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Visitor visas for short courses: Applying in advance

If your nationality is on the Visa National List, you are considered a visa national and you must apply for and be granted your Visitor visa before you travel to the UK. This visa cannot be extended and work is prohibited (with the exception of students on medical electives).

If your nationality is not on this list, you are considered a non-visa national and you can enter as a Visitor on arrival to the UK.

How to apply

  • The earliest you can apply for a Visitor visa is three months before you travel.
  • Information you will need to apply and the link to the application form is here: Standard Visitor: Apply now
  • Prepare your documents and apply online - the application fee is £115.
  • Book and attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre to provide your passport, original documents and enrol your biometrics. *You may be charged additional fees for the biometrics appointment.
  • Standard processing time is 3 weeks from the date of your appointment. For current processing times please see the Home Office website.

Document list

Below is a summary of required documents, please see Standard Visitor visa: Documents you'll need and Visiting the UK: guide to supporting documents for further details.

  • Current passport: This must be valid for the whole of your visit to the UK.
  • University of Exeter Visitor visa letter: The letter will be provided by the following team:
    • One Semester Study Abroad students - this is your acceptance letter from the Inbound team.
    • PhD students attending viva - the Doctoral College,
    • Students returning for January or May exams - your Hub
    • Visiting Postgraduate Research students - the CAS team. You will also need a letter from your home university confirming the details of your programme of study in your country.
    • International Summer School students - International Summer School team.
  • 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: You need to show that you have enough money to support yourself while in the UK. For example, bank statements or payslips covering 6 months showing that you have sufficient money to cover your travel, accommodation, tuition fees and other study expenses. There are no specific requirements for a Visitor visa however we suggest you use the Student visa monthly amount for living expenses as a guide; £1,023/month, this excludes money for tuition fees.
  • Sponsorship: If you are receiving any financial assistance for your visit, for example from a family member, a friend, an employer or an organisation they are considered to be your sponsor and you will need to provide details of the sponsorship on the application form and include evidence of their ability and willingness to pay for you.
  • Other documents: If you are under 18, applying for your visa in a country of which you are not a national or any of your documents are not in English, you will need to provide additional documents. 

Travelling to the UK

Your Visitor visa will have a 'valid from' date and you should not travel to the UK before this date. On arrival in the UK, you will need to present your visa to a UK Border Force Officer who will stamp your passport with the date that you entered. 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 keep your flight ticket or boarding pass as proof of your date of entry as you won't receive a date of entry stamp in your passport.

University registration

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 via email 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. Unless you are eligible to enter via an eGate you will need to get your visa stamped each time you enter the UK.  All students 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.

Travelling after your studies

You don't need to leave the UK immediately after you have finished studying at Exeter buy you must leave 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.