Find out which type of student visa you need to apply for.
Check if you need a student visa
UK visa requirements and immigration criteria are managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
Swiss nationals and those from the EU/EEA states do not currently need a visa to study in the UK. All other international students are likely to need one. You can find out if you need a visa to study in the UK on the UKVI website.
Types of UK student visas
If you are 16 or over and want to study at degree level or above, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa.
You may be eligible for a short-term study visa if you are studying:
- a short course (less than six months)
- a distance-learning course
- an 11-month English language course
- as a visiting student for less than six months
Other visitor visa categories
UKVI provides information on other visitor categories. It is your responsibility to get the correct visa type to study in the UK.
Application processing times may be lengthy. You should always apply for a visa in plenty of time.
Tier 4 (General) visa
Full-time Tier 4 (General) visa
If you are studying for a full-time degree you will most likely need a Tier 4 (General) visa.
If you have a Tier 4 (General) visa, it is important to understand the restrictions of your visa and your responsibilities. It is also important to understand what the University must do as your Tier 4 sponsor. This includes why the University may contact you.
Read our guide on important information for your Tier 4 visa.
If you do not keep to the conditions of your visa, you may need to stop studying.
Part-time Tier 4 (General) visa
Students studying part-time for a postgraduate masters degree or doctoral programme can apply for a Tier 4 part-time visa. You may find this useful if you are working overseas and want to study for a part-time degree in the UK. It may also be useful if you need to repeat a year or semester of study on a part-time basis.
To be eligible, your studies must be longer than six months and not distance learning. A full-time Tier 4 student can switch to a Tier 4 part-time visa in the UK. You must still meet all the UKVI requirements (including academic progression, for example, applying for a higher level course). You will need to get your Tier 4 part-time visa before switching to part-time study.
There are currently no restrictions on how often you can travel with a Tier 4 part-time visa. You can stay in the UK full-time for the duration of your visa, even if you are studying part-time.
The following restrictions apply to Tier 4 part-time visa holders:
- no work permitted (including placements)
- you cannot bring dependants with you
- you cannot apply to extend the visa, or switch into another visa category while in the UK (this includes switching into Tier 4 to study full-time)
- you must meet all Tier 4 requirements, including financial and English language requirements
- you must apply for ATAS clearance if required
- you must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the full length of your course when you make your visa application
- the University is still required to track your attendance and report significant changes to UKVI. Attendance contact points will be tailored to your course for part-time study
Apply for a Tier 4 visa
Find out our step by step guide on how to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
Short-term study visa
The short-term study visa allows you to come to the UK if you are 16 years or older, and want to enter:
- to study a short course for up to six months
- to attend a short period of intensive teaching as part of a longer programme. For example, a distance learning summer school where the study is no more than 56 days in any 6 month period
- to re-sit an exam or module
- to undertake a viva if you are a postgraduate student
- to study an English language course for up to 11 months
- to research in the UK for up to six months where you are studying abroad for a Bachelors, Masters or PhD degree
The following restrictions apply to short-term study visa holders:
- no work permitted (paid or unpaid)
- you cannot apply for a short-term study visa in the UK or extend your stay while you are in the country
- you must leave the UK within 30 days of finishing the course or before your visa expires (whichever is soonest)
- if you need a short-term study visa as part of a distance learning programme, you must complete the majority of your study outside of the UK
- if you are studying on a course that requires ATAS clearance, you must obtain an ATAS certificate before you can begin your studies
- you cannot extend your study end date beyond 30 days from the end date originally provided as part of your visa application
Apply for a short-term study visa
Most students will need to apply for a short-term study visa before travelling to the UK. Some nationalities can apply when they arrive at the UK border.
If your nationality is listed in Appendix 2 of the Immigration Rules, you must apply for your visa before you travel. If your nationality is not listed in Appendix 2, you have the option of applying before you travel or applying when you arrive at the UK border.
Apply before travelling to the UK
You will need to make your short-term study visa application online and then attend a visa application centre to provide your supporting documents. You will also have your biometric information taken at the visa application centre. Your short-term study visa will be issued in your passport.
Apply at the UK border
If you are able to apply when you arrive in the UK, you must travel with all the supporting documents listed below. You will also need to tell the Border Officer that you would like to enter as a short-term student.
You must provide the following documents with your short-term study visa application:
- a short-term study letter from the University with details of your course (this is different to your offer letter)
- bank statements showing finances
- evidence of your accommodation arrangements in the UK
- ATAS certificate (if applicable): you will need a new ATAS certificate for every Short Term Study visa application you make
- Tuberculosis (TB) test certificate - you will only need this if you are from a country where the TB test is required, and you are coming to the UK for six months or longer
Please be aware that if you apply for your short-term study visa at the UK border, it will expire when you leave the UK. If you want to leave the UK and re-enter, you will need to apply for a new visa when you re-enter.