If you are planning on studying abroad then you may need a visa to enter the country in which you are going to be a student. Here are the most frequently asked questions we hear about student visas.
What is a visa?
A visa is a document that gives you permission to enter a foreign country. A student visa is only given out to people who have a confirmed place of study at a registered institution for a set period of time.
Different countries have different visa requirements, so your first port of call should be the embassy website of the country you want to study in.
When should you apply for a student visa?
You should always apply for a visa before you travel to your study destination. You will normally have to wait until you have a confirmed offer from a university before you can submit your visa application and you may have to apply in person at an embassy.
Allow enough time for any complications or exchange of information to take place before you intend to travel. Your university should be able to provide you with more information.
What type of visa do you need?
The exact name and type of visa you require will vary from country to country but it is likely you will need a non-immigrant student/study visa.
This basically means that you do not intend to take up permanent residence in that country and that your stay is for temporary study.
However, to find out the exact type of visa you need and therefore, the appropriate application form, go to the embassy or consulate of your intended study destination in your home country (this must be where you legally live or where you are a national).
How do you apply?
Before you apply for your visa, you may need proof of your place on a program from the university or college that you are going to attend.
The first thing you should do is contact the university or college to clarify which visa you need to apply for and/or to ask them to send you the necessary documentation for your application.
Once your university or college has informed you of the appropriate visa you need to apply for and any documentation that you need to submit, you should be ready to apply.
In some countries, applications can be done in a number of ways, by post, courier, in person or online for example. If you are unsure, visit the embassy or consulate of your host country and ask how you can apply for a visa or search their website.
A visa is not valid if false information has been given or important facts were omitted at the time of application.
How long will it take to get your visa?
Visa processing can take as little as a couple of days to several months depending on the country and your nationality. Make sure you leave enough time to get your visa sorted as trying to rush an application is not advised – and can even mean you miss out on your place.
Can you extend your visa while you're there?
This completely depends on where you study. In some countries extending your visa is very simple, while in others it is challenging and you may even have to leave the country to extend/renew your visa.