Comparing Student Visas for the UK, USA and Canada: Which Visa is Easiest to Get? -

Comparing Student Visas for the UK, USA and Canada: Which Visa is Easiest to Get?

Hello, ambitious student preparing to go abroad to study a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree! If you’re thinking of studying in a popular international destination, then the United States, the United Kingdom or Canada must definitely be on your radar. But how difficult is it to get your student visa for these countries? 

Well, that’s what we’re here for! After conducting a thorough research on the student visa requirements for the UK, the U.S. and Canada, we can help you compare and figure out how likely you’ll be to get your visa. 

If you can’t wait to find dedicated info for your nationality, check out these in-depth shortcuts:

Student visa Canada

Next, we’ll tell you all about your application costs, how difficult the application process is, how much time you’ll need to wait, what documents you’ll need, how much money you need to have, how many interviews you’ll have to take, and much more. All just to help you feel prepared and confident you’ll get your visa and be on your way.

Check out Masters in the UK, USA and Canada

1. Do I even need a visa? If so, which one?

If you want to study an undergraduate or graduate degree for more than 1 year, you need to apply for a long-term student visa. These all have very original names:

  • Tier 4 (General) Student Visa – for the UK
  • F-1 Student Visa – for the U.S.
  • Study Permit – for Canada

If you’re coming from the EU and want to study in the UK, you won’t need to apply for the visa. However, if you’re going to the U.S. or Canada, most nationalities have to go through the visa process. Canadian students don’t need to apply for visa if going to the U.S., but apart from that, most nationalities are required to. To be extra sure, check the official visa websites for a list of nationalities that are exempt.

2. How much time will the visa application process take?

How fast your visa application will be processed depends on where you are applying from. That’s why UK and USA visa officials recommend applying with 3 months in advance before your scheduled departure, while Canada suggests starting the process 4 to 6 months prior. Visa processing time UK:

  • Recommended to apply with 3 months in advance.
  • In some countries, your visa is processed in 2 to 15 days, others under 30 days, and in the slowest cases 60 to 90 days.
  • The UK also has fast processing options that will cost extra. Guaranteed 3 to 5 days for priority, or 24 hours for super-priority.

Visa processing time USA:

  • Recommended to apply with 3 months in advance.
  • Probably the destination that processes student visa applications the fastest: 2 days to 3 weeks tops.
  • Students visas in the USA have priority over other types of U.S. visas.

Visa processing time Canada:

  • Recommended to apply with 4 to 6 months in advance.
  • The application is processed in 7 days in the best cases, but on average you’ll have to wait 35 days to get it. Students from some countries might have to wait between 42 and 140 days for a decision.
  • There are no faster visa processing options for Canada.

If you have your documents in order the USA visa might be the fastest, although if you pay extra you can get your UK visa in no time.  51623

3. How much do I have to pay for my student visa?

Costs for the visa process include a visa fee, a possible health insurance you’ll have to pay per year, processing fees, or travel fees if you have to travel outside your country to apply for a student visa. Yes, for some nationalities this might be required!

Fees for the UK visa:

  • Visa fee: 381 EUR (335 GBP).
  • Health surcharge: 170 EUR/year (150 GBP)
  • An extra processing fee, if applying through a visa application centre: around 62 EUR (55 GBP)

Fees for the USA visa:

  • Visa fee: 309 EUR (160 USD + 200 USD SEVIS fee).
  • You don’t need health insurance for the U.S. visa process.
  • Some countries may have to pay a small visa insurance fee of 10 to 40 USD.
  • If you’re an Iranian national, you’ll have to travel to a neighbouring country where you can apply from.

Fees for the Canadian visa:

  • Visa fee: 99 EUR (150 CAD).
  • Biometrics collection fee: 56 EUR (85 CAD)
  • A lot of nationalities will have to travel abroad for medical exams or biometrics.
  • Some nationals will have to pay a service fee of 25 to 66 CAD.
  • EU nationals will have to pay a 7 CAD Electronic Travel Authorization.

Conclusion: The Canadian Visa is the cheapest, but depending where you’re from you might have to spend extra on travelling to your visa appointments.

4. How many appointments will I have to attend?

UK visa: Just one visa appointment which includes the visa interview, that all applicants have to go through.

USA visa: Same as the UK. In a few countries, you might have to attend 2 interviews because the place where you apply for the visa is different from the one where you’ll attend the visa interview.

Canadian visa: The number of appointments you’ll need to attend varies depending on your nationality and your individual situation. This can mean attending no appointment (applying online) or attending up to 3 different appointments (interview, medical and biometrics).

Conclusion: Both the UK and USA visa require only 1 visa appointment.

Here are more details for EU students going to the U.S. or Canada:

5. What specific documents will I need to have?

During the student visa process, you will have to present certain documents that prove your identity and status, and that you are eligible to be a student in the country you want to go to. These include: ID, photos, an acceptance letter from the university, proof of funds, medical status, proof of language skills, translations of documents, and anything else the visa officials might require.

Some documents you’ll need for the UK visa:

  • Proof of sufficient English language skills
  • Depending on your nationality, medical exam results
  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the UK: 1265 GBP/month if living in London, or 1015 GBP/month if outside of London.

Some documents you’ll need for the USA visa:

  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the USA. This is required, but the exact monthly amount is not mentioned.
  • You won’t have to prove your English skills.
  • You need to convince the visa officials you won’t do any full-time work during your study duration.

Some documents you’ll need for the Canada visa:

  • Depending on your nationality, medical exam results
  • You won’t have to prove your English or French skills.
  • Proof you can cover your living costs in the UK: 917 CAD/month if living in Quebec, or 833 CAD/month if anywhere else in Canada.

Conclusion: You won’t have to provide proof of language skills in Canada and the USA. It might be tricky to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the U.S. because you don’t know how much exactly is the required minimum.


6. What are the steps I need to take to apply for my visa?

How to apply for the UK visa:

The UK student visa application process is straight-forward and transparent. You apply for the visa using the online platform and book an appointment for a visa application centre in your country.

How to apply for the USA visa:

Submit your online visa application (DS-160), create an online profile, and pay the visa fee. Then, schedule an online appointment with the consular section in your country to give biometrics and attend the visa interview. Iranians will have to travel to a visa centre abroad, as there is no American embassy in the U.S. Some countries may have visa restrictions for U.S., so make sure you check if your country 

How to apply for the Canada visa:

You can apply for the visa online or on paper. If you apply on paper, you will have to visit a visa application centre in your country to submit your documents. Depending on your situation, after your application is analysed, it is possible you will be called for a visa interview. Depending on your situation, after your application is analysed, it is possible you will be called for a visa interview.

Conclusion: The application process for the Canadian visa may vary a lot depending on your situation, and it’s kind of difficult to predict how much time and work it will result in. Both the UK and USA visa processes are clear.

7. How much time is my visa valid for?

This is an easy one:

  • The UK visa: course duration + 1 month;
  • USA visa: course duration + 2 months;
  • Canadian visa: course duration + 3 months.

Conclusion: If you want to stay a bit longer in the country after your studies Canada is a good pick.

Check out Bachelors in the UK, USA and Canada

Pick the country that best fits your situation

Hopefully, this was all helpful for you to decide what your chances for getting your student visa are. It’s impossible to pick a definitive winner out of the three. It’s up to you to decide based on your situation and study goals. Just be prepared with all the information you need and go for it!

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