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Visa Information

EC English Language Centres

Applying for a visa in USA

When you book a course at an American EC School, a VISA SPECIALIST will be appointed to you to help make your visa application go smoothly.

What's a F-1 Student Visa?

To learn English in America you need a F-1 student visa. When you have been accepted onto English course with EC, we send you an I-20 form. This is the first step in the student visa application process. With the I-20 form you can apply for a F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. Read more here.

How to get an I-20 Form

Before EC sends out an I-20 you must send us:

✔ full payment or deposit for your course and accommodation

✔ copy of your passport (the first page with photo and information)

✔ proof of sufficient funds to meet tuition and living expenses (at least $3500) through either a current bank statement or letter from your bank or a current bank statement or letter from a sponsoring person or institution along with a notarised affidavit of support.

What's SEVIS?

 (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is the internet-based database system which tracks and stores information on the visa status and activities of international students holding F-1 and J-1 visas in the USA.

Please note that the SEVIS fee (which students need to pay to get an I-20 is $350. This money is not collected by EC but is payable directly to SEVIS. This fee is non-refundable even if a visa is denied.

Please see the video to check the steps for your visa interview –  I-20 Visa.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for full details on enrollment.

You can apply for a Short-term study visa to study English language in the UK for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months. You can stay in the UK for the length of your course plus an extra 30 days, as long as your stay is no longer than 11 months.

You must be 16 or older to apply.

You must prove that:

- you’ve been accepted onto an English language course that lasts 11 months or less and includes no other subjects

- your course is with an accredited institution

- you have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds, or that relatives and friends can support and house you

- you can pay for your return or onward journey

If you’re under 18 you must also:

- have made arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK

- have the consent of your parent or guardian to study in the UK

It costs £200 for a Short-term study visa. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your online application. It usually costs £470.This is so you can use the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and is due regardless of any private medical insurance.

Check how much you’ll need to pay before you apply.

 While in the UK, you cannot:

- study on any other course or change your course while in the UK

- study at a state-funded school

- work or carry out any business (this includes paid or unpaid work, work experience or work placements)

- extend this visa

- bring family members (‘dependents’) with you on this visa

- apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension

When you apply you must provide:

- a current passport (with a blank page for your visa) or other valid travel document

- evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months

- details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans – you should not pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa

- evidence that you’ve paid your course fees or have enough money to pay them

You also need to provide:

- your tuberculosis (TB) test results, if you’re from a country where you have to take the TB test

- contact details for at least one parent or guardian in your home country, if you’re under 18 years old

- a certified translation if any documents are not in English or Welsh

You must provide written proof of the course you’re studying. For example, a letter of acceptance from the educational institution stating the course’s name, duration and cost (including accommodation).

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances, such as evidence of your:

- permission to be in the country you’re applying from (if you’re not a national)

- financial sponsor’s occupation, income, savings or funds that will support your studies

If you’re under 18 you need to provide additional documents if:

- you’re travelling on your own

- you’re travelling with someone who is not your parent or guardian

You can travel to the UK without an adult (someone 18 or older) but you must have written consent from both parents (or one parent if they have sole responsibility) or your legal guardian. This must confirm they consent to:

- your visa application

- your living arrangements and care in the UK

- your travel to the UK

They also need to provide proof that you have somewhere suitable to live during your stay in the UK, including:

- the name and date of birth of the person that you will be staying with

- an address where you will be living

- details of your relationship to the person who’ll be looking after you

- consent in writing so they can look after you during your stay in the UK

Your parent, guardian or school must tell the relevant local authority about your visit if either of the following are true:

- you’re under 18 and have a disability

- you’re going to be looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not a close relative (called ‘private foster care’)

You should provide a reply from the local authority if you have one.

If you travel to the UK with an adult (someone 18 or older), you need to identify them in your visa application.

Their name will appear on your visa, and you’ll be refused entry to the UK if you arrive in the UK without them.

You can identify up to 2 adults in your visa application, and your visa will only be valid if you travel with at least one of them.

The adult can apply for a visa at the same time, but you must each complete separate applications.

You must apply online before you come to the UK. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel to the UK.

As part of your online application, you’ll need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to provide your documents and prove your identity.

Allow time to attend your appointment.

The visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application.

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. Check if your visa application centre offers faster decisions and other services.

Before you start, check what documents you’ll need to apply.

You can apply for your visa here.

You’ll get a letter containing the result of your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

You will need a Study Permit (student visa) if you want to take a course of over 6 months.

If you want to study for less than 6 months, you need a Visitor's Visa. You can study English for a maximum of 6 months with a Visitor's Visa.

Tourist Visa

You may attend as a tourist for a maximum 6 months. You must have the following documents when you arrive in Canada:

✔ a valid passport

✔ a Letter of Acceptance from an EC school

✔ a Canadian Temporary Resident Visa (tourist visa) if your country requires this visa to enter Canada

✔ proof of sufficient funds to cover expenses while you are in Canada

✔ a return airline ticket to your country or some other destination

Study Permit

If plan to study longer than 6 months must obtain a Study Permit. On entry to Canada, you must present the documents listed above plus your Study Permit.

For citizens of some countries, the Study Permit will be issued at the port of entry into Canada. If you are staying longer than 6 months, you should show your Letter of Acceptance to the Immigration Official on entry even if you have no other document from the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your country.

It is relatively easy to obtain a Study Permit although the application process may take more than a month, especially if you require a medical certificate. You may have to attend an interview with a Canadian official when applying for the Study Permit.

Students who do not require a visa to enter Canada are expected to pay online for the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before they travel.

More information is available at the Canadian government website

CAQ Requirement at EC Montreal

Students studying at EC Montreal for longer than six months who require a Quebec Acceptance Certificate for Studies (CAQ) and a Study Permit must be registered for 24 or 30 lessons. Students who book less than 24 lessons will no longer qualify for the CAQ.

Immigration Quebec website

Letter of Acceptance Charges  

There is a charge of $105 CAD per Letter of Acceptance (LOA) for CAQ/Study Permit purposes.

Courier Charges

Charges for sending a Letter of Acceptance by courier must be paid by the student. Courier charges will be included on the invoice. At the latest, courier charges can be paid by the student on the first day at school. Courier charge is $85 CAD.

Custodianship Declaration Form

Some younger students require a Custodianship Declaration Form when they are coming for longer than 24 weeks and require a Study Permit: At EC Vancouver: students who are less than 19 years of age. There is a charge of $150 CAD for the Notary to sign the Form. Plus there is a second charge if it needs to be sent by courier.

The advice on this page is subject to change so it is always recommended that you contact the Embassy for any recent updates. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the most updated regulations are being followed. Although EC endeavours to support students with general visa advice, EC cannot be held responsible for any changes to the information provided below. Click here to see if you require a visa to travel to Malta.

Students from Visa Exempt Countries

From 1st May 2024 ldentita (MALTA) will make the following changes in the VISA application process for students from VISA exempt countries.

 Over 12 weeks course All students must apply for a long-stay visa (D Visa), also called study visa, prior to arrival via VFS.GLOBAL.
Under 12 weeks course Students can enter with their exemption and will be eligible to apply for an extension if they decide to extend their course.

IMPORTANT – The current visa extension procedure will remain in place for students that wish to extend their course. 

VISA extensions will only be made if purpose of travel will be to STUDY.

  • Students from Visa exempt countries that do not have a VFS office in their country may enter with their passport and apply for a VISA extension upon arrival in Malta.
  • By applying for a visa via the VFS the student can use the 90-day VISA exemption after the end of their course.

The following list shows all visa exempt countries. Students from countries with an asterisk (*) are only visa exempt if they hold a biometric passport. Those countries highlighted in bold font have VFS offices already opened. Students can apply for a study visa at these offices as of now.

Albania* Andorra Antigua and Barbuda Argentina
Australia Bahamas Barbados Bosnia and Herzegovina•
Brazil Brunei Darussalam Canada Chile
Colombia Costa Rica Dominica El Salvador
North Macedonia* Georgia Grenada Guatemala
Holy See Honduras Israel Japan
Kiribati Malaysia Marshall Islands Mauritius
Mexico Micronesia  Moldova Monaco
 Montenegro  New Zealand Nicaragua Palau
Panama Paraguay Peru Samoa
San Marino Serbia* Seychelles Singapore
Solomon Islands South Korea St Kitts and Nevis St Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines Timor-Leste Tonga Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu Ukraine* United Arab Emirates United States of America
United Kingdom Uruguay Vanuatu Venezuela

Students from Visa Required Countries

From the 1 March 2024 all students entering Malta, requiring a long-term visa (D Visa) also called study visa, will have to apply through VFS.GLOBAL at one of  their Visa Application Centres. 

There has been no changes to short-term visa applications (allowing to stay of up to 90 days).

Visa appointments with the Visa Application Centres must be booked by EC Malta. 

How will the VFS appointment booking process work?

VFS.GLOBAL offers two appointment services for visa processing:

  • Standard Service:
    Visa appointment fee: 100 EUR
    Appointment Availability: earliest slot is 21 days from booking
  • Extended Service:
    Visa appointment fee: 150 EUR
    Appointment Availability: as early as next-day appointments possible, subject to availability


  1. At the time of booking with EC Malta, choose the type of VFS service required (Standard or Extended).
  2. EC Malta will send you an invoice for the visa appointment fee together with the visa appointment booking form.
  3. EC Malta will proceed with the booking of the visa appointment following receipt of payment of the visa appointment fee and the completed visa appointment booking form. The visa appointment can be scheduled maximum 90 days prior to course start date. Once booked, the visa appointment cannot be changed and the fee is non-refundable.
  4. Student receives visa appointment by email.
  5. Student attends the visa appointment in person together with all required documentation in hand. On the day of the appointment the student will have to pay an additional service charge at the visa application centre (between 25 – 30 EUR depending on the centre).
  6. Student may be chosen for an online interview conducted by the Central Visa Unit Malta at a later point.

Please see here for the official detailed document checklist provided by Identita Malta

When booking a course at EC Cape Town, students will receive all the help they need to apply for the correct visa or visa extension. In the meantime, here is some basic information for entry requirements to South Africa:

A. General Visa Information:

  • Countries exempt from needing a visa are listed here 
  • Visitors from the following countries require a visa: Hungary, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia
  • On arrival in South Africa, Europeans (those not listed above) will be issued a visitor's visa for 90 days. Once in South Africa, this visitor's visa can be extended for a further 90 days; but it is important that this is done within the first 30 days of arrival. The extension will be for a maximum of another 90 days
  • A 30-day visa may be extended for a further 90 days.

When students apply for their visa extension they must submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport which expires in no less than 30 days after expiry of the intended date of departure from South Africa
  • Department of Home Affairs Medical certificate completed, stamped and signed by an authorised medical practitioner/officer or hospital in the students’ home country
  • Department of Home Affairs Radiological report must also be completed, stamped and signed by a Radiologist or hospital in the student’s home country
  • Proof of valid flight ticket showing provisional departure within 90 days
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover their stay in Cape Town (minimum amount is 3500 US Dollars). If the account is not in the student’s name, a signed affidavit of support must be submitted by the account holder – the bank statement provided must show at least 3 months of transactions.

The actual extension takes around 6 to 8 weeks to get approved; and we will have school staff on hand to assist them with the application process should the student require their assistance.

  • Those needing a visa who are under 21 years of age will require guardianship. This costs €50 and is available from EC. (Not applicable for students arriving on a visitor's visa)
  • All passengers must have a valid passport with at least four blank pages for the issuing of stamps. The passport should also be valid for the duration of the stay and six months after departure
  • If a student is subject to visa requirements, they will need to apply for their visa at least 30 days before departure
  • Students may visit VFS Global for detailed information on visas.

B. What can be done with different Visas:



  • A student who is issued with a port-of-entry Visitor’s Visa (for 30 or 90 days), may participate in a language course with EC for the duration of their visa
  • The visa may be extended for a further 30 or 90 days when in South Africa, but it cannot be changed into a Study Visa
  •  A student may therefore study for a maximum of 60 or 180 days on this visa.


  • A student may participate in a volunteer programme on a Visitor’s Visa (not longer than 3 months, but the visa can be extended if required). 
  • They can combine this with a language course but this is not a requirement if their English level is high enough and they ONLY want to volunteer. However, we require at least one week’s course booked at the school in order for the student to be oriented in South Africa and prepare for the volunteer programme.


  • A student wanting to participate in an internship programme may only do so for a maximum of 3 months, as this is how long a normal Visitor’s Visa is issued for
  • However, this visa may also be extended for a further 90 days when in South Africa
  • The same applies for a 30-days visa.



  • For any internship longer than 2 or 6 months (30 days or 90 days visa), the student must apply for a Work Visa in South Africa. This is MUCH more complicated and will require a strong motivation (such as a requirement for a university course) as well as a formal “job offer”/letter of acceptance from the company at which they will be doing the internship. However, due to the current high levels of unemployment in South Africa, it is very difficult to motivate why a work visa should be issued to a foreigner if a local person can fill that position, even if it’s just an internship.
  • Although the law makes no provision for the issuing of an “Internship Visa” to foreigners, it does not state that a foreigner may NOT do an internship at a South African company.



  • A Study Visa is usually valid for 12 to 24 months and may be extended while studying in South Africa
  • Where a country does not have a port-of-entry visa agreement with South Africa, a Study Visa must be applied for in the student’s home country before arrival
  • If the student wishes to study for longer than 180 days (6 months), a Study Visa must be applied for prior to arrival
  • A Visitor’s Visa cannot be changed to a Study Visa after arriving in South Africa
  • Although the Department of Home Affairs usually grants Visitor’s Visa extensions, there is no guarantee that they will do so. It is therefore in the best interest of the student who knows they want to study for a long time, rather to apply for a Study Visa in their home country before arrival.


  • A student who has a Study Visa may work for a maximum of 20 hours per week and be paid for this work
  • The nature of the work is usually casual/temporary work, such as being a waiter, or barman, or in the service industry, or a temp receptionist, etc
  • While EC will assist a student where we can, it is not the school’s responsibility to place the student in an appropriate workplace. This is entirely the student’s responsibility while they are in South Africa. There is, therefore, no guarantee that the student will be able to find suitable work after arrival.


  • A student may participate in a volunteer programme with a Study Visa.

NOTE: There is no such things as a “Student Visa”, an “Internship Visa” or a “Volunteer Visa”.


1. Requirements for parents travelling with a child:

  • An unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child
  • For adopted children, proof of adoption by means of an adoption certificate

2. Requirements for one parent travelling with a child: 

  • An unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child
  • Consent in the form of an affidavit (not older than 3 months, dating from the date of travel) from the other parent (registered on the birth certificate of the child) authorising him or her to enter or depart from the Republic with the child OR a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child
  • Legally separated parents should provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent
  • Where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate
  • Where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, the Director-General may approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child if death certificates of both parents and a letter of special circumstances are provided.

3. Requirements for a person travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child:

  • A copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child
  • An affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child
  • Copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child
  • The contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child
  • Where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, the Director-General may approve such a person to enter into or depart from South Africa with such a child if death certificates of both parents and a letter of special circumstances are provided.

4. Requirements for a minor travelling unaccompanied:

  • Proof of consent from one or both parents or legal guardians, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa. In the case where one parent provides proof of consent, a copy of a court order must also be provided, stating he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights
  • The contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child
  • A guardianship letter from the person who is to receive the child in South Africa containing his or her residential address and contact details in South Africa where the child will be residing
  • A copy of the identity document/valid passport and visa/permanent residence permit of the person receiving the child in South Africa.


  • In South Africa, a minor is classified as a person under 18 years
  • These regulations apply to all travellers (South African and foreign), on departure as well as arrival
  • In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the relevant authority of the foreign country should be produced
  • All documents must be originals, or copies certified as a true copy of the original, by a commissioner of oaths (or the equivalent commissioning authority in the country concerned)
  • For unaccompanied minors, the guardianship letter and supporting documentation is supplied by a designated member of staff at EC Cape Town.

You will need a visa if you are not a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) national, or a national of certain selected countries. Here is the list of countries requiring a visa to study in Ireland:
Visa required countries

Types of visa:

To study for less than 90 days: C visa (Visit-Tourist visa)
For courses longer than 90 days: D visa (Study visa)

C visa (Visit-Tourist Visa)

• This visa is for non-EU/EEA nationals taking English courses for less than 90 days
• Available to students of all levels, including Beginner
• To get a C visa (Visit-Tourist visa), students will need to have:

- A visa support letter from us which we will send you after receiving full payment 
- Evidence of Finances
- Medical Insurance
- Evidence of Education/Employment history

• This visa cannot be extended
• Students cannot work on this visa, paid or unpaid
• All visa students are required to attend their courses. Students with an attendance lower than 85% may have problems with a future visa extension/renewal.

D visa (Study-Work Visa)

• This visa is for non-EU/EEA nationals taking English courses for longer than 90 days
• Available to students of all levels, including Beginner
• To get a D visa (Study-Work visa), students will need to have:

- A visa support letter from us which we will send you after receiving full payment
- Evidence of Finances
- Medical Insurance
- Evidence of Education/Employment history

• After entering the country, students must apply for permission to stay in Ireland and register with Immigration at a registration office before the date stamped on their passport at border control
• This visa can be extended in Ireland
• Citizens from countries outside the EU/EEA who are registered as full-time students with the Garda Síochána (Irish Police Force) are permitted to work part-time in Ireland (up to a maximum of 20 hours per week, and full-time during specified holiday periods) to support themselves. Holiday periods are: June, July, August and September, and December 15th - January 15th
• All visa students are required to attend their courses. Students with an attendance lower than 85% may have problems with a future visa extension/renewal.
• Students may transfer to another course/school if the other school is a recognised provider on the ILEP.

Long Term Courses D visa (Study-Work Visa) students

Non-EEA students on a course of 25 weeks or longer (to a limit of 32 weeks, which is the total length of the visa) are required to take an external examination at the end of their course. Students will be required to pay their visa fees before the documents are issued. For more information, please see here.

EC will recommend an appropriate exam (IELTS, FCE, or CAE) based on your level and help you register for an exam at a local external testing centre. Exam fees must be paid at the time of booking (approx. €200).

EC will keep a copy of your test results. These may be made available to immigration authorities upon request. Please speak to the school academic team if you have any questions about your exam.

As a member of Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), EC guarantees that all students will be able to complete the courses for which they enrol, as they are covered by a recognised learner protection scheme and will be placed in another MEI school should they be displaced in the event of a school closure.

For more detailed information on visa requirements, please visit the website.

Students Under 18

Parental consent from all parents/guardians is required.

Details of the person in whose care the minor shall be must be provided with the application. Unless students are under the care of other individuals or organisations (e.g., family members, Embassy) this will be undertaken by EC.

Study visas for students under 18 years do not give any entitlement to any other family member to accompany or join the student.


Applications for visas from supported countries can be made online.

This website also contains a comprehensive guide to completing a visa application in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.

Application forms from unsupported countries can be downloaded online and sent to the Irish Embassy or Consulate in, or accredited to, the student’s country of residence.

If there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in your country, send your visa application to your nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate, or to:

The Visa Office
Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service
13-14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2

Students who do not require an entry visa to enter Ireland (EU/EEA national or from a non-visa country) should have all documentation relating to their booking with them when going through immigration, including:

• Booking Confirmation/Receipt
• Proof of adequate medical insurance

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