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Visitor Visa

General overview of a Standard Visitor visa

A Standard Visitor visa lets you do a short course of study that lasts no longer than six months, provided you meet eligibility requirements.

In terms of study, a Standard Visitor can come to the UK to:

  • study a course at a university or school that can be completed within the duration of the visa;
  • complete a period of research;
  • complete research tuition (for example, to learn about research);
  • complete a study-abroad programme in the UK as part of an overseas course,
    where the programme is less than six months in length;
  • sit an entrance exam;
  • re-sit an examination or retake a module;
  • take an oral (viva) examination for part of a PhD qualification at a UK institution;
  • attend your graduation.

Family Visitor visa

Please be aware there is another category called Family Visitor visa. The Family Visitor visa is only applicable if the student is inviting their guests for graduation and is:

  • a British citizen,
  • settled in the UK,
  • granted asylum in the UK, or
  • has Humanitarian Protection status.

In most cases you will need to refer to a Standard Visitor visa.

Conditions of a Standard Visitor visa

Check your decision letter or email for full details of the conditions of your visa.

You cannot:

  • do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person,
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits,
  • usually extend this visa for study or switch from a Standard Visitor visa to another type of visa in the UK,
  • do a course of study that lasts longer than six months.

Applying for a Standard Visitor visa

When do I need to apply for standard visitor visa? This will depend if you are a visa national or not. You can find a list of visa nationals in the Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list.

If you are a visa national, you must apply for a visa before you travel to the UK. You can check if you need to apply for a UK visa.

If you are not a visa national, you must prepare the correct documents to show at the UK Border. If you have a criminal record or a complicated immigration history, it is advisable to apply for a visa before you travel, even if you are not a visa national.

Please note: Even if you don't need to apply for a visa before travelling, you are still subject to the Standard Visitor visa conditions once you enter the UK. We advise you to have a physical copy of your confirmation of study letter (for example your unconditional offer) and bank statement in your luggage.

If you are eligible for an electronic visa waiver (EVW), you can use this visa type to study a programme which will be completed in less than six months.

If you are from Qatar and you're travelling to the UK on or after 15 November 2023, you'll need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) instead of an EVW. Additional countries will gradually be added to the list for the ETA. Keep up to date with the latest information here.

Documents required

You can find full information about the other documents you must provide on the UK Government Standard Visitor visa page on their website.

Upon arrival

If you are starting a new course, you will need to provide evidence of your Visitor visa at enrolment. You will need to provide a copy of your Visitor visa or entry stamp in your passport. If you were permitted to use the eGates, you will also need to provide evidence of your date of arrival in the UK, such as a boarding pass/flight ticket. If you are continuing on your current course of study, please email your visitor visa or boarding pass/flight ticket (if using an eGate) to the UKVI Compliance Team at

Visitor visa for repeating exams

You will need a letter from admissions or student registry to confirm the date of the exam.

If you are a maritime student and you are coming to sit an exam with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), you will need a letter from them to confirm the date of the exam.

If you are repeating a module and you have been advised to come to the UK on a Visitor visa, you can request a letter from the registry team to confirm the start and end date of the module to support your visa application.

Healthcare access in the UK under a Standard Visitor visa

You can only access emergency services in UK under a Standard Visitor visa. We recommend obtaining a private medical insurance during your stay here.

Visitor visa for your family and friends

  • First, you'll need to write an invitation letter to the British Embassy in the country where your visitors are based.
  • You'll also need to send the Embassy a copy of your student visa, a copy of your passport, and a student status letter. You can obtain your student status letter by emailing
  • Your friend or family member should then contact their local visa application centre, which will provide details on what they need to supply. You can see a full list of UK visa application centres on the UK Government website.
  • If you need a visa for your guests attending your graduation, please book your graduation tickets first before requesting the letter. For more information please visit our Inviting guests page.

Useful links

UK Council for International Students (UKCISA)