Should Universities Outsource Student Visa Processing or Handle It Internally?

Universities have welcomed growing numbers of international students, with over 6.4 million students currently studying abroad. As institutions strive to attract top global talent and ensure a smooth transition for their foreign students, the student visa process has become an increasingly important aspect of admissions. Some universities handle the process in-house, while others leave it to the student to manage. 


However, it’s not uncommon for students who attempt to complete their foreign student visa application independently to encounter some common problems. This results in a higher risk of visa denial and inability to attend the university. International student departments at universities sometimes help students navigate this process, especially when students come from countries with which the university has experience. But that’s not always guaranteed and can pressure the staff, especially with the increasing numbers and diversity of countries they’re dealing with.  


Given the situation’s complexity, should universities handle the student visa process internally, or should students manage it themselves? This article will explore the pros and cons of both approaches and the benefits of using an outside service for student visa processing.



The benefits of handling the student visa process internally

For several reasons, handling the student visa process in-house can be a more strategic option. Not only does it make the student’s transition easier, it can also streamline operations and minimize any issues regarding denials and delays. Here are some of the typical advantages institutions that handle the immigration process internally experience:


Streamlined and consistent process

When universities take the lead in managing student visa applications, they can offer a streamlined and consistent experience for all international applicants. By centralizing the process, institutions can make sure that all necessary requirements and timelines align seamlessly with their academic schedules. This level of control helps minimize delays and ensures that students are well-prepared to start their studies on time without the added stress of navigating complex visa procedures independently.


Personalized support and guidance in-house

One of the most significant advantages of university-led visa processing is the personalized support and guidance that international students receive from the university itself. Dedicated university staff that are well-versed in immigration policies and procedures can provide tailored assistance throughout the application journey. This enhanced communication can significantly reduce the stress and confusion often associated with visa applications, fostering a more positive and welcoming experience for incoming students.



Handling student visas internally can also be challenging 

While there are many benefits to handling student immigration internally, the added responsibilities and expertise required can pose challenges for institutions. Here are some of the things institutions should consider before taking responsibility for student immigration.


Resource-intensive endeavor

Managing student visa applications is a resource-intensive endeavor that requires considerable administrative effort and specialized expertise. Universities may need to hire additional staff and invest in extensive training to handle this process effectively, diverting resources from other essential academic and student support services.


Legal risks and compliance challenges

Handling sensitive immigration information and procedures adds certain legal responsibilities and potential compliance risks. Universities will need to stay on top of constantly evolving immigration policies and regulations to avoid accidental violations or oversights. Any lapses could expose the institution to potential legal consequences and damage its reputation.


Lack of flexibility and increased administrative burden

While university processes aim for consistency, they can sometimes be rigid, potentially causing delays or complications in unique or complex visa cases. Additionally, the increased administrative burden associated with managing student visas might detract from the university’s ability to provide other essential student services as effectively.



Student-led visa processing and its potential drawbacks

Students managing their visa processes independently have advantages and disadvantages. Universities can redirect valuable resources toward core academic and student support services if they do. This optimizes the institution’s efforts and minimizes potential legal and compliance risks of handling sensitive immigration information. Students can also manage the application process to their specific needs and timelines, ensuring that unique circumstances or complexities are addressed appropriately. This could potentially lead to smoother and more efficient outcomes in particularly complex cases. 


However, this approach is not without its drawbacks. For many international students, the visa application process can be a daunting and stressful experience, especially for those unfamiliar with the intricacies involved. Students may make errors or misunderstand requirements without proper guidance and support, leading to visa denials or delays that could disrupt their academic plans.


As a result, universities might have to contend with late arrivals or enrollment disruptions caused by visa-related issues, impacting both the institution’s operations and the overall student experience.



The benefits of outsourcing student visa processing

Outsourcing the student visa process to professional services can be an ideal solution for universities looking to prioritize the student experience without adding responsibilities to already busy staff. By partnering with an immigration specialist agency, institutions can leverage various benefits that streamline the application journey and ensure a seamless experience for prospective students.


Agencies can help in several ways. First, they are often familiar with student visa application processes and requirements and can thus 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 legalized 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 of the long term, students often need their diplomas collected and legalized for use in their home country after their studies.


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. They can also make sure those forms are filled out completely and correctly and how to navigate the local bureaucracy. This can substantially benefit these potential international students.


Many universities work with immigration agencies to support their international student process, especially if they are trying to grow their presence worldwide 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, but establishing and maintaining relationships with travel visas, document legalization, and translation agencies all over the world can be overwhelming as well.


Instead of working with a handful, if not dozens, of local suppliers around the world, it is important to work with one agency that can offer all these services for multiple countries and regions worldwide.



Lex Documents can help with student visa documentation, legalization, translation and more!

Lex Documents is a leading global company that works with universities worldwide to help them ensure that their international students go through the student visa process as smoothly as possible.

Our team of experts offers everything from document requirement confirmation to procuring, legalizing, and translating those documents and direct embassy or consular support. We take care of all the logistics of the student visa application process, 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 students after they finish their studies, for example, by helping to procure, legalize 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 customized service with a single point of contact. Contact us to find out how Lex Documents can help you build a complete service package for your international students!

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