A student visa application process is one of the most crucial steps which every student is required to undertake before proceeding abroad for their higher studies. There are numerous sources of information on the internet which provide several guidelines regarding how you can apply for a student visa, depending on your chosen country of higher studies. However, very few of them provide the particulars of what students are supposed to do before applying for a student visa to study in any country across the world.

This article aims to give you a lowdown on the various different tasks which students must undertake before applying for a student visa to study abroad. Important details such as arranging for the required funds, gathering all the relevant documents, etc. shall be elaborated here.

Student Visa Application Process 

Although the sequence of events may vary, the student visa application process of most of the countries takes place in a similar fashion. Be it the funding requirements, the documentation or the eligibility criteria. Let us find out more about these factors in the following paragraphs.

Step 1: Secure Admission into a Well-reputed University

The very first step towards studying abroad involves securing admission into a university of your choice. It is important to note that candidates cannot move any further in the process of studying abroad if they do not possess confirmation of enrolment from their respective universities. So, ensure that you have your enrolment letter before you start applying for a student visa to study abroad.

Step 2: Getting to Know The Eligibility Criteria

The student visa requirements of most countries around the world are similar in nature. Some of the common student visa eligibility criteria which candidates are required to fulfil for a study visa are listed below.

  • Applicants must possess an enrolment letter from an approved university. They must be enrolled in full-time courses approved by the respective governments.
  • Candidates must provide all the documents mentioned in the student visa document checklist provided by the immigration department of the specific country of their higher studies.
  • Students must furnish documentation proving that they are in good health by getting a full medical report from approved doctors of their native country. The immigration rules of countries like Australia and New Zealand require Indian applicants to undergo a tuberculosis test. So it is important to note whether the study visa rules of the country chosen by you call for any specific health tests.
  • Students must be of good character and they are required to produce the relevant proof at the time of their visa interview. Some of the most commonly accepted documents which may act as proof of good character will be discussed further ahead in the article.
  • Countries like Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Canada require students to fulfil certain financial obligations in order to be able to be deemed eligible to apply for a study permit. Students who wish to study in Germany must open a blocked account before they can even apply for a student visa to study in the country. Similarly, students who apply under the study direct stream programme to universities in Canada are required to open a GIC account. So, it is important to note of any financial prerequisites that you may need to fulfil if you plan on applying for a student visa to study in such countries.,
  • Students must take care of their medical expenses during their stay abroad. The embassy/consulate requires them to provide the relevant documentation at the time of the visa interview.

It is important to understand the fact that all candidates who apply for a study permit or a study visa to study abroad, are required to meet all of the criteria mentioned above. Let us move on to understand another inevitable part of the student visa process - funding.

Step 3: Arrange for The Necessary Funding

Funding is an integral part of the student visa process. In fact, it is an inevitable part of the student visa application process. However, with the amount of interaction that the WeMakeScholars team has had with most students, it has been observed that many students who plan on studying abroad often take this factor for granted and are often late to arrange for funds which are required to pursue their studies abroad.

It is very important to have a good understanding of the timeline within which students are required to present proof of funds to their respective embassies before beginning their visa process. For example, students who wish to study in Germany and Canada are required to present proof of purchase of a blocked account and a GIC from any of the participating banks.

There are three different ways in which students can fund their higher education abroad. Self-funding, a scholarship and an education loan. Despite a myriad of scholarships being offered by a lot of universities abroad, a lot of students who wish to pursue an abroad education course, don’t qualify for them. Such students are left with only two choices, self-funding their higher studies or borrowing an education loan.

Every decision regarding the funding of a students’ abroad education needs to be taken after giving it a lot of thought. While those who come from financially stronger backgrounds can still consider the former, a maximum number of students are only left with one option--abroad education loans.  Although self-funding is an excellent option to have an abroad education without any financial baggage, it is not the recommended method of funding your abroad education. Here’s why.

  • Easy visa approval
    An education loan greatly increases the chances of your visa approval as compared to funding your abroad education by yourself. 
    This is because most visa authorities need to ensure that the source of funding of the visa applicant is reliable and that the flow of funds remains steady. Government banks have had an excellent record 
  • Payment in a single go
    When students self-fund their education, they are required to pay the entire course fees in a single instalment. When you borrow an education loan, your course fees are disbursed every year or semester from the bank to your university’s account.
  • Living expenses 
    While self-funding, a student has to ensure that apart from the tuition fees, their living expenses are also catered for. Living expenses comprise close to 50% of the student’s total expenses. Many a time, it so happens that candidates fall short of funds to cater for their living expenses. Most of them find a part-time job that helps solve this problem.
    A part-time job is beneficial to students in the long run. A student’s living expenses are generally covered under an education loan. Hence, they don’t have to look for other sources to cater to this part.
  • Arrangement of funds in a short period
    In self-funding, many universities ask students to pay their entire course fees at the beginning of their course.
    For many candidates who have not done their research well and those who are not aware of this mandate, arranging the required amount in a short period of time becomes a stressful task. On the other hand, when a candidate has borrowed an education loan, banks disburse the required tuition fee periodically into the student’s university account. Thus, the student can be free of worries about arranging for money in a small amount of time.
  • Fluctuation in currency rates
    Those who are financing their abroad education by themselves need to keep up with the fluctuation in currency values happening from time to time. 
    In such cases, there is a chance that the respective university may suddenly increase the tuition fees. This becomes a contingency and self-funding students need to cater for this.
    On the other hand, while borrowing an education loan, students do not use 100% of the loan amount disbursed from the bank. Hence, in case of inflation, they can still request the bank to release the remaining loan amount to their advantage.
  • Government Subsidies
    The Govt. of India, in cooperation with the Ministry of HR Department, have started many education loan interest subsidy schemes for those students who have borrowed education loans. 
    Amongst the many subsidy schemes started by the Govt. of India, the education loan income tax exemption, stated in Section 80E of the Income-Tax Act of 1961 is the most prominent one. 
    These schemes were started by the Indian government keeping in mind the financial baggage borne by students who are studying abroad. 
  • Section 80E
    As mentioned above, many students who have borrowed education loans from nationalized banks have been able to save a considerable amount of their interest money by availing the education loan income-tax exemption under Section 80 E.
    Students who are self-funding their abroad education are not eligible to avail of this benefit. As a result, many students who had the capability to self-fund their higher education also started borrowing education loans in order to avail this interest subsidy. In this case, those who borrow an education loan from nationalized banks are at an advantage.
    They or their co-applicants become eligible for a subsidy on the education loan interest when they declare the interest deductions while filing their taxes.
  • Loan repayment period
    This is the biggest advantage of taking an education loan. Banks offer a grace period that ranges between 6 months and a year to students so that they could arrange funds to pay back the loan amount. Government banks give education loan applicants, a loan repayment period that can be extended up to 15 years after the course ends.

Also, read about Why You Should Apply For a Study Loan For Abroad Through WeMakeScholars?

Step 4: Arrange for the Relevant Documents

Documentation is another integral part of a student visa application process. Candidates who do not possess the right documents are not deemed to be eligible for a study permit or a student visa abroad. Following are some of the common documents asked by most embassies for the purpose of processing a student visa application.

  • Proof of identity: passport, driving licence, and aadhar card, etc. are some of the acceptable proof of identity.
  • Proof of good character: A police certificate from their native country suffices as proof of good character. Candidates must not have had previous records of felony convictions in their native country.
  • Proof of good health: Generally, most embassies require candidates to submit a medical examination report to their respective consulate/embassies.
  • Letter of confirmation from the respective university.
  • Proof of the necessary funds.
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance if applicable
  • Certificates of all the qualifying examinations ( language exams like IELTS or TOEFL whichever is applicable)
  • Academic transcripts
  • Additional documents if the embassy requires you to submit them. For example, the USA study visa process requires students to submit an I 20 form at the time of their visa interview.

Step 5: Schedule Your Student Visa Interview

Attending the student visa interview is one of the very first important steps which every student needs to take in the student visa process. Students need to bear in mind that they are required to carry original copies of their documents as mentioned in the respective document checklist while attending the interview.

With this point, we come to an end of the list of important actions to be taken while applying for a student permit or a student visa to study abroad.

 Points to Note if You Are Borrowing An Education Loan

  • If you are planning to Study in Australia

For those who plan on borrowing an education loan, it is important to note that the government of Australia generally does not encourage students to fund their higher education with the help of a private education loan. If you plan on studying in Australia with the help of an education loan then it is critical that you opt for a government bank education loan.

  • The Correct Time to Apply for an Education Loan

The correct time to apply for an education loan is approximately 1.5 months before the deadline to pay your funds ends. The education loan process in India can take close to a month’s time depending on the type of loan borrowed by the students. Hence, it is always advisable to apply for one way in advance.

Note: WeMakeScholars is an organization funded and supported by the Government of India that focuses on International Education finance. We are associated with 10+ public/Pvt banks/ NBFCs in India and help you get the best abroad education loan matching your profile. As this initiative is under the Digital India campaign, it’s at free of cost. The organization has vast experience dealing with students going to various abroad education destinations like the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Italy, China, France among others