A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to an overseas port-of entry and request permission from the immigration officer to enter the country. It is important to prepare all the documents and apply for a visa well ahead of time. The information below has been sourced from the relevant government websites to help you get an overview of the visa process. However, please reconfirm the up to date visa guidelines by visiting the official government websites for the respective countries:
- US: The Bureau of Consular Affairs
- Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- UK: Home Office, UK Border Agency
- Germany: Auswärtiges Amt
You should also contact the relevant embassy or consulate in your region to get the exact guidelines for the process.
- Canada Visa Tips
To study in Canada, you may need a study permit or a temporary resident visa. Before you can apply for a study permit, you must have been accepted at a recognized school, university or college in Canada.
To be eligible to study in Canada
1. You must have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada. 2. You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your: tuition fees
living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
3. You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate. 4. You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary. 5. You must satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada when you have completed your studies.
There are 10 steps to apply for a study permit:
- Check the application processing times.
- Obtain and print the application.
- Determine where you will submit your application.
- Collect the documents you need to apply.
- If studying in Quebec, check the provincial guidelines.
- Complete your application for a study permit.
- Pay the correct processing fee.
- Check your application.
- Submit the application form.
- Supply additional information or documents.
Please go to http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-how.asp#step1 for details.
- US Visa Tips
- Most non-US citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the US Here is a short description of the different visa types that involve study:
- F-1, or Student Visa: This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited US college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.
- J-1, or Exchange Visitor: This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the US The "J" visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs.
- M-1, or Student Visa: This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the US
In order to apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate, you must first have a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)-generated document (either an I-20 or DS-2019) issued by a US college or university or Department of State-designated sponsor organization. You will be required to submit this form when you apply for a visa. The US academic institution or program sponsor will provide you with the appropriate SEVIS-generated form only when you have been academically admitted to the institution or accepted as a participant in an exchange program. The institution or program sponsor will also send you additional information about applying for the appropriate visa, as well as other guidance about beginning your academic program in the United States.
Once you have all the required documentation, you may apply for the visa, even if you do not intend to begin your program of study for several months. It is best to apply early for the visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing.
Planning Ahead for the Visa Process, Not Just Your Academic Admission
One of the most important things you can do to ensure that you will be able to arrive in time for the start of your educational program in the United States is to plan well in advance, not only for the academic portion of your US program, but also for the visa process. This means you will need to request and receive the appropriate visa-qualifying document (either an I-20 or DS-2019) from the US institution or program sponsor well in advance of your planned departure to the United States. You will also need to make an appointment for your visa interview. Please consult the US Embassy or Consulate nearest you to find out how long it may take to get an appointment.
Key Points to Keep in Mind
Among the things you?ll need to do is pay the SEVIS fee, pay the visa processing fee, and make an appointment for the visa interview (the procedure will differ on all of these from one US Embassy/Consulate to another, so visit the website of the US Embassy. You should also make sure you have all the documentation you will need when you go for the interview, including the visa-qualifying document (I-20 or DS-2019), financial support documents, proof of payment of the SEVIS and visa fees, and a completed visa application form. Ensure that you complete the visa application correctly by following the Department of State website procedures carefully.
There are two additional points that are important to note.
- The US Embassy/Consulate cannot issue a visa more than 120 days before the actual start of the program in the United States. However, visa applicants are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so. Thus, if the college or university to which you have been admitted states on the I-20 or DS-2019 that the program will start on September 1, a visa cannot be issued before May 1.
- Even if you have been issued a visa to enter the United States, you will not be allowed to enter the country more than 30 days before the start of your program, if you are an initial entry student. Returning students do not have this requirement. Using the earlier example, if the program of study starts on September 1, you will not be permitted to enter the United States until August 1 or later.
- UK Visa Tips
- In the UK, the Visa and immigration requirements depend on the duration of your course and on whether you plan to volunteer, intern or work in the UK.
Student visitor Tier 4 General Student Visa Age 18 years and older 17 years and older Duration of stay in the UK Up to 6 months From 1 week up to 4 years Work status Working, volunteering or interning not permitted in the UK Part time work, including volunteering and internship, permitted Changes/extensions No changes or extensions permitted Changes to length of stay permitted
- Germany Visa Tips
- In order to pursue an academic course in Germany, you will require a National Visa for the purpose of studying, i.e. a Student Visa. This can be obtained from your local German diplomatic mission. To find the addresses of the German embassy and the consulate in your home country, please visit
Applicants who are awaiting acceptance from a university of their choice can apply for a Study Applicant?s visa. Such a visa is valid for three months, but can later be converted into a regular Student Visa after admission into the university.
Another option is the Language Course Visa. But its validity is only for the length of the course and it cannot be converted into a Student Visa later on.
Applicants are required to submit the following documents:
- Valid passport with at least 10 months’ validity
- Three passport pictures
- Demand draft for Visa fee
In addition, you will also require two sets of the following documents:
- Application form
- Declaration on true and complete information
- Cover letter
- Letter of admission from a German university
- University certificates
- Proof of knowledge of English language
- Proof of financial means
- Proof of German knowledge (if the class you are applying for is taught in German)
For further details and latest updates please visit the website of the German Academic Exchange Service or the website of the German Consulate in your home country.
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