28th February 2022

Studying overseas is a life-changing experience. You will get the opportunity to develop your confidence, meet new friends and enhance your professional network.

Nevertheless, to study abroad you usually need a student visa – and this process can be complicated. Here you will find everything you need to know in order to apply for a student visa in two popular destinations: the USA and Canada. Also, you will learn that in certain cases, an eTA Canada is enough to study in this country.

The Student Visa USA

British citizens must obtain a US student visa to follow an academic programme in an American institution. There are several types of US student visas, the most popular being the F-1 (if you want to study full time in an undergraduate or graduate programme) and the J-1 (if you are planning to stay for only a semester or two).

In order to obtain your visa, you need to apply to a school participating in the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP). Once you are admitted, the school will send you a form (either the I-20 or or the DS-2019) and all of the information concerning your programme. After receiving it, you must pay both the I-901 SEVIS form and the DS-160 form fees online. Do not forget to print the confirmation pages, since you will need to bring them to your visa interview at the US embassy.

After that, contact the embassy to schedule your interview. Prepare well for your visit, since it will be the deciding factor as to whether you will be granted a a US student visa or not. You will need the following items and information (although your particular embassy might require additional forms and documentation):

  • Your passport
  • One copy of your visa photograph
  • Your printed DS-160 and I-901 SEVIS payment confirmation
  • Your visa application fee payment receipt (this is only required if you paid the application fee before your interview)
  • Your original I-20 or DS-2019 form

During the interview, you will have to answer a series of questions about your reasons to study at the school of your choice, and what you intend to do once the programme is finished. You must clearly state that you do not intend to remain in the US once you have completed your programme.

The Student Visa Canada

Thanks to its high-quality education system, Canada is a great destination for students from all over the world. If your study programme is shorter than six months, you won’t need to apply for a study permit – an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA Canada) will be enough. However, if you are planning to study for a longer period, you will have to apply for a study permit. Take into account, however, that your study permit alone will not enable you to enter Canada, and that you will be issued an eTA Canada along with your permit.

The first requirement to apply for your study permit is to obtain an acceptance letter from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (a university recognised by the Canadian government). It is important to apply for your permit as soon as you obtain your letter, as the application process can take up to 90 days. You can submit your application by post or through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.

You will need to upload a series of documents, like your letter of acceptance, a form of proof that you have enough financial resources to study in Canada, and proof that you have no criminal record. Furthermore, you must also submit clinical records showing that you are in good health.

The final step of the application process is the visa interview. Although in most cases this is not necessary, you might be selected for an interview or to have your biometrics taken. This depends on your nationality or your personal situation, but don’t worry! The goal is just to verify that you are a genuine student.

You can find more up-to-date information about how to apply for a student visa to the USA or Canada on the official student visa page of the American and Canadian governments.


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