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With the Indian cricket team having made it to the Super Six all eyes will be on England for the next few weeks. And those of you who are planning to go there as students in this September will definitely be wishing that you could have gone there earlier than later and cheered for India. But never mind  lets take a closer look at how you will go about applying for a student visa or Entry Clearance to study in a University in UK.

 Who needs entry clearance to enter the United Kingdom? If you are the  holder of a desi passport then  rest assured you will definitely need an Entry Clearance or a visa to enter the UK. The Entry Clearance certificate  will be stamped on your passport by the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai. This stamp  will allow you to take a flight to UK and enter the  airport as a potential student for  higher education.

What is the port of entry and how important is this stage?  The port of entry is the airport that you will disembark upon after your flight. Technically the entry clearance or the visa allows you entry only till this stage of your journey. At the port of entry you have to meet the immigration officials again and it is they really who give you permission to enter their country. You will have to convince the officers at the port of entry that you are a genuine student and that you are in perfect medical shape. But that should not be too difficult provided that you have all the important documents , that you took for your visa interview in Mumbai, ready for inspection  in your handbag  and can take them out easily for scrutiny at the port of entry. Once the entry clearance is stamped on your passport there is a very remote chance that you will not be allowed entry into their country. But it is important to remember that the officers at the port of entry do reserve the right of  interviewing you again before allowing you permission  to enter. Of course if you are wanted by the Indian police then travel at your own risk!

How long will it take me to get this entry clearance certificate or visa stamped on my  passport in Mumbai?  Plan to spend a considerable amount of your time in getting this all elusive stamp on your passport. The entire visa process takes at least a month and at the end of it all you would have visited the British Deputy High Commission (BDHC) at Maker Chambers three times. During the first visit you are interviewed by a visa officer (more about this later). If at the end of this interview you are asked to pay the visa fee and get your medical check - ups done then you can almost open that bottle of champagne. coz unless there is some ghoch in your medical you are almost destined to catch that flight to UK. The other two trips to the BDHC will be fairly routine in which one of them will be dedicated to submitting your passport and the necessary documents. The last visit will be final stage of collecting your passport with the visa stamp.

How can I certify that I & my family have the necessary funds in India or abroad to pay for my education? If your education is going to be sponsored by somebody in UK then they need to send a letter of sponsorship giving details of their occupation and salary.

How much money do I really need to show at the time of visa?  There is absolutely no upper limit to the amount of funds that you should be showing for your visa interview. However there is no need to go to the obscene limits of putting crores and crores in your bank accounts unless they already exist there.

All my family money  is in Indian Rupees how can I show the money in pounds? There is absolutely no reason for you to worry on this account. Any bank that deals in foreign currency can issue you a certificate stating that they will be able to provide you with the necessary amount of foreign currency, for further education, after you get your visa.

What questions will they ask me in the visa interview? Relax there is absolutely no need to be nervous about your student visa interview at the BDHC. The people at the counter are fairly friendly and will not grill you and have you for lunch!

Do the medical check-ups need to be done in specified hospitals and laboratories? After the visa interview you will be given a sheet of paper in which the designated hospital will be mentioned for your medical checkups. Almost all people have to go to the Breach Candy hospital for their meds. After you have collected the medical test reports you will have to meet a designated doctor for the health checkup. All international students are covered by the National Health Insurance in UK thus while you are a student there you will not incur any additional health costs.

If I go to UK on a visitor visa can I convert this visitor visa to a student visa while I am  still in UK? The answer to this question will have to be a big no. Under no circumstances should you plan to convert your visitor visa into a student visa while you are still in UK. It is best to complete your visit and after returning to India apply for a student visa along with the necessary papers mentioned above.

From where can I get the form IM2A? This form is available free of charge from the BDHC. Their address is as follows: British Deputy High Commission Maker Chamber IV, 222 Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021.

FURTHER INFORMATION  For greater details on UK visa contact the office of Career Track.