Student visas are issued to applicants looking to study in a foreign country. While obtaining admission into a foreign university is the basic requirement, there is no denying the importance of a study visa for study abroad. Every country has its own set of immigration regulations, including proof of funds, documents needed from students, and other aspects. Several common attributes are evident across all types of student visas as well.
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Documents Needed for Student Visas
Every document required for student visa applications should be carefully noted. While documents and guidelines may vary across countries, there are some common documents required to apply for a student visa in most countries.
A valid passport is a primary document with your application. The validity requirement varies from one country to another. Some nations may desire validity until the end of your educational program, even when applying for your student visa. Some countries may allow applications but ask you for validity which covers the duration of intended residence. You should ensure that there are at least two blank pages in your passport for stamping at least. Even if you have an expired passport, submitting a copy of the same is mandatory.
2. Student proof
Bonafide proof of being a student is the second important document that you will require. You should prove your eligibility for the student visa by furnishing the admission confirmation for an institution in that country.
3. Proof of Funds
Most nations will require aspirants to prove that they can cover tuition costs and living costs for a particular period. Several countries have fixed amounts as proof of funds; some have more extensive regulations. For example, some European countries have computed minimum living costs based upon Government regulations. Students should accordingly furnish proof of this amount being available with them in their bank accounts.
4. Proficiency in Language
Several countries also require proof of language proficiency. Students should prove their communication fluency in the language that will be their instructional medium in the country. Since most students plan higher studies in English-speaking nations, they will have to offer proof of communication skills (both verbal and written) in the language. Test scores like IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE will work in this case. If you are taking a course in any other language, i.e., German or Spanish for instance, you will have to furnish proof of certification in that language as per required standards. While universities may take results of several tests, requirements are fixed for student visas at times. For example, TOEFL is not accepted for visa applications in the UK. You should always check whether a particular test is accepted by the immigration department of your preferred country. A minimum score is also mandated through visa regulations. Admission may be available at some universities for a lower score, although the visa application will be rejected.
Some countries may require health test results or blocked accounts, among other information, along with SOPs for visas. Check everything carefully before applying.
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Types of Student Visas
There are several types of student visas that you should know more. The basic categorization is done likewise:
1. Based on the duration of the program
Depending upon the duration/tenure of the course/program applied for, the student visa is often divided by the nations into long-term or short-term visas. The visas are provided to students planning to apply for a short language/diploma certificate course and the whole tenure is restricted to 3 months or 90 days. Long-term visas are mostly given to those planning for degree courses going beyond 3 months, including smaller certificate programs and internships of 6 months and likewise.
2. Based on student/program type
Irrespective of the course duration, some countries categorize student visas based upon the student or program type. This may either be the degree level, i.e., graduate, undergraduate or doctoral, type of student, i.e., exchange student or someone applying for a diploma or vocational course, and so on. The visas will also depend on the tenure to an extent, but it is not the only determining factor.
Here are visa types based on the country in question:
The Student Direct Stream has been unveiled in Canada for fast-tracking study permits. For student visas in Canada, applicants will have to provide tuition payment proof for the first year of study, proof of guaranteed investment certificate, and take a medical examination.
Those staying for more than 90 days will require visas to enter Germany. Student or applicant visas are available. A residence permit is needed to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
3. New Zealand
Staying longer than 3 months in New Zealand for any course will necessitate a student visa.
Upon getting an acceptance letter from a higher education institution in the country, you will have to apply for the Student’s Pass. An Immigration Exemption Order or Dependent Pass will help you avoid this stage of the proceedings.
5. United Kingdom (UK)
Adult students will require a Tier 4 visa. Before acceptance, you will require the prospective student visa and if staying less than six months, then the Student Visitor visa will be needed.
6. United States (USA)
There are three types of student visas, namely the J, F, and M. However, students should first be accepted into a U.S. institution that is certified under SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program).
Read More: Study Abroad Checklist
Applying for a Student Visa
The procedure of applying for a student visa starts with a letter of acceptance from the university. Thereafter, applicants can start the procedure for obtaining their visas. There are usually two methods of getting a visa:
1. Online application method
This is quicker and more convenient. Aspirants can simply apply for a student visa after creating their profiles. The forms only must be filled up and submitted.
2. Offline application method
Candidates will have to download application forms, fill up details and submit offline at designated centers.
The next step in the process involves payment of the application fee. Each candidate will have to fork out this charge for the application procedure. The final process includes submission of the same in tandem with all supporting documents. A visa is given for a specified duration and if the study permit expires before completing the course, the renewal of the same is advised. You should be applying a minimum of 30 days before the expiration of your current permit. Applications can be submitted via mail or even online.