Short term Student Visitor Visas.
Student Visitor visas
What is the Student Visitor visa?
The Student Visitor visa is a 6-month maximum visa intended for short periods of study in the UK. It cannot be extended and prohibits taking up any employment. The Student Visitor visa must not be used to come to study a programme longer than 6 months, although it can be used for short study visits as part of a longer programme based abroad.
Who is the Student Visitor visa suitable for?
For university study, it is most popular for Study Abroad students coming to the UK for 1 semester only and students attending Summer Schools including the International Summer School. It is also the correct visa to apply for if you are undertaking a PhD programme where you are based primarily abroad but need to visit the UK occasionally for short time-limited study periods.
Are there different rules depending on my nationality?
Yes. There are different rules depending on if you are considered a non-visa national or a visa national for UK immigration purposes. The list of visa national countries is on the Home Office website here. If your country of nationality (e.g. Australia) is not on the list then you are a non-visa national.
How do I apply for the Student Visitor visa if I am a non-visa national?
If you are a non-visa national, you can apply for the Student Visitor visa on entry to the UK rather than applying for it in advance. This makes it a very attractive and convenient option and it is usually very safe but there are some risks you should be aware about. On arrival to the UK, you will need to present your passport and your offer letter to the Immigration Officer at your port of entry. They may also expect to see proof of your finances so we recommend that you carry a recent original bank statement or other proof of funding in your hand luggage. You should explain clearly that you wish to enter as a Student Visitor rather than a Standard Visitor. Your passport will be stamped with a special 6-month stamp, and the Immigration Officer may add some handwritten letters to indicate that it is a Student Visitor stamp. You should be aware that although you are called a ‘non-visa national’, this does not actually mean that you don’t need a visa, it just means that you do not need to apply for one in advance. The stamp in your passport is your new visa and it is considered to be Single Entry.
You may, however, want to consider applying for the Student Visitor visa in advance following the same process described below for visa nationals.
You will want to consider this if you plan to do the following:
- Travel in and out of the UK during your stay. The Student Visitor stamp is usually Single Entry which means that you can only use it to enter the UK one time. If you leave the UK, even for a holiday in Europe, you will need to be stamped back into the UK. This will usually technically amount to you being issued with a new 6 month Student Visitor visa, and you are only entitled to one of these per year. Immigration Officers are not consistent on this, and will often give you the benefit of the doubt. However, in a worst case scenario, you could be denied entry to the UK and sent back to your home country immediately. This has happened to some students in recent years, so we cannot recommend the Student Visitor stamp as a safe way to undertake regular travel in and out of the UK during your studies.
- You intend to enter the UK via the Republic of Ireland e.g. Dublin. The Republic of Ireland is part of a Common Travel Area with the UK (note that Northern Ireland is separate and is a part of the UK). If you enter the UK via Ireland, you will receive an Irish immigration entry stamp but you are unlikely to go through immigration control between Ireland and the UK. Your Irish entry stamp is valid only for 3 months, and you will need to leave the UK and re-enter at a UK port in order to be able to study.
How do I apply for the Student Visitor visa if I am a visa national?
If you are a visa national then you will need to apply for and be granted the Student Visitor visa before you travel to the UK. If you are a non-visa national but wish to apply for your Student Visitor visa in advance (see above), then you will follow the same process.
Unless you are from North Korea, you will need to submit your application online, starting the process here.
The Visas4UK website can be confusing, so make sure you choose the type of visa as follows:
- Type of visa: Visit
- Purpose of application: Special Visitor
- Type of application: (Special) Student Visitor – up to 6 months
Once your application has been submitted online, you will usually need to attend an appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre to submit your original documents and enrol your biometric information. It will then take about 2-8 weeks for your visa application to be processed, depending on the country. Current average processing times for visa applications are on the Home Office website here.
What documents will I need to submit if I apply in advance?
Follow the Student Visitor checklist for a list of documents you will need including the required formats.
What is the 11-month Student Visitor Visa?
Although the Student Visitor visa is usually granted for 6 months only, it is possible to apply for a Student Visitor visa for 11 months if you are studying an English Language programme with no academic content. If you are undertaking this type of programme in the INTO Centre [LINK], they will provide you with further advice directly.
My course is 6 months or less but I was planning to apply for a Tier 4 visa, is this okay?
If you are attending a Summer School or you are a PhD student based abroad who visits the UK for short visits making up less than 50% of your course, the Student Visitor visa is the only option for you.
However, if you are a Study Abroad student, you can apply for either the Tier 4 or the Student Visitor visa. You should consider the Tier 4 visa if the following applies to you:
- You want to work while you study (including unpaid work)
- You may want to extend your visa to undertake further study (for example, switching from a 1 semester to a 1 year Study Abroad programme if this is an option available to you)
When will my Student Visitor visa expire?
Although it is possible that your Student Visitor visa will be granted just for the dates of your programme, you will usually be given a full 6 month visa, regardless of the length of your programme.
Can you answer questions about the Student Visitor visa?
We can! Log an enquiry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our trained immigration advisers will help.