Important steps to take before applying for a student visa

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Preparing to apply for a student visa can be overwhelming especially if you see the process as a series of huge, insurmountable tasks. If people have done it successfully in the past, then you can as well. It is always best to keep a positive and growth mindset when intending to apply for any type of visa. Keeping a positive mindset helps to lower levels of distress when the pressure gets worse. 

It reduces stress by eliminating any negative self-talk that may have sipped into you due to fear. A growth mindset on the other hand helps you take the bold step of seeking information, and knowledge concerning things you don’t know about the application and your country of study while encountering any challenge.   

One of the first steps you need to take when applying for a student visa is to:

Know what visa it is you need to apply for:

Your country of study will determine which visa you need to apply for. As an example, the United Kingdom offers two types of student visas – the short-term student visa and the Tier (4) General student visa.

The short-term student visa will be required if you have been offered a 6- or 11-month study course. Most international students who arrive from outside the EU require the Tier (4) General Student visa. Ages 16 and up are also eligible to apply for this. 

On the other hand, the United States offers three types of student visas. The F-1 student visa, the M-1 student visa, and the J-1 student visa.

An F-1 student visa is required for students who wish to attend high schools or colleges in the United States to study in English. A general type of visa is most likely the one you’ll need.

The M-1 student visa is the visa you’ll need if you’re applying for vocational or non-academic study. It is also a short-term visa. 

The J-1 student visa is the visa you’ll need if you’re participating in an exchange program like an internship, or studying abroad for a semester or two as part of your home country’s curriculum.

Having learned about the different types of visas available for different countries, you can now select the visa that best fits your program needs.

Visit the official website of your study country:

There’s no alternative to visiting the official website of your study country. A large portion of the information you are seeking will most likely be posted on the country’s official website every so often. As often as you can, visit the website to see if any information has been changed. You can also get some more information and clarity when you visit the embassy of your study country to make inquiries in person. The third source of information that will help you is right on the website of the school you plan to attend. Universities usually provide help for international students via their various communication channels. Never be in a hurry to apply for a student visa without the right information or you may just repeat the process if anything goes wrong.

Ensure you have the required documents: 

Again, going over the official website of your destination country and of the school you are applying to will help you know what specific documents are required for your application. You can find a list of some important documents required for a student visa application on gov.uk. Some of these documents include but are not limited to the following:

  • A current passport or other travel documents
  • A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your course provider
  • Proof of Fund
  • Proof of parental or guardian consent if you’re below 18
  • Medical test results (Tuberculosis and Covid 19)

Please note that the above list does not substitute for the information you’ll get on the official website of your destination country and that of the school you are applying to.

Secure your Proof of Fund:

Proof of Fund is a document that proves that you have enough money/resources to cater to your relocation, tuition, and living costs. A Proof of Fund shows you either have proof of a student loan, a scholarship, or savings or that you are being sponsored by a family member or guardian. Without Proof of Funds, your application will be rejected. If you are applying to school abroad, be sure to have Proof of Funds that shows any of the above. You also need to ensure that your Proof of Fund document is void of any errors like misspelling of names, currency conversion discrepancies, etc.

Be accepted to study in a college:

Before you begin applying for a visa, you have to have applied to and be accepted to an institution of study. There are a ton of affordable schools to look out for if you intend to apply to study abroad. Check out our post on 10 Cheap schools in the United States and how to apply to them to help you narrow your search. You can begin your visa application process once you have been granted admission into your school of choice. 

Secure your Form I-20 or CAS from your institution of study:

Once you have been granted admission into your choice of institution, you’ll be issued a document that shows your eligibility to study in your destination country. For international students with admission to a school in the US, a Form I-20 will be issued while for international students admitted to an institution in the UK, a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will be issued. 

Pay the Form I-901 SEVIS FEE:

After you have been issued a Form I-20 or CAS, you’ll be required to pay the Form I-901 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is the Students and Exchange Visitors Systems fee. It is a non-refundable fee required to help the consulate with processing your visa. You can get a ton of information regarding the purpose of the SEVIS fee by visiting the official website of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office. You can also pay your SEVIS fee via the Vesti app (Please include a link to the app). Note that the SEVIS fee is different from the visa application fee. It is compulsory and proof that you have made this payment will be required during your visa interview.

Apply for your visa:

The Form DS-160 is the appropriate form to fill out when you are ready to apply for a visa. It is important to read through the form carefully. Ensure that you have the documents required for filling out Form DS-160 before you begin filling out your application. Avoid errors as this can cause a delay or even denial of your visa being granted.

Prepare for an interview:

When you are done filling out and submitting your application for a student visa, you’ll be contacted at the embassy of your destination country to come for a visa interview. Taking intentional steps to prepare for your interview increases your chance of success. It is important to know that different countries require different documents and demeanor for the interview. Firstly, Visit the official website of your study country to read details about the required documents to bring along for an interview, make inquiries from friends and family members about their experience at their visa interview, and read valuable information on trusted blogs to help you know what to do to prepare for a visa interview. We have put together some resources to help you ace your visa interview. You can access them by visiting these links Acing your US Visa Interview, what not to do, 5 UK visa tips every applicant must know

We wish you the very best as you kick-start your application process.

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