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Student Visitor Visa

Who can apply for the student visitor visa?

If you want to come to the UK in order to do a short period of study, you can apply to do so as a student visitor. This type of visa might be appropriate for the following students:

  • Students studying on a distance learning course
  • Students taking study abroad programmes
  • English language students who intend to go home at the end of their course
  • Students studying on a short part time course
  • Continuing students coming back into the UK to do re sits or to submit a dissertation

How long will the visa be issued for?

Student visitor visas are issued for 6 months only. The only exception to this is for English language students who wish to attend exclusively English language courses, as they can apply for a student visitor visa allowing them to stay for up to 11 months.

What are the conditions of a student visitor visa?

  • You must be at least 18 years of age;
  • You must have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You will have to show that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and to support yourself (usually estimated at approximately £820 per month)  and to meet the cost of your return journey. If you have already paid your tuition fees you will need to provide proof of this;
  • You must have an unconditional offer to study in the UK;
  • You must leave the UK at the end of your visit as it is not possible to extend a student visitor visa or to switch into any other immigration category. Therefore if, after studying a short course, you wished to progress onto a longer course at the University, you would have to return home and apply for a Tier 4 student visa to return to the UK;
  • You will not be permitted to work in the UK;
  • You are not able to bring family with you as dependants.

Do I need to apply for entry clearance (visa) as a Student Visitor prior to arriving in the UK?

6 month Student Visitor Visa: You must apply for entry clearance prior to arriving in the UK if you are a national of a country that is currently on the Visa National List

11 month Student Visitor Visa (English language only): You must apply for entry clearance prior to arriving in the UK regardless of your nationality.

I  need to apply for entry clearance as a student visitor. How do I apply?

You should read the detailed information on the Home Office website 

In most countries you have to make your application online (but there are some countries where you have to complete a paper VAF1D application form instead). The Home Office website explains whether you have to fill it in online, or complete a paper form. If applying online, you will be taken to a page where you have to create an 'online account', and then select your 'reason for visit'. It is important that you choose the following answers:

  • Reasons for visit? Select 'visit'
  • Visa type? Select 'special visitor'
  • Visa subtype? Select either
    • "(Special) Student visitor, up to 6 months" if you want to come for a short course of less than 6 months; or 
    • "(Special) Student visitor, to study English language course" if you want to come for an English language course that is more than 6 months but less than 11 months.

 It is advisable to apply for a visa well in advance of the planned date of travel. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can check the guide to visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you’re applying from.

You must submit your complete immigration application to your nearest UK Embassy, High Commission or Consulate (or the local visa application centre). You do not need to apply in the country where you live.

What documents will I need to prepare?

The Home Office have produced a supporting documents checklist which you should download and read carefully prior to submitting your application.

You must submit the original documents along with a photocopy of each. You will also need to provide a translation of any documents which are not already in English.

What should I carry with me in my hand luggage when I travel?

If you are a national of a country that is not on the Visa National List and coming for 6 months only then there is no requirement to obtain entry clearance prior to travelling to the UK. You can make your application for entry as a student visitor on arrival in the UK. There will be no charge for applications made on arrival in the UK by non-visa nationals. 

You will need to provide the Border Force Officer with a student visitor visa letter from the university (see above) and evidence that you can support yourself and pay (or have paid) your tuition fees. 

Even if you obtain entry clearance as a student visitor before travelling to the UK, you should still carry all the documents that you submitted with your entry clearance application when you travel to the UK. The Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive in the UK.

In the following circumstances non-visa nationals cannot get entry to the UK as a student visitor without first obtaining a visa:

  • English language students applying for 11 months leave as  a student visitor will need to obtain a visa before entering the UK
  • Students intending to enter the UK from the Republic of Ireland (also known as Southern Ireland), must obtain a student visitor visa before leaving home. This is because they are unlikely to encounter any Border Force Officers when they enter the UK through this route. Therefore, it will not be possible to apply for entry, and be stamped in as a “student visitor “at the port of entry. Entry into the UK and studies will be permitted, but only for a maximum of three months. Keep any travel ticket or any proof of date of entry. At the end of the 3 month period, you would have to leave the UK and re-enter via one of the UK borders in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. More information on what to do if you find yourself in this situation is available here.

If you are a non-visa national you are also able to make an application for entry clearance prior to travelling in the same way as visa nationals. You may choose to do so for your own peace of mind and to avoid the possibility of delays upon arrival in the UK.

Further information

It is advised that you read the information on the UKCISA: the UK Council for International Student Affairs website and also the Home Office website.



Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.