Anybody on my private story in the summer of 2022 will remember frequent rants about the trials and tribulations of the VISA process ahead of my year abroad. I finally received the go ahead in October, after starting the application process in May. What took so long and what would I advise others do it differently?
Firstly, there’s no blanket timeline to securing a VISA. The process heavily varies depending on the country you’re going to, and what you’ll be doing there, i.e., working or studying. Personally, I undertook a work placement in France, meaning I needed a ‘Convention de Stage’ (a kind of employment offer requiring signatures from the university, my employer, and the French Ministry) in order to even begin my VISA application. This massively delayed my progress, with the document being drafted, edited, sent off, and sent back multiple times. Each VISA type will require its own specific documentation, and it is crucial to know the intricacies and requirements of your relevant VISA application from the off. There is lots of information available online, and I would advise doing your own research rather than waiting for instruction from the university- the Outbound Team are there to help when needed, but it’s down to you to get the ball rolling!
There’s no blanket timeline to securing a VISA
Leading on from this, try not to compare your progress in the application to your course mates or friends. As discussed above, everybody will be going through a different process and working to a different timeline. It may be disheartening to see others heading off to their destinations when your own VISA hasn’t yet arrived yet, but try to keep focused on the positive that you will in your own time make it to your placement country, and get excited for it! For me, this included a lot of Pinterest scrolling and creating a ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to do when I finally made it to France. Work on your language skills, which will get you in the spirit while also being handy when you arrive. Keep yourself busy, but enjoy the little bit of downtime you have over the summer- things will get hectic once you start your placement!
Work on your language skills, which will get you in the spirit while also being handy when you arrive
Crucially, remember that all of the stress will be worth it- a year abroad is not only an excellent addition to your degree in terms of employability, but also a lot of fun!