If you are coming to the UK to study on a programme that is less than 6 months long, you may be able to apply for a Standard Visitor visa

The Standard Visit Visa can be used for short courses and single-semester exchange programmes. However, it cannot be used for programmes that are longer than 6 months.

You can also use a Standard Visitor visa to come to the UK to undertake a short period of research, if this is part of a degree that you are studying overseas.

Conditions of the Standard Visitor visa

Extending a Standard Visitor Visa is in most cases, not an option.

You are not allowed to work in the UK if you have a Standard Visitor Visa. This includes work placements and unpaid work.

Pre-sessional students

We do not recommend a Standard Visitor Visa for our pre-sessional English programmes as you cannot extend it from within the UK.

If you are a pre-sessional English student, you should apply for a Student Visa. We will help you to extend your visa from within the UK after you have completed the pre-sessional programme.

Current students

If you are an existing student, registered on a degree programme in the UK, you can use a Standard Visitor Visa to return to the UK in order to:

  • retake an exam
  • repeat a course or module
  • undertake a viva

If you need to stay in the UK longer than six months, you will need to apply for a Student Visa.

Distance learning students

If you are registered on a distance learning programme in the UK, and need to enter the UK for short periods of time as part of your studies, you can use a Standard Visitor Visa. However, you must not intend to spend extended periods of time in the UK using the Standard Visitor route, i.e. you should not be hoping to regularly return to the UK on visitor visas, to carry out your distance learning.

Getting a Standard Visitor Visa at the port of entry

Nationals of some countries do not need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa before travelling to the UK and can instead obtain visitor leave on arrival to the UK border.  The choice is open to apply for the visa before travel or obtain visitor status at the port of entry to the UK.

If your passport allows you to enter via the E-gates, you will automatically have 'deemed visitor leave.' If this is the case, you will not have any stamp in your passport, but you will be 'deemed' to have entered the UK as a visitor, and therefore all of the conditions / rules of the visitor visa route apply to you.

If your passport does not allow you to enter via the E-gates, you will need to speak to a border official to ask them to grant you Visitor leave.  They will ask for evidence to show your reason for entry to the UK and may ask for finance evidence or other evidence which shows that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.

Please also refer to our information on arriving at the UK border.