Immigration Nitty Gritty for Students in Degree Programs Abroad

by Adam Muri-Rosenthal, Ph.D.

I often sing the praises of pursuing a degree abroad, but doing so is not without its challenges! One of the principal challenges faced by most students who choose to pursue the amazing benefits of a degree in another country is the bureaucratic one. Each country has its own rules and processes required of students coming from other countries. To make matters more complicated, these can change depending on your country of citizenship. In order to help untangle some of the confusion for US students, we have has created the comparison chart below which notes the major differences between immigration processes for US students. The PDF file can be viewed directly here on our website or downloaded for your convenience. While many of the lines on the chart are self-explanatory, a require some additional explanation:

  • In some countries, processes differ depending on the region. For instance, there are differences in the requirements for foreign nationals studying in Quebec versus those studying in the rest of Canada. The same is true of those studying in London versus those studying in the rest of the UK. Those differences are indicated on the chart.
  • Most countries require either a residence permit alone or a visa and a residence permit, the process for which tends to be more involved. In the case of the latter, students must apply for the visa (which allows you to enter the country in question with the intention of remaining beyond the typical 90 days permitted to tourists without a visa) prior to departing their home country and the residence permit once they arrive. Countries that require only a residence permit allow students to apply after they’ve arrived in the country and without the need for a visa.
    • The Canadian study permit is similar to a residence permit. US citizens may apply online prior to arrival in Canada or at a point of entry but do not require an entry visa.
  • As part of the visa and/or residence permit application process, students will be required to demonstrate the availability of the funds necessary to support themselves. The amount varies by country (and sometimes by region) and is indicated in the chart. All countries with the exception of the UK (although presumably this exception may not always be granted) require proof of the available funds, generally in the form of a letter from the bank or recent bank statements.
  • In addition to the last requirement, some countries require that students applying for visas or residence permits also demonstrate their ability to pay the tuition of the institution they plan to attend.
  • A handful of countries require, as part of the application for a visa or residence permit, a letter from the institution demonstrating that the student has been admitted.

Interested in pursuing your degree abroad? Contact us for a free consultation!