Visa requirements to study abroad

Visa Requirements


Please note that wherever you choose to study, a local agent in your home country can help prepare your visa application and minimise the chance of rejection

To study in the UK


Each year, thousands of international students successfully gain a visa to study in the United Kingdom. The UK government welcomes international students, and there is no limit on the number of student visas that can be issued.

UK immigration and visas are managed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Please check the UKBA website for the most up to date information.


Do I need a visa?

This depends on your nationality and immigration status. Find out if you need a visa on the UKBA website.


When should I apply for a visa?

It is important to apply well before you intend to begin your course. Many students do not realise how long the process will take, and do not leave enough time. Your application may require you to:

  • have certain vaccinations or – if you are coming from a tuberculosis high-risk area – a chest x-ray
  • produce documents showing your finances and qualifications
  • attend an interview or a biometric test.

Average visa processing times vary depending on your country. You can get an idea from UKBA’s visa service pages.


What kind of visa do I need?

The following visa is suitable for students who want to do a short course, or an 11-month English language course:

  • Short-term study visa: You can apply if you are 18 years old or over and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months. If you want to study purely English language courses, you can apply for an extended student visitor visa to stay for up to 11 months. You can apply if you are under 18 and you want to stay for up to 6 months for any short course (including English language courses).


The following two visas allow you to do a longer course in the UK. Your course must be at a school, college or university on the UKBA list of trusted sponsors.

  • Tier 4 (Child) student visa: You can apply if you are between 4 and 17 years old. If you are between 4 and 15 years old, you must be coming to the UK to be educated at an independent, fee-paying school.


Working in the UK

If you come to the UK on a short-term study visa you are not eligible to work in the UK.

Some students who enter on a Tier 4 student visa are eligible to work a certain amount of hours per week and in the holiday periods. Please visit the UKBA website  for more information.


Find out more

You can find out more about visas on the UKBA website.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs has also produced some student-friendly information, but please also check the UKBA website for the latest official information.

To study in the USA


The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student. To learn English in America you will need a F-1 student Visa. This depends on the number of weeks you will study, and the program type you choose.


In order to study on this visa you need to take a course of 18 hours or more per week,

Usually, once you have been accepted onto a course the school will send you an I-20 form. This is the first step in the student visa application process. With the I-20 form you can apply for a F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status.

U.S. Department of State – Student Visas Website

To study in Canada


Study Permit and Visa Information

You can study English for a maximum of 6 months with a Visitor’s Visa. You do not need a Study Permit (student visa) if you are planning to take a course or program in Canada with a duration of six months or less. If you want to apply for a Study Permit to come to Canada, you need to study a full time program in English.



This document is the proof that you will study an English course in Canada. Once you register and pay your tuition fees, in part or all, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance from your chosen language school. If the school you choose is a post-secondary level institution then it must be on the designated learning institution list. Make sure you check this before you make your final choice.

The Letter of Acceptance is necessary to apply for a Study Permit, a Visitor’s Visa or to come to Canada and prove to the immigration officers at the airport that you are going to study an English course, even if you don’t need to apply for a visa in advance.


According to immigration regulations, you can study for a maximum of 6 months with a Visitor’s Visa.


Who Needs a Visitor’s Visa

You can study for a maximum of 6 months with a Visitor’s Visa. You do not need a Study Permit (student visa) if you are planning to take a course or program in Canada with a duration of six months or less.

If you want to take an English course for more than 6 months, then you will need a Study Permit and you have to study a full time program.

Please check the Canadian Embassy of your country or area to learn more about the visa.


Before coming to Canada

To visit Canada and study an English course for less than 6 months, you:

  • Must be healthy. You might need a doctor’s examination
  • Must respect Canadian laws
  • Will need a valid passport, proof of who you are or other travel documents and
  • Will need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) if you are from some countries


Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for visitors. Make sure you have health insurance to pay your medical costs before you leave for Canada.

Contact a Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate for information on what you will need before coming to Canada.


Once you arrive

An officer from Citizenship and Immigration Canada will ask you a few short questions when you arrive. To make this go quickly, keep your passport with you and not in your luggage.

If you have received a Letter of Acceptance, show it to the immigration officer. They may also want to see the address of your Homestay or the place where you are going to live during your studies.

The officer will stamp your passport to tell you how long you may stay in Canada. Feel free to ask questions if you are unsure about anything. Depending on your answers to the immigration officer, your flight ticket and your funds, you will be allowed to stay up to 6 months.

After you arrive, you may want to change the conditions of your visit. This is possible in special cases. You must do this before your visa runs out. You must apply from within Canada to extend your stay or visit three weeks before your visa expires.

If later you want to obtain a Study Permit, you will have to leave Canada and apply from outside. If you have a visa for the USA, you could cross the border by car or bus and apply from there. Under no circumstances can visitors apply for a study permit from within Canada.



If you want to take an English course for more than 6 months, then you will need a Study Permit and you have to study a full time program.


Who Needs a Study Permit?

If you need a Study Permit (student visa) to come to Canada, then you have to study a Full-Time program.  Your Letter of Acceptance will indicate your selected Full-Time program. It shows the beginning and ending dates of study and the amount you have paid in advance.

Study Permits are issued by Immigration Offices only when the course period is longer than 6 months.


Who Needs a Visitor’s Visa in addition to the Study Permit?

Applicants from many countries will need to apply for a Visitor’s Visa (TRV-Temporary Resident Visa). The documentation and process to obtain the TRV is very similar to applying for a Study Permit. In this case, you must satisfy the Immigration Officers that you can support all the expenses of your trip and that you will return to your country after your visit.

In general, Immigration Officers will understand better and believe you more that you are coming to Canada to study an English course if you register in a Full Time Program.


Benefits of Having a Study Permit

You should apply for a Study Permit before you come to Canada if you think you may wish to continue your studies in another program after you complete the short-term course or program.

If you do not have a valid Study Permit and wish to continue your studies, you will have to leave Canada to apply for one. Certain foreign nationals may apply for and receive a study permit from within Canada. For more information check here.


How to Apply for a Study Permit

Print the Application for a Study Permit in Canada. (If you are from certain countries, the Immigration Officer will process your application for a Temporary Resident Visa as well as a Study Permit. You do not need a separate application).

  1. Collect the documents you need to apply. Here are some of them:
    • a valid passport
    • a Letter of Acceptance
    • proof that you have enough money to support yourself for your entire stay in Canada. For example, a letter from your bank in your country and a written pledge of financial support from a parent will show immigration officials that you can afford your expenses while you are in Canada. These expenses include tuition, homestay, transportation, medical insurance, personal needs and return trips home
    • a medical clearance if required by immigration
    • a letter from your employer or sponsoring organization if you are being sponsored
    • CAN $ 150 for the application fee
  2. Complete the application for a Study Permit. Fill in the forms carefully and completely:
    • Follow the instructions
    • Use your computer, a typewriter or print clearly, using black ink
    • Add appropriate characters for languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, such as Chinese, Arabic, Cyrillic, Japanese, Hebrew, etc.
    • Sign and date your application forms
  3. Include the correct Application Fee.

There is a processing fee to apply for a Study Permit. The current rate (April 2015) is $ 150 Canadian dollars for a Study Permit, and $ 100 for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). Verify acceptable methods of payment with the office where you submit your application.

  1. Make sure that your application is complete.

Consult the Visa Office or its Web site to see if you need to fill out any additional forms or provide any additional documents.

  1. Submit your application.

Fees, and required documents to a Visa Office at the Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate responsible for the country in which you are living.

  1. Supply additional information or documents when the Visa Office requests it. This may include:
    • Medical Examination Results.

You must pass a medical exam, if you come from a country with high health risks; or if you will be studying or working in a place where protection of public health is essential.

A Visa Officer will advise you if you need to take a medical examination, and will provide you with instructions on how to proceed. If you need a medical examination, processing your application could take at least three extra months.

    • Police Certificates/Certificate of Good Conduct.

A Visa Officer may request a police certificate to prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Officers that you are a responsible person and that you do not have a criminal record.

Police agencies may do a criminal or security background check. These checks may be done on anyone over 18 years of age applying for a Study Permit.

If you move or change your address, your telephone or fax number before your application has been processed, you must advice CIC of this new information. Contact the Visa Office where you submitted your application.

When you apply for your Study Permit, there is no guarantee of acceptance. You should not take any final steps, such as purchasing plane tickets or quitting your job, until your Study Permit is approved.

If you have any questions about your application, please contact the Visa Office where you submit your application.

For more information follow this link Government of Canada – Citizenship and Immigration


After You Apply – The Status of Your Application

The Visa Office will review your application to make sure you have completed it correctly and that it contains all of the required documents.

After reviewing your application, an officer will decide if an interview is necessary. If so, the officer will inform you of the time and place.

If Citizenship and Immigration Canada does not accept your application, they will notify you of the reasons for refusal in writing. Study Permit applications may be refused for the following reasons:

  • You have not shown proof of financial sufficiency
  • You have not passed the medical examination
  • You have not satisfied the Officer that your primary intention in Canada is to study
  • You have not satisfied the Officer that you will leave Canada at the end of the period of study. Please note: you are allowed to apply to study in Canada even if you are applying or considering applying to immigrate permanently to Canada now or in the future. However, the Officer must still be satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized for your stay (in the event that your permanent resident application is refused).

If you have questions about your refusal, you must contact the Visa Office that issued you the refusal letter.


Application Approval Documents

If your application is approved, you will receive:

  • A letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter is not your Study Permit. Bring this letter with you to show to immigration officials when you enter Canada and in that moment you will receive the Study Permit.
  • A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in your passport If you are from certain countries. Check the Temporary Resident Visa (if applicable) that the Officer puts in your passport. It will tell you the date by which you must enter Canada, and how many times you can enter Canada. You must arrive in Canada before your TRV expires.

For more information follow this link Citizenship and Immigration – Status of Your Application to Official Canada Immigration website.


Arriving in Canada

When you come to Canada, you will first pass through Canada Customs, where you must show your travel documents and tell the Officer that you are coming to Canada to study. Next, you will talk to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Officer at the Port of Entry.

Be prepared to produce the following documents when you arrive in Canada:

  • The letter of introduction from CIC that you received when your Study Permit was approved. This letter shows your permit reference number.
  • Your valid passport
  • A valid Temporary Resident Visa (if required)
  • An original or copy of a letter of acceptance from the school at which you are permitted to study
  • A valid Temporary Resident Visa (if required)
  • Address of your Homestay or the place where you are going to live
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Letters of reference or any other documents recommended by the Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate in your country

Understanding the terms and conditions on your Study Permit

The “conditions” listed on your permit will tell you:

  • how long you can stay in Canada
  • where you can study
  • at what level you can study
  • your program of study
  • the date by which you must leave Canada
  • if you need to report for medical examination or observation
  • if you need to report to provide evidence of compliance for certain conditions
  • if you are permitted to work on-campus at your institution
  • If you wish to change any of the terms and conditions on your study permit, you must submit an Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada.


Exiting and Re-Entering Canada

In order to return to Canada, you must be in possession of:

  • A valid passport or travel document
  • A valid Study Permit if you are returning to study in Canada
  • A valid Temporary Resident Visa, if you are a citizen of one of some countries. If your Temporary Resident Visa has expired, or was for single-entry only, you will have to submit a completed temporary resident visa application to a Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate abroad in order to re-enter Canada
  • Possession of these documents does not guarantee re-entry. All persons must establish that they meet all of the requirements of The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations before being authorized to enter or re-enter Canada.

This post is also available in: Polish

Find your perfect language school Search CourseFinders to find the course for you