Oh Student Visa of Mine…


passport

Oh, the visa process…. so not fun. After going through all the steps involved, it really makes me wonder how so many people end up studying overseas each year. I would think most people would give up half way through! They have made the process a little bit easier in applying for a visa, though. You can fill out the application online, and provide the necessary supporting documents via mail. The online application is fairly simple, although there are a quite a few questions: things like your name, DOB, address, address while in the UK, institution of study, your reasons for choosing the UK, criminal history, etc. are submitted within this process.

For students, your university should provide a visa letter for you, outlining your course of study and noting that you are eligible for a visa from their perspective. After you have secured your visa letter, you also need to pay the visa application/processing fee, around 145 GBP ($235), depending on your intent and length of study. Lastly, they need to ensure that you have the funds to pay for your stay while in the UK. For me, this equates to the cost of tuition (14,192 GBP) + cost of living. Cost of living is estimated based on where you will be living (they require a greater amount of accessible funds for those living in London) and the length of your stay. In my case, this is about 9000 GBP. You need to have these funds in your account for 28 days prior to the visa OR have a recipe that the items are paid, per the institution. The visa process is a points-based system now: you need 40 points total, basically. You get 30 points for your visa letter and 10 points for the funding. If you’re missing either component, it’s a no-go.

Also, they’ve implemented this biometric scan requirement, a fairly quick process, but you do have to find the closest center to your hometown (mine is San Francisco, CA). It takes five to ten minutes, in which they scan your fingerprints and take a digital picture to keep on file. The reasons behind this are two-fold: 1) to keep students safe from identity theft, and 2) to help keep terrorism and crime at bay.

According to the information on processing times, most student visas are processed in 10 days (92%) and 100% of visas are processed within 15 days — pretty quick once you get all of the relevant information in! Now, it doesn’t sound hard, but it’s a little tedious. The main problem is that all of the separate components are not in your hands: you have to wait for your loans to be processed (by a third-party), then you have to wait for your institution to actually go through the loans and take disbursements (per the school’s own time line). You also have to wait to receive your letter (up to 28 days since it’s coming from overseas) and you have to make sure the money is in your account for the required time.

Also, as one of my student friends recently discovered, they require that you send in your ACTUAL PASSPORT. They don’t want a copy of it, they want the physical passport so they can put your visa inside and send it back. If you don’t send it in, it will defintiely delay the process.

In any case, I’m still waiting for my visa letter and waiting for the school to actually PULL the approved funding…

Hopefully all of this will be under control by August! Grrr…

Talk to you guys later!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

 For some awesome visa information, check out this great site!

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