Visas and Immigration for study in the UK

Travelling in and out of the UK

During your studies, you may need 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 won't usually face any complications. If you are not sure when your your vacation periods are, you can view the university term dates online or check with your faculty for the term dates of your specific programme.

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 what impact this will have on your studies or research.

It is important that any absence is approved by the university before you travel.

If your travel means you will be missing some classes or contact points, you will need to complete an Authorised Absence Form. This must be signed by your Programme Leader. Authorised Absence Forms can be used to approve up to two weeks absence from your classes and will need to be supported by evidence for your absence. The Retention and Success Team will also be able to help you if you have any questions about the process of getting an authorised absence.

If you do not attend your classes (or other expected engagement points) without approval you may be withdrawn from your programme of study. So it is highly important to always take advice on this and speak to your Faculty straight away if you will have any absence.  To find out more about how your attendance is monitored, please refer to the Student Engagement Policy.

Returning to the UK after travelling during term time

When you return to the UK, we recommend that you carry the following documents in your hand luggage, in addition to your passport and visa.  Documents can be digital (on a device) or printed:

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. Many people are not questioned on their entry to the UK, so in many cases you would not need to use any evidence.

Remember: each time you enter the UK, border officials may ask you questions, and 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 any doubts or questions, the border officials can keep you waiting whilst they check in detail your reasons to enter. They can deny your entry to the UK if they are not satisfied with your reason for returning or if they think there is another reason they should not allow you to enter the UK. This is rare thankfully, and if you have any issues at the border, you will be able to contact the university for help if you are concerned.

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 for travelling during term time.

UKVI have stated that students are able to travel in and out of the UK in the period after they have completed their studies.

If you are travelling after you have completed your studies and whilst your visa is still valid, you shouldn’t usually face any obstacle with re-entering the UK. Border officials may want to ask you why you are re-entering the UK. The following reasons are likely to be satisfactory:

  • Collecting your results
  • Collecting your belongings
  • Ending your tenancy contract
  • Applying for the graduate route

When you should seek advice before travelling

You should always seek advice before travelling if either of the following apply 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 mean that you cannot re-enter the UK, and we strongly recommend you contact the International Student Advice Service for advice before travelling so you understand how this works.

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.