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University of Bath

Student visas

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).

From 5 October 2020, all prospective international students coming to study in the UK on or after 1 January 2021, including those from the EU, EEA and Switzerland, will need to apply for a Student visa and receive a decision, before they arrive. This includes those who begin their course remotely in autumn 2020. Applications can be made online at GOV.UK and students can apply up to six months before their course starts.

EU, EEA and Swiss students resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 should not apply for a Student visa through the new points-based immigration system. They, and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Those resident here by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to do so.

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 Student visa (previously Tier 4 visa).

You may be eligible for a visit 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.

Student visa

Full-time Student visa

If you are studying for a full-time degree you will most likely need a Student visa, previously called Tier 4 (General) visa.

If you have a Student visa (or a Tier 4 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 sponsor. This includes why the University may contact you.

Read our guide on important information for your student visa.

If you do not keep to the conditions of your visa, you may need to stop studying.

Part-time Student visa

Students studying part-time for a postgraduate master's degree or doctoral programme may be eligible to apply for a part-time Student visa. This may be 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 student can switch to a part-time visa in the UK (and vice versa). 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 student part-time visa before switching to part-time study.

  • no work permitted (including placements)
  • you cannot bring dependants with you
  • you must meet all visa 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 engagement with your studies and report significant changes to UKVI. Academic engagement contact points will be tailored to your course for part-time study

Apply for a Student visa

Find out our step by step guide on how to apply for a student visa.

Arriving at the UK border

International students from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America, as well as nationals from Switzerland, EU and EEA countries coming to study for longer than 6 months on a student visa and travelling on a biometric passport can use the eGates.

eGates are an automated self-service option that eligible travellers can use at passport control at 15 UK airports and Eurostar rail terminals. They are a quicker way to cross the border. The eGates use facial recognition technology to check your identity against the photo in your passport.

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 Bachelor's, Master's or doctorate 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, including a short-term study visa letter which the Student Immigration Service will provide you with. 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.

Travellers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America coming on a short-term study visa should not use the eGates , as you need to see an officer on arrival to receive a stamp in your passport. You can download a request a passport stamp visual aid document to present to airport staff either as a printed copy or on a mobile device.

Supporting documents

Short-term study visa refusals are often due to a lack of supporting evidence to prove what has been stated on the application form. Therefore, you must provide the following documents with your short-term study visa application:

  • Valid passport or travel document.
  • Short-term study visa letter from the University with details of your course (this is different to your offer letter).
  • 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.
  • Financial evidence, for example bank statements, payslips, or bank letter. You need to be able to demonstrate that you can support yourself in the UK. If you are relying on a parent or other family member to financially support you, you should also include a letter of consent from the person supporting you. If a parent is financially supporting you, you should also include your birth certificate.
  • Information about your visit, including evidence of your accommodation arrangements in the UK and flight tickets.
  • Evidence that you do not intend to stay in the UK beyond the validity of your visa. If you are employed, you can use your employment contract or a letter from your employer confirming that they are expecting you to return to your position. You can also use evidence of address (such as tenancy agreement, mortgage statements or deeds of land), return flight tickets, or evidence of family in country or other ties which make it clear you intend to return to your home country.

You must check the full list of supporting documents before you apply. There is also some useful information on the UKCISA web pages to help you apply for a short-term study visa.

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.

Short-term study visa letters processes

The production of short-term study letters is centralised. The Student Immigration Service produces all letters. A note is added to offer letters clarifying that offer letters cannot be used to obtain a short-term study visa. A separate short-term study visa letter must be obtained instead.


Once Central Admissions have issued your offer letter, the Student Immigration Service will issue you with a short-term study visa letter if you are eligible, so there is no need to request the letter or contact the Student Immigration Service.

If you require ATAS clearance, the visa letter will only be issued once a valid ATAS certificate has been provided.

You will need to upload a copy of your visa before you are invited to register. You must also show your original documents including passport and visa before gaining full registration.

Current students

If you are a current student and require a short-term study visa, you will receive a letter to support your application once your department has informed the Student Immigration Service of your study dates. This letter will be sent to your University of Bath email address, and you will need to print it out and use it for your visa application.

If you require ATAS clearance, the visa letter will only be issued once a valid ATAS certificate has been provided.

When you arrive at the University


As a new student, you must have your passport and visa checked on entry to the UK. You can only upload a copy of your passport and visa and begin Registration Online (ROL) once this has been done.

During September arrivals, this is done in the wider document checking process. If you arrive after this time, you must present your documents to the Student Immigration Service in Wessex House 8.29, between 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00.

Current students

As a current student, you must have your passport and visa checked on arrival by the Student Immigration Service in Wessex House 8.29, between 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00.