Just as you think your dream of education abroad is now coming true… hold on a moment and look at one of the most crucial aspects of your study abroad – obtaining a student visa. Technically, a visa is a grant of permission to study in another country which is issued by the embassy of that country and stamped on your passport. Getting a student visa is a statuary process that requires careful planning and is the final rung of the ladder to get to your dream university anywhere in the world.
Considering the meticulous process of obtaining a student visa, it is a good idea to start as early as 90 days prior to your joining date at the university; sometimes even a simple step like getting an appointment could take over a month. The prerequisites for applying for a student visa are a valid passport and an acceptance letter from the university you wish to go to. Having that in place, one can go online and book an appointment for a personal interview. Not all embassies call you for a personal interview, but it is mandatory for the US. Once an appointment is fixed, you can start preparing the required documents and get geared up for the interview.
Most countries have similar requirements and the documentation from your side could be common. The essential documentation that you must have ready is –
- Visa appointment copy
- Valid passport
- Application fees paid receipt
- Fully and duly filled application form
- Letters of offer / acceptance letters (I 20 for US)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- Test scores
- Previous academic scores / degree certificates
- Sponsor’s letter, if any
- Financial statement including income tax returns
A clear, logical connection between the documents you present and the content and manner in which you answer at the interview could enhance your chances of being granted a visa.
Typically, the aim of the personal interview is to gauge you on two aspects before granting you a visa – your ability to pay for the education and your intent to return back to your home country. Having substantial evidence to prove both these have more than half your work done. Other points of consideration are your test scores, the university in question, your previous academics, work experience, financial standing, family background etc. What certainly will not work in your favour is any indication of you being a potential immigrant in that country. For example, a close family member staying in that country or any such inkling that reflects on your plans of staying there beyond your education period certainly deters your chances drastically.
The reviewing of your application is done from 360° and you are judged from every possible angle to determine whether or not to grant you a student visa. Importantly, in a matter of 5 minutes or less, you must be able to convince the interviewer of your intentions of returning home immediately after completing your education. Thus, most likely to get a positive response are those who establish enough socio-economic ties in their home country.