Comparing Student Visas for the UK, USA and Canada: Which Visa is Easiest to Get?

Comparing Student Visas for the UK, USA and Canada: Which Visa is Easiest to Get?

Preparing to go abroad to study for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree?

If you’re thinking of studying in a popular and highly sought after international destination, then the United States, the United Kingdom or Canada must definitely be on your books.

So how difficult is it to get your student visa for these countries? 


Well, that’s what Kampus Group is here for! After conducting a thorough research on comparing Student Visas for the UK, USA and Canada we can help you compare and figure out how likely you’ll be to get your student visa.


We’ll cover your application costs, how difficult the application process is for you, how much time you’ll need to wait, what documents you’ll need, how much money you need to have, how many interviews you’ll have to take, and so forth. This is so you can feel prepared and confident and you’ll be one step closer to your Student Visa…


Here are some frequently asked questions…


  1. Do I even need a visa? If so, which one?


If you want to study an undergraduate or graduate degree for more than the duration of 1 year, you need to apply for a long-term student visa. The names for these visas are;


  • Tier 4 (General) Student Visa – for the UK


  • F-1 Student Visa – for the U.S.


  • Study Permit – for Canada


If you’re coming from the EU region and wish to study in the UK, you won’t need to apply for the visa in this instance. If you’re going to the U.S. or Canada, most nationalities have to go through the standard visa process. Canadian students in this instance don’t need to apply for a visa if they’re planning on going to the U.S. Apart from that, most nationalities are required to apply for a visa. We do advise to check the official visa websites for a list of nationalities that are exempt.


  1. How much time will the visa application process take?


How fast your visa application will be processed depends on where you are applying from. UK and USA Visa officials recommend applying 3 months in advance before your actual departure, while Canada suggests starting the process 4 to 6 months prior. Visa processing time for the UK is as follows:


  • Recommended to apply 3 months in advance
  • In some countries, your visa is processed in 2 to 15 days, others under 30 days, and in the slower cases 60 to 90 days
  • The UK also has fast processing options that come at an additional price. It is guaranteed 3 to 5 days for the priority option, or 24 hours for the super-priority option


Visa processing time in the USA:


  • It is recommended to apply 3 months in advance
  • Probably the destination that processes student visa applications the fastest: 2 days to 3 weeks maximum


Student visas in the USA have priority over other types of visas in the country.


Visa processing time in Canada:


  • It is recommended to apply 4 to 6 months in advance
  • The application is processed within the 7 day period, but on average you’ll have to wait up to 35 days to receive it. Students from some other countries might have to wait between 42 and 140 days for a final decision
  • There are no faster visa processing options for Canada unfortunately


  1. How much do I have to pay for my student visa?


Costs for the visa process includes the visa fee and possible health insurance you’ll have to pay each year. It can even cover travel fees if you have to travel outside your country to apply for a student visa.


Fees for the UK visa:


  • Visa fee: 381 EUR (£335)
  • Health surcharge: 170 EUR/year (£150)
  • An extra processing fee, if applying through a visa application centre this can cost around 62 EUR (£55)


Fees for the USA visa:


  • Visa fee: 309 EUR (160 USD + 200 USD SEVIS fee)


You don’t need health insurance for the U.S. visa application process. Some countries may have to pay a small visa insurance cost of 10 to 40 USD.


If you’re an Iranian national, you’ll have to travel to a neighbouring country where you can apply for the visa.


Fees for the Canadian visa:


  • Visa fee: 99 EUR (150 CAD)
  • Biometrics collection fee: 56 EUR (85 CAD)
  • A lot of nationalities will have to travel abroad for medical exams or biometrics
  • Some nationals will have to pay a service fee of 25 to 66 CAD
  • EU nationals will have to pay a 7 CAD Electronic Travel Authorization fee


The Canadian Visa is actually the cheapest, but depending where you originate from you might have to spend extra on travelling to and from your visa appointments.


  1. How many appointments will I have to attend?


For the UK visa there is just one visa appointment which includes the visa interview that all applicants have to go through.


The USA visa process is the same as the UK. In a few countries, you might have to attend about two interviews because the place where you apply for the visa is different from the one where you’ll attend the actual visa interview.


For the Canadian visa, the number of appointments or interviews you’ll need to attend varies. This depends on your nationality and your individual situation. This can mean attending no appointment and completing things online or attending up to 3 different appointments which includes an interview, medical and biometrics.


Both the UK and USA visa require only one visa appointment.


  1. What specific documents will I need to have?


During the student visa application, you will have to present certain documents to the office that prove your identity and status. You also have to prove that you are eligible to be a student in the country you wish to go to. These documents include; ID, photos, an acceptance letter from the university, proof of funds, medical status, proof of language skills and proficiency, translations of documents, and anything else the visa officials might require from you.


Some documents you’ll need for the UK visa:


  • Proof of sufficient English language skills
  • Depending on your nationality, medical exam results
  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the UK: £1265 per month if living in London, or £1015 month if outside of London


Some documents you’ll need for the USA visa: 


  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the USA. This is required, but the exact monthly amount is not mentioned in the process
  • You won’t have to prove your English skills


You need to also let the visa officials know that you won’t do any full-time work during your study duration in the country.


Some documents you’ll need for the Canada visa:


  • Depending on your nationality your medical exam results
  • You won’t have to prove your English or French skills
  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the UK: 917 CAD per month if living in Quebec, or 833 CAD per month if anywhere else in Canada


You won’t have to provide proof of language proficiency in Canada and the USA. It might be a bit difficult to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the U.S. as it’s not stated exactly what is the required minimum.


  1. What are the steps I need to take to apply for my visa?


How to apply for the UK visa:


The UK student visa application process is straight-forward and easy to manage. You apply for the visa online and book an appointment for a visa application centre in your home country.


How to apply for the USA visa:


Submit your online visa application (also called the DS-160). You create an online profile, and pay the visa charge. Then, schedule an online appointment with the consular section in your country to give the required biometrics and attend the visa interview. Iranian nationals will have to travel to a visa centre abroad, as there is no American embassy in the USA.


How to apply for the Canada visa:


You can apply for the Canadian visa online or on paper. If you’re doing your application on paper, you will have to visit a visa application centre in your home country to submit your documents. Depending on your situation, after your application is sought through and analysed, it is possible you will be called for a visa interview. Depending on your situation, after your application has been analysed it may be a possibility that you will be called for a visa interview.


The application process for the Canadian visa may vary a lot depending on your own situation. It’s difficult to predict exactly how much time and work it will result in. Both the UK and USA visa processes are clear and transparent.


  1. How much time is my visa valid for?


  • The UK visa: course duration plus an additional 1 month
  • USA visa: course duration plus an additional 2 months
  • Canadian visa: course duration plus an additional 3 months


In the most recent immigration update this year, the UK has introduced a point-based immigration system that will help aspirants from abroad to work and settle in the UK with a fair chance and be given opportunities.


The system introduced 4 tiers and the various application costs that require candidates to score a minimum of 60 points.


What is the UK Tier 1 and Tier 2 Visa?


  1. Tier 1 Visa


The UK Tier 1 visa, which is also known as the ‘Entrepreneur’ or ‘UK Innovator visa’. This is a pathway for highly skilled and talented applicants from abroad. This can be business owners, investors or inventors, to settle and work within the UK. This visa is a special visa for the non-EU and ‘exceptionally talented’ candidates that are willing to invest at least £200,000 worth of disposable investment funds into the UK and boost the economy.


The visa is available only for persons with an exceptional area of specialisation, who must obtain at least 75 points in an MBA program or the following criteria below:


  •  Qualifications (25-45 points)
  •  Previous earnings (5- 75 points)
  •  UK experience (5 points)
  • Age (5-20 points)


More about the Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa…


A business person or entrepreneur from abroad who wants to relocate to the UK should provide at least £50,000. This represents the minimum share capital for their business.


The applicants must own most of the shares in their company and have to create full-time positions. This is for future employees, from which at least two workers from the EEA are mandatory as part of the team. The knowledge of the English language is a mandatory request once a candidate applies for a Tier 1 visa for entrepreneurs.


  1. Tier 2 Visa


The ‘Tier 2 Work Visa’ is a visa that encourages a skilled migrant that is transfering to the UK with a prior job offer or sponsorship. This visa does require a mandatory job offer to settle in the country and is a great opportunity for job seekers to settle in the UK along with their family members.


The Tier 2 is issued for individuals who have a score of 60 points, which comprises of:


  • the presence of a sponsor and a certificate of sponsorship (50 points)
  • English language skills (10 points)
  • available funds (10 points)


More about the Tier 2 (skilled workers) Visa


A ‘Tier 2 Visa’ is a skilled visa granted for the duration of five years and is necessary for citizens outside Europe to enter Scotland, Wales or Britain. This type of visa is issued to individuals who need to fill certain positions if there is a lack of workers in a certain sector. In order to obtain a Tier 2 visa for skilled workers, details about the sponsorship must be provided in this instance.


Other UK Visa Types


Tier 5: The Temporary Worker Visa is for government exchange schemes, sportspersons, charity workers to stay and work in the UK on a temporary basis.


Tier 4: Student Visa: This is for international students who wish to pursue higher education in the UK with an extension of 2 years to scope for a job.


Tier 3: The Low Skilled Work Visa is to help low skilled workers fill vacancies in the UK when there is a demand.


If you do want to stay a bit longer in the country after your studies Canada is a good for fellow students post university.

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