Tier 4 Student Visa (from India)

Back to hometown after a short trip to New Delhi for my visa appointment. Whoever tells you that the toughest part gets over once you get an admit is SO wrong! Either that or he never needed to apply for visa.

The application is a bit of a task in itself. For UK Visa application in India, unlike visa app for USA, on the day of your appointment you submit at the application centre what you feel is your best prepared application and then can only wait for weeks in dreaded anticipation before you hear from embassy about their decision. Almost like an encore of your B school application!

For the benefit for first timers, I’m outlining the process to be followed to apply for Tier 4 Student (General) Visa (Make sure to diligently go through the detailed guidelines laid out here on GOV.UK  and here on Oxford’s site)

  • You will need to register at Visa4UK with your e-mail address. The application can be filled in multiple sessions until submission, post which you will not be allowed to make changes to your application. Make sure to keep saving from time to time, else you’ll have to fill in the details all over again, which can get quite frustrating.
  • The application itself would not take more than 30 minutes if you have all documents handy. You’ll need to fill in your personal details as per your passport (including that of your parents), travel history from past 10 years, education details, and declaration of maintenance funds.
  • Fill in CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance Acceptance for Studies) details provided by the University. Note that the CAS document should not be issued before 3 months prior to the start of your course. Also, the CAS has a unique number that can be used only once. In an unlikely event that your visa application gets rejected, you will need to request for a fresh CAS number to reapply. The document also specifies details on sponsor university’s license, course of study, documents used to assess your qualification as well as fees due towards the course. You will need all these details to fill in the application accurately.
  • Provide information on source of funds – loan letter, personal savings, funds from parents etc. This includes any remaining tuition fees and living costs (minimum 820 GBP per month for Oxford).
  • Select Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) collection centre. Once your visa is issued, you are given a 30 day vignette (from your travel date) that you need to show to collect your resident permit. Oxford has made provision to collect the BRP from the campus during orientation week, but since I am flying in earlier and BRP needs to be collected within 10 days of flying I would need to go to the post office to do the same. 
  • Submit application and book appointment slot. This will be followed with payments to be made towards Immigration Health Surcharge IHS (225 GBP) and Visa processing fees. IHS payment varies depending on length and type of visa, and can be calculated using this link.

Documents to carry along  for Visa appointment :

  • Passport
  • Latest photograph according to UK visa guidelines 
  • University admission letter 
  • CAS mail from the university 
  • Proof of funds 
  • IHS reference number 
  • Tuberculosis test report 
  • Previous degree (based on which CAS was issued) 

It’s a smooth process, gets over in about an hour. Make sure to not carry any eatables in your bag (yours truly did and had to grudgingly offer them to the security). You’re allotted a token number and while you wait for your turn you need to fill a couple of forms with your personal details and list of documents being submitted. 

If you want your documents to be sent back to your home in lieu of personal pick up, you can request for courier after paying certain amount (flatly refused for my state, why VFS why???

Once your token number is called out, you move to the allotted counter and submit your documents. The staff will go through the bundle and ask you a couple of questions to confirm your identity. Make sure you submit all documents in original to be on the safer side (recently heard of a friend whose visa got rejected because she submitted a notarised copy of her degree certificate?!!). 

You are then proceeded for the biometric test and a short video interview. My interview was warm and friendly. The interviewer asked me a few questions about my background and reason behind pursuing MBA and choosing Oxford as my preferred place of study. I assume the interview is done to ascertain your identity and that you are fit to study in the UK with regards to your command over English and study plans. 

Barring a tiny moment of panic where the staff pointed out to me that I should’ve carried a No Objection Letter from my parents since I was showing funds from a joint account, the process was extremely smooth for me. It had not occurred to me – and I had read the guidelines multiple times – that I would need an authorisation from my parents if I was a joint holder. The staff was quite helpful though and suggested that I manage to get the letter after my video interview in half an hour’s time. The following 30 minutes were the biggest adventure for me during my uneventful unemployed pre-MBA life. Sprinting around the market on call with parents who were at our farmhouse in a remote countryside, with both parties searching for a nearby internet cafe and finally managing to make it back just in time before they shut the doors – it was quite an experience! 

I have subscribed to SMS alerts on the status of my visa application. Last checked my phone for the 87th time, there’s been no update apart from “Your visa application xxxxxxx was forwarded to UKVI”.  The next one better be “Your visa is issued, please come over to collect your passport and we are more than happy to enclose a ticket to Platform 9 3/4 for you!”  

Accommodation, Tickets: Check

My lovely brother booked the flight tickets for this jobless broke girl. God bless elder siblings!

I’ll be landing to Heathrow in early September with my parents and we shall spend a couple of weeks at my brother’s place, before I head off for Oxford on September 20th (Orientation starts on 21st). The entire family will be together after over a year and we are quite excited. If my brother’s work schedule permits him some days off, we will also make a short trip somewhere. Cannot wait!

Signed my accommodation contract and sent it across to the college accommodation today. Rewley Abbey Court, with a distance of just about 150-200 mts from Saïd, is going to be my abode for the next one year.

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One upside of getting admitted early on in the admissions cycle is that you have ample options to choose from to secure college and accommodation. With GTC ( Green Templeton College ) being my first choice and a safe one for MBA students, there were enough on-site and off-campus accommodation options available. I wanted to stay as close to the school as possible, so that its easier to reach the school quickly in case I am running late. A long sleepy walk / ride to the school in sub zero temperatures during winters is the last thing I want to worry about. And the few extra minutes that I would save, I can always make use of them in grabbing some more soon-to-be-a-rare-luxury sleep. 😉

The downside being that this is off the college premises, again limiting interaction with non-MBA scholars. Also that I didn’t have option for an ensuite room in shared flats at RAC. Having lived in an undergraduate hostel with 20 girls in my corridor and only a handful of washrooms to share, I am prepared to live with anything!

I’ll be sharing a 2 BHK flat with a batchmate from India. We both are in touch over messages and she seems really nice. We both are excited and have been discussing on what all we will need to buy once we are there, mainly kitchen and utility items. The accommodation includes cooker and refrigerator, but would need to set up rest of the kitchen. The accommodation license has an elaborate instruction list on what is allowed and what is not in the flat. I will go through it in detail soon, specially for the electric and electronic items. Regardless, a couple of electric socket converters will be pertinent to carry.

For those interested, there is a video of the 2BHK RAC flat on YouTube by Nick Martin, the accommodation manager. This was immensely helpful for me before putting forth my application for accommodation with my preferred choice.

So with arrangements for accommodation and travel made, I need to get started on my Visa application asap!