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The VISA Process for studying abroad – A Primer

Posted on January 29, 2012
abroad study visa

The VISA Process to study abroad

Most of the countries that you will study in have a watertight visa process, governed by strict rules and stipulations. Here we give the student visa guidelines for some of the most preferred countries

The United States of America (USA)

After 9/11, the US government, in particular the homeland security has tightened the student visa regulations as the terrorists who attacked the twin towers had entered the US on student visas. So begin your application process at least 120 days in advance of the day you are supposed to leave
• The first step in the visa process is securing admission in a US institution. When your application is accepted the Designated School Officer (DSO) enters your name in the SEVIS register, generating your I-20 and giving you a unique id number.
• I-20 form is the proof that you have been offered admission to that particular institution and the institution is satisfied that you can afford to study there.
• The I-20 also specifies the date that you are expected to arrive at the institution to begin classes.
• Once you receive the I-20, fill in the SEVIS I-901 form online, at www.fmjfee.com and pay the SEVIS fee. For new students, the SEVIS fee is $200. Take the print out of the receipt.

Over to the consulate

Once the I-20 form is on its way, it is time for you to start putting all the documents in order to apply for the visa.

The documents that you will need are

1. Your I-20 form sent by the institution.
2. The SEVIS I-901 receipt. This fee has to be paid, at least three days before the scheduled visa interview date.
3. DS 156, DS 157 and DS 158 forms, issued by the consulate and downloadable here.
4. A passport size photo.
• The entire visa processing time takes a maximum of 120 days. So ensure that you apply and schedule the visa interview well before that.
• When you schedule a visa interview with the US consulate, you are supposed to pay the visa processing fee of $131. Keep that receipt with you when you go to the interview.
• It is advisable to schedule an interview as soon as you know your I-20 is on its way. You are going abroad for your education so you don’t want to mar your experience because of bureaucratic delays. Schedule all interviews your interviews well before deadlines.

The Interview

The US visa interview is generally centered around three questions
1. Are you a real student?
2. Do you intend to return home after college?
3. Can you pay for your education?

Are you a real student?

The documents that you need to convince the Visa official for this question are
1. Your academic record till date
2. Transcripts from your institution
3. Your GMAT/GRE score-card
4. Letters of admission from the school in the US and financial aid awards if any.

Do you intend to return?

1. Statements from any employer, if any, considering you for a job offer after the completion of your course.
2. Details regarding your assets in this country, virtually anything that proves strong ties with your country.

Can you pay?

1. Bank statements, financial records, income statements of your parents etc that prove your financial stability and your capability to pay the course fees.
2. If your family owns a business, you need to show the business registration documents and other sundry documents that prove your financial strength.
Remember, the visa official assumes that you are an immigrant and will ask questions based on that. It is your job to prove him otherwise.

The United Kingdom

To apply for a UK visa these documents are mandatory
• VAF 9 form, UK student visa form
• CAS letter from University – ORIGINAL & Photocopy (of all docs.)
• Unconditional letter from University
• Transcripts (From Class Xth to the last degree obtained)
• Work-experience certificate (If any)
• First semester fees towards accommodation and tuition paid in full.
Other than that, UK government is very strict regarding your ability to pay for your education. To prove that you need to show
• If you are studying within the London borough you need to show
First year tuition + 7,200 Pounds (Nine months max.)
• Otherwise, the amount shown has to be
First year tuition + 5,400 Pounds (Nine months max.)
The stipulations regarding the funds shown are:
• Funds should be shown, either in your or your parents account for a minimum of 28 days before the date of visa application.
• In case of fixed deposits, a letter from a bank proving the same, dated less than a month from the date of visa application process. The letter also has to confirm the funds can be encashed within a maximum period of 28 Days.
• In case of a loan, a sanction letter dated less than a month from the date of the visa application, along with a copy of terms and conditions or loan agreement. In case bank’s sanction is subject to the issue of visa, the visa official will assume that the funds will be sanctioned it time for the course commencement.
*Please confirm the procedure and requirements with the country specific consulate.This article is based on information collated in 2011.
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