Before you leave for the Castle it is your responsibility to ensure that all of your documents are in order. Although staff at Queen’s University and at the BISC are pleased to help with information about travel documents, it is the sole responsibility of each student to obtain all necessary travel documents.
It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport and make an additional copy to leave with your emergency contact. If you lose your passport, a photocopy makes it much easier and quicker to replace.
Whether or not you need a visa depends on your citizenship, your place of residency, the length of your stay at the Castle, and any plans you may have to extend your stay in the UK. You can check whether you will need a visa to study in the UK by visiting www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.
If you are required to apply for a visa before departing for the UK, it is in your best interest to start the application process promptly. Visa requirements can be changed by the UK government without notice. Students must check the UK Visas and Immigration website for the most up-to-date information and regulations before applying.
Studying at the BISC for more than 6 Months
If you are studying at the BISC for a period greater than 6 months you are required to obtain a Tier 4 (General) student visa before arriving in the UK, unless you hold a valid passport issued by the UK or an EU member country. The BISC will issue you an official Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which you will be required to submit in support of your visa application. You must wait to receive this confirmation from the BISC before submitting your visa application. Please do not submit your admission letter from Queen’s University in lieu of your CAS; if you do so, your visa application will be refused.
Recent changes to legislation mean that instead of being issued a visa, you will now receive a ‘vignette’ which gives permission to travel to, and entry into, the UK. Once in the UK you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit. The BISC will make arrangements to help you do this.
Health Surcharge. The UK government has introduces a health surcharge for non-EEA visitors staying for more than 6 months, which costs £150. You will have to apply for and pay this charge BEFORE you can can start your visa application process: https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/pay.
Here are a few very important additional notes about applying for your visa:
Cost. As of April 2015, the cost of the Tier 4 General Student Visa is £322 (approximately $560 CAD).
Time. It may take several weeks (perhaps longer) for your visa to be issued, so it is strongly recommended that you begin the application process at least three months in advance of your expected arrival date in the UK.
Biometric Data. You will be required to submit biometric data in the form of digital finger scans and a digital photograph. You will be required to enroll your biometric in-person at your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) before your application can be processed. Canadian students, please note that the only Canadian VACs are located in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver (mobile clinics are located in Halifax and St. John’s, but availability of appointments at these locations is extremely limited).
Funds. You will be required to show the Home Office that you have enough money to pay your course fees and living costs. The preferred forms of documentation are outlined on the Home Office website section: Evidence of your money. Your CAS will indicate that you owe no money to the BISC during your stay in the UK.
English Language Proficiency. Some students will be required to prove their proficiency in English by taking and submitting an approved English language test. This requirement will depend on your citizenship. A list of countries whose citizens are exempt from this requirement can be found on www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa/knowledge-of-english. Not all English language tests are approved by the UK government. Please check the list of approved tests. Those students who are required to take an English language test must submit their results to Queen's so that it can be reported on the CAS. Results will also need to be reported by the student on the visa application. This requirement depends on your citizenship, not your general admissibility to Canada or to Queen's University.
Passport Submission. You will be required to submit your passport with your visa application. If you are planning any travel in the months leading up to your studies at the Castle, please take this into consideration as you will be without your passport for a period of 1-2 weeks (perhaps longer) while your visa application is being processed. Once your application has been processed and your visa has been stamped inside your passport, it will be returned to you.
Websites with helpful information about applying for your UK visa:
- UK Home Office
- WorldBridge Service
- The British High Commission in Canada
- The British Embassy in the United States
- Overseas Visa Application Centres
In the unfortunate event the passport bearing your visa is lost or stolen, having your visa reissued will be much easier if you:
- Retain a copy of your original online application and supporting documents, along with the subsequent email confirmation from the British High Commission indicating that your visa is being issued and mailed.
- Retain a photocopy of the passport page with the visa on it.
- General guidance for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa can be found at www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa.
If you are travelling on a passport issued by a country other than Canada, the United States, or an EU member country you may require a Schengen Visa to participate in field studies to some countries in Continental Europe. Please contact the BISC Admission Office if you are unsure: Tel: +1 (613) 533-2218 OR E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Students Please Note: If you plan to travel before or after your studies at the Castle it is your responsibility to ensure that your UK visa (or your status as a student visitor) remains valid. It is also your responsibility to determine if you require travel documents for any other countries through which you are traveling (transit visas) or planning to visit. Contact the embassy, or consulate, of any country through which you may be traveling, or planning to visit, and ask them about their country’s visa requirements.
Passport, Residence, and Travel Information Forms
Once you have accepted your offer to the BISC you need to fill out three forms: the Passport Information Form, the Residence Form, and the Travel Information Form.
You should fill in the Passport Information form first as we will use data from the form to generate your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. Without your CAS number you cannot apply for a visa. Students who do not require a CAS number/are not applying for a Tier 4 visa are still required to fill in this form.
This provides us with all the information we need to determine:
- your room assignment
- your roommate
- any necessary accommodations (academic, dietary, etc.)
- your emergency contacts
- whether you have supplementary health insurance
Before departure you must send your flight details to the BISC. You can do this via the online form. You will be contacted when this form is open. Arrivals information must be submitted at least 30 days before the official arrival day. Other criteria apply: please ensure you have read the Arrivals information in the Student Handbook.
Letter of Attendance
After you have paid your fees, and shortly before your departure to the United Kingdom, you will receive a Letter of Attendance (LOA) issued by the BISC. This letter is mailed to you, so please be sure that your mailing address is up to date in SOLUS. Be sure to bring your LOA with you. It is your proof of purpose in Britain, certifying your attendance at the BISC, and you should be prepared to present it at customs when you arrive in England. You should keep your LOA tucked inside your passport and have these items on your person at all times when travelling.
You must have proof of financial responsibility when you enter the UK. Ensure that you are carrying at least £30 in cash when you arrive. You should also have traveler’s cheques, a credit card, and/or a bank debit card with you when you arrive.
Power of Attorney
Will your OSAP or other loan or tax forms become due while you are overseas? Will you need someone to keep up to date with your banking? If so, it is very important that you arrange for a Power of Attorney before you leave. This gives your representative the authority to sign forms on your behalf. If you don’t think this is important, please reconsider! Many students and parents have commented on how useful this step was. If your signature will be needed for any official or legal document while you are away, you should make arrangements for a Power of Attorney. This gives a responsible person (your parents/guardian or emergency contact are usually the best option) authority to act on your behalf.
Please remember that Queen’s University is unable to discuss academic or financial matters with any person acting on your behalf unless you have provided their full name in the ‘”release of information” section on SOLUS (see page 13).
If you are out of the country during tax season and you have earnings from the previous year which you are required to declare for income tax purposes, you should contact the Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate in your host country for information on your tax obligations.
Canadian students, please note more information taxation while abroad is available from the Canada Revenue Agency
Also, please note that Tuition, Education and Textbook Amount Certificates -- T2202As can be printed directly from SOLUS and will not be mailed.
Dual citizenship means that you are considered a citizen of more than one country. Find out whether you, or any family members, are citizens of another country before you leave. Some countries may claim you as a citizen if you were born there, if one of your parents is a citizen, or if you are considered a citizen under that country’s laws. There are privileges to having dual citizenship, such as being able to work or study in some countries without having to get a visa; however, there may also be unpleasant surprises. If you are considered a national you may be compelled to do military service or pay special taxes. You should also note that you may be allowed entrance into a country under one passport but not the other, or may be required to obtain a visa for entrance under one passport but not the other. If you do run into problems because of your dual citizenship, contact the Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate in your host country immediately. The Government of Canada provide the following advice for those traveling with dual citizenship.
You may wish to consider purchasing an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) before you leave home. The ISIC entitles students to discounts on such things as travel and admission to various attractions, galleries, museums, and parks. Please visit the ISIC website to find out where you can buy your ISIC card. When you apply for your ISIC you will be required to submit a passport size colour photograph.
You may also purchase an ISIC through Merit Travel in Kingston (Tel.: +1 (613) 549-3553 or email: Kingston@MeritTravel.com) If you decide to book your flights through Merit Travel they will send you further information about the ISIC.
The ISIC is good for one calendar year (January-December); therefore, if you will be at the BISC for a full academic year (September to April) you will need to get a new ISIC for January. New applications are available in the fall of each year.