Visitor Visa for Study

Since 1 December 2020 the Standard Visitor visa now allows the study of short courses (less than 6 month duration). However, if you are to undertake an English language course which is 6 to 11 months in duration, you will have to apply for a Short Term Study visa.

All international students are required to submit their immigration documents for a right to study check before starting their course in the UK.

If you do not receive a visa in your passport then you will need to save your Boarding Pass and Flight Details to submit for your Right to Study Check, as evidence of when you entered the UK using an e-Gate.

A Right to Study Check must be completed on the My RTS site shortly after arriving in the UK.

Is a Standard Visitor visa right for me?

A standard visitor visa may be an option if the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Your programme of study is for  less than 6 months and you do not require a Student Visa;
  • To  resist an exam or retake a module and you need to be in the UK for less than 6 months;
  • To take a viva  (oral) examination as part of a PhD qualification;
  • To complete a study abroad programme as part of an oversees course, if the duration is less than 6 months;
  • To sit an entrance exam;
  • To undertake a medical elective if you are studying medicine, veterinary  medicine and science oversees which is equivalent to at least a degree level of study in the UK;
    • the elective must form part of or relevant to the course and provide confirmation from your overseas provider; and
    • electives must be unpaid and involve no treatment of patients
  • Complete a period of research or research tuition;
    • Enrolled onto a course overseas equivalent to at least degree level of study in the UK; and
    • The research must from part of or relevant to the course overseas; and
    • Your overseas provider must confirm that the research or research tuition is relevant to your course overseas

If for any reason the Standard Visitor visa will not be suitable, please read the information about applying for a Student Route visa.

If you are granted a standard visitor visa, the following conditions will apply;

  • Granted a visa for a maximum period of 6 months only;
  • Cannot normally extend this visa;
  • Not permitted to take employment/work in the UK, undertake a work placement or do work experience;
  • Not be able to apply with dependents at the same time, they will have to make a separate visa application for a visitor visa; and
  • Not be able to apply for public funds (NRPF) e.g. cannot apply to receive public fund benefits, tax credits or housing assistance.

Which visa should I apply for?

You should carefully read the above information and consider your future plans, if there is any possibility that you might need extra time for your course, you must apply for a Student Route visa.

Please note you cannot enter the UK successively on a visitor visa to complete a course which is longer than 6 months (unless you are on a Distance Learning course).

The supporting letter required for a Standard Visitor visa is available from the online shop.

If you need further help please contact the IST.

What happens after I have submitted my application?

If you have applied for a Standard Visitor Visa overseas before you travel (entry clearance), you should receive a Standard Visitor visa vignette (sticker) in your passport. You would normally receive a entry stamp in your passport (normally given one time entry only) and can see ther visa validity dates on the vignette. 

If you are a non-visa national that chooses not to apply for a visa, then you can enter the UK through the e-passport gate. However, you must carry the evidence listed in the 'How to Apply' section below in case you are randomly checked and questioned by a Border Control Officer. Please also make sure to save your boarding pass or flight details as evidence of when you arrived in the UK as you will not receive a stamp when using the e-passport gates.

How to apply?

Student Route Visa

Please see our Student visa pages for detailed information on how to apply and the documents required.

Standard Visitor Visa

When to apply

The Standard Visitor visa is normally only valid or 6 months maximum duration. The earliest you can submit your visa application is 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. Remember that the visa will expire 6 months after the date the visa is granted to study a short course. Check the guide to processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from.

How to apply

  • If you are a visa national you will be required to submit a visa application for a standard visitor visa to be granted before you enter the UK (entry clearance). You must submit your online visa application from outside of the UK.
  • If you are a non-visa national you can obtain this permission upon your arrival to the UK at port of entry (e.g. e-passport gates or a border force officer). 
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can travel to the UK for holidays or short trips without needing a visa. In other cases, find out if you need to apply for a visa to enter the UK. You should hold a valid passport which is advised to be valid for the whole time period you will be in the UK. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can continue to use the automatic ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival (where the passport has the e-passport chip symbol).

E- Gates (epassport)

If you are a non-visa national you can use the E-gates at the airport. Please ensure you keep your boarding pass, this will be needed for the Right to Study check.

Travel via Common Travel Area (Entry via Republic of Ireland)

If you are planning on travelling to the UK via the Common Travel Area, you should apply for entry clearance as a standard visitor before travelling to the Republic of Ireland. If you have not secured a standard visitor visa before travelling to the Republic of Ireland and then travel to the UK, you will not have a valid visa for study.

Standard Visitor visa supporting documents for visa and non-visa nationals

  • Your current valid passport (you may also need any previous passport details which you have used to travel to the UK);
  • A letter from the University confirming your student status can be downloaded via Verify on the University intranet;
  • Letter from overseas provider/institution (e.g. your home country university) about your study visit, if applicable;
  • If your course leads to a qualification at Master's or doctorate level, or a postgraduate qualification abroad you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate. This will be applicable if you are on a relevant course (ATAS attracting) and come to the UK using this route to undertake a course, research or research tuition, an elective, a viva, a re-sit exam, a re-take module or part of a course under the distance-learning provision. You should obtain this ATAS certificate before you make your immigration application (at the UK border or as entry clearance), as the Home Office guidance says you will need to provide the certificate with your application. Therefore, you will need to apply for the ATAS clearance as early as possible;

Medical Insurance

You will be required to obtain medical insurance before you enter the UK on a visitor visa. You will not be permitted to receive non-emergency NHS services whilst on a visitor visa. The Immigration Health Surcharge does not apply to a visitor visa.

It is recommended you obtain the appropriate health care insurance before your arrival to the UK. 

Short term study visa – English language courses only (6 to 11 months)

If you are studying an English Language course which is 6 to 11 months in duration, you will be required to apply for a short term study visa.

You will need a letter from the University of Birmingham called a 'Short-term Study Visa letter', you will need to request this from Admissions if you haven't received this already.

Please see the Short Term Study website for detailed information on how to apply and the documents required. 

When to apply

The earliest you can submit your application is 3 months before your date of your intended travel to the UK. Your visa will be valid for a period of 6 months to allow you to study a short course (or valid for 11 months if studying an English language course). Check the guide to processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from.

How to apply

Both visa and non-visa nationals will be required to make a short term study visa application from outside of the UK by completing an online application form.  

Documents that you must provide:

  • Your current passport as well as any previous passports you have used to travel to the UK
  • Evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, eg bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months. This should include evidence of money to pay for: course fees, accommodation, daily subsistence (meals, etc), onward or return flights.
  • A ‘Short-Term Study Visa letter’ from the University of Birmingham which can be requested from the University's Admissions Department or your unconditional offer letter 
  • TB certificate if applicable
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English

If you have applied for a Short-term Study Visa to study an English language course for up to 11 months, you may be given an entry clearance visa for 30 days, and you will be required to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arrival into the UK.  Please read the instructions on how to have your BRP card sent to the University of Birmingham.