So you have been accepted into the study abroad program at a foreign institution and are getting ready to pack your bags. Hold up, chances are you have one last big hurdle to tackle before you can leave the U.S. behind and start your next adventure in a new country. That hurdle is most likely your visa application. I know it may seem tough as you figure out what documents you need to apply, however I have compiled a list of the 8 documents you need to tackle this hurdle (if you are studying abroad in the UK anyway). The biggest pain of this process was knowing what I needed to send to New York since it seemed that every site I tried to use was very vague on the directions. I am hopeful this list will be of some use to you as you begin the complicated process of obtaining a UK visa. After all, after this your home free!
- A passport. This may seem obvious but the passport is the most important item since this is where the visa clearance is stamped when a decision has been reached at the visa application decision making center. Also, you’ll need to send in all your old passports. This is due to the fact that the people making the decision about your visa in New York will check the old passports to see if you have in fact traveled where you said you did on your application.
- Your online application which you fill out on www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk. You will have to
- a. create an account
- b. make an application
- c. sign a declaration
- d. choose where you will pick up your BRP (for UEA students you can pick it up on campus which I highly recommend)
- e. choose an appointment date at a application centre where you will do your biometrics (fingerprints and photographs)
- f. pay for health insurance and your visa.
- g. print and sign your application before you send it in.
3. CAS statement. This document proves you are given permission to study at a UK institution and is usually emailed to you by a study abroad administrator from the school you will be attending abroad. The most important items on that piece of paper are your CAS number and your course fees. Your course fees should be 0.00 pounds since we pay tuition to SFSU but if you are going to a different institution or country it might be different.
4. Two identical passport sized pictures of you that have been taken of you in the last month. You can’t be smiling in these pictures or wearing any type of hat or hair covering unless for religious reasons. These pictures must be taken from the shoulders up and taken against a white backdrop. The pictures must be 45 mm by 35 mm. I found Walgreens does these pictures for $13 and they work just fine.
5. Your biometric appointment confirmation which will be stamped at your appointment. At your appointment you will get your photograph taken and your fingerprints taken. It is a process that only lasted ten minutes. Make sure you have your appointment confirmation sheet when you go to your appointment. This is what they stamp. The only things you need for this appointment is your passport and confirmation sheet.
6. You will also need to purchase a prepaid shipping label to send your documents to New York and back. I paid $53 for mine, a non-priority service, but I know people who paid $200 for priority service which allowed them to find out in a day if there visa was approved or not. For non-priority applicants, like me, you find out in around 15 days or so. However, I heard back from them in 6 days and got my documents back in 7.
Something to take into account is that you MUST make sure you have enough funds to cover your housing costs in your bank account for a month before you pay for your visa. Since I am living outside of London I needed to show $12,000 but this amount varies on what type of housing you get and where your school is located. To prove you can pay your housing for the whole year to the people making a decision on your visa you will need
- An official print out of your bank statement with your banks logo on it from the bank or your computer which shows all your past transactions for the last month and the total amount of money you have in your account after 30 days. You will need to convert this end balance into pounds.
- Luckily, we can use our parents bank accounts but to do that your parents will need to write a letter stating that you are in fact allowed to use their money and that you are related to them.You also must send your official birth certificate to New York to prove you are related to your parents. If you are adopted you can send in your adoption papers.
These 8 things are the only things you need to send in to New York. Hopefully this guide is able to help you out as you begin your study abroad journey. I assure you after you get your visa, you will be able to breathe easier and start mentally preparing for the year abroad such as I am starting to do now.