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Standard visitor visa

Standard visitor visa for short courses

Students taking a short course of no more than six months can use a Standard Visitor visa.

Students who need to resit an examination, retake a module or attend a viva (oral examination) for a PhD can also use this visa. The study period must not exceed six months on any one occasion within a 12-month period.

If you are coming to the UK for a short period of full-time study and planning to continue further full-time studies in the UK (e.g. taking a pre-sessional course followed by a full-time master’s programme), you should apply for a Student visa.

Distance learning

  • If you are studying a distance learning course that is longer than six months, you can use a Standard Visitor visa for a short period of time that you are required to be in the UK. 
  • However, you should not expect to be in the UK for a long period of time and should check to ensure that you are not using frequent or repeat visits to pursue a longer course of study. 

Additional requirements for 16- and 17-year olds

  • If you are aged 16 or 17, you must also:
    • show that suitable arrangements have been made for your travel to, reception and care in the UK
    • have a parent or guardian in your home country who is responsible for your care and who confirms that they consent to the arrangements for your travel, reception and care in the UK.

How and when to apply

  • You can apply up to three months before the date that you intend to travel to the UK.
  • You need to make your application online.
  • Some students will be able to apply for their visa upon arrival to the UK (non-visa nationals) - others will need to apply in their countries of residence before travelling to the UK (visa nationals). Please check the Home Office visa national list to find out which category applies to you.
  • You can also check if you need a visa before travelling to the UK.
  • If you are a non-visa national and are planning to request a Standard Visitor visa upon arrival in the UK, you must include the relevant documents in your hand luggage as an immigration officer may request them when you arrive.

Required documents

Visa restrictions

  • This visa has certain restrictions which include the following:
    • you must leave the UK at the end of six months 
    • you will not be able to work here - this includes paid, unpaid and voluntary work, and work placements
    • you cannot bring your dependant(s) - they need to apply for their visitor visa separately
    • this visa cannot be renewed or switched to a different visa category in the UK.


  • Once you arrive in the UK, you will need to provide your passport and visa to before beginning your studies. 
  • The International Student Administration team will contact you before your visa expiry date to remind you of your requirement to leave the UK before the end of your visa 

Standard Visitor visa for graduation

If your Student visa is going to expire before your graduation date, you will need to return home (before your current visa expires) and apply for a Standard Visitor visa to attend your Graduation ceremony. 

If you leave the UK after completing your course and your current Student visa is valid to cover your Graduation day, you may still need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa to come back to the UK.

If you require an invitation letter to your Graduation ceremony, please contact the Events Team