International students who wish to study in England, or elsewhere in the UK, will need to obtain a Student Visa that allows them to remain in the UK legally throughout their program of study. Applying for a Student Visa is not difficult; however, it is a critical step in planning for success as you prepare to study in the UK.
To help you better prepare your application and application documents, here is a checklist of what you will need:
1. A completed Visa Application Form (VAF) and appropriate appendices, which generally includes a VAF9 form for personal details and the VAF9 Appendix 8 for Tier 4 General Student Self-Assessment.
2. An original Visa Letter from your sponsor, which in this case is the educational institution where you have been accepted as a student.
3. A valid passport from your home country that allows you to travel abroad.
4. A recent passport-size color photograph that shows your full face without a hat, head covering or sunglasses, and taken against a white background. (Head coverings worn on religious or cultural grounds are allowed, but must not cover your face.)
5. Your biometric details (fingerprints and photograph), which must be provided in person at an approved collection center. Find your nearest center by visiting the Home Office UK Border Agency website at www.ukvisas.gov.uk.
6. Proof of funds for accommodations and expenses while in the UK. This can be in the form of bank statements or a loan confirmation letter from a bank or other financial institution. If your funds are in a bank account, you must show that the funds have been in the account for at least 28 days.
7. Any additional supporting documents listed in the VAF9 Tier 4 Guidance Notes, which can be found at the Home Office UK Border Agency website, www.ukvisas.gov.uk.
8. A Visa application fee.
9. Students who plan to study in a Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist program will also need an original letter from their Postgraduate Dean and original transcripts or certificates showing your qualifications.
Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to complete the VAF9 form online. Visit Visa4UK at www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk to see if your home country is on the supported countries list. Regardless of your home country, the VAF9 Appendix 8 for Tier 4 General Student Self-Assessment will need to be completed and returned manually.
To confirm which Visa Application Form and supporting documents you need, contact your local embassy for more information. To ease the process further, it is always a good idea to have additional documents to show that you do not have a criminal background and are an upstanding student and citizen, such as a criminal background check and letters of recommendation.