Studying abroad opens a lot of doors for an applicant, but issues with the preparation of a whole bunch of documents , and, of course, obtaining a long-term student visa, can prevent one from fulfilling the dream of foreign education. This type of visa is classified as non-immigrant. Many applicants encounter some difficulties at the stage of applying for a visa, even more questions arise on the eve of an interview at the consulate.
Often, applicants are denied a visa, which becomes an insurmountable barrier to the dream of studying at a prestigious university. To avoid such situations, you should know a few rules that will help you to obtain the desired pass that will allow you to enter the territory of another country.

Dates and costs of applying for student visas

CountryVisa code Time to issueCostPresence in-person
USAF-1/M-1Up to 2 weeks160 USDRequired
United KingdomTier 4From 2 weeks455 USDRequired
Australia500Up to 40 days443 USDRequired
FranceD1-4 weeks117 USDRequired
GermanyD4-8 weeks89 USDRequires
ChinaX1Up to 2 weeksUp to 150 USDNot required
NetherlandsMVVUp to 3 weeks202 USDNot required
GreeceD1-8 weeks106 USDRequired
FinlandD2-3 weeks95 USDNot required
IsraelA/2Up to 2 weeks47 USDRequired

The perfect applicant

Of course, each visa officer has his own image of an ideal applicant, however, there are common criteria that all applicants should meet in order to obtain a visa. So, who is an ideal applicant in the eyes of the consulate?
  • Students or graduates of elite domestic universities who are going to take language courses lasting 5-7 months in a foreign educational institution. Preference is given to applicants who have already traveled abroad, and their parents have a regular income and place of work;
  • Specialists working in well-known international firms or large domestic companies that already have higher education and are going to enroll in master's programs (such as MBAs) to improve their working skills. It is desirable that the training was paid by the company, and the applicant had a stable income, guaranteed vacation for the period of study, as well as strong family ties;
  • Translators or philologists who wish to continue their studies in their specialty in another country under a master's or doctoral program. Of course, we talk not about fresh graduates, but applicants who have a permanent job, good income and family ties in their country.
The student, who has just recently graduated from the university, does not fit the image of the ideal applicant. The fact is that in many countries a student visa gives the right to seek employment, which means that the workplace can be given to a foreigner, instead of a citizen of a country. Therefore, the applicant will have to prove to the visa officer that he has no immigration intentions and after training intends to return to his homeland. Convincing a representative of the consulate will not be as easy as just saying that you will return, because after training many students find a job, as well as apply for a residence permit (if that is allowed by the law of the country). A lot of documents that will prove your ties to your homeland might be required. Among the valid reasons to return might be children, family, real estate etc.

What documents are required to get a student visa?

  • Letter of admission from the university. This is an official document, printed on the university letterhead, which is received by an applicant from an educational institution. The letter contains the name of the applicant, information about the program and the training course, the seal of the university and a signature of the admission officer. The document is a confirmation of admission to the university. Along with the letter, you should bring a bank statement or any other proof of financial solvency. Each country has its own requirements for applicants as well as educational institutions that accept foreign students.
  • Letter from the employer confirming a study leave. If the applicant has a permanent job, but the company sends him to continue training, an official letter from the employer confirming this must be presented. It should contain information about the type of activity of the organization, applicant’s occupation, purpose of the trip and the date of returning home.
  • Documents confirming entrepreneurial activity. A similar kind of document is required if an applicant is the owner of a business, but wishes to improve various skills in one of the educational institutions in another country. An example of this would be students of MBA programs who work in large companies or are engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Obviously, studying abroad will help such applicants in their future careers or developing their own business.
  • Document confirming the ownership of real estate in the country of residence. If the applicant owns apartments, cottages, cars or garages, then this information must be documented.
  • Document of financial solvency. An applicant must convince the visa officer that he has the funds necessary to cover tuition and living costs. To do this, any of the following documents must be provided: a bank statement, a document confirming the possession of a savings deposit, as well as a receipt of dividends from it, a certificate on income from work, etc.
  • Letter of sponsorship. It is required if the applicant’s parents, employer, the university itself or any other organization (if the applicant won a study grant, for example) are going to cover the costs of study, living and travel. The letter should contain information about the sponsor, as well as guarantees that the tuition will be paid.
  • Information about the applicant's family. It is important for the visa officer to see the applicant’s desire to return home after graduation, and strong family ties will certainly contribute to this. The document should contain information about parents or spouse (and children). In this case, even photos of your favorite pets may come in handy.
  • Proof of accomodation in the country of study. This could be a confirmation letter from the host family, room reservation at the university dormitory, or hotel reservation (if the applicant can afford it). As a rule, in such documents information about payment and place of residence is displayed, the address and phone number of the receiving party are also indicated.
  • Booking of tickets. The booking dates should coincide with the starting date of studies. In addition to tickets, the applicant must provide medical insurance.
  • Higher education diploma, certificate or document confirming the completion of training course. An applicant must convince the visa officer that the study at a foreign university is required, for example, an applicant has completed a bachelor's program in philology at a domestic university, but decided to continue his studies in the same specialization at a foreign university to deepen his knowledge.

Interview at the embassy — How to pass it


Interviewing is an optional procedure in many European countries, but this is not the case, for example, for the United States. It is no secret that an interview can cause the denial of the visa, even if all of the documents are in perfect order and meet the requirements of the visa center. That is why you should carefully prepare for this test using the recommendations below.

  • Neat appearance. "Clothes maketh the man" — this cannot be more true when we talk about the interview. The first impression cannot be made twice, it is important to remember this when choosing clothes, jewelry and a hairstyle for an interview at the embassy. This is an official institution, so shorts, short breeches, skirts and T-shirts are inappropriate here. It is better to give preference to simple casual clothes, not too bright, but not too formal (a strict jacket, suit, etc.). Men should leave expensive watches at home, and women should not display expensive jewelry. Another important point regarding appearance is makeup. Heavy makeup should be avoided, no makeup or a natural look will suit the situation better.
  • Clear knowledge of the information that is recorded in the questionnaire. It is better to have a copy of the questionnaire with you, so if you get confused, you could peek into your copy and answer the officer’s question correctly. It is important to learn the information that is indicated in the application: the date of arrival and departure, travel route, the address of the receiving party, as well as contact numbers, the name of the sponsor who pays for the training, and other nuances.
  • Proficiency in the language of the country to which the applicant wishes to obtain a visa. This is not a requirement for applicants who are going to study at preparatory courses. If we are talking about bachelor's and master's programs, the applicant must have a minimum proficiency in foreign language. Fortunately for applicants, visa officers can interview both in local and their native languages. Another important point is the knowledge of at least some information about the country that the applicant is going to visit.
  • Jokes aside. An inappropriate joke can affect a visa officer’s decision to grant a visa. This happened many times and without a doubt will happen again. Before exercising your sense of humor, it is worth considering whether the visa officer will understand and appreciate the joke. It may be offensive or simply incomprehensible due to the peculiarities of the mindset or plain lack of a sense of humor. You need to navigate on the spot, given the personality and mood of the interviewer.
  • Sincerity, friendliness, restraint. Do not try to deceive the visa officer, and if you try to do so, make sure you can pull it off and keep all the pieces of your legend in place so that they match the documents provided. Of course, it is better to initially tell only the truth so as not to get confused in your own lies. The main duty of an embassy employee is to prevent applicants who are mentally ill, inadequate or potentially dangerous from receiving a visa. Therefore, it is necessary to be calm, friendly and open, answer the questions clearly, even if they seem ridiculous, funny or strange (for example, how many paws does a dog have or, how many rooms is in the applicant's apartment, etc).
  • Punctuality. Do not be late for an interview, as this is fraught with a refusal to issue a visa. You should postpone the planned affairs for later or do them in advance in order to be in time for the interview. As a rule, the embassy always has a rather large queue of people who need to be interviewed, it is important to understand that the wait can take up to 4-5 hours (even if the interview is scheduled for an exact time). In this case, do not be nervous or demonstrate your displeasure, since the embassy is under video surveillance.
  • Electronic devices should be left at home. It is forbidden to take laptops, tablets, mobile phones and cameras inside the consulate. Therefore, it makes sense to leave all of your gadgets at home or in a locker storage if the applicant came for an interview from another city. Violation of the embassy rules may affect the outcome of the examination of the application.

How to get a student visa?

To obtain a visa, the applicant needs to convince the consulate employee that studying at a foreign university will be of use in the applicant's home country. It is necessary to demonstrate a healthy degree of patriotism and love for the motherland in every possible way, and under any circumstances do not talk about wishing to stay abroad in order to find a good job.

Family ties, ownership of real estate, a personal car, good work and even pets will serve as good reasons to return back home.

Common reasons for visa denial

  • Providing false information. Visa officers do not refuse a visa because of a small mistake or a typo, for example, in the date of birth, since everyone can make an honest mistake, and there’s nothing to worry about. The grounds for denial may be the submission of knowingly false information regarding the level of income, place of work or marital status. It is this information that affects the final decision of the visa officer to grant a visa. In the event of such a "mistake" taking place, not only the visa will be denied, but an applicant will also receive a lifelong entry ban for this country, in case of Europe — for all Schengen countries.
  • Submission of fake documents. Falsification of documents (salary certificates, hotel reservations) can also serve as a basis for a refusal. Moreover, the applicant will immediately be blacklisted by this country or all the Schengen countries (if the country is a member). This means that no consulate will ever issue a visa to such an applicant.
  • Insufficient salary or the amount of funds for training/travel. In order to get a visa, you need to convince a consulate officer of your solvency by providing financial guarantees, i.e. a certificate from work confirming that you have a decent salary, a document confirming the existence of a savings account, ownership of real estate, car and more. A visa officer should not have the impression that the applicant, instead of studying, plans to find illegal employment abroad.
  • Lack of prior visa entries in the passport. If this is your first time applying for a visa, you must be extremely careful, since a clean passport without prior visas can also cause denial. This rarely happens, but if a visa officer has doubts regarding at least one of the documents submitted by the applicant, a clean passport will definitely not help the matters.
  • Border crossing violations (or other violations). A visa may also be denied because of previously violated rules for using a visa, for example, if the applicant has exceeded the number of days in the Schengen area. In addition, in case of breaking the law in the host country, the applicant is also blacklisted.
  • Lack of medical insurance. A visa officer does not have the right to approve a visa to an applicant without a mandatory medical insurance. In some embassies it is not required to provide it immediately, but most likely you will be asked to submit the document later.
  • Prior visa denials. A visa can be denied in case the applicant had prior visa denials at other consulates. The visa officer will first try to investigate the reason behind the already existing visa denials by sending a corresponding request to the consulates of the countries that denied entry to the applicant. If the reason for the denial has been eliminated (for example, errors and inaccuracies in the documents), then the visa will most likely be approved.
  • The purpose of the trip is not well reasoned. If the purpose of the trip is very vague (for example, the applicant states "studies" in the documents but cannot clearly argue why there is a need to study abroad in the first place), the applicant most likely will be denied a visa.

What to do if you were denied a visa

If the visa denial has already happened, the best course of action is to file an appeal and prove your case, since the consulate staff will consider complete inaction as consent to the decision. Getting a new passport and trying to get a visa at the consulate of another country is a huge mistake and a waste of time and money as a consulate will run a background check and see that your application has been denied already.
Each passport is assigned a unique identification number, which remains the same even if the passport is changed to a new one. A single database stores all information about the owners of passports, including the reasons for denying a visa. The best thing to do is to consult specialists who will conduct a detailed analysis of your visa documents, determine the reason for the denial and then help bring the papers in order.