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Between 2008 and 2010, a new points-based system of regulation was phased into the UK. It is composed of five “tiers.” To read more details about each tier, visit http://ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/.
Because I want to work while I’m in the UK, I need to apply for a Tier 4 General Student Visa. It is for students who will be studying in the UK for more than six months, OR who plan to work, intern or volunteer. If my application is accepted, I can work 20 hours/week while school is in session and 40 hours/week over the holidays.
I never anticipated the amount of work and stress that would go into accurately completing my visa application. I’m still waiting for one more document that is supposed to arrive on Friday. Once I get it, I’m sending my visa application overnight to New York City and crossing my fingers that it gets accepted. For those of you considering applying for a Tier 4 General Student Visa, here is what you’ll need:
1. Evidence of funds. You need to prove that you have enough funds to cover your program fees and living expenses. Because I’m living outside of London, I must have £600 for each month of my stay, plus whatever my program fees are. (If you’re going to be in London, you’ll need £800 per month) There are a couple of strict options to show evidence of funds. The easiest was to ask my bank to write a letter. In the letter, I needed:
My name (if using a parent, you’ll need a notarized birth certificate documenting the parent/child relationship) an account number, date of the letter (cannot be more than 1 month old), the financial institution’s name and logo and the correct amount of money (which must be held in the account for 28 days and cannot drop below the required amount at any point during those 28 days).
2. Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). The University of Southampton sent me this document. The CAS contains many of the details I needed to complete my Points Based System Appendix 8 Self-Assessment form. The CAS also specified what documents I needed to include with my application (for example, an original school transcript).
3. My completed Personal Details application, which I submitted online. This 5-page document asked anything from where my parents were born, to a list of every country (outside of the US) that I’ve traveled to in the last 10 years.
4. Two 2” x 2” photos of myself, not smiling, on a white background.
5. Original copies of my acceptance letters from both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Southampton.
6. A stamped copy of my biometrics appointment. A week ago, I had to get my fingerprints electronically taken.
7. The Points Based System Appendix 8 Self-Assessment form. This form must be filled out in blue or black ink and is used to judge the amount of “points” I have. You must have 40 points to get the Tier 4 General Student Visa. 30 points for a valid CAS and 10 point for your evidence of funds. To fill out this form, I needed my CAS and all supporting documents (mentioned above).
8. My flight itinerary.
9. $312.00 fee
10. My passport
And that’s it. I’ve been on a wild goose chase trying to track all this information down. There are professional services that can help with applications and/or expediting visas. I looked into one company yesterday and saw that they charged $475.00. Sheeeeesh. I’ll take my chances and hope that everything works out.
Things to note: After getting your biometrics taken, you only have 2 weeks to send in your application. Also, if your visa is rejected, you can reapply, but you need to pay the $312.00 fee again. In other words, don't screw up!
For more information, visit the Quick Guide for Students on the UK Border Agency Website.
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