If you are coming to the UK to study for 6 months or less, you may have the option to apply for a Visitor visa but you must still meet the study requirements.

Whether you can apply for a Standard Visitor visa depends on what you are studying and how long you are studying for. Below, we have outlined the sorts of study you can do on a Standard Visitor visa:

  • Students undertaking a short course of study that is six months or less in length (total) 

  • Those undertaking a period of research at a UK Higher Education institution 

  • Study Abroad students studying for less than six months (total) 

  • Students re-taking an exam or module 

  • Students performing their viva 

  • Students taking part in educational exchanges

  • Students engaged in distance learning (the majority of the course must be studied outside UK)

To study or research certain subjects, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. Admissions will tell you if this is the case. You need to apply for the ATAS certificate before starting your course.

A Standard Visitor visa may also be appropriate for general visits to the UK such as visiting friends or family, or attending graduation ceremonies. Further details about the above scenarios can be found on the UKCISA’s website.

Whether you need to apply for a visa before you travel depends on your nationality and what you plan to do in the UK. You can use the UK Government's online tool for checking whether you need a visa before travelling. Just click on this link and answer the questions about your trip to the UK.

Below, we have included further information on what you will need to do if you are told you need a visa before coming to the UK and what you will need to do if you are told you do not need a visa before coming to the UK.

If you require a visa to come to the UK - sometimes referred to as being a Visa National - you must have received your visa before you travel.  The earliest you can apply is three months before you travel.

You can find a list of documents and information you will need to prepare for your application here. You can find Home Office guidance on supporting documentation by clicking here.  We would expect you to need the following documentation in support of your application:

  • A valid Travel Document (passport)

  • Evidence you have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK (and return home)

  • Evidence of your reason for travel, for example:

  • Study Abroad acceptance letter/email

  • Graduation Ceremony booking confirmation

  • Hotel booking confirmation

  • An ATAS Certificate (if you are studying and need one for your course)

Any original documents supplied in a language other than English or Welsh must be accompanied by an official translation – you can find guidance on the Home Office link provided above.

A list of required documentation should appear at the end of your completed Visa Application form. Please make sure you supply anything else that UKVI requests.

Once you have completed your online application, you will be sent an email asking you to provide Biometric Information. This could be by booking an appointment at a UK visa application centre or by downloading and using the UKVI ID Verification App. You will also be asked to upload your supporting documents as part of this process.

Financial Evidence

You need to be able to demonstrate that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees (if applicable), accommodation and living expenses, whilst in the UK, as well as the cost of travel home, if you haven't booked a return ticket. There are no specific requirements relating to how much money you should have available, when making applications to the Standard Visitor route. We recommend that students are able to show £1,023 (or equivalent in another currency) per month, for the duration of their studies. This is the amount required for applications to the Student route.

You can supply financial evidence in the form of:

  • A bank statement in your own name

  • A bank statement in a parent/legal guardian's name. This must be accompanied by

  • A signed letter from them giving you permission to access their funds for your time in the UK

  • Your birth/adoption certificate, as proof of your relation

  • A Letter of Sponsorship - this should clearly state who the sponsor is, how they are related to you, what support is being provided and how you will receive the support

If you are going to be staying with family or friends whilst in the UK, which will reduce your living costs, you can include evidence of this too. This can be in the form of a Letter of Invitation, from them to you.

Receiving your Visa

Once you have completed your application, and provided your supporting documents & biometric information, it will usually take 3 weeks for you to receive a decision. This can take longer during busy periods and you can find information on current visa processing times here.

Your visa will either be a Visa Vignette (sticker) on a page in your passport, or you will have Digital Visa Status. You will not receive a BRP card, as you will be in the UK for less than six months. We advise that you carry your supporting documents in your hand luggage, when you travel to the UK. A UK Border Agent may request these for inspection upon arrival.

You can find out more about arriving in the UK on our webpage.

If your outcome from the online tool was that you will not need a visa to come to the UK, then you are a Non-Visa National.  This means you are not required to apply for visas in advance of travel and can be granted entry clearance when arriving at the UK Border. You can still choose to apply for a Standard Visitor visa, if you'd prefer, but you do not need to.   If you have previously been refused immigration permission for the UK, we would also recommend that you apply for a visa in advance of travel, whether or not you come from a country that requires this.

You will need to carry any supporting documentation with you in your hand luggage, so it is available at the UK border and can be produced, if requested, for a UK Border Agent.   In the dropdown ‘Visa Nationals’ above, you can find detailed information on the supporting documents we would expect you to need and the format these must be in.

If you use an eGate

eGates at UK airports and Eurostar terminals allow nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA to enter the country without seeing a UK Border Agent, if they have a biometric passport. You will enter the UK as a visitor and will have permission to remain for 6 months from your arrival date. If you use an eGate, you will not receive an entry stamp in your passport. You must keep evidence of your arrival date - such as a boarding pass or e-ticket - as this will be required for registration at UEA.

You can find out more about arriving in the UK on our webpage.

Nationals or citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates may be able to apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Document if they wish to enter the UK under visitor permission.  You can find out more about this here.

An EVW document must however be used in the manner specified in Appendix Visitor of the Immigration Rules otherwise your application for permission to enter the UK may be refused.  An EVW document is valid for a period of single entry to the UK. You will not therefore be permitted to enter, leave and re-enter the UK using this document.

Please contact Student Life International if you are unsure whether this visa type is right for you.

The Immigration Rules do not allow visitors to bring family members to the UK. If you are applying as a Standard Visitor and you have a spouse, partner, child or other person who wants to come with you to visit the UK, they must also apply to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor.

If you are in the UK with Visitor permission, you will have no right to work. This also means that you will not be able to undertake a work placement or internship as part of your course. You can find further information on UKCISA’s webpage under ‘Prohibited Activities’. You will not be permitted to access public funds (such as benefits) during your stay in the UK as a visitor. You will not be able to extend your stay, switch to a Student visa or switch into most working routes from the UK.

You must leave the UK at the end of your visit. You must not intend to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits. You must also not intend to make the UK your main home.  If the border agent has any concerns that individuals are living in the UK using a Standard Visitor visa, they could deny entry.

Please note that a Standard Visitor visa does not come with medical cover. You will need to ensure that you have planned your own appropriate medical insurance prior to travel.

You can find out more about Healthcare in the UK on our webpage.

The Student Life International team have a help guide to assist you in preparing for your visa application.  You can request this document by emailing the team.
You are welcome to contact us at any point if you are unsure of anything, have a query related to your supporting documents or a query related to your visa application.