I thought I’d give a little background about how all of this came to be….
All of my application materials were into the university, which left me obsessively checking my e-mail for any news from the school I had applied to. I had just woken up one morning in mid-May and was browsing my e-mail on my phone with one eye still closed. (Totally normal morning routine, right?!) When I saw the e-mail from the university, both eyes were wide open in a flash! I clicked on the e-mail and saw what I was hoping for – an acceptance! Just so happened that I was meeting the Brit in New York City that night, so we had much to celebrate!
Step one was complete. However, as an American wanting to study legally on a year-long graduate program, I still needed to apply and be approved for a UK Tier 4 PBS (Points-Based System) General Student Visa. It was now up to the UK Border Agency.
I should mention that I do have prior experience working with UK student visas because in my past ‘life’, I advised college students on study abroad. At the college where I worked, I was the official (yet unofficial as I can’t speak officially for foreign governments) adviser on student visas. Because I was the sounding board for my students as they went through the UK visa process, I was a bit nervous. I knew fairly well what was required of me to submit a complete visa application, but after my acceptance, I began more thoroughly sorting through the details of the visa application guidelines.
In late May, I set off to England for 5 weeks. I worked on my application a bit while in England, but mostly I procrastinated (oops!) and waited until I returned to the U.S. to take care of it. Completing the application included a trip to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Visa Support Center to submit my biometric information (basically digital fingerprint scans and a digital photograph of my face), which was an extremely painless, simple, and much shorter than expected appointment. Most of the other requirements were fairly simple to gather as well, which was a nice surprise. So, I completed the application and read over it one too many times. In late July, I overnighted my passport (eeeek!) and all of my application materials to the British Consulate in New York.
There were a lot of what if’s running through my mind when I dropped that envelope into the FedEx box….