Visiting/Exchange Students Visa Options
What if I am a Visiting/exchange student for postgraduate courses?
The information below would still apply to you, however, your contact will not be the Study Abroad team.
If you are a Postgraduate visiting student, your contact will be the Postgraduate Admissions team. If you would like a CAS, PG Admissions will contact you directly with more instructions. If you would like a ‘Short Term Study Visa’ supporting letter, please ask your academic department to make a request online on your behalf (staff access required).
If you are a Postgraduate exchange student, your contact will be your academic department, who will be able to provide you with a ‘Short Term Study Visa’ supporting letter.
Students from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland:
If you are from one of the these countries, you will not require a visa to study in the UK. If you are unsure, or, if you hold a ‘British national overseas’ passport, check the Home Office website. You can also find more information about how to prepare your stay in the UK including comprehensive sickness insurance requirement on UKCISA website.
Non-EU/EEA students who intend to study for 3 terms (1 full academic year) in the UK:
To study a full time course which is more than 6 months in the UK, you will require a Tier 4 Student visa. The Study Abroad team will contact you from 3-4 months prior to your intended course start to advise how to obtain a CAS which is required for a Tier 4 visa. Please also refer to our website about about how to apply for a Tier 4 visa.
Non-EU/EEA students who intend to study for 2 terms (about 6 months) in the UK:
You will normally need to apply for a ‘Tier 4 student visa’. This is because the total duration of your study in the UK is likely to exceed 6 months if you are to attend the Orientation at the beginning of the first term. The Study Abroad team will contact you from 3-4 months prior to your intended course start to advise how to obtain a CAS which is required for a Tier 4 visa. Please also refer to our website about about how to apply for a Tier 4 visa. If you do not normally require a visa to visit the UK for up to 6 months, please refer to further information below.
Non-EU/EEA students who do not need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK (non-visa nationals):
Check the Home Office website to ascertain if you are a non-visa national. After entering your nationality, purpose of visit and period of study, if you see the following information on the Home Office website, this indicates that you are a non-visa national.
If this is the case, you do not have to apply for a visa before coming to the UK. Instead, you can can make a ‘Short Term Study’ visa application on arrival at a UK airport by showing a letter confirming the course you have been accepted onto (the ‘visa supporting letter’ and information leaflet can be obtained from the Study Abroad team) and proof that you can afford to follow the course. However, we recommend that all non-EEA students coming for less than six months apply for a visa before leaving their home country because this is the safest option. You should check with your local Embassy or Consulate on their application procedures as some may be unable to process Entry Clearance applications for such as visa during peak periods.
If you will study for 2 terms at your university and you choose NOT to apply for a Tier 4 visa, you must notify the Study Abroad team. If you have already received a CAS at that stage, your CAS will be withdrawn and you will no longer be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa.
Non-EU/EEA students who intend to study for 1 term (about 3 months) or less in the UK:
You will need to apply for a ‘Short Term Study Visa’. Depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for this visa before you travel to the UK, or, on arrival when you go through UK Border. In both cases, you will need to obtain a ‘Short Term Study Visa’ supporting letter from the Study Abroad team.
Is the ‘Short-term Study visa’ a multiple-entry visa?
If you apply for this visa before you travel (visa nationals and non-visa nationals), then you will receive a ‘Short Term Study visa’ valid for 6 months and it is a multiple-entry visa.
If you are a non-visa national and you decide to apply for this visa on arrival in the UK, you will receive a ‘Short Term Study visa’ stamp on your passport. This is a single-entry visa, which means if you will leave the UK during your period of ‘study abroad’ at university, for example, for a weekend trip to France, you need to apply for this visa again when returning to the UK. Remember to bring all the documents with you including the ‘visa support letter’, information leaflet and financial evidence in your hand luggage when you return to the UK.
What are the benefits of applying for a Tier 4 visa?
A Tier 4 visa entitles you to work in the UK and it is possible to extend this type of visa in the UK. Therefore if there is a possibility you may decide to extend your studies here, then a Tier 4 visa would be most appropriate. Our dedicated Tier 4 web pages provide details of how to apply for this type of visa.
With a Tier 4 visa you will be given some additional time to travel in the UK after your course end date. Therefore, if you intend to remain in the UK and travel for a few weeks after your study abroad period has ended, you should apply for a Tier 4 visa.
What are the benefits of applying for a ‘Short Term Study Visa’?
It is cheaper than a Tier 4 visa. Apply for this visa if you are certain that you will not need to extend your stay in the UK, do not intend to work in the UK, and will leave the UK as soon as the course has ended. If you wish to come to the UK for a holiday prior to commencing your studies, the ‘Short term study visa’ is a good option for you. Make sure that you put on your visa application form that you intend to arrive in the UK before your course start date. Our dedicated ‘Short Term Study Visa’ web page gives details of how to apply for this type of visa.
What are the restrictions of a ‘Short Term Study Visa’?
Should you decide to study for longer in the UK, it is not possible to extend such a visa and it is not possible to switch to a Tier 4 visa within the UK. You are also unable to work (in any capacity, including unpaid work) or take a work placement in the UK. You may be able to do some volunteer work but only in very restricted circumstances (i.e., you can only volunteer to help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation, and cannot have a contract of employment; cannot take the place of an employee; cannot receive payment except for travel reimbursement or subsistence allowance).
Moreover, with this visa you will be expected to leave the UK as soon as your course has eneded (judged by the course end date stated on the ‘visa supporting letter’ from our Study Abroad team), even if your visa remains valid. This means you will not be able to travel in the UK after your course end date. Therefore, if you intend to remain in the UK and travel for a few weeks after your study abroad period has ended, you should apply for a Tier 4 visa.
What is the difference in healthcare provision in the UK if I apply for a ‘Tier 4 visa’ or a ‘Short term Study Visa’?
If your course is longer than 6 months, then you will need to pay for the ‘International Health Surchange’ as part of your Tier 4 visa application process (for most students it will be £150 if your course is between 6-10 months long). You will be able to use the National Health Service (NHS) and be entitled to free hospital treatment.
If your course is shorter than 6 months, you do not need to pay the ‘International Health Surcharge’ regardless of which visa you will apply for. However, you will have limited access to healthcare provision in the UK and may consider arranging private medical insurance before coming to the UK. For more information, please refer to theGOV website and the UKCISA website.
What if I already hold a valid immigration permission (UK residence document)?
If you are a non-EEA national who already hold a valid immigration permission to reside in the UK, for example, ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘permanent residence’, ‘UK ancestry visa’, ‘dependant visa’ etc., you may be able to study without applying for a new visa.
If you hold a long-term visitor visa (for example, some General Visitor Visas or Business Visitor Visas are issued with a validity of 3 or 5 years), it is unlikely that you will be able to undertake your UK study using that visa, because studying is restricted to 30 days when holding this type of visa.
When and how do I complete online enrolment with your university?
Online enrolment is usually open about 2-4 weeks before the start of your course at your university. Once you have accepted your unconditional offer, you will be contacted by email automatically when enrolment is open and you will be given a link to the online enrolment portal. If you need any help completing the online enrolment form, check the ‘Permission to Enrol’ webpage in the first instance.