If you are planning to study abroad for a year, depending on your country, you might have to get a student visa. For the United Kingdom - you can BET that you will need a student visa. A student visa is basically like a drivers license that you will carry with you at all times while in your country of study. It says that the university is "sponsoring" you to be in their country and study basically. However, the process of getting the visa and obtaining it all can be very stressful. Very.
The first thing you will want to have is your CAS from the university you are studying at. This has your CAS number on it, their license number, all of your course information, etc. It is very important that you don't try to complete your visa application without this document. It will just be sent in an email and you are not required to send it along with your visa BUT it is a great guide for you whilst filling out your visa!
The website that I used to fill out my visa is just the standard UK Visa website. I'm a little bummed because they added the stupid health surcharge to the visa application, which was an extra $360, but I guess health insurance or some type of health coverage is important while I'm over there.
The application itself is pretty self-explanatory. It asks for your passport number, where you've been, how long you're staying for, what you're studying, etc. It's very detailed but it's not too bad to fill out. Just double check EVERYTHING. You DON'T want to make a mistake on this because that would lead to a refusal or denial.
After you've completed the online version you will then have to make a biometrics appointment. This is a joke. I mean, it lasted a total of 10 minutes if that. You have to take your printed biometrics appointment confirmation AND your passport. At the biometrics appointment they will do your fingerprints and take a photo. You will send all of this with your visa application - minus the photo.
Once the biometrics appointment is complete you will print your application and send it off. With your application you should have:
When you are ready to send your visa to the Embassy, double check (triple) your package. You can also choose to pay for round trip courier service which is about $50. This will give you two printed UPS shipping labels that will send your documents to the embassy and then they will be able to send them back to you.
If you are in a rush and out of time in regards to getting to where you are going, you can also do a priority service. This just puts your visa at the top of line for them to approve it. Processing a visa (for the UK at least) takes 15 days but with priority it can take as little as 7. You just pay a hefty fee in order to get that accomplished.
I hope that this has been helpful in the slightest. I know I was overwhelmed when I went into the process and so if you have any questions or are still confused and struggling - don't be afraid to reach out! I'll be more than happy to help/assist you!