Visa applications have to be submitted at the nearest VFS centre to your place of residence. The addresses of the VFS centre’s can be seen by visiting the link: http://vfs-uk.co.in/contactus.aspx. For e.g. if you are from Delhi, you have to apply at the Delhi VFS office and would not be allowed to apply for your visa in Mumbai unless you can show some proof of residence in Mumbai for e.g. leave and licence rental agreement or electricity bill in your / parent’s name. You have to submit the student visa application in person only i.e. somebody else can’t submit documents on your behalf as your biometric details (finger prints) would be taken at the VFS office.
The visa application fees keeps on changing every year (usually keeps going up only). For the latest visa fees, please visit the link: http://vfs-uk.co.in/visafees.aspx and check the visa fee mentioned under STUDY – Points Based System Tier 4. For submitting the visa fees, you may carry the amount in cash only as the VFS office have in house facilities of making demand draft there itself. Apart from the visa fees, carry an additional 1,000 Rs/- for additional charges like VFS service charge, SMS alert activation, clicking visa photograph (they have an in-house photographer) and Blue Dart courier charges for return of documents.
The visa processing time taken for a student visa application is normally 3 weeks i.e. 15 working days. Some students may get a bit earlier also depending upon the rush of applications at the visa office for e.g. the month of August is usually the busiest at the UK VFS office. In certain cases, if the student’s documents go in for secondary verification, the processing time may go well over 1 month as well.
There are 3 possible outcomes for your visa application i.e. visa getting approved, visa getting rejected or the student being called for an interview. If your visa is approved, you will have the UK visa stamped on your passport and all of your supporting documents that you had submitted would be returned back to you. If your visa is refused, your documents will be returned back to you along with the reasons mentioned for visa refusal. Thereafter, you can reapply for your visa by rectifying the deficiencies mentioned in the visa refusal letter and reapply again at the earliest. If you feel that your visa has been wrongly refused, you have a right to appeal against the visa decision. The third possibility is that you will be called for an interview. Usually, decisions for visa approval or refusals are given on the basis of documents submitted and hence you should be very careful in submitting your documents properly. Should you be called for an interview, you will be given a date and time in consultation with you and you will have to visit the respective British (Deputy) High Commission office for the interview. Usually interviews are called if the Entry Clearance Officer at the BHC has got certain queries which were not answered through the documents that you had submitted. There is no need to panic if you are called for an interview as an interview call does not necessarily mean a visa refusal.
It is very important that you do not give any false information / document during your visa application as if caught you are unlikely to be given a visa in the next 10 years. If you do not have certain documents, it is safer to explain the reasons for the same instead of submitting false documents.
If you are applying for a STUDENT VISA (for 2nd Mates and Chief Mate courses), you will need to fill up the online application form on the website www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk and book an appointment from the website itself.
The documents that you need to submit for your STUDENT VISA are:
Visa appointment reference letter printout (from the website www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk)
Online visa application form printout (from the website www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk)
PBS Appendix 8 application form
Passport (old and new) of self
1 Passport Size Photograph to be taken at the VFS office
Marriage certificate if married
CAS email received from the University
CDC / COC / IELTS or Pearson English test (as mentioned on your CAS)
Notice of Eligibility from the MCA (if already obtained).
STCW Short Courses / Sea Service Testimonials
Salary Certificate (if you have from your company)
Class X, XII, Graduation, Pre-sea course, etc. certificates.
Educational Loan Letter from bank if you have taken an education loan
Pass books / Bank statements from banks (updated within the last 5 days)
Arranging your documents:
The entry clearance officer at the British High Commission has to go through many visa applications daily. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that his documents have been properly submitted in a way that it is easier for the visa officer to understand his documentation. It is advisable that you categorise your documents into four distinct headings:
College documents: For e.g. admission letter / cas email from college, accommodation details, prospectus, etc.
Financial documents: This would include your bank statement / bank passbook and / or education loan sanction letter from your bank. If you are taking an online bank statement printout, it should have the bank's stamp, signature, date and logo on each page of the printout.
Educational qualification documents: This would include your stcw courses (basic and advanced), GMDSS, petrochemical courses, previous CoC, Class X, XII, graduation / engineering, pre-sea courses, etc.
Work experience documents: This would include your sea service testimonials, pay slips, company contract letters, etc.,
It is advisable that you group your documents under the above four headings, clip them together with a U clip and mark them under the various headings using a post-it paper. This wold make it much easier for the visa officer to understand your various documents. Please bear in mind that the visa officer is not someone from the merchant navy background. Hence, it is difficult for them to understand a lot of your certificates and documentation. The above procedure would go a long way in making the process easier for the visa clearance officer in understanding your application.
Funds to show for the UK visa:
From 1 October 2009, for all points-based system Tier 4 applications made outside the UK, the amounts required to meet the maintenance criteria must be held in your personal or your parent(s)/ legal guardian(s) bank account for a minimum period of 28 days prior to making your visa application. The end of the 28 day period must not be more than 1 month before the date of your application, for which you must show bank statements /other evidence.
Please note that Fixed Deposits, Insurance policies, Provident Fund, Stocks and Mutual Funds, overdraft facilities from banks, etc., are not acceptable proof of funds. You can only show CASH IN THE BANK or EDUCATION LOAN from a bank or regulated financial body).
The funds that you need to show for the visa are your TUITION FEES (less any deposit paid) + 7,200 GBP as LIVING EXPENSES (if your University is located outside of London) if your course is of duration 9 months or more (even upto 3 years). What it means is that even if your course duration is upto 3 years, you have to show living expenses and tuition fee for the first year only i.e. as detailed above. If your course duration is between 6 – 8 months, the funds you need to show is TUITION FEES (less any deposit paid) + 800 GBP x Number of months of the course duration (for e.g. 800 x 7= 5,600 GBP if the course duration is for 7 months). If your course duration is for less than 6 months, you will be going on a student visitor’s visa and not a student visa. The funds to be show is BALANCE TUITION FEE + 4,800 GBP. For courses in London, the living expenses will be calculated at 1.000 GBP / month instead of 800 GBP / month.
Please ensure that you deposit / withdraw 100 Rs/- from your bank account about 4 – 5 days before your visa application date and have this entry updated on your bank passbook / statement. The 28 day period will be calculated from the last entry date on your passbook / statement and not from the date on which you have taken the bank statement or submitted your passbook to the visa authorities. For e.g. if you took a bank statement on the 15th of July but the last entry date on your bank statement / passbook is 1st of July, the 28 day period will be calculated from the 1st of July and not the 15th of July. The 28 day period is a requirement for STUDENT VISA (courses more than 6 months) only and not for STUDENT VISITORS VISA (for courses less than 6 months).
If your wife and children would like to accompany you to UK, they have to apply for a General Visitor visa. Only for post- graduate courses, will your wife and children be allowed to accompany you on a dependant visa. It is becoming difficult to get visas for wife and children on General Visitors visa if you are going for a CoC course which is considered as below a graduate degree level course. Often visas of wife are getting refused stating that there is no accommodation proof available for keeping the family. Hence, it is better if the student reaches UK, arranges for his accommodation, sends the proof of accommodation to his wife and then only does the wife apply for her visa. Still the chances of the wife and children getting the visa would be about 50 % only although it is not difficult for the student to get his visa.
Reasons for Visa Refusal:
The following are the most common reasons for STUDENT VISA refusal. Please note that the rules for STUDENT VISITORS VISA (i.e. for courses less than 6 months) are different and the visa refusal reasons mentioned below many not necessarily apply to STUDENT VISITORS VISA. The below rules are applicable for 2nd Mates and Chief Mates courses which are more than 6 months in duration. These rules do not necessarily apply for Class 4 (Engine), Class II (Engine), Class I (Engine) and Masters preparatory course (Deck) as those courses are less than 6 months duration and come under the STUDENT VISITOR VISA rules:
If the funds shown by you are less than the amount required to be shown for the visa, your visa will be refused because of insufficient funds. You should be careful about currency fluctuations and hence always keep a buffer margin of atleast 50,000 Rs/- to take into account any currency fluctuations between Rupees and Pounds which may go against you. The funds that you need to show is the BALANCE TUITION FEE + 7,200 GBP for living expenses. The tuition fee for the course as well as the deposit paid will be mentioned in your CAS email. Please use the CAS information as a reference point for calculating your money requirement. The currency exchange ratio is taken from the website www.oanda.com on the visa application date. As per the new visa rules applicable from 6th April 2012, the funds to be shown for the 2nd Mates and Chief Mates course are in the range of 11 Lakhs approximately.
If the funds shown in the account have been held for less than 28 days in your account, your visa will be refused. Please withdraw 100 Rs/- from your bank account about 4 days before the visa application date and update your bank statement / bank passbook. The 28 day period is calculated from the last transaction date on your bank statement / passbook and not from the visa application date.
The bank statements submitted must have the bank logo, statement date, your name and account number as well as the bank manager’s sign and stamp on each page of the statement. If one or more of the above is missing, your visa will be refused. THE SINGLE BIGGEST REASON FOR VISA REFUSAL IS THE BANK PRINTED LOGO MISSING ON THE BANK STATEMENT. The bank manager may persuade you that even a rubber stamped logo is acceptable but it is not so. There are many students who have got their visas refused because the bank manager convinced them that the rubber stamp or their signature will suffice instead of a PRINTED LOGO. Beware or such wrong information being given by the banks.
It is always advisable to submit a bank passbook rather than a bank statement unless your bank does not issue you with a bank passbook (for e.g. ICICI bank, HSBC bank, etc.). Please note that HDFC Bank and Axis Bank also issue bank passbooks if you ask them for the same. If they refuse to give you the passbook, tell them to give it to you in writing with the reason for not issuing you with a bank passbook. They will give you a bank passbook soon. Many bank statement do not have the statement issue date mentioned on them but they have the statement duration mentioned on them for e.g. 1st January 2012 to 15th March 2012. Please note that if you are taking a statement on 15th March 2012, then the statement closing date does not automatically become your statement date. Your statement date i.e. 15th March 2012 should be mentioned separately from the statement duration date, else the visa will be refused stating that the bank statement issue date is missing. This problem is faced usually with bank statements from HDFC Bank, HSBC Bank and Axis Bank.
Your CAS email / letter will give a list of documents on the basis of which you have been given an admission and hence a CAS number. It is mandatory that you submit all those documents mentioned in the CAS in originals only as else your visa will be refused.
An English language test has become compulsory for all students going for CoC courses to UK. If you have appeared for IELTS exam, please ensure that you submit the IELTS certificate in originals only. If you sat for the Pearson PTE English test, you have to submit the online printout of your PTE score. At the same time, from the Pearson PTE website, you need so send your score to the UKBA office as well prior to your visa application.
Your college will have a course starting date as well as a course last joining date beyond which you will not be allowed to join the course. If you apply late for the visa, it is likely that your last course joining date would have passed before your visa processing is complete. In such a case also, it is likely that your visa would be refused as your last course joining date has passed.
You should be very careful not to submit any forged documents or to hide or mislead the visa authorities by giving wrong information. If you are caught, your visa will be refused and you will not be given a visa again for the next 10 years.
If the lamination of your Passport has come out, it is likely that the VFS will advise you not to submit that Passport for the visa. However, if the VFS does not advise you and you go ahead and submit the Passport, your visa will be refused. Either get the lamination repaired or apply for a new passport.
If your visa has been refused for whatsoever reason, you will have to apply for a new CAS number from the college. If you apply for a visa again on your old CAS number, your visa will be refused.
Your passport shoud have atleast 3 blank pages at the time of visa application or else the VFS will not accept your application. Out of the 3 blank pages on your passport, atleast two of these pages should be back to back of each other. Else, you will not be allowed to apply for the UK visa.
It is also possible that your visa gets refused if the Entry Clearance Office, due to oversight missed some of your documents and hence refused your visa. Such cases are rare but do happen. In such cases, you should appeal against the decision and it is very likely that you will be issued with a visa. There are no charges for the same.