Fall 2013 Visa packet [pdf]
A visa is a stamp inside your passport that gives you permission to travel to a specific country for a set period of time. The visa is issued by the UK Border Agency/British Consulate in New York City for students applying in the US and by the UK Border Agency (UKBA)/British Consulate, or embassy in your home country for those applying outside the US.
There are two categories of visas for students studying in the United Kingdom. Most students will either obtain a Tier 4 Student Visa (if required) or will enter the UK as a Student Visitor without a visa. Please read below for more details on each category.
There is a third category of visas for non-US citizens who are visa nationals. If you are a citizen of one of the countries listed, you need to apply ahead of time for a student visitor visa. If you are also planning to work, do an internship, or stay longer than 6 months (or continue in a summer UK program), you must apply for the Tier 4 visa.
All students should complete the London Visa Form (one of the post acceptance forms), and return it to Gail Rich (email@example.com) by May 1 (fall students) and by November 1 (spring students). This is very important because failure to do so will result in you not getting the materials you need for your specific visa requirements.
I. TIER 4 STUDENT VISAS
The Tier 4 visa gives students a Prior Entry Clearance status, meaning visa holders are considered to have cleared immigration before arrival in the UK. The visa is stamped inside your passport.
Visa Regulations and Housing: Please note that due to the UK visa requirements, all SU London students must take part in one of the SU housing options, either pre-arranged or independent.
A Tier 4 Visa is required if:
1) You are considering applying for a work study position (SU students only), an internship in any field or participating in long-term volunteer or community service opportunities.
You will not be allowed to participate in the SU London internship program without first obtaining a Tier 4 Visa. SU London is required, by law, to report any student participating in internships both arranged independently or by the school. Students interning without this visa may be subject to deportation.
While an internship placement is not guaranteed and is subject to a successful interview, the internship coordinator will work one on one with the student to find a placement best suited to his/her abilities and interests. We generally have an ample supply of engaging and educating internship placements to offer. Any questions regarding this can be directed to the External Relations Coordinator Amelie Laparra in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) You are contemplating ANY KIND OF PAID WORK IN THE UK.
These rules have come into effect, in part, to combat “under the table” employment and SU London is inspected on a regular basis by the Immigration and Nationality Inspectorate. If you think you might seek paid employment in the UK during your time in London, including work study (SU students only), you will need a Tier 4 Visa. Please note that you are not allowed to work for more than 20 hours per week, and you should not count on being able to obtain employment when budgeting for your time in the UK.
3) If you are planning to participate in a yearlong program in London (fall and spring semesters) or remaining in an SU Abroad UK summer program after the spring semester.
If you are considering an academic year abroad you will need to apply for a yearlong visa. If you later decide not to stay in London for the spring semester it will not be a problem, but you will not be able to apply to stay if you do not already have a visa. You will also need to apply for a visa with the extended dates if you participate in the spring and continue on a UK summer program. Please notify Gail Rich (email@example.com) if you are planning to remain longer than one semester in London.
To Apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa
You can only apply online three months in advance (no earlier than June 2 for fall and October 17 for the spring). After completing the online application and having your biometrics taken, you should have all your documents ready to send to the UK Border Agency at the New York City British Consulate by July 15 (fall students) and by November 25 (spring students) in order to ensure you have it back in time for departure.
The UK Border Agency in New York City is responsible for processing all visa applications in the United States.
It normally takes 2-3 weeks for the visa to be processed (more during the holidays and over the summer). If you can't send in your materials by July 15 (fall students) or November 25 (spring students), you should consider purchasing the Priority or Premium Service for an additional fee. You can also use a visa agent/facilitor service.
Required Application Materials/Supporting Document Checklist
Bank statements must:
Be an original statement (electronic bank statements are acceptable as long as they include all the same information and they must be stamped with the official bank stamp on every page)
Be in the student’s own name, included as a joint account holder, or in the name of parent(s)/guardian(s)Show the date of the statement
Show the bank’s name and logo
Show the amount of money available (at least $1,500), more if you are going abroad for the year or going to London in the fall and Florence in the spring
Show the money has been held for at least 28 days
Additional Information for NON-US Citizens:
Visa Processing Time
It will take the UK Border Agency 2-3 weeks to process your visa, as it is busy over the holidays. When making travel plans over the summer or holidays, please keep in mind that you must submit your original passport with the rest of the supporting documents to the British Consulate.
Review your visa when you get it. You should make sure that:
If you think there is anything wrong with your visa, please email WorldBridge free of charge using the Send us an Email Enquiry link on this website.
II. STUDENT VISITOR VISA
You can enter the UK as a student visitor if you are a U.S. citizen and NOT planning to work (including work study for SU students), do an internship or any long term volunteer work and are not going to be in the UK for more than six months. Your passport will be stamped upon arrival in the UK with the student visitor visa. If you do not apply for the Tier 4 Visa you will not be able to apply for one once you are in the UK. If you enter as a student visitor, you will not be able to work, do an internship, participate in long term community service, or stay longer than six months, and you must leave the country at the end of the program. You will be able to travel freely out of the UK but you may need to answer more questions from immigration officials or be in longer lines than students with the Tier 4 student visa. You must carry the immigration letter with you at all times to show to officials each time you enter the UK. This letter will be sent to you by us if you are traveling independently or given to you at the airport on the day of departure. You should also bring bank statements (original statements, not an online print-out) or other documentation demonstrating means of financial support while you are in the UK (see Evidence of Maintenance Funds above). You should also have with you evidence of your return plane ticket.