Standard Visitor Visa

From 1 December 2020 the Standard Visit Visa has replaced the Short-Term Student Visa for study in the UK of up to six months. The Standard visit visa now allows students to come and study in the UK for a course of up to six months. The Short-Term Study route is now limited to individuals who wish to study an English language course that is 6 to 11 months long.

Please note that you cannot apply for a Standard Visit Visa from inside the UK. 

Studying for less than 6 months

You can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa to study at the University of Westminster if you are aged 16 and over and you are:

  • Studying a short course (six months or less) with no work or internship, 
  • Taking a one semester Study Abroad programme which is less than six months and does not include an internship or work placement and will form part of your overseas course.
  • Returning to the UK to re sit an exam, retake a module where the University has been unable to issue you with a CAS for a Student Visa
  • Take an oral (viva) examination for part of your PHD qualification at the University of Westminster
  • Complete a period of research for less than six months

Researching in the UK for less than six months

You can come to the UK for a short period of research at the University of Westminster if you are already enrolled on an overseas degree course.

To be eligible:

  • your course in your home country must be equivalent to a UK degree 
  • you must be carrying out the research at the University of Westminster
  • your research must form part of, or be relevant to the course you are studying overseas
  • You will be required to provide a letter from your overseas education provider that confirms the course you are currently studying overseas and confirms that the research you will undertake in the UK relates to this course
  • You must obtain an ATAS certificate if relevant for your course

What are the main conditions for a Standard Visitor visa?

You must:

  • have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds, and be able to pay for your return or onward journey out of the UK. Please see the Visitor Guidance for further details on this condition.
  • Show that you are a genuine visitor who will undertake one of the permitted activities
  • intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • hold a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance where relevant
  • if aged 16 or 17 there are additional requirements, please seek further advice before applying, contact Student Advice

You must not:

  • do any kind of work, business activity, work placement, work experience , self-employment, business activity or professional activity during your studies in the UK
  • undertake any of the other prohibited activities 
  • apply to switch into any other immigration category while you are in the UK
  • Continue studying in the UK after your immigration permission as a Standard Visit Visa has come to an end. If you want to study full time in the UK you will need to return home and apply for a Student Visa, or apply for a different visa under the appropriate immigration category

You will not:

  • be entitled to free National Health Service health care, you must take out private medical insurance from your home country before you come to the UK
  • be eligible for exemption from Council Tax (unless resitting or retaking an exam on a full time degree)
  • be able to use this visa to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent and successive visit visas, or intend to make the UK your home. Please seek advice if you have applied for a Standard Visitor visa or Short-Term student visa recently

What documents do you need when you apply for this visa?

A full list of supporting documents can be found on the gov.uk website

Listed below are some of the documents you will need to support your application:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification document, your passport must be valid for the whole of your stay
  • an unconditional offer letter from the University of Westminster. This letter will confirm that we are a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and hold a Student sponsor licence and will confirm the details of your course. 
  • if undertaking a period of research, you will need a letter from your overseas education provider which confirms details of your current course and that the research you will undertake at University of Westminster relates to this course
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, eg bank statements or payslips. You will need to show that you can pay the tuition fees for you course, accommodation and living expenses. The guidance does not state how much money you must have, however using the Student maintenance figures as a guide only, it would be reasonable to show that you have the equivalent of £1,334 per month for the duration of your studies. If you will be staying with friends or family, you can include evidence of this.
  • details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans 
  • previous travel documents/passports, which show previous travel 
  • confirmation of legal residence, if you are not a national of the country in which you are applying or your right to reside there is not included in your passport

You may also need to show evidence of: 

  • what you will be doing in the UK, the reason for your visit and whether any costs are being met by a third party, including any letters from inviting or sending organisations
  • previous study in UK or your Country of residence, eg academic certificates, references or transcripts
  • English language qualifications, eg certificates or awards
  • permission to be in the country you are applying from (if you are not a national of that country)
  • financial sponsor’s occupation, income, savings or funds that will support your studies
  • birth certificate and a consent letter from your parent, if your parent is supporting you financially
  • if you are under 18 you will need additional documents, seek advice before submitting your application
  • links in your home country, for example, evidence that you are a student in your home country (if applicable), your employment contract or a letter from your employer (if applicable), evidence of your address in your home country (for example: tenancy agreement or mortgage papers). Business Registration documents or self-employment evidence

All documents, apart from passports, can be originals, scans or photocopies.

If you submit a document that is not in English or Welsh, it must be accompanied by a full translation that can be independently verified by the Home Office.

You need a page in your passport that is blank on both sides for your visa.

Your passport must be valid for the full duration of your stay in the UK.

How and where to apply for a Standard Visitor visa

Visa nationals

If you are a national of a ‘visa national’ country, you must apply for your visa before coming to the UK. You can find a list of visa national countries in the Appendix Visitor, Visa National list of the Immigration Rules on gov.uk. You cannot apply for a Standard Visit Visa from inside the UK.

See section below, ‘Applying for a Standard Visitor visa prior to travelling to the UK’.

EU Nationals and Non-visa nationals

If you are a not a visa national (see above) you have the option to apply for your Standard Visit Visa before coming to the UK (see application process below), or obtain this visa at the airport, please see information below on arriving in the UK.

We advise that you do not obtain a Standard Visit visa at the airport if you have had previous UK immigration refusals.

If you will obtain a Standard Visit visa at the airport, we advise that you travel with your supporting documents in your hand luggage, see information on documents required above.

You can be refused entry if the Immigration Officer is not satisfied that you meet the conditions for a Standard Visitor Visa as explained above.

If you receive a Standard Visit Visa at the airport and you travel outside of the UK during your course, you need to apply for a new Standard Visitor visa when you return from your trip. To receive another Standard Visit Visa, you should travel with a University enrolment letter (or offer letter if you have not yet enrolled), your financial evidence and other relevant documents in your hand luggage each time you want to enter the UK. You can be refused entry if the Immigration Officer is not satisfied that you still meet the conditions for a Standard Visitor visa.

Please be aware that you should not travel to the UK via Ireland as there are usually no immigration personnel. This can cause serious problems when trying to enrol on your course and may result in you having to leave the UK and re-enter to obtain a Standard Visitor Visa.

Applying for Standard Visitor visa prior to travelling to the UK

To start, go to the Standard Visitor Visa page on gov.uk.

You apply online, unless you are applying from North Korea. To access the application form, you need to create an online account. The visa application fee is currently £95.

You can apply for a visa up to three months before your date of travel to the UK, and you should get a decision on your visa within three weeks.

Remember, you can access detailed information on the application process, eligibility and documents required on the gov.uk website.

You can also find more information on UKCISA's website.

Electronic Visa Waivers

Nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates who hold an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Document, who wish to study a course of six months or less, do not need to apply for prior entry clearance. Nationals of these countries who hold an EVW document can apply for permission to enter at the airport instead. Permission to enter will be granted for a period of up to 6 months.

Please see further information on the Electronic Visa Waivers page on the gov.uk website.

Arriving in the UK

When you are preparing for your arrival in the UK you may have questions about what to bring and what to expect. Please see the UKCISA website for useful information on how you should prepare.

It is also important to be aware of the eGates when arriving in the UK. The eGates, also known as ePassport gates, are automated self-service barriers located at immigration checkpoints at UK airports. They are an alternative to seeing an Immigration Officer/Border Force Officer.  

You can enter the UK via the eGates if you are aged 18 or over and hold a current passport (with a biometric chip) from an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA

Registered travellers can also use the eGates.

Students who apply for entry clearance before travelling 

All nationalities can apply for Entry Clearance as a visitor before travelling to the UK, If you are a Visa National you must apply for your Standard Visitor Visa before travelling to the UK, you can find a list of who is a Visa national on the gov.uk website.

If you apply for entry clearance before you travel to the UK, you will be given a vignette (sticker in your passport). This sticker will confirm the duration of your visa and your visa conditions. It is important that you enter the UK after your Standard Visit Visa begins. 

If you enter the UK before the start of your Standard Visitor Visa, You may be asked to leave the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and return during the validity of your visa (as stated on your vignette/sticker).

If you enter the UK using an eGate and you do not receive an entry stamp in your passport we advise that you keep evidence of your flight tickets as proof of the date you entered to the UK. You will need this evidence in order to enrol on your course.

Students who do not apply for entry clearance before they travel 

EU nationals and Non Visa Nationals

If you do not have prior entry clearance and are going to obtain your Standard Visitor Visa at the airport. You can use the eGates or see an Immigration officer/official (Border Force Officer) on arrival at the airport.

If you use the eGates you will not receive a stamp in your passport, you will enter the UK as a Standard visitor. If entry is made via an automated e-gate, please retain a copy of your flight booking and boarding card for proof of the date and method of your arrival in the UK. This is the only way to ensure you do not stay in the UK for more than six months, and you will need this evidence to enrol.

Plan on working in the UK while studying?

If yes, the Standard Visitor visa is not the right visa for you.

Visit our Student visa page for further information