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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 course 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 18 years or above
  • You will have to show that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and to support yourself (usually estimated at approximately £800 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 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?

You will need to apply for this visa prior to arriving in the UK if you are a national of a country that is currently on the Visa National List

I am a visa national and need to apply for entry clearance as a student visitor. How do I apply?

You should read the detailed information on the UK Border Agency website. 

Depending on where you live, you may be able to make your visa application online or by printing out and completing the VAF1D application form. 

Select your country in the UKBAs country finder to find out:

  • how to apply in your country
  • the location of the visa application centres
  • how long it generally takes to process visa applications
  • how your documents will be returned to you

There is a visa processing fee of £80 (for a visa for a course lasting up to 6 months) or £144 (for a visa for an English language course lasting 6-11 months) It is advisable to apply for a visa well in advance of the planned date of travel.

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

The required supporting documents are also outlined here:

  • A valid passport
  • One recent passport sized photograph (no more than 1 month old)
  • The visa fee
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself throughout your studies e.g. bank statements covering a period of 6 months. There are no specific requirements which state the amount of money you must show when you apply for a student visitor visa. However you must show that you have enough money to support yourself without recourse to public funds and without working. It is advisable to provide evidence that you have enough money to cover your course fees plus accommodation and living expenses (minimum of £800 per month) for the duration of your course. If you will be staying with friends or family while in the UK you can include evidence of this
  • A student visitor visa letter from Cardiff University giving details of your course. This letter will be issued by your Academic Department and not the University Registry who only deal with Tier 4 applications.
  • Evidence of any previous study or qualifications gained, including those relating to English language ability

I am not a visa national and don’t need to apply for entry clearance prior to travel. 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 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 Immigration Officer with a student visitor visa letter from your Department (see above) and evidence that you can support yourself and pay (or have paid) your tuition fees. 

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 Immigration 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 Making an immigration application as a student visitor guidance leaflet which has been produced by UKCISA: the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

You can also find more information about the student visitor visa on the UKBA website.