Student Visa process

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Once the application process is done, we wait with bated breath about the result. Once the result is out and we rejoice at getting admitted into our desired university or compromise with our second choice, we now have to understand the procedures to actually visit those countries for stay abroad. While the rules and regulations for different countries are different, they all require some things that are common amongst all of them.

The first and foremost thing that is required is your passport. Some states require that you have a valid passport for upto 12 months after your return to your native country. If you don't have a passport, it must be noted that passport application process typically takes around 4-6 weeks to get completed. However, there is an expedited process as well, available against a fee. However, some countries require you to surrender your passport well in advance (upto one month prior to the visa date). Therefore it is ideal that one plans their activities accordingly. Also, it must be remembered that personal travels and leisure travels would be impacted if you surrender your passport and therefore activities must be planned accordingly.

All Visas are available against a fee, and therefore would require a horde of documents. Carry along with you a supply of passport sized photographs as well. For some countries, there are agreements for Visa-Free entry programs. However, these are not typically applicable for students wishing to study. The only exception to this program is pursuit of those courses that won't offer a degree or won't add to your credits. While some countries take a Visa interview on a compulsory basis, others do it on a random basis. So be prepared for that also.

You would also need the admission letter from the college. While some countries ask you to submit the original, some are content with just the photocopies of the same. Some European countries ask for a means of scholarship or funding. If the college is funding your education in part of in full, you might also need, on the college's official letterhead, a statement mentioning what are funded (like tuition, accommodation etc.). The same goes with any other organisation funding your stay over there. Countries like UK, Singapore, Norway etc. also ask you a statement from your bank (on their official letterhead, of course) mentioning your creditworthiness and acknowledging that a stipulated amount of minimum balance is available with the candidate. UK sometimes also you for proof of ability to pay the tuition fees. Any document or acknowledgement required to be obtained from anywhere must always be on the official letterhead. This is particularly relevant for countries like UK where Visa is allotted on points basis. 40 points are required to be eligible for a Visa-Free.

For other countries, the degree of friendship between the country and the course that you have opted to pursue also carries an impact in deciding whether to allot the Visa or not. For some, your intention to return home after your course is important too. For the English-speaking countries, proof of proficiency in English is another requirement. If mode of instruction in your high school or graduation was in English, of a satisfactory level, then you are eligible. Otherwise, some preseribed certificate assessing your proficiency in English is required.

Work related aspects differ from country to country too. Students are generally not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week although it might be lower or higher on the said educational Visa. While it seem like these regulations are unrealistic and unduly harsh, the primary aim is to prevent students putting themselves at a financial loss, and to prevent bogus colleges from luring gullible students. This is particularly true with regard to certain events that have come to light in the US recently. Some countries also require you to have a police clearance so as to ensure you don't have any criminal background that may affect your stay here.

The next important part to be considered is the actual visa processing time. It may take from as little as a few days to months. It is important to read up thoroughly on that and apply well in advance so that we are not stuck waiting for the visa to travel. The other option that one usually exercises is to take a tourist Visa, and then, when in the country, actually change it to the student Visa. Once again, go through the website for details on the procedure to do it. The website is where you'll find the application too. In case a student is facing some problems with his/her visa, they should contact the consulate directly. If that still doesn't resolve the problem, the education adviser for the university can assist in the matter suitably, from contacting the consulate to lodging an issue with the sub committee.

For European countries, you are also required to state your presence in the country within a stipulated timeline. This involves going to the nearest station with your documents and registering yourself in the country. European countries and some non-EU countries also require you to have both life and travel insurance for the period of stay in the host country. European Union has a membership card for Insurance that you can log on to their website to apply online. This is prerequisite too, so once again, the rules are to be read thoroughly. Some require clearence from your banks too to mention that you're not in any debt. If you have taken an educational loan, they require you to get an acknowledgement stating that you have the required credit to repay the loan. The loan documents are sometimes required to be attached along with the application to be made.

As always, please be mindful of the deadlines and the timetable. Let not a forgotten timeline and miscalculated schedule be the reason you could not make it in time for the start date of your coursee or your program.

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