Short term student and standard visitor visa

Short term student visas are intended for short periods of study in the UK.

Students who usually need to consider this visa route are perhaps here for the following purposes:

  • As a study abroad/exchange student
  • To undertake a re-sit exam
  • Partaking in an English language course
  • To undertake a residency as part of a distance learning course
  • Attending a summer school.

There are visa conditions that you need to be aware of when you apply for a short term study visa:

  • You must be at least 16 years of age
  • You cannot do paid or unpaid work or do work experience while in the UK
  • You cannot extend your stay in the UK or switch to any other immigration category
  • You cannot do a work placement as part of your study. If you know that this is a requirement of your course, you should contact the International Student Advice team to advise you further about eligibility of applying for entry clearance as a Tier 4 student
  • You cannot do any business or professional activities in the UK
  • You have no access to ‘public funds’. Public funds cover a list of specific benefits in the UK
  • You cannot add additional study after your arrival in the UK which will end more than 30 days after the period of study you declared in your visa application. 

If you are studying a distance learning course then you will need to meet the following criteria: 

  • Be studying for the majority of the time outside of the UK for a UK qualification by distance learning
  • Be on a course longer than 6 months
  • Only enter the UK for limited periods totalling no more than 56 days in the UK in any 6 month period. 

As a Short-term student you will need to leave the UK within 30 days of finishing your studies, or before your immigration permission ends, whichever is sooner. 

Please refer to the GOV.UK website for full overview of the short term study visa.

Short term student visa in detail

Will my nationality determine how I apply?

There are different rules depending on whether you are considered a non-visa national or a visa national for UK immigration purposes.

You can find the list of visa nationals on the Home Office website. Scroll down to Appendix 2: Visa National list. If you're from a country that isn't listed, then you're classed as a non-visa national.

Applying as a non-visa national

As a non-visa national, you can request a short-term study visa on arrival in the UK rather than applying for it before you travel.

However, student experiences suggest that you may encounter problems by requesting a short-term study visa at the airport/port of entry.


If you are a national from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the USA please ensure that you DO NOT use the eGates on arrival at the port. If you use the eGates, you will be admitted as a General Visitor and not as a short-term student.

You will not be able to register on to your course if you do not have the correct short-term study visa stamp. Unfortunately, there is no option to correct this error whilst in the UK so it is very important you receive the correct visa.

It has also been known for students who request a short-term student visa on arrival at the airport/port of entry, to be given the General Visitor stamp in their passport in error.

You need to genuinely be seeking entry as a short term student and as such the immigration rules state that you cannot make frequent or successive visits to the UK. If you therefore plan to travel in and out of the UK while on a short term study visa, or you have recently visited the UK, there may be risks of refusal on entry. Publicised experiences suggest that it is acceptable to have a short break home or a short holiday during the period of you study, but more than this may cause you problems when you try to re-enter.

To avoid such situations as detailed above, it would be advisable to apply for your short-term study visa before your date of travel to the UK. This can be done up to 3 months in advance. The Home Office advises that you should get a decision on your visa application within 3 weeks.

If you choose to request a short term study visa on entry to the UK

On arrival to the UK, you'll need to:

  • Speak to a Border Force Officer
  • Present your passport
  • Provide your University offer letter
  • The Immigration Officer may request proof of finances so you should ensure that you have these prepared and that they meet the requirements.

You should be clear that you are entering as a short term study visitor and not a standard visitor. You should check the stamp that you are given in your passport whilst with the Immigration Officer.

Arriving via Ireland

The UK and the Republic of Ireland are both part of a Common Travel Area (CTA). The CTA streamlines arrival in the UK from the Republic of Ireland for most travellers, because there is no immigration control on arrival in the UK. However it can cause a problem for some students on short courses who did not apply for a visa before travelling.

Please refer to the UKCISA website for further details.

Applying as a visa national before you travel

If you are a visa national, you will need to apply online and be granted a short-term study visa before you plan to travel to the UK for your studies. This process is the same for non-visa nationals who have chosen to apply for a short-term study visa in advance.

If you are from North Korea, please refer to the information provided on GOV.UK.

Documents required

Please refer to UK Visas and Immigration for full details of the documents that you will need to submit as part of your application.

Standard Visitor visa

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK:

  • For leisure, e.g. on holiday or to see your family and friends
  • For business, or to take part in sports or creative events
  • For another reason, e.g. to receive private medical treatment.

Check if you need this visa if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. It costs £93.

If you intend to come and study at Bath Spa University, it is advisable to apply for a Short Term Student visa. A standard visitor visa only allows you to study for up to 30 days and as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit.

A standard visitor visa would be the intended route to take only if you are planning to visit Bath Spa for an open day, an interview or your graduation ceremony.

The category of Standard Visitor will also be appropriate for family members and friends who wish to visit a Tier 4 student while they are in the UK. 

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