PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO TIER 4 VISA APPLICATION PROCESS. PLEASE REFER TO THE STUDENT HANDBOOK FOR MORE INFORMATION!
There have been problems in the past with students who did not apply for their visa in time and were days late in arriving at the Castle. 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.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK? The answer 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.
Students on a Canadian, USA, UK, or EU passport who study at the Castle for less than 6 months are able to enter the United Kingdom as a student visitor and are not required to apply for a visa before travel. To demonstrate that you have been accepted on a course of study at an educational establishment that is on the Register of Education and Training Providers, the BISC will issue you a Letter of Attendance (LOA) prior to your departure to the UK. You will be required to present your LOA at customs control upon arrival in the UK, so make sure that it is not packed in your checked luggage! You should keep your LOA tucked inside your passport and have these items on your person at all times when travelling.
Students on all other passports should check to see if a visa is required at https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa. If you do require a visa, you will need to apply for a Short-term Study Visa (https://www.gov.uk/study-visit-visa/overview). When you apply you will need to provide:
- a current passport or other valid travel identification
- one passport-sized colour photograph
- evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, e.g., bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months1
- details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans - you shouldn’t pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa2
- your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
- contact details for at least one parent or guardian in your home country (if you’re under 18 years old)
1The BISC will issue you a Letter of Attendance (LOA) prior to your departure to the UK. This LOA will indicate that you have paid all of your course fees and will not have recourse to public funds. You may have to submit further evidence depending on your application - the UK Council for International Student Affairs provides further information.
2The LOA will also include details of your residential address while in the UK.
You need to provide the original documents. You also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh. You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.
- Health Surcharge. Students coming to UK for less than 6 months will not be subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge. Using National Health Services (NHS) will be charged at the rate of 150% of the cost of service. Students MUST arrange their own health insurance in order to reclaim the cost of using the NHS.
Please note: If you plan to work or extend your stay in the UK, or if you are a visa national, even if you are studying at the Castle for less than 6 months you will instead be required to obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa before you arrive in the UK (see below). See this list of visa nationals
If you will be studying at the Castle for a period greater than 6 months, unless you are able to travel under a valid passport issued by an EU member country, you will be required to obtain a Tier 4 Student Visa before arriving in the UK.
General guidance for the Tier 4: Please see the (General) Student and (Child) Student visa application process
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.
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).
- Health Surcharge. The UK government has introduces a health surcharge for non-EEA visitors staying for more than 6 months, which cost £150. You will have to apply and pay this charge BEFORE you can can start your visa application process.
- 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 language requirements page. 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.
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: email@example.com
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 travelling (transit visas) or planning to visit. Contact the embassy, or consulate, of any country through which you may be travelling, or planning to visit, and ask them about their country’s visa requirements.