It’s not unusual for students studying abroad to need support with their visa applications. Universities will typically have teams, or even departments, available to try and help with the international student visa application process, but the reality is that these departments can only go so far, particularly when it comes to supporting information and documentation needed to apply. Indeed, even with assistance from international student and scholar offices, it’s still likely that prospective international students will run into issues, which can lead to visa delays, rejections, and even issues down the line if they reapply.
But this doesn’t have to be the case.
In this article, we will examine some of the challenges that international students might face while applying for student visas, in particular challenges that universities can’t often help, and how to overcome these challenges. In the end, the idea is for universities to not only reduce student stress and anxiety but also streamline their process and help ensure higher success international student success rates.
Common challenges international students face while applying for visas
Understanding international students’ challenges when applying for their visas is important for universities, in particular international student and scholar departments, to provide a well-rounded service. Students who attempt to complete their foreign student visa application on their own often run into problems, some of which are quite common, resulting in a higher risk of visa denial and eventually not being able to attend the university. So first, let’s look at some typical challenges students face when navigating the visa application process by themselves.
Visa application preparation
Learning the requirements is often one of the first hurdles students face — collecting the necessary documents and filling in the correct forms requires research. Often, the information on government and consulate websites isn’t very clear, especially for non-lawyers or immigration professionals. Because there is no room for error when applying for a visa, students often find themselves turned away or receiving a rejection from the embassy.
For example, for students interested in attending a university in North America, the industry organisation NAFSA: Association of International Educators provides some tips on how students should approach and prepare for the student visa application process, including evidence- and documentation- gathering.
Procuring and legalizing supporting documents
Once an international student understands the documents they need to gather, actually procuring, legalizing and translating those documents is also often necessary. However, how to do that is not always clear. Indeed, even US News and World Report, in their research on student visa mistakes to avoid, cites “Submitting an Incomplete Application” and “Forgetting Documents” among the common ones.
For example, documents like birth certificates, high school or other educational diplomas, medical documentation and other paperwork often needs to be both translated and legalised or notarised so that the receiving university can understand what they’re reading and know that it’s an authentic copy and translation. When student applicants either aren’t aware of this requirement or are unable to procure an acceptable document translation or legalisation, it can hurt their student visa application.
Booking Appointments and Communicating with Consulates
Finally, assuming the application is completed correctly and all necessary supporting documentation is provided, a consular appointment to be interviewed for the student visa is almost always one of the final steps. However, consulates can be difficult to communicate with and their websites can be confusing to navigate, which can make booking a visa interview at the consulate or embassy tricky.
International student departments at universities are often able to help students navigate this process, especially when those students are coming from countries that the university has experience with. But that’s not always a guarantee, and sometimes with turnover at universities, knowledge about navigating consulates and embassies around the world goes with departing staff.
Given these common challenges, and others, why take the risk of a prospective international student not successfully applying for a student visa because of preparation and documentation failures? Luckily, there universities can solve some of these problems by partnering with travel visa documentation and application experts.
How universities can easily provide even more international student support
Given the seemingly complex challenges that students face, universities often work with agencies to support prospective students from around the world. Agencies can help in several ways. First, they are often familiar with student visa application processes and requirements, and thus can better ensure that all student applicants have the correct forms and understand all the documents, health certificates and other requirements they may need.
These documents will often also need to be procured and legalised or apostilled in order to be accepted by the consulate as part of the student visa application process. Indeed, they often need to be translated too. And, if you’re thinking longer-term, after their studies, students often need their diplomas collected and legalised for use in their home country.
Finally, an agency can offer on-the-ground support and even be able to liaise between the university and the consulate, for example, by requesting admission letters and required forms from the university, which ultimately will be needed at the consulate, and make sure those forms are filled out completely and correctly. When someone in the student’s home country knows how consulates work there, how to most effectively contact them, how to navigate local bureaucracy, etc., that can provide substantial benefits to these potential international students.
Indeed, many universities work with such agencies to support their international student process, especially if they are trying to grow their presence around the world by partnering with other universities for exchange programs and more. On the one hand, international expansion for universities is a great way to reach more students and impart more lives, but on the other hand, if it requires establishing and maintaining relationships with travel visa, document legalisation and translation agencies all over the world, that can be overwhelming as well.
Instead of working with a handful if not dozens of local suppliers around the world, this is where working with one agency that can offer all these services for multiple countries and regions around the world is important.
And that’s exactly what Lex Documents does!
Lex Documents can help with student visa documentation, legalisation, translation and more!
Lex Documents is a leading global company that works with universities around the world to help them make sure that their international students go through the student visa process as smoothly as possible.
Our team of experts offer everything from document requirement confirmation to procuring, legalizing and translating those documents and direct embassy or consular support. All logistics of the student visa application process are taken care of, meaning students have a higher chance of success on their visas and international student offices have a much better experience along the way.
Lex Documents can also support the student after they finish their studies, for example, by helping to procure, legalise or translate their diplomas or certificates, police records or any other necessary documents they may need when they start searching for long-term work upon graduation.
Whatever your university needs, we can offer a customised service with a single point of contact. Reach out to us to find out how Lex Documents can help you build a complete service package for your international students!