Study Abroad in the United Kingdom
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Student Visitor Visa Information for Visa Nationals
Read through all of the information below before beginning the visa application process. Please note that the most up-to-date instructions can be found on the website of the UK Border Agency at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/student/.
- Do not begin your online visa application until you have received your visa pack and documentation from Arcadia.
- You will need around 20-30 minutes to complete the online portion of the visa application. This portion of the visa process is known as the application for "entry clearance."
- You will need to use a MasterCard or Visa to pay the application and postage fees. The application fee is £78 (around US$120 as of March 2013). It is essential that you remember to select "By Mail" if prompted.
- You will need to print a copy of your completed online entry clearance application and your biometrics appointment confirmation.
- You will be prompted to choose a password to access your documentation; remember to note this somewhere.
Applying for Your Visa
To begin the visa application process, go to https://www.visa4uk.gov.uk. Be sure to read all information on this page and then select "Continue." As you begin the application, you will be prompted to select the purpose and type of application from drop-down menus. You should indicate the following:
- Type of visa: Visit
- Purpose: Special Visitor
- Type: (Special) Student visitor, up to 6 months
In preparation, you should note that the application requires the following information:
- Your parents' dates and places of birth
- Approximate dates and reasons for previous international travel
As you complete the online application, you will be prompted to schedule a biometrics appointment at a US Customs and Immigration Services field office where you will have your fingerprints taken. It is advisable to schedule the earliest appointment available. Please visit the USCIS website for information on your nearest field office.
When you attend your biometrics appointment, you will need to bring your passport and the printed copy of your Booking Confirmation. (Remember to print this at the end of the online Entry Clearance application.)
At your appointment, you will have your fingers and thumbs digitally scanned and a digital photograph of you will be taken. At the conclusion of your appointment, your Booking Confirmation document will be stamped, signed and dated. The actual process should take five minutes or less if you don't have to wait.
In many instances, USCIS offices will allow you to have your biometrics data collected before your scheduled appointment as long as you have your passport and booking confirmation. (This is worth noting if you receive a late appointment.)
When you submit your application, you must include all of these materials (see below for information on how to submit your application):
- Your acceptance letter from your overseas university (or Arcadia University for certain programs) (Arcadia will send this to you)
- Letter of support from Arcadia University (sent via certified mail) – not required for London Now and Scottish Studies in Scotland students
- Your ACTUAL passport (it must be valid for six months from the end of your program)
- Postage-paid express/courier mail envelope so that your passport can be returned to you with the visa affixed inside. Choose trackable express services such as UPS, FedEX, DHL, or UPSPS Express, and purchase insurance for your document return.
- Two recent passport-sized photographs: These must adhere to UKBA guidelines which can be found on the UKBA website. Most passport-style photos you can get in the US will be 2" x 2". You will need to trim the photos to match the dimensions required by the UKBA. (Many visa applications have been denied in the past because the photos were submitted incorrectly. Please follow this guidance very carefully.)
- Printout of your online entry clearance application
- Your stamped biometrics Appointment Booking Confirmation (this will be stamped at your appointment)
- An original copy of your most recent bank statement, preferably showing a balance of at least $700 per month for the duration of your program
- An official transcript from your home university
- (Any additional documents which the Consulate may request)
In addition to the original documents you submit to the UKBA, you’ll need to provide a photocopy of: your acceptance letter, your letter of support from Arcadia University, your transcript and your bank statement/letter. You should also make a photocopy of each document you submit to keep for your records.
The British Consulate in New York City advises to allow for 3-5 weeks processing time for Student Visitor Visa applications; however, if your application is in order, it will typically require less time. If you are applying from outside the U.S. the process may take longer.
Submitting Your Application Materials
After you have received your immigration documents from Arcadia, completed the online application, attended your biometrics appointment and gathered your required documents, you will need to submit your visa application materials. You have two options for submitting your materials:
Priority Service offered through WorldBridge:
This service, which is available for an additional fee ($150 on top of the visa processing fee), will significantly reduce the processing time for your visa application. In addition, WorldBridge will check your application and supporting documents and let you know if there are any errors or missing pieces before submitting your application to the UK Consulate. If you submit your application using the regular service (see below) and there are any errors with your application, your visa will likely be rejected and you will need to reapply (and repay the visa processing fee).
Priority Service applications will be processed ahead of other applications. Under normal circumstances, priority service applications will be processed within 48 hours (not including weekends or public holidays) from day of receipt at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) visa section in New York. You will mail you application and documents directly to the UKBA visa section. You should use a trackable express mailing service and mark the envelope in black ink PRIORITY so it is easy to see and can be pulled from the general mail.
You can book the Priority Service by going to the Worldbridge website at http://www.visainfoservices.com/ and following the instructions under “Additional Services."
Once you have attended your biometrics appointment and have all of your documents in place, then simply mail the documents to the UKBA visa section in New York City. The mailing address will be provided upon completion of your initial online visa application. We strongly recommend using a trackable express mailing service (such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS Express Mail). Normal Service carries no surcharge and will typically take 3-5 weeks of processing time.
- These materials should promptly be sent to the UKBA visa section in New York City. (Remember that you will need to have paid the application and shipping fees.)
- Your passport and accompanying visa application materials should be sent by certified mail so that you can track it.
- Because you are required to send your application materials to the consulate within a specified period of time after completing your biometrics appointment, you should not begin the online application until you receive your visa pack or have been prompted by your program manager.
- The UK Border Agency recommends that students allow 3-5 weeks for applications to be processed.
- Processing often requires less time if all materials, application fees and shipping fees are properly organized and correctly submitted. The Priority Service provided by WorldBridge usually reduces processing time to two days.
- Any errors or omissions will hinder your visa application and possibly require you to apply again.
- Arcadia University will work to assist you throughout this process, but cannot accept responsibility for any visa applications that are delayed or rejected.
- Please read all instructions carefully and do not hesitate to contact your program manager if you have any questions.
- For the most up-to-date visa information and FAQs, visit the UK Border Agency's website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/student/visa/.