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UK VISAS: DISCLAIMER: Be aware that UK immigration policy changes constantly. We keep up to date on these changes, but strongly encourage you to check for any recent changes here.
My tier 4 visa will not be on time for the start of my course. What can I do? Don’t worry. Every university in the UK understands that the UKVI is a pain with visas. They all have late enrolments, so you can get to the UK some weeks after your official start date. Usually, the last date for late enrolments is in mid-to-late October. Also, the first week or two is usually only inductions and welcome talks, so if you get to the UK late, you can just go speak to your head of department and ask them to give you the highlights.
BEFORE APPLYING: I will be doing an exchange/research stay in the UK. What visa should I request? Does this include healthcare?
If you're coming to the UK and intend to study for less than 6 weeks, and that is not the main reason for your visit, then you can enter the UK as a tourist. Check here the types of studies permitted. If you're Mexican, you don not need to apply for a tourist visa before travel.
If you're coming to study in the UK for less than 6 months and you are Mexican, then you don't need a visa to travel to the UK. Instead, you must get a study visit visa at the airport, presenting the letter from your university and other supporting documents. This visa DOES NOT include healthcare and it does not allow you to work in the UK. If you're from another nationality, check whether you need to apply for a study visit visa before traveling. Be aware that you cannot extend this visa or switch to another visa category if you're already in the UK.
If your stay is 6 months or more, you need to get a tier 4 visa, which will include healthcare (read the next FAQ about the NHS surcharge) and will allow you to work in most cases.
What do I need to obtain a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK? Can I do it without X paper? You can find a general idea about what you need to get a Tier 4 visa on this excellent YouTube video by the UK government, and you can find the full guidance here. In general terms, you need 2 things:
You need to prove that you're a genuine student. For this you need something called a CAS (Certificate of acceptance of studies), which is a document given to you by your university saying that they accept you and that you have confirmed that you will be studying with them. You also need everything you provided the university so that they would accept you. This tends to include your previous degrees' diplomas and transcripts, as well as a recent IELTS (academic) exam. If your degree requires it, you also need an ATAS (read our guide here).
You need to prove that you have the money to survive in the UK. The documents you need to prove this depend on your circumstances, but usually include either bank statements or letters confirming you have funding. You can read our post on money here.
You need all the documents they request. This is based on a point system: you get 30 points for being an authentic student, and 10 points for having enough money. If you don’t present a paper, even if it is just the one, you will not reach 40 points and your visa will be rejected. Period.
I have two nationalities, on of which is European. Do I still need to get a Tier 4 visa? Do I need to pay the healthcare surcharge? No. If you have a European passport, that will allow you to enter the UK and enrol without further issue. You don't need to get any type of visa. For those of you that have a CONACYT scholarship, instead of sending the copy of your visa, you send a copy of your European passport (you don't need to keep your double nationality a secret). You do not need to pay the healthcare surcharge, but you do need to get an EHIC card, which allows all Europeans to get healthcare in other countries as they would in their own. For more info, read our NHS post.
DURING THE APPLICATION: How can I prove my money for the Tier 4 visa? And how can I prove that my university will cover 25% of my fees if I’m a CONACyT scholar? You can read our post on money here.
I have funding for my degree. Can I apply for my visa before I have the official documents for my scholarship? Ask yourself the following question: Can I prove all the money I need for my visa with my own funds (full tuition fees + 9 months of living costs)? If you can, then yes, you can apply for a visa with your own money, but be very careful to present the evidence in the right format. If you don't have enough money for this, then no, you have to wait until you have all the official documents to apply. I am a CONACYT scholar. Should I apply for a Tier 4 (general) or a Tier 4 (sponsored) visa? You should apply to the Tier 4 (general). The Tier 4 (sponsored) is mainly for the Chevening scholarship as well as other types of funding from the UK government.
Do I have to translate all my documents to get my tier 4 visa? Yes, and it has to be by a translator certified by the Supreme Court. You can find translators as cheap as $200-300 pesos per page, so don’t let anyone scam you. If you want a recommendation, then contact us and we will give you the number of an excellent, quick translator in Mexico City. Otherwise, you can check a list of translators recommended by the British Council here.
Do I need and apostille on my Mexican documents for the application? There is no need for apostillas. This applies both to admissions and visas.
How long does it take for my university to obtain/modify my CAS? The first time you are registered for a CAS with the UKVI, it will usually take around 5 working days, although this might vary. This is because your uni sends all your details to the Home Office, where they approve the request and log you in the system. Once you are logged in the system, any additional notes or modifications, such as paid fees or funding agreements, can be added in one or two working days (depending how much pressure you put on the admissions department), because it can be done directly from your uni, without need of external validation.
My degree requires an ATAS certificate. How do I get it? You can check our guide here.
Do I need a specific mark in my English test to get my visa? No. If the university accepted you with a particular mark on your English test, that will suffice for the UKVI. The university will include your exam results in your CAS. You will have to present the exam results that coincide with what your CAS says during your visa appointment. Be very careful to check that these results were copied correctly from your exam, because if they contain a mistake, and they don't coincide with your English test, your visa might be refused.
Is it true that TOEFL results cannot be used to obtain my Tier 4 visa and that I need to present the IELTS instead? It is true, with some exceptions. It has been some years since the UK government stopped accepting the TOEFL for visa applications. Therefore, if you're still about to present your English test, we strongly recommend that you present the IELTS instead. However, if you already have the TOEFL, there are SOME universities in the UK which will accept it. Immigration regulations state that higher education providers (i.e. universities) are able to evaluate your proficiency themselves. Therefore, some universities accept you with the TOEFL and then state in your CAS that they evaluated your English independently. However, note that this is the exception. In most cases the IELTS is the only exam accepted. In some other cases, universities accept the TOEFL only for students who do not require Tier 4 sponsorship. If you want to be on the safe side, either present the IELTS or contact the admissions department of your university to make sure you won't have problems.
I heard there now is an NHS/healthcare surcharge during the visa application. What's that? How/when will I need to pay? As of the 6th of April, 2015, everyone who is coming to the UK to study or work for more than 6 months will have to pay a levy to be able to receive public healthcare. Be aware that this is regardless of you having private insurance. This fee will be paid on the moment you apply for your visa, and will be reimbursed if your visa is rejected. The charge will be £200 for workers and £150 for students per year of duration of your visa. Therefore, if your visa is for three years, you'll have to pay £450 upfront during your visa application. If you want more info, read more details here. If you want our full guide on how to actually use the NHS, read our guide here.
Why do I need to pay £225 instead of £150 for the health surcharge if my degree is only 1 year long? Because every Tier 4 visa is granted for the duration of your studies plus 6 months so you can attend your graduation in January. Therefore, you have to pay £150 for the first year and £75 for the additional 6 months.
I'm in Mexico, and it looks like I can make my appointment in Mexico City, Guadalajara, or Monterrey. Where would you recommend I do it? The option of making your appointment in Guadalajara and Monterrey is quite recent. It opened on 2015, and fellow scholars have told us they had terrible experiences, with a lot of appointments cancelled without notice and a lot of delays. It might be that this year they will improve the service. However, if it is within your possibilities, we strongly recommend that you don't risk it and go to Mexico City.
Is it worth it to pay priority and courier? We are currently gathering data to give the definitive answer to this, but so far, anecdotal evidence suggests that if you are doing your application in Mexico, there is no significant difference in visa processing times if you pay priority. If you live in Mexico City, it will be quicker to get the visa in person. If you are out of Mexico City, the courier might be quicker. We'll update this question with actual stats soon.
FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT: Do I have to take the originals of all my documents to my appointment? Yes. You have to take your originals and a copy of everything. Don’t worry about your diploma. Most times, they don’t keep it and they stamp the photocopy with the words “original seen”.
Do I have to take old passports with me? What on Earth do they want them for? This will depend on whether you mentioned them on your application. If you did mention them, then yes, you should take them. These are used as a sort of guarantee that you have traveled outside your home country and returned, without staying illegally anywhere.
AFTER THE APPOINTMENT: How long does the VISA take to process? If you’re in Mexico, usually it takes around 3 weeks. If you pay priority service, in theory it will be a bit shorter, but we cannot guarantee that. If you're already in the UK, and pay priority service, it will be 10 working days from the day of your interview. Otherwise, the normal service can take any time between 1-3 months, but we've heard of horror stories in which they took 6 months. If you're in another country, you can check visa processing times here.
Flight prices are really cheap right now! Should I buy my ticket before getting my visa? Definitively not. Visa-processing times vary a lot, and there have been countless fellow scholars that have lost a lot of money because they had to change flight dates. If you really, really want to buy it ahead of time, make sure you pay a tariff that allows you to make changes to your itinerary without extra charges.
I've been told I need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when I arrive to the UK. What's this? Due to Eurpean regulations, all visas to live in the UK need to have your Biometric data. Therefore, you will be issued with an ID card called a "Biometric Residence Permit", which will contain all of your data. The BRP is effectively your Tier 4 visa. However, the UK consulates do not have the possibility of issuing BRPs just yet. Therefore, what they will issue you with will be a sticker on your passport. This sticker is a 30-day, temporary travel visa which will allow you to enter the UK to collect your Tier 4 visa, which will be in the format of a BRP. During the application process you will be asked whether you want to collect your BRP in your university or in a post office close to your address in the UK. If for any reason you are not able to arrive to the UK during this 30-day window, you will need to apply for another temporary travel visa.
My Tier 4 Biometric Residence Permit has an error. What can I do? If you find a mistake, you should e-mail BRPError@homeoffice.gsi.gov. uk within 10 working days of receiving the permit - otherwise you may be charged for a replacement and will need to apply again. The following details must be provided in the e-mail: full name; date of birth; nationality; passport number; BRP reference number; case reference number; a contact telephone number; and exactly what is wrong with the BRP. Alternatively, this information can be sent by post. Check the guidance for more details. I lost my Tier 4 Biometric Residence Permit. What can I do? Report it as soon as possible by e-mailing BRPLost@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk providing your full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number, BRP reference number, case reference number, contact details, and when, where and how the BRP was lost or stolen. You must also report the loss or theft to the police and get a police report and crime reference. Once you already have that number, you have up to 3 months to apply for a replacement, which you can do with this form. If you take longer, you can be fined or deported, so do it quickly. If you lost your BRP while outside of the UK, you must wait until you are back in the UK to do apply for the replacement. In order to get back in, you need a BRP replacement visa, which you can request here. Note that if this is the case, you only have one month to reapply.
TO THE UK: Where can I get cheap plane tickets to go to the UK? You can get some discounts with the OIM. You can also look for discounts on Despegar or on E-dreams. Aeroméxico has been having promotions every once in a while, especially in off-peak season. Finally, the Mexican Student Society in the UK (MexSocUK) has an agreement with StaTravel for Mexican students in the UK.
What is the weather like in the UK? What clothes should I take with me? The UK is usually rainy and windy, and it’s very cold in the winter, although, depending on the year, summers can be very warm too. Set some money apart to buy a decent winter jacket when you get here, because jackets in Mexico are not designed for this kind of cold. Bring warm clothes but also be prepared for the warm summer.
Do I need to hire health insurance to travel to the UK? Can you recommend one? If you are going to study in the UK for more than 6 months, you don't need to hire health insurance. All of your health costs will be covered by the NHS (National Health Service). When you get to the UK, you should register in a clinic either in your university of close to where you live. Read how to use the NHS on our all-in-one guide. If you are going to be in the UK for a period shorter than 6 months or want to be extra safe, then you can buy private health insurance, although it is not a requirement. There are many options which you can choose from. Fellow scholars from Mexico recommend Mundo Joven, Intercambio Seguro, Axxa, or some banks such as American Express or Banamex. Note that we don't have experience with such insurances, so we are not endorsing any of them.
Is there anything I must do before travelling? Mexicans should unlock their phone in Mexico, because most companies make it impossible to unlock in other parts. Also, they should leave a legal power (carta poder notariada para actos administrativos y de cobranza) to someone they trust, so that they can solve issues with your bank or with CONACyT if needed. They should also register in the SIRME or the Registry for Mexicans abroad.
Will my phone work in the UK? In general, most high-end phones from top brands will work in most countries, provided they have been unlocked (as we said in the previous question, if you're Mexican, make sure to unlock your phone in Mexico before travel). However, the more accurate answer to this question is that it depends on the phone. To check whether your current phone will work, go to GSM Arena and look for the model of your phone. Expand the network information and see the bands supported by the phone. With that info at hand, now google the bands that your current network uses and the bands that the main phone networks in the UK (such as Three, Vodafone, Orange, or O2) use. If the phone supports the bands in which a given network operates, then yes, your phone will work in the UK. Note that if the 4G band is not supported, the phone can still work fine if it has a compatible 3G band.
What things should I take/not take to the UK? You definitely need an electrical converter. You can get these at the airport. However, be aware NOT to bring things with motors and things that produce heat, such as hair straighners, curling irons, epilators, lamps, or kitchen appliances, because even with your electrical converter, they will be fried. On other things, you can bring salsa verde, and an assortment of chilli sweets because green tomatoes are hard to come by in the UK, and very expensive. Also, bring something of your country (flags, blouses, crafts, or anything of your choice), because at some point, you will want it.
I take medication. How much should/can I take with me? Do I need to travel with my prescription? If you take medication, bring enough for at least 1 month. You can get prescriptions with your GP in the UK. However, you should have enough medication for before you register and have your registration processed (read our all-in-one NHS guide here). If your medication is very specific and a change in brand might affect you negatively, bring enough for the duration of your studies, because the NHS won't necessarily respect the brand that you request. While travelling, it is always better to take your prescription with you if you are carrying a lot of medication, just in case. However, be aware that UK only needs you to prove that your medicine belongs to you if it is a controlled drug. If it is a controlled drug and you have more than 3 months of it, you also need to get a licence. That being said, it is incredibly rare to be checked at customs.
Can I take X food/drink on my suitcase? In general, you can bring most things that are factory-packed. However, it’s illegal to bring any meat and dairy products, even if they are canned. How much alcohol you can bring depends on the type of alcohol. However, only one litre of tequila or other spirits (destilados) is allowed. You can find your allowance of other alcohol here. That being said, it is very, very rare to find customs officials in the airports.
FROM THE UK: How expensive is it to travel around Europe once I’m in the UK? If you buy your tickets with time on EasyJet or Ryanair, and look for offers in pages such as Groupon, you can get a 3 day holiday for around £250 per person with return flights. I have European friends that want to visit Mexico, do they need a visa? If the person is from the UK, or from any country on the Schengen area, they won't need a visa and can only travel with their passport. If they're from another nationality, you can check if they need a visa here.
Can I apply or renew my USA tourist visa whilst in the UK? How do I do this? Yes, as long as you are not in the UK as a tourist. You need to do two things. First, you need to fill a DS-160 form on this website. Once you have done that, you will need to go to this other website where you will book and pay for an appointment. Once you have your appointment, you'll need to go in person to the US embassy in London, where you'll have your visa in about 3-5 hours.
My passport got lost/stolen whilst on the UK. What can I do? If you lost your passport, first, try and find it in the lost and found office of the place where you think it got lost, such as TFL, Heathrow Airport, or anywhere else. For robbery or if you didn't succeed in finding it with the lost and found offices, then you should contact the police and report the robbery. They will give you a case number which you will require for the rest of the process. You will also be preventing your lost passport from being used to commit fraud. After you have done this, if you are Mexican, you can book an appointment at the Mexican Consulate to get a new passport. Note that you will have to prove your nationality and identity as if you were getting your passport for the first time. You can read more details here.
LIFE IN THE UK:
How can I find a flat? You can check our post about accommodation here. It is written thinking of London, but you can apply it to any other place in the UK.
How does healthcare work? You can read our all-in-one guide to the National Health Service here.
How should my family dial my UK phone number? If they are in Mexico, they should dial 0044 and then the number, ommiting the 0 at the start. If it is from a mobile phone, they should dial +44 and then the number ommiting the 0 at the start. However, we strongly recommend to just get Skype. It is much cheaper.
Can you get a job while in the UK with a tier 4 visa? Yes, if you're in a Master or PhD, your visa allows you to work for 20 hours per week during term time and full time on vacation. NOTE THAT A WEEK IS DEFINED AS "ANY ROLLING 7-DAY PERIOD". Given that a week does not start on a Monday, you need to be extra careful to not work mor than 20 hours on any given 7 days. For example, if you did 20 hours of work on a weekend, you would not be able to do any work on the following Monday or Tuesday.
What type of job can I aspire to? In terms of what jobs you might get, most people that find jobs will be either as waiters or as teaching assistants, student ambassadors, or exam invigilators in their own uni. If you are doing a PhD and are interested in teaching, we recommend you to apply to The Brilliant Club.
Does volunteering count as "work"? Technically, you are totally allowed to volunteer if you're a Tier 4 visa holder. However, note that volunteering and "voluntary work" (or unpaid work) are not the same thing for immigration purposes. While volunteering does not count towards your weekly work hour limit, "voluntary work" does. The distinction between these two terms is not entirely clear in the guidance. However, what is clear is that volunteering needs to be with a registered charity to count as such, and that unpaid internships or being part of the core personnel of an organisation count as voluntary work. It is very important that you make sure which of these two you are committing to before starting.
What do I need to do to get a job/How do I get a National Insurance Number? Before starting work, you need to get a National Insurance Number (NINo). For this, you need to call the numbers on the previous link, where they will assess whether you can apply by post or whether you need to go in person to a JobCentrePlus, where they will fill out the exact same form you would have filled had you been allowed to apply by post. This is one of the most unnecessarily bureaucratic bits of paperwork you will experience in the UK, which means you will get your NINo in about a month after your appointment in the JobCentrePlus (on top of the approximately one month you will have to wait to get the appointment in the first place). Note you can start work without a NINo, as long as you have already applied for the NINo and you can prove to your employer that you have the right to work in the UK.
Do I need to pay taxes in the UK? You do not need to pay taxes for any scholarship or grant money (such as a CONACYT scholarship). However, if you do find employment, you will need to pay taxes. Given the number of hours you'll be allowed to work and the salary you will be receiving, these will be presumably be very, very low. If you only have one employer, they will discount the money automatically on your behalf. If you have more than one employer, you will need to file taxes.
Is there any British bank that has an agreement with a Mexican bank so that I can use their ATMs for free? Yes, Scotiabank has an agreement with Barclays, and BBVA Bancomer has an agreement with Lloyds. Other banks that have branches around the world do charge you for using their ATMs, such as Santander and CitiBank. Some premium accounts on HSBC allow you to use their ATMs worldwide, but you need to check whether your account has this option.
How do I open a bank account in the UK? Go to your uni’s student services (in King’s it is The Compass in any library) and tell them to make you a letter confirming you’re a student, mentioning which bank you want it for, because they sometimes ask for different things. Go to the bank and make an appointment. Take your letter and a document that states your address. What is the best way to send/receive money to/from the UK? Fellow scholars mention that PayPal is the cheapest and fastest way. You will need two paypal accounts: one for each country. We've also hear many recommendations about Azimo and Transferwise.
Are there any discount cards or programs that I should totally get?
If you plan on travelling inside the UK a lot, then get a student railcard, which will give you 30% off in any train travel in the UK, including pay-as-you-go on the London underground. It doesn't matter if it says 16-25: you can get it regardless of age if you are a full time student.
We strongly recommend the Museums Association card, which gives your free entry to all paid exhibitions in most of the museums in the UK.
There are many supermarkets and pharmacies that have loyalty programs, such as Sainsbury, Tesco, and Boots. These let you accumulate points and sometimes give you discount vouchers. They can save you some money, but be aware that they will track your purchases, so if you are very concerned about your privacy, you should consider the pros and cons before getting these.
Finally, there are multiple shops and online retailers suscribed to MyUniDays, so you might want to ckeck it out.
LIVING IN LONDON:
Do you have any suggestions on where to live? You can check our post about accommodation here.
How much money do I need to survive in London? This depends on how many people you’re living with. A two bedroom flat in a cheap area would be around £700-900 per month per person, but you can find rooms for £400 if you look carefully and don’t mind sharing with 3 or more people. The monthly transport travelcard for zones 1-2 is around £80 for students if you get a student Oyster card, and your average supermarket for the week would be around £25-35, depending how much you buy. A very cheap meal out might be £7, but on average, bills in restaurants will be £14-20 per person. Many restaurants do student discounts, so ask. Maintaining a cell phone is quite cheap, with average monthly bills around £10-15 with most companies. Fellow scholars have come to the following conclusion: if you want to starve, come with £690 for every month. If you want to survive, £880 well managed can work. If you want to live decently and maybe have a couple of pints on the way, come with £1000. If you want to eat out and have nice times during your studies, come with at least £1300.
Definitely get a student Oyster card, which will let you buy monthly travelcards (abonos mensuales) with a 30% discount for the London transport system, including buses, railways and the underground. However, if you plan on cycling everywhere, don't waste your money getting it. The discount is only valid for travelcards, not pay-as-you-go.
The student railcard which we mentioned for the UK will additionally give you 30% off on the Tube in pay-as-you-go (off-peak), so it makes it even more convenient for Londoners. To get the discount for the Tube, you should take your railcard and your oyster card to a ticket office on the tube and ask them to link your cards. After that, you will pay 30% less on all your train travels.
Where can I buy cheap things in London? Firstly, get to terms with the idea that nothing is cheap in London. However, you can get less expensive items in some places. For clothes, you can go to Primark or H&M or TK Maxx. Primark also does sheets and bedding stuff. For home and kitchen appliances, you can go to Argos or Home Bargains, where we're told you can get very good pots and pans. Robert Dyas sells really cheap plate sets and offers student discounts. Furniture can be bought in Argos, Ikea or Amazon. For fruits and vegetables, you can go to a market, or, if you’re in central London, there are two cheap stands outside Holborn station. Cheap supermarket in general can be bought in Iceland. The Cooperative has a 10% student discount if you have an NUS card (see above). For cheap utensils and home stuff, you can vistit Poundland or go to Bethnal Green station and walk up Bethnal Green Road. Finally, you can get a lot of cheap things on Amazon and Ebay.
Where can I get Mexican food and ingredients in London? For ingredients, online vendors include La Tiendita, MexGrocer, BritMex, Mexika, Casa Mexico, MexTrade, and Cool Chile. La Tiendita has a physical shop in Parsons Green and Cool Chile has a stall in Borough Market. We are told that R García and Sons has some Mexican and Latin American products in Portobello road. MexTrade lists some physical shops that sell their products around london on their website. Finally, Mexican restaurants like Mestizo and Mezcal Cantina also sell some ingredients and prepared food.
ASPIRING SCHOLARS: How can I obtain a CONACyT scholarship? 1. Get accepted at a university with a master of PhD program that you are interested in, preferably one with which CONACyT has a collaboration agreement. Even though this is not necessarily a requirement for getting the scholarship, you have better odds of getting it. For more details on how to get accepted at a British university, read this post in our blog. 2. Read the instructions to apply to a CONACyT scholarship and gather all the documents stated there. 3. Check whether applications are currently open here. 4. Apply.
Do you know when the next round of scholarships will open/close? Each year, the first round usually opens in mid-February and closes at the end of March. The second round usually starts in early April and closes at the end of June.
Can I get a CONACyT scholarship for my undergrad degree (licenciatura)? No.
Will CONACyT cover my tuition fees in full? This will depend on your university, your area of interest, and your tuition fees. Many universities, including King's, have a collaboration agreement with CONACyT, which gives you certain discounts. In the case of King's, there is a 25% discount on your tuition fees. CONACyT will then grant you your scholarship depending on whether your area fits in their priority areas or not, and whether you are at master or PhD level. If you are looking for a master in a priority area or a PhD (in most cases), they will grant you the maximum of $300,000 MXN per year for tuition fees. If you are looking for a master in a non-priority area, they will grant you $65,000 MXN per year. Whatever remains unpaid is your responsibility. As a general rule of thumb, you won't have to pay anything in most non-science PhDs because they are cheaper and CONACyT tends to grant the full $300,000MXN for PhDs regardless of area. You might be OK with science Masters or pay a small difference. In non-science masters, you probably will have to cover a lot of money. Science PhDs with laboratories and consumables will have more expensive tuition fees, and you will probably have to pay a difference.
My CONACyT scholarship will/does not cover my full tuition fees. What other options do I have? Firstly, you can request a number of scholarships from your university or from your department. King's, through the graduate school, has a number of grants and scholarships. You can check here which apply to you. Other universities such as UCL have Santander scholarships for Master programs. CONACyT does not place any restriction on other scholarships as long as they are not "from the Mexican federal government and for the same purposes" as your CONACyT scholarship. If you cannot get one of the university's scholarships, you can also apply to a number of charities, which you can check on The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. You can login using your university email. If you're a prospective student, you can request login details from admissions. As a Mexican, you can also apply for the SEP's "beca complemento" or apply for a student loan with FIDERH. Finally, you could consider crowdfunding.
Should I apply to the national call for scholarships or the one from my state? Can I apply to both at the same time? This depends on many factors, mainly which round of scholarships you're applying to and which state you're from. Each different state has different objectives, specifications, and numbers of available scholarships. Therefore, there is no definitive answer. However, we can tell you the following general points to consider while making your decision:
There are more scholarships available on the national call for applications. However, there are also many more applicants. Even though the states offer far fewer scholarships, there are fewer people that apply, and many hand in incomplete applications that are then discarded. Some states (not all) have more scholarships than applicants. Therefore, if you definitively suit the profile and the requisites of the state scholarships, then it is more probable for your application to get approved in the states. However, be aware this is not always a rule: it is convenient that you check your state's results from previous years in order to see how many scholarships were awarded.
Most state scholarships are far more strict regarding their priority areas than the national scholarship. Therefore, if your project doesn't really "fit" into your state's topics of interest, you might want to apply to the national one.
Once that your application gets approved, you'll have to wait to formalise your scholarship. You'll sign a contract and receive a letter that states how much money you'll be getting during your studies. You will need this letter to apply for a visa (unless you have enough funds of your own to fulfil the financial requirement for the visa). Usually, CONACYT formalises first with the national scholars, and then proceeds to do so with each state. THIS TAKES AGES. If you're applying for the first round of scholarships, the wait doesn't pose a concern because you'll have plenty of time before the start of your course. However, if you apply on the second round, you'll definitively arrive late to your course. Even though national scholars from the second round also arrive late, it's never as bad as the state scholars. Past experience has shown us that some of them end up arriving by mid-October. It is not equally bad on every state, so it is worth speaking to someone from your state to know how bad this delay can be.
Do you want to return to your state to work, or would you like to keep your options open? Many states request that you go back to your state, rather than anywhere in the country. Are you sure you'll find a job in your state when you go back?
Does your state cover flights? Some do and some don't. The national scholarship doesn't.
Do not apply for both scholarships at once. CONACYT states in the call for applications that this is not permitted. If you apply to both, one or both of your applications will be automatically rejected prior to being reviewed.
CURRENT SCHOLARS: Who do I contact in CONACyT for X? We have compiled most of the contacts you’ll need here.
What's up with the 6-month report one has to send to CONACyT? Usually (but not always), CONACyT will send you an email reminder saying that you have to send your report. Frequently you will have to send it at the end of March or April, depending on when your program started. To send your report, you need to log in to the CONACYT CVU portal, where you need to follow this path: Académico> Registro reporte tutor. Print the format you will find there and have your tutor fill it in and sign it. Note that this page is still very glitchy, so if you experience problems, contact Eduardo López. Log in again, upload the scan of the report, and copy the information in the report to the online form. Finally, click on save. If you need to submit marks, those need to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, because the section dedicated for that is still not running.
What if need to change my tutor on the system to submit my 6-month report? Write to Edurardo López and he'll make the change for you.
I’m doing a Master and want to stay for a PhD. Does CONACyT allow me to do this? Yes, as long as you stay in the same university for the PhD. You have to request a “change of academic degree” (solicitud de cambio de grado). If you want to change unis for the PhD, you need to finalize your current scholarship contract and request another scholarship. You can check our (very long and detailed) blog post here.
I need to extend my CONACyT scholarship because I will not finish my degree in the time they originally said they would pay me. Can I do this? You can extend your CONACyT scholarship for up to 5 years. You can read how to do the procedure in this post. I want to stay in the UK for the doctoral extension scheme. Can CONACyT make me a letter stating that I have their permission? Definitively no.
Do you recommend going to the Strasbourg's Annual Symposium for CONACyT Scholars in Europe? Yes, it is awesome. My supervisor is moving to another university (the horror). What can I do? Don't panic. It is not the end of the world. You have two options. The easiest one is to change supervisors and stay at the same university. In some cases, your second supervisor can become your main supervisor, with your current supervisor keeping you as a student from the new university. However, if you really want to follow your supervisor, it is possible. Bureaucracy will be horrible, but if you're convinced, it's doable. You will need to submit this format, together with a letter stating the reasons why you are requesting the change, and any documents that might support what you said in that letter. If this is approved, you can change universities. However, be aware that timings will be tricky, because your visa is specific to one university. Therefore, your new university will have to issue you with a new CAS for a new visa, which you will need to request before enrolling to your new university. The issue with tuition fees might be tricky too, because CONACyT tends to pay for your whole year of studies. Therefore, it is better to make this change at the start of an academic year. Otherwise, you will have to make sure that CONACyT only pays for the terms that you will be at your current university or request a refund for the remaining time. That really doesn't sound fun.
CONACYT (PAYMENTS) AND CiBANCO:
STUFF TO KNOW BEFORE/IN ORDER TO RECEIVE YOUR SCHOLARSHIP: Will my CONACyT scholarship be enough for living in the UK? In a recent survey we made for a panel with CONACyT's representatives, only 5% of scholars said they did not need any extra money. Most supplemented the scholarship with savings or with help from their families. If you want to read about other options for funding, read the second FAQ on the previous section.
Will CONACyT pay for the new NHS charge? Yes, but only as reimbursements. Pay the charge when you apply for your visa. Then, send the payment details to José Armando Pérez Zúñiga (email@example.com), who will process a reimbursement.
Do I have to open an account to receive my scholarship? No, CONACyT will open a CiBanco Multicurrency account for you, where they will deposit your scholarship in pounds.
When will CONACyT start making the deposits and which day of the month? That depends on the start date of your course. Usually, they start paying on a given month if your course starts on the first two weeks of that month. They will usually pay on the first five days of each month, but if there is a bank holiday or a weekend, it might be on the 6th or 7th day.
How do I activate my CiBanco card? You do it online. You go to this link, click on "Primera vez que se conecta", and follow the instructions. You must have all of your account information at hand and use the same email you gave to CONACyT.
STUFF TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CURRENT SCHOLARSHIP PAYMENTS: Have they deposited this month's scholarship yet? (¿Ya depositaron?) You can get instant emails notifying you of each deposit. To do this, go to CiBanco's portal. On the top menu, click on "Mi configuración". Then, on the left hand side, click on "Alertas por correo electrónico". Select "GBP cartera" and click on "enviar". Now you will be instantly notified when the deposit is made.
Will I get charged for using my CiBanco card in British ATMs? No, as long as you use ATMs that say "free cash withdrawals", which are most. Can I use my CiBanco card to pay stuff online? Yes, as long as they're not monthly payments or Direct Debits.
Can I make deposits on my scholarship card? No, it is exclusively for your scholarship. If there are other deposits, the account may get blocked. Some scholars report having used it successfully for this purpose, but we do not recommend it and shall you do it, it is at your own risk.
Can I transfer money from my CiBanco account to another account? No. If you want the money to be in your personal UK account, you'll have to get the money out on an ATM and deposit it in your bank's local branch.
Can I use my scholarship card in Mexico and other countries? No. It used to be possible, but CONACYT is now incredibly strict about this and the account gets locked immediately. If you REALLY need to use it abroad, contact Samuel Manterola.
My CiBanco card got blocked. What can I do? Option 1 is calling/emailing Samuel Manterola and asking him to sort this out for you. Option 2 is to call the number on the back of your card to sort it out with the bank. Mention that you're a CONACyT scholar. If you can't call or prefer not to, you can write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will answer you requesting a phone number and will contact you to solve the issue. We hear they are very efficient and will call back quickly.
I lost my CiBanco card. What can I do? Go to CiBanco's online portal and select the option to deactivate the lost card. Then write an email to Samuel Manterola, saying that you lost it and mentioning your scholar or CVU number. He will send a replacement. You will have to send some scanned documents authorizing the transfer of the funds from the old to the new account. Then you can activate the new card in the same way as you did it with the previous card. According to what fellow scholars have reported, depending on whether it is low or high season for paperwork in CONACyT, this process can take from a couple days to a couple months.
Can I keep my CiBanco card after the end of my studies? No. It is an institutional account and can be deactivated at any time.
Last updated: September 19, 2017 Do you have a question that does not appear here? Then contact us.