Planning to study abroad? You may need to get a student visa! Student visas are a form of residence visa. Unlike tourist visas or business visas, which are short-term visitor visas, residence visas allow you to live in the destination country for longer periods of time, and can often be renewed or extended while you are in the country. Student visas are issued to people who enrolled in an accredited school or who are doing an educational exchange program.
Every country maintains its own rules about student visas. Whether or not you will need a student visa for your trip will depend on a number of factors, including:
- How long you will stay in the country
- Whether you are taking a class for academic credit
- Whether or not you are enrolled in classes at an accredited institution
It’s important to confirm whether you will need a visa with the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you will study. You may also want to work with a visa expediting service to help you get the visa you need quickly.
What Do You Need to Get a Student Visa?
The most important requirement to get a student visa is proof that you have been accepted into an academic program. The exact requirements for your visa will vary, but general requirements for student visas include:
- Your Passport. Make sure your passport will be valid for at least one year. The passport must be signed and have blank pages labeled “visas.”
- Visa Application. The visa application should be completed filled out and must have an original ink signature that matches the signature in your passport.
- Passport-style photographs. These must be new photos, no more than six months old, on photo paper with a plain white or light-colored background.
- Proof of enrollment in the foreign school.
- Copies of your diplomas and educational transcripts.
Students Under Age 18
For students under age 18, who are legally minors, the Embassy or Consulate will need to have proof of parental consent before they will issue the visa. Typically, minors under age 18 will need to submit documentation like:
- Photocopy of the student’s birth certificate
- Copies of both parents’ passports or driver’s licenses
- A letter of consent signed by both parents
Can You Work on a Student Visa?
Going to school is expensive. Not only do you have to pay for tuition and room and board, you’ll need to buy books and other supplies, not to mention being able to afford the odd night out on the town! It’s no wonder that many students want to get a part time job to help fund their education. If you’re going to school abroad, your student visa may or may not allow you to work. Some student visas that do allow students to get jobs set a cap on how many hours a student can work each week, or the types of job they are allowed to take. Before you go handing out resumes and filling job applications, check to make sure that it’s legal for you to take up employment on your student visa.
Can Student Visas Be Extended?
The validity of student visas is typically based on the course schedule you’ll be taking, so your visa will likely expire shortly after the end of your course or school year. If you continue your enrollment, you will most likely be able to extend the validity of your student visa without having to return to the United States.