Mapping Global Student Visa Requirements
Friday, Feb 15
Studying overseas is the dream of many Indian students. Overseas education offers many new avenues as far as courses are concerned. A student may take up subjects in overseas universities that may not be available in his own country. Also, a student can study in a foreign university that has high world rankings, thus making his profile more dynamic. Other benefits of studying abroad are exposure to a foreign culture, networking across countries and research opportunities at specialized institutes.
Naturally, after getting an offer from a desired university, the major point of concern for an aspiring student is getting visa approval. This is a grey area for most students as Student Visa Requirements vary across countries.
Visa requirements for students aspiring to study abroad are listed. It is advised to take into consideration the following points:
The most basic requirement for getting a visa is a valid passport. Most visa regulations need the passport to be valid for at least six months on date of visa application. The university provides a Letter of Acceptance after a student has been selected for a program. Post this, additional documents confirming student acceptance and initial tuition fee payment are required, for e.g. I-20 in case of US, CAS in case of UK and eCoE for Australia. These are essential documents for a Visa application.
In case of European countries, apostilization of specific documents needs to be done from the Ministry of External Affairs in India.
Overseas universities need an English Language Proficiency test certification to assess a student’s English proficiency. IELTS, TOEFL and PTE scores are widely accepted. Visa authorities of certain countries like Canada also specify a basic test score before granting visa. Specialized tests for e.g. GRE and GMAT are also required in some cases.
Certain countries like UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore etc. require students to undergo medical examination to ensure that they meet the prescribed health requirements.
Police verification is an essential component of student visa requirements in many countries. It is meant to demonstrate that the student has no history of illegal activities and to ensure that he will not cause legal problems during his tenure in the proposed country of study.
This is a very important part of visa prerequisites that needs to be demonstrated before a visa is granted. Evidence of availability of tuition fee payment needs to be shown which includes payment for the first year/semester, or for the entire tenure of study, depending on the university and the country.
Parents who act as the student’s sponsors must demonstrate proof of liquid funds that must be enough to cover living expenses during their stay abroad. These expenses include rent for accommodation, food, and travel expenses. Living expenses vary widely across countries and currencies. Also, living in urban areas or metro cities is more expensive. All these factors need to be taken into account to demonstrate the minimum funds. Documented proof of a scholarship, fee waiver or fellowship needs to be provided, if the student has received any such concession/award.
Many students may need education loans to finance their education fee and living expenses. It must be checked as to what is the maximum amount that can be sanctioned by the lending organization and whether it is sufficient to cover the fee and living expense in the university that the student has been accepted into. The type of lending institutions also matters. For example, Australian visa authorities need the loan to be sanctioned by commercial banks approved by RBI.
The student must ensure that he has a valid Health Insurance and a documented proof of this needs to be provided. Examples include OSHC Cover in case of Australia. Additionally, it is advised to have a valid travel insurance to cover any emergency that may arise.
Many countries also demand a proof of confirmation of accommodation. In many cases the student may stay in the university campus while he may also have to look for off campus accommodations locally. In such cases, affirmation from the landlord is necessary.
It must be checked as to what is the maximum part-time work allowed under a student visa. Different countries have their own permissible limits.
The New Zealand student visa allows part-time work up to 20 hours a week while Sweden visa places no restriction as far as part-time work hours are concerned.
Most visa authorities hold a single visa interview, on the basis of which visa is granted. The visa interview is conducted to test the student’s intention and also get a background check on him. The US places a high weightage on its Visa Interview and a USA Student Visa can be successfully obtained only after the visa officer is satisfied of the student’s intent.
Telephonic interviews are conducted by New Zealand visa authorities for which a student needs to be prepared.
The visa, needed for European countries falling in the Schengen area, allows the student visa holder permission to travel as a tourist within all the 26 countries included like Italy, Germany, France, Spain etc.
All such details must be taken into account before applying for a Study Abroad Student Visa. Documentary proof of funds and visa interview are the most crucial parts of the entire process for obtaining an overseas student visa. It is advised that the student starts preparations well in advance, taking care of documentation and responses to likely questions asked, to ensure a hassle-free entry to his/her destination country.