that do not have English as an official language require some level of fluency in the native language. This is usually determined by your score on a designated language proficiency test. Some countries approve a study visa even when the applicant is not fluent because language courses are incorporated into the applicant's course program.

Financial Resources

In order to get a study visa, you must also prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from an identified and reliable financial source to defray all living and school expenses during the entire period of anticipated study abroad. Some student applicants are required to prove they have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study, and that adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study. In other cases, visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.

Educational Instituation Acceptance Form

You have to be accepted by an approved educational institution before any country will issue a visa to study. The institution should provide you with proper documentation to make your request for a student visa to study abroad. There may be different forms depending on the type of institution at which you plan to study.

Applying for a Study Visa

While most countries require you to apply for a student visa through an embassy or consular general of the country where you plan to study while you are still in the U.S., there are a few countries that require you to enter under a tourist visa and then make your request for a study visa.

It is important to understand the application process for the county in which you plan to study. Some countries do not allow you to apply for a new student visa more than a few months before your course starts. The length of time varies from country to country.

Not all consular generals of a particular country accept every type of visa application. It may be that the consular general nearest you does not process applications for study visas. You need to verify this information.

Schedule an Interview

An interview is usually part of the application process. Some countries only schedule appointments online, others require you call and, still other, require you to personally appear at the embassy or consular general to do this.

Appointments are scheduled during workdays excluding public holidays . Appointment times are staggered; applicants should arrive at the Embassy at the time stated.

In special situations, you can request an expedited visa interview appointment. These are scheduled on a slot availability basis. You usually need to provide your passport number and a written explanation of why the travel is urgent and include contact information for consular staff to verify the claimed emergency situation. All requests must include your telephone or e-mail contact information.

Student Visa interviews are conducted directly between the consular officer and the applicant. Third parties, including lawyers, are generally not allowed to be present at the interview, though exceptions are sometimes granted.

At the visa interview, you will probably need to present the following:

  • a fully completed, signed Study Visa Application Form
  • a current passport valid for at least six months
  • expired passports that show previous travel to the in the country in which you will study;
  • application fee;
  • a passport-type photograph;
  • an original letter of acceptance sent by the school;
  • proof of ability to pay for the first year of the study program in the United States;
  • any documentation that might demonstrate your personal situation in the U.S. and your incentive to return to the United States after the completion of your studies abroad. In the past, some applicants have found the following to be useful: a reference letter from your employer verifying applicant's job, length of time in the job, and salary, a receipt(s) for payment of applicant's salary, a bank account statement showing recent activity in the applicant's bank account, applicant's business card, permission from an authorized entity to operate the business, your most recent tax payment receipt, your company's charter document, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and a certificate of land ownership. Please note that just bringing these documents will not guarantee the issuance of a visa.

The visa application will normally be adjudicated at the conclusion of the interview. You may be required to present additional information, or to await further processing, before their applications can be finally decided. Thus, you are encouraged to apply as far in advance as possible before their intended departure, so that enough time is allowed to resolve any procedural problems, should any come up. The Embassy does not recommend anyone purchase nonrefundable tickets until a visa is issued.

Family Members

If you are married and/or have minor children, they may obtain nonimmigrant visas to accompany you. Each family member must obtain their own form from the school and meet all other visa eligibility requirements, including evidence that they will have sufficient funds for their support, and that they will depart when your course ends. Spouses and children of students may not accept employment at any time. School-age minor children may attend public schools on F-2 or M-2 status, and are required to attend school if residing in the United States.

Study Visa Issuance

After the student visa has been authorized, applicants are generally told to return two or three days later to pick up their passports with valid visas. Applicants who need their visas sooner than what the Consular Officer states should consult with the Consular Officer at the time of the interview.

You or a representative may return to pick up the passport with study visa at the appointed time. If you send a representative, the representative must bring with him/her the pickup ticket and know the name of the applicants whose passport s/he is acquiring.

Once you receive your visa, you should verify the accuracy of the data on it. Be sure to check your name, date of birth, gender, photo, passport number, validity, type and name of educational institution where you plan to study. Inform the Consular Section personnel if you encounter any errors.

Validity of a Student Visa

Visa validity varies from country to country. Some student visas are issued for up to five years. Other visas are valid for shorter periods. The expiration date of the visa notes the last day you may use the visa to apply to enter the country where you plan to study. The expiration date is not the last day you are allowed to remain in the country. Every time you plan to travel to the country where you will study, remember to assure your passport is valid for at least six months from the time you plan to depart that country. If your passport which has the student visa in it expires before you complete your course of study, you may travel with two passports -- one expired passport with a valid visa and a new passport.

Interview at Port-of-Entry

A valid visa does not guarantee you will be allowed to enter the destination country. An immigration officer will interview you when you arrive. He or she will determine if you are eligible to enter and for how long. In the event the immigration officer finds you ineligible, you will not be allowed to enter and will return to the United States immediately. The immigration officer may take your picture and fingerprints again.

Usually, you are not allowed to enter the country where you will study more than 30 days before your program begins. If you are returning to continue your studies, you can usually enter more than 30 days in advance of the new school term.

Help with the Study Visa Application

In most cases, the application process for obtaining a study visa is more complex and difficult than the process for getting a tourist or business visa. There are several more steps, forms, and documents involved. You may find yourself confused and frustrated. One way to minimize the difficulty is to employ a professional visa service. Their experience can contribute to a smooth application process.

Relocating a foreign country requires a great deal of preparation. Contracting a visa service to accompany the application process is a good investment. It can free you to focus on other tasks. If you think this might be something you want to do, Travel Visa Pro comes highly recommended.

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