Skip to main content

Visitor visas for short courses: Applying in advance

If you are from one of the countries on the Visa National List, you are considered a visa national. You must apply for and be granted your Visitor visa before you travel to the UK.

If you are not from one of the countries on the Visa National List, you are considered a non-visa national and this means you can apply for your visa upon entry to the UK. However, you can apply in advance if you would like to and there may be advantages to doing so. You will want to look at both sets of information to decide.

Application form

Unless you are from North Korea, you start by submitting your application form online and paying an application fee of £100. There are additional fees for fast track services.

The earliest you can apply is three months before you travel. You should complete the Standard Visitor visa application form here: Standard Visitor: Apply now

Once your application form has been submitted, 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 three weeks for your visa application to be processed, depending on where you are applying. For current processing times please see the Home Office website.

Document list

  • Current passport
  • University of Exeter Visitor visa letter: This will be provided by the Study Abroad team, the Doctoral College, or the Admissions Office, depending on what course you will be studying.
  • ATAS certificate: Only required for certain science-related postgraduate subject areas – it will be stated on your offer letter. You must apply for your ATAS certificate at least 4-6 weeks before you plan to apply for your visa. The certificate will be emailed to you and must be included with your visa application. You should familiarise yourself with our in-depth ATAS information before you apply.
  • Accommodation and travel plans: Details of where you intend to stay, e.g. University accommodation details or tenancy agreement. You do not need to have paid for this before you apply for your visa. If you are staying with a friend or family member then you should include a letter from them which confirms this. You should also include details of outgoing and return flights but these do not need to have been booked.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds: Usually 6 months’ worth of bank statements or payslips showing sufficient money to cover your travel, accommodation, tuition fees and other study expenses. If you are being sponsored by someone else, you will need to include evidence of their ability and willingness to pay for you.
  • Other documents: If you are under 18 or applying for your UK visa in a country of which you are not a national, you will need to provide additional documents. It is also possible that the Home Office will request extra documents from you regarding your studies. The full list of documents for a Standard Visitor visa is here. Information about additional documents you may need to study is here.

Travelling to the UK

You should not travel to the UK before the start date of your visa. On arrival in the UK, you will need to present your visa to a UK Border Force Officer who will stamp you into the UK. You should carry a copy of your University of Exeter Visitor visa letter with you in case you need to show it to the UK Border Force Officer. If you are a national of one of these countries, you can enter through an eGate at the airport instead, but you will need to make sure to hold onto your flight ticket or boarding pass as you will not be stamped into the country.

At the University

On arrival at the University, you will need to present your passport, visa and entry stamp (or flight ticket/boarding pass) to International Student Clearance before you can register. You will receive instructions on where to go for this before you arrive.

Travelling during your studies

Your Visitor visa should be multiple entry, so you should be able to leave and re-enter the UK during your course. You will need to get your visa stamped each time you enter the UK and should carry a Student Status Letter (obtained from the SID Desk in the Forum, Penryn Info Point in Cornwall, or printed through SRS in iExeter) in your hand luggage in case you need to prove to the UK Border Force Officer that you are still studying.

After your studies

You must leave the UK by the expiry date printed on your visa.


Navigating the Visitor rules can be complicated. If you have any questions, contact the trained immigration advisers in International Student Support.