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Applying for a Student Visa

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From July, 2009

This page is specifically for U.S. students who want to study in the U.K. Getting your student visa can be just a bit more complicated than you might think, especially if, like me, you decide that you absolutely must go to London a month early, after deciding at the last possible minute to go to culinary school at all, and then you neglect to keep careful track of every single item of paperwork necessary for the completion of your visa.

This is the way the application process is designed to work.

Step One: Get a school to accept you. Yes. I do know that this seems obvious, but there is really no way to get your student visa without having some very, very specific information.

Step Two: Apply online for a student visa. (You don’t have to apply online, it’s just incredibly easy to do so.)  Check here to see whether or not you need to apply! You can apply online and you can check here for frequently asked questions, links to other useful sites, and also a link for applications for students already residing in the U.K. Applying for a student visa does cost a fair amount of money; paying the application fee is just a part of the process. At the end of the application, you will have the ability to make an appointment for biometric scanning. Print everything. Print everything twice!

Step Three: Pay tuition and start saving money! You will need a bursar’s letter with an original receipt stating that you have paid your tuition before you will be allowed to finalize your application. In order to get your visa, you will also have to prove that you have enough money to live in the U.K. In order to live in London, you need to have the equivalent of ₤800 per month for every month that you will be residing in London. In advance. That sum must be in your bank account, untouched, for a full 30 days before your application can be finalized. You will need to provide bank statements or print-outs from your bank. If you go to the bank to get your statement printed out, make sure to have your banker or teller stamp the print-outs. Don’t bother printing your statements yourself; the official stamp must be on your documents.

Step Four: Biometric scanning. This is easy. Go wherever you made your appointment in step two, bring your print-out of the appointment form, your passport, and a good attitude, get your digital photo taken and your fingerprints scanned. I may have just been incredibly lucky, but I was in and out of that appointment in about five minutes. Don’t be late! Okay. This is what you could do. Assuming you aren’t me.

Step Five: Assemble required paperwork, passport sized photos, and copies of your passport and mail them to the appropriate consulate listed on your application.

That’s not me. Up next: My trip to the British Consulate in Chicago!!!

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