Archive for May, 2015

How to apply for a student visa

May 26, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

 Applying for a UK student visa can be a tricky process, but here at ECA UK we want to help you make that process as easy as possible. So easy, in fact, that we’ve made a guide for you to follow – and we even have a sister company, ECA Legal, who are visa specialists. There is quite a lot to prepare for your application, so let’s get started, shall we?

Confirmation from your university or school

A student visa in the UK is called a Tier 4 Student Visa, and the most important thing you’ll need for your application is confirmation that you have been accepted to study on your course. This means that you’ll need to have received an ‘unconditional offer’. Once you’ve got this and accepted it, your university or school will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is often a letter with your reference number, course details, and personal information, and you’ll need to keep it safe. Take a scanned copy when you receive it, just in case. You’ll need to enter the CAS reference number on your visa application, so make sure that you don’t lose it!

After you receive the CAS reference number, you will have 6 months to apply for your Tier 4 student visa – even though this seems like a long time, don’t sit on your hands and do nothing, as there are other documents you’ll require, and things you’ll need to do that could take a long time to prepare!

IELTS – special update

Before your university gives you a CAS, you will have to do an IELTS test to check your English. There is a new test especially for applying for a UK visa, so when you are looking for a test centre, make sure you choose one where you will do “IELTS for UKVI”, as this is the new name for the IELTS test for visa applications!

What is ‘maintenance’?

So you’ve done your IELTS and got your CAS – what’s next? The next step is all about money: tuition fees, and living costs – or ‘maintenance’. This can seem quite complicated, but as long as you work out everything you need, then you will be OK.

How much will you need? The answer to that question has two parts: you will need to have enough money to pay your course fees for the first year (minus any that you have already paid), and this amount will be stated on your CAS letter. You will also need to show that you have enough for living costs, or maintenance. This is more complicated to work out, as it depends where you are living. It’s best to ask for advice about this point, but in general if you are living inside London you need to show that you have £1,020 per month for up to 9 months (£9,180 in total). If you are living in Greater London or the rest of the UK, you need to show that you have £820 for up to 9 months (£7,390 in total). Again, as there are different factors and variables to consider, it is better if you check with a visa advisor to make sure.

So, how can you show it? In order to show that you have enough money for the course fees and maintenance, you will have to provide a bank statement that shows you have the required money in your account for at least 28 days before your application. For example, if you apply for your Tier 4 student visa on June 28th, you will need a bank statement that shows you have the correct amount of money in your account during the period of June 1st to June 28th. Ideally, you will show a bank statement from May to June 28th, as this will give you a stronger case, and the stronger your case is the better.

Where should I apply – and what else do I need?

You can apply for your Tier 4 student visa online, through the UK government website. If you prefer, you can ask a visa agent to do it for you; in the UK, visa agents need to be regulated by the government, so always check that they have an OISC license. Using a reputable agent will make things less complicated for you, as they will tell you which documents to prepare and how to prepare them. After you’ve applied, you will need to go to a British embassy, high commission, or consulate, which might be in your home country, or might be somewhere in the region, such as Abu Dhabi in the Middle East. When you go to the embassy, make sure you bring all the documents they request. You will also need to do a fingerprint scan, and have your photograph taken there, so you might have to wait for some time. However, once you have submitted all your documents, and you are confident that everything is ready, you shouldn’t have to wait too long.

How long does it take, and how much does it cost?

Different countries have different processing times, but it could take from a couple of weeks to a month to process your visa. Fees are always the same, as a Tier 4 student visa application costs £323.

What else is there?

There is also an interview stage that you will need to prepare for, called a ‘credibility interview’, which tests if you are a genuine student. Now, I’m sure that you are a genuine student, but the UK Home Office will still want to check themselves. The interview will usually be at the place you applied for your visa, so the UK embassy or consulate you went to originally. If that’s not possible, then you might be interviewed by phone, which isn’t always easy but you’ll need to be prepared.

There are a lot of different questions that you could be asked. In general, they will ask you about your study history, what you want to study in the UK, for how long, and also your finances – who will pay for your course, how much it is, and so on. They could even ask you for extra documents that aren’t mentioned in the visa application, so it would be a good idea if you speak to your agent first, so that you can get a better idea of what the interview will be about. You’ll also have the chance to practice with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Not sure if you need a UK student visa? Click here to check on the UK government’s website!


May 15, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

For students who still don’t have an offer for September, it may seem desperate, but James Galloway has comforting news and essential advice if you still need to secure a place at a UK university.

It’s that time of year again – Spring has sprung, the birds are singing in the trees, and international students all over the world are excitedly checking their UCAS accounts to find out if they’ve been accepted by their choices. There will be a lot of happy faces. But spare a thought for those who didn’t make it, and are still not holding an offer from their university of choice, or have even missed out on all the courses they wanted to study. And if you are one of the unlucky ones, don’t worry too much – help is at hand.

Even if you’ve missed out on all your choices, there are still some options available to you. The first place you can go is to UCAS Extra. You can find this on the UCAS website, where you made your original applications. If it’s available to you, it will appear as a button when you log-in to track your applications. There is a video and some instructions for you to follow, but it is never easy using the UCAS website. Also, UCAS Extra only allows you to do one extra university application at a time, which might not be enough if you want to get results quickly, or you want to have similar options to when you originally applied.

Another option that you have is clearing. When you make your initial applications, the universities will look at your education grades, or your predicted grades, and then give you an offer from those. If you didn’t receive an offer, but you are confident that your grades are good enough to get you entry into another university of your choice, then you can wait for “clearing”. This is from July to September each year, and you need to act fast when it starts, as there will be a lot of students waiting to do the same. This means that places on courses go fast, and they can fill up very quickly. Because there are limited places on offer, and a large number of students applying to each course, waiting until clearing is not always the best option. It is probably best if you see clearing as your last resort – when all other options have failed, then clearing is the thing to try.

If you’ve been rejected by your university choices, however, then perhaps it is time for a second opinion. For international students coming to study in the UK, using UCAS can be tough, but also the number of courses is overwhelming. Are you sure what you chose are the right courses for you? Does it fit with your career goal? Speaking with an education adviser or agent about your applications will be a great help, as they will be able to look over your previous applications, and give advice about your personal statement, for example, or if your qualifications from home met the course requirements. You will be able to choose a university that is more suitable for you, at a university that is closer to what you are looking for. A consultant may also be able to help you make direct applications to universities through their contacts, which you can’t do on UCAS. Another important factor to remember is that you won’t have to rely on clearing, either.

The important thing to remember is that there are more routes and options than many people realise. You will need to be organised, and get some advice to start planning your strategy now, but you can still find a place. Just don’t panic!


When applying for university study in the UK, you need to be careful to get it right, but if you get a professional to help you, it could make quite a difference to your success, and your schedule. James Galloway explains.

With the application deadlines for many university courses fast approaching, it is time to act quickly to get your university applications out in time. For many courses you can apply online, but you can also find an agent or education consultant to help you by applying directly. Most universities will look at applications as they receive them, and not wait until after their deadlines, so applying soon will allow you to get a head-start in the application process.

There are many benefits to applying to universities soon, especially if you use an advisor or agent who can get the results and feedback for you quicker than using other methods by yourself. If you get accepted at your first choice universities, then you won’t have to spend the summer worrying about making other applications, and can think about other things such as accommodation, budgeting and, of course, applying for a visa. If you get a rejection, then you will be able to assess your application and perhaps reconsider a few things: are you aiming too high, for example, or do you need to change anything? Applying to your favoured universities soon will give you the chance to re-think, and perhaps tailor your personal statement again if you need to.

Of course, for international students coming to study in the UK, it is not just your university course that you need to think about, but also your visa. Applying for your university course soon will give you enough time to go through the visa application process, which can sometimes take a long time – especially if you’re not sure how to apply. You will need to supply original documents – such as bank statements – that have to be in the correct format. This can take longer than you expect to gather together, and even though your university will give you some help here, it will be much easier for you to get help from a visa and immigration adviser, who will tell you which documents to prepare and how to prepare them. Your visa advisor will manage the application process from the start to the finish, and all you will have to do is supply the documents – you won’t even have to fill in an application form. If you are applying in the UK, make sure that you choose a suitably qualified adviser who is regulated either by the OISC or as a solicitor. Using unregulated and unqualified people for legal advice can put you at risk, and without anyone to help you if it all goes wrong.

We all know that applications can be a confusing and troublesome business, but getting an early start before those deadlines get closer will help manage your stress levels over the summer, and give you time to relax and do far more exciting things. Asking an agent to help and advise you with your university applications is very convenient, and will turn what is sometimes a difficult process into a smooth and easy one. They will allow you to speed up these processes, and get the results you are looking for.

It’s essential for student life in the UK, but how easy is it for an international student to open an account? James Galloway ivestigates.









So you’ve got your offer from your dream university in the UK, you’ve checked in at your accommodation, and you’ve started making some friends. You know there’s something else you need to do, some kind of life administration work, but you can’t quite remember… But when the next time to go out comes around, and you need to run off to get some money to pay for dinner or pay for your round at the pub – that’s when you remember what you should have done: open a bank account.

The one thing which could stop you opening an account is the type and length of visa you have. With a student visitor visa, you may find it difficult, as banks require a ‘residence’ type visa of at least six months to open an account. This means that you need to be in the UK with a Tier 4 student visa if you will need a bank account.

Opening a bank account as an international student is not as difficult as you might think, as both the bank and your university want your life in the UK to be as easy and as convenient as possible. First of all, though, you need to choose which bank is right for you. There are a great many banks in the UK, and what we call ‘high street banks’, such as HSBC, NatWest, Santander, and Lloyds, will all have basic bank accounts that you can open. These will provide you with a debit card, which you can use to pay for things directly (it is different from a credit card, as the money will come out of your account automatically).

A basic account can be used to pay in and take out money, but you can’t use it to get credit – you’ll need a current account in order to get that. There are other types of account available which require you to have a minimum amount of money in the account when you open it, and these allow the bank to offer more services. Some banks offer student accounts, and might give you a free gift if you open one. You can speak with the bank staff about those accounts, but for an international student studying for a few years, a basic or current account is the easiest option.

Now comes the important part: actually opening the account. If you choose a basic account, you won’t have to deposit any money in your account to open it, but you will need to show your identity and some other documents when you go to the bank. You should check with your chosen bank before you go, but you will usually need to bring your passport with your student visa if you’re a non-EU student; if you’re from the EU, then you will need to bring you passport and your national photo ID card. You will need to show the bank some extra information, to confirm that you’re currently a student. Your university/college/school will provide you with a letter confirming your UK study details, or they will help you complete a “Letter of Introduction for UK Banking Facilities.” This will also be your proof of address, as the bank will send you a debit card, as well as bank statements, after you’ve completed the process.

That should be everything. Oh yes, remember to try to manage your money responsibly! The bank will actually help you do this, as you can check your account using an ATM (in the UK we sometimes call them ‘the hole in the wall’), as well as the regular bank statements you will receive. If you need assistance or advice with your bank account, you can speak to the bank, as they will be happy to help. Even the most basic bank account will let you do things like transfer money overseas, receive money from home, and also pay large amounts for your school fees or rent. Opening a bank account is definitely something you need to do when you arrive in the UK, and if you follow our advice, it should be a quick, easy, and convenient process.