Visas and Immigration for study in the UK

Travelling in and out of the UK

During your studies, it may be necessary for you to travel in and out of the UK. It's important to be aware of any impact your trip may have on your studies or your visa

Travelling during vacation periods

If you are planning a trip outside the UK during the official vacation period, you will usually not face any complications. View the university term dates online if you want to check this.

Travelling during term time

We  strongly recommend that you speak with your Programme Leader, Personal Tutor or Supervisor before planning travel during term time, to discuss with them what impact this will have on your studies or research.

If you do not attend all of your classes (or other expected contact points and meetings) without approval, this may lead to withdrawal from your programme of study. So it is highly important that you get authorisation before you travel during term time.

To get approval for your absence, you will need to get an Authorised Absence Form signed by your Programme Leader. Please refer to the university attendance and engagement policy and guidance for further information.

Returning to the UK after travelling during term time

When returning to the UK, we recommend that you carry the following documents in your hand luggage, in addition to your passport and visa:

The above are recommended documents. If you don't have them it does not necessarily mean that you will not be able to enter the UK.

You should remember that each time you enter the UK, border officials may ask you questions.  They may want to check that your reason for entering the UK matches the purpose of your visa. If you have travelled during term time they may want to see that this was authorised by the university.

If they have some doubts or questions, the border officials can keep you waiting whilst they check in detail your reasons to enter the UK. They can deny entry if they are not satisfied with your reason to return, or think that there is some other reason why they should not allow you to enter the UK.  Fortunately this is very rare, however you will be able to contact the university for help if you are concerned when you reach the UK.

Returning to the UK after studies have ended

If you are travelling during any period before the programme end date in your CAS, it is likely that the border officials will consider that you are travelling during term time.  If this is the case - follow the advice above (travelling during term -time )

If you are travelling after your studies have completed, while your visa is still valid; you should usually not face any obstacle with re-entering the UK.  UKVI have stated that students are able to travel in and out of the UK in the period after they have completed their studies. You should remember that border officials may want to ask you about your reasons for re-entering the UK.  Collecting you results, collecting your things, ending your tenancy contract, or applying to the Graduate Route are highly likely to be satisfactory answers.

When you should seek advice before travelling

You should always seek advice if  either of the following scenarios applies to you:

  • The university has notified UKVI that it has withdrawn your immigration sponsorship
  • You have a pending visa application in the UK

In either of these cases above, leaving the UK may cause you legal complications or problems and we recommend you contact the International Student Advice Service for advice.

General advice from UKVI on entering the UK

UKVI have published a helpful international student arrival guide which tells you what to expect at the border when you enter the UK.

Some students will be able to use e-gates to enter the UK. See our information about arriving at the UK border for guidance on this.