Student Visa requirements for the US

Everything you need to know about USA visas.

The US Government provides an opportunity to international students to study in the country but as a prerequisite, you’ll have to obtain a student visa first. The visa you need will depend on the type of study you want to pursue in the country.

The U.S. Government offers three different student visa types:

  • F Student Visa: used to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at an English language institute
  • J Exchange Visa: for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university study
  • M Student Visa: for non-academic or vocational study or training in the U.S.

You must first apply and be accepted by a U.S. school or university that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted, you will receive a Form I-20 from the institution’s international student office, which is a paper record of your information in the database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Documentation

You will need the following documentation for your visa application:

  • A valid passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S. (unless exempt by country specific agreements)
  • Acceptance at a SEVP approved school and your Form I-20
  • Application fee payment for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
  • Non-immigrant visa application and the Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • One or two photographs in the requested format

 Additional documentation may also be required:

  • Academic preparation documents such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates
  • Evidence that you have sufficient funds to maintain your living expenses throughout the period of your stay in the U.S. This may include:
    • Bank statements
    • Financial undertaking by a sponsor to cover your accommodation and living costs
    • A scholarship program
  • Evidence that you will leave the U.S. once you have completed your course of study. This can be in the form of an air ticket out of the U.S. to your home country

You may also have to appear for a personal interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. 

F-1 Student Visa

Most students who wish to pursue their studies overseas opt for the F-1 Student Visa. There are three major steps to it, being:

    • SEVIS Fee and I-20 Form collection: Once you pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee, you are given an I-20 form from the school or college. You need to present the duly filled I-20 form during your F-1 interview.
    • VISA fee and Form collection: Next, you have to pay your visa fee at the designated bank and collect the visa form. You need to duly fill this form and carry it with you during your interview.
    • VISA interview: You can schedule a visa interview with the US embassy in your country. The waiting time may vary depending on the visa type. On successful completion of the interview, you get the visa 120 days in advance. Then you can move to the US only 30 days before your program start date.

When you arrive in the U.S., you must:

  • Not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before your study program begins
  • Contact your designated school official when you first enter the U.S.
  • Contact your designated school official again, no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20

Making sure your visa remains valid

Once you get your visa, there are a number of things you need to do to ensure it remains valid, including:

  • Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued the visa
  • Following the regulations associated with that purpose

While studying in the U.S., you will need to observe the following rules:

  • You must attend and pass all of your classes. If you are finding your studies too difficult, you should speak with your designated school official (DSO) immediately
  • If you think you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20, you must talk to your DSO about requesting a possible program extension
  • You must take a full course of study each term. If you cannot study full-time, contact your DSO immediately
  • You cannot drop below a full course of study without consulting with your DSO

You can find out more about each type of visa on the U.S. Government’s Department of State website. Fix a free appointment with your our counsellor to understand the process in detail.

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Visa requirements in Canada

Everything you need to know about Canadian visas

To study in Canada, you will need a Canadian Study Permit (or student visa), which, depending on your home country, will be either an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) or a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

  • Canadian Study Permit – this is not a visa, it’s a permit which allows you to study in Canada. If you hold a study permit, you must remain enrolled and make reasonable and timely progress towards completing your course.
  • Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) – this is a recent requirement for visa-exempt, non-U.S. foreign nationals. Your eTA is valid for five years or until the passport you used to apply for the eTA expires (whichever is sooner), and can be used to travel to Canada many times.
  • Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) – for students who have been accepted into a designated learning institution and are unable to apply for the eTA.

It is important that you make sure you have the correct study permit for your international studies before you leave for Canada.

Ensure you have the right ‘Study Permit’ by getting information from the Canadian immigration authority known as the Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Canada (IRCC). Your counsellor will help you access the latest information and connect you with authorised migration experts.

To find out if you need an eTA or a visitor visa, and how to apply, visit the Government of Canada website.

Applying for your study permit

To apply for your study permit, you will need:

  • An acceptance letter from your education institution, and
  • A valid passport or travel document

You must also:

  • 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
  • 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)
  • Be in good health (you may need to complete a medical exam)
  • Convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your studies

To prove you can financially support yourself and any accompanying family members, you may be asked to provide:

  • Documentation of a Canadian bank account in your name, if money has been transferred to Canada
  • Documentation of a student/education loan from a financial institution
  • Bank statements
  • A bank draft in convertible currency
  • Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees
  • A letter for the person or institution providing your funding
  • Proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are enrolled in a Canadian-funded educational program

You can visit the Government of Canada website for more information about applying for your study permit, including eligibility, fees and processing times.

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Student visa requirements for the UK

Everything you need to know about the UK visas.

The UK Government provides an opportunity to international students to study in the country but as a prerequisite, you’ll have to obtain a student visa first.

The visa you need will depend on your age and the type of study you wish to pursue. Here’s an overview of the types of study visas and their application requirements:

Student visa type

Who it’s for

When to apply

Arrival in the UK

Tier 4 (General) student visa

Students aged 16 or over who have been offered a place in a course at a UK educational institution.

Three months before the start of your course.

Up to one week before if your course lasts six months or fewer.
Up to one month before if your course lasts more than six months.

Tier 4 (Child) student visa

Students aged between four and 17 who have been offered a place in a course at a UK educational institution with a valid Tier 4 sponsor, such as an independent fee-paying school.

Three months before the start of your course.

Up to one week before if your course lasts six months or fewer.
Up to one month before if your course lasts more than six months.

Short-term study visa

Students offered a place in a short-term course in the UK, such as an English language course or training course.

Three months before your date of travel to the UK.

Depends on your nominated travel dates.

*For detailed information, please visit the Gov.UK website

To be eligible for a Tier 4 student visa, you must:

  • Have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • Be able to speak, read, write and understand English
  • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course.

When applying for your Tier 4 visa, you will generally need:

  • A current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • Evidence of funds to provide your living expenses for the duration of your course
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number and documents used to obtain CAS
  • Passport-sized colour photograph
  • Tuberculosis screening (if required)
  • Assessment documentation
  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (if required)

Additional documents may also be needed if you are:

  • Not a citizen of the country you are applying from
  • Under 18 years of age
  • Have family (dependents)

If any of your supporting documents is not in English, you will need to have it translated. Each translated document must be dated, and include the translator’s name and signature and confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document.

Applying for your visa online

You must apply for your student visa application online using the British Government’s official Gov.UK website (unless you are applying from North Korea, in which case you can use a hardcopy form).

You can apply up to three months before your intended date of travel to the UK. Your application date is the date when your application fee is paid.

English language requirements

You must provide evidence of your knowledge of the English language when you apply for your visa. This usually means passing a secure English language test.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have minimum English language requirements for reading, writing, listening and speaking according to your level of study. Your university or school (sponsor) may have different English language requirements. 

There is a chance you may be interviewed by a UKVI officer as part of the visa application process. If you cannot hold a simple conversation without an interpreter, you may be refused entry to the UK, regardless of your English language results.

Biometric residence permit

As part of your application, you must also obtain a biometric residence permit (BRP) from UKVI. You will need to make an appointment with UKVI to have your fingers and thumbs scanned and a digital photo taken of your face.

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