Short term Student Visitor Visas.

Student Visitor visas

Student Visitor is a short-term student visa that lies outside the new Points-Based System for immigration. The Student Visitor visa is a six month maximum visa. It cannot be extended from within the UK and working is prohibited. Students can study part-time or at a low level.

For non-visa nationals, prior entry clearance is not required to come to the UK under this category but you must request entry as a Student Visitor when you arrive at the UKairport. For visa nationals, entry clearance as a Student Visitor is required and you must obtain this from your nearest British Embassy or High Commission with a visa section. A list of visa national countries is available on the UKVisas website. If your country is not on this list then you are a non-visa national.

Important note: We strongly discourage any students with a long-term study plan from coming to the UK as a Student Visitor. Short-term students CAN apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa. You do not have to apply for a Student Visitor visa if you are on a short course. If you wish to progress to another course in the UK, you MUST have a Tier 4 visa. The Student Visitor visa is usually only suitable for Exeter students in the categories below.

Study abroad/exchange

Study abroad or exchange students from non-visa national countries have the option of entering the UK under this category either at the airport or with prior entry clearance approval. You will usually be granted six months from the start of your study abroad programme so will sometimes receive a slightly longer visa than those study abroad students who come to the UK under the Tier 4 (General) Student rules.

NOTE: If you plan to travel during your course of study we strongly recommend that you apply for entry clearance in advance of travelling to the UK.  Advance entry clearance, which is a sticker or vignette in your passport, allows for multiple entry whereas a Student Visitor stamp obtained at the airport is only intended for single entry and should only be granted once within a 12 month period.  Occasionally, Immigration Officers do exercise discretion and allow students to re-enter the UK to complete their studies however this is not guaranteed.  You should be aware that if you entered the UK on a Student Visitor stamp you risk being denied entry if you leave and try to come back within the same 12 months.

If you wish to get a part-time job or think there is any possibility that you may extend your study abroad period for a further semester, then you must not apply for a Student Visitor visa, and should instead follow the instructions to make a Tier 4 (General) Student application. Tier 4 visas must always be applied for in advance and cannot be granted on entry like the Student Visitor visa.

Study abroad students who are non-visa nationals and will be requesting Student Visitor status at entry must remember to inform the immigration officer that they are entering as a 'Student Visitor' and present their offer letter and preferably proof of finances as well. Study abroad students who are visa nationals will need to apply for entry clearance at their nearest British Embassy or High Commission and follow the Student Visitor Checklist below.

Split-site PhD students/students visiting the UK for supervisions

If you are a PhD student based abroad who only visits the UK for occasional supervisions or short periods of research (for example the EdD Summer School), it is not possible for you to obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student visa due to the monitoring and reporting requirements connected with that visa. We therefore ask that all students in this situation obtain a Student Visitor visa for each visit to the UK. Your school of study can provide you with the appropriate Student Visitor Visa Letter to submit to the Embassy or present at the port of entry if you are a non-visa national.

International Summer School

As the International Summer School is a short programme which does not lead immediately to another course in the UK, the Student Visitor category is most appropriate.

If you are a non-visa national, you can request entry as a Student Visitor at a UK airport. You must tell the immigration officer that you wish to enter as a Student Visitor (not a standard tourist) and show them your International Summer School offer letter. You should also be able to produce proof of finances such as bank statements. It may be sensible to carry other key documents on the Student Visitor checklist with you in your hand luggage.

If you are a visa national, you will need to apply for prior entry clearance as a Student Visitor. You should apply using visa application form VAF1D – Student Visitor and will be required to pay a fee. You will need to submit all of the documents on the Student Visitor Checklist. All of these documents must be originals and any documents not in English must be accompanied by an official translation.

Note on the Student Visitor online application form

Some countries will ask you to submit your application using an online form. The option for applying for Student Visitor can be difficult to find in the current version of the form. Most students will need to select the following:

  • Type of Visa: Visit
  • Purpose of Application: Special Visitor
  • Type of application: (Special) Student Visitor, up to 6 months

If you have any problems completing the form, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Download: Student Visitor Checklist