Graduation
  1. Your ceremony
  2. Watch online
  3. Photography, DVD & souvenirs
  4. Degree certificates
  5. Past ceremonies
  6. Honorary graduates
  1. Visas
Graduation

Applying for a visa

City holds its graduation ceremonies at the Barbican Arts Centre twice a year, in July and January. The exact dates of the ceremonies vary from year to year due to the availability of the venue, but they tend to be in the second or third week of July, and the third or fourth week of January in any given year.

This means that occasionally graduation will take place some time after your course has finished so you may need to apply for a visa to return to the UK to attend your ceremony, so here is some practical advice to help you.

If you have a Tier 4 visa that expires before the date of your graduation, you must return to you home country before it expires and return to the UK on a tourist visa. If you change the type of visa you have before graduation, for example if you get a job here, then you will no longer be bound by the Tier 4 visa regulations, but subject to the rules of your new visa you may be able to attend graduation.

My Tier 4 visa is still valid. Can I attend graduation with this visa?

Yes. Your Tier 4 visa should have been issued for the length of your course plus an additional 4 months, so you can attend your graduation if this is still valid. However you must leave the UK, or apply to extend your visa (if you qualify to do so) before your visa expires.

My Tier 4 visa is still valid but I have left the UK. Can I re-enter on this visa to attend my graduation?

It is possible to re-enter the UK after the end of your course, but it is a little risky. This is because immigration officers can question why you are re-entering the UK once you have completed the purpose for which the visa was issued and ultimately cancel your visa (though in practice we are not aware of this happening to any of our students). Although your visa will still be valid, they might ask about your intentions here, and would expect to see evidence that you intend to leave the UK or switch to another visa category before your current leave expires. You should also have evidence that you are re-entering for your graduation (provided the ceremony is still within the validity of your visa) as this is a reason to re-enter that is linked to your current visa. If you are still awaiting results, it is also worth asking your course office if they can provide a letter for you stating when the results will be released.

My graduation is right at the end of my visa validity, so I will be staying in the UK after my visa expires. Can I do this?

No. You must leave the UK before your visa expires. If you know you will want to stay beyond this date you should leave the UK and apply for a Visitor visa to come back to the UK for graduation (if you are a non-visa national the rules are a little different – please see below). A Visitor visa should be valid for 6 months, so will give you time to attend graduation then stay for a little while afterwards, e.g. if you want to travel around the UK with your family. You can find more guidance about this at https://www.city.ac.uk/international/visa-immigration-advice/graduation Remember it is very important you have evidence of your intention to leave the UK again – UKVI is sometimes concerned about this where someone has been here for a long period as a student already and is immediately applying for leave in another category, so make sure you have a flight booking and if possible evidence of a job/further study outside the UK afterwards.

I am a visa national and my graduation is after my visa has expired. What can I do?

You must leave the UK before your visa expires and apply for a Visitor visa from overseas to come back to the UK for graduation (if you are a non-visa national the rules are a little different – please see below). A Visitor visa should be valid for 6 months, so will give you time to attend graduation then stay for a little while afterwards, e.g. if you want to travel around the UK with your family. You can find more guidance about this at https://www.city.ac.uk/international/visa-immigration-advice/graduation Remember it is very important you have evidence of your intention to leave the UK again – UKVI is sometimes concerned about this where someone has been here for a long period as a student already and is immediately applying for leave in another category, so make sure you have a flight booking and if possible evidence of a job/further study outside the UK afterwards.

I am a non-visa national and my graduation is after my visa has expired/my graduation is at the end of my visa and I would like to stay a little longer afterwards. What can I do?

If you are a non-visa national (someone who does not require a visa if visiting the UK for less than 6 months) then you do not need to formally apply for a Visitor visa in advance to attend graduation but you will need to leave the UK before your visa expires then re-enter the UK, requesting leave as a Visitor. You don’t have to go all the way home, you can leave and visit another country (e.g. France – you should not travel to Ireland as there is not immigration control between the UK and Ireland) and when you re-enter make it clear that you want to do so as a Visitor. If your Tier 4 visa is still valid but you know you want to stay beyond this make sure they do not stamp you in on this visa – you will need to explicitly ask to come in as a Visitor. You will need evidence that you are coming in for graduation and evidence that you will leave the UK again within 6 months.

Even though you do not need a visa to be in the UK for 6 months you cannot just stay in the UK on your Tier 4 visa after it has expired as this would make you an “overstayer” and the penalties for this are very serious – you must leave the UK and re-enter as a Visitor.

Why can’t I extend my Tier 4 visa for graduation?

Your Tier 4 visa has been issued for you to study on your course. Tier 4 visas last for the length of your course plus an additional period (this varies depending on the length of the course.) If you are no longer actually studying then you do not have a reason to extend your Tier 4 visa, so would need to come as a Visitor, unless you have further study for which you qualify for a Tier 4 visa, or are switching into another category such as Tier 2.

My parents need a visa to come to my graduation. How can they get this?

We have information about Visitor visas for family at https://www.city.ac.uk/international/visa-immigration-advice/graduation

Where do I get an official letter for visa purposes?

You should not need an official letter to apply for a Visitor visa. It should be sufficient to provide a copy of the email confirming your place.

Is it compulsory to attend graduation?

You are not required to attend graduation. It is a great event, but it is not compulsory, so if you are not able to secure a visa or do not wish to apply for one then don’t worry!

Where can I find more information?

We have more guidance at https://www.city.ac.uk/international/visa-immigration-advice/graduation