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  1. Short-term study visa
International students

Short-term Study Visas

If you are coming to the UK to do a short course or a short period of research for 6 months or less, or re-sitting your exams without attendance, you will need to come to the UK as a short-term student (formerly student visitor). How you do this depends on whether you are from a 'Visa National' country.

Who is a Short-term Student?

The Short-term Study category is designed for those coming to the UK for short periods of study of under 6 months. Students who come to the UK in this category will be prohibited from undertaking any work, paid or unpaid. Students who may use this category include:

  • Those enrolled on a course overseas equivalent to at least UK degree level, who are undertaking a period of study or research at City, for example Study Abroad students. This also applies to some PhD students undertaking a period of research at City that will contribute to their PhD studies
  • Those coming to the UK for a resit examination or a PhD viva. NB If you are undertaking a resit but will subsequently be resuming your studies on your course if you are successful in your resit you will need to return home to apply for a Tier 4 visa to continue with your course
  • Those enrolled on a distance learning course coming to the UK for occasional periods, though there are some restrictions on this: the course must mainly take place outside the UK, and students can enter the UK for limited periods totalling no more than 56 days in any 6-month period
  • Please note that it is no longer possible to obtain a Short Term Study visa for one of our short courses offered through our Short Courses department, as these courses are not accredited. If you already hold another visa (for example, you are in the UK as someone's dependant or here on a work visa) you may be able to take a short course with this visa, but check with our Visa Advice Team.

You should be careful not to use this route for extended periods of "frequent or successive study" as this would lead to a visa refusal - UKVI explains this as follows:

  • successive use of the route if, for example, the student is seeking a second period of leave under the short-term study route where less than 2 months have passed since they last visited the UK for the purposes of short-term study
  • frequent use of the route if, for example, the student is applying for in excess of 5 periods of leave under short-term study within a 5 year period

Under new rules introduced in January 2018, students undertaking part-time courses at RQF level 7 will be required to obtain a Tier 4 visa. Your Admissions officer will provide you with further details so that you can obtain a CAS for this. If you are not sure which visa is appropriate for you, check with an International Adviser. More detailed guidance can be found on UKCISA's website.

Conditions of a Short-term Study Visa

Students using this category should be aware of the following:

  • You are not able to undertake any work, paid or unpaid, while you are here on a Short-term Study Visa.
  • You must leave the UK within 30 days of the end date of the course, or before the visa expires, whichever is sooner.
  • You cannot extend your visa in the UK or switch to any other category. So, for example, if you have obtained a Short-term Study visa in order to undertake a resit and subsequently intend to resume your studies on a course which requires a Tier 4 visa you would need to return home to apply for this.

How to apply for a Short-term Study Visa

You can find out if you are from a Visa National country by checking the Home Office website.

Applying as a Visa National

If you are a visa national, you need to apply for a short-term study visa before you travel to the UK.

  • You will need to provide formal documents to show that you have been accepted on a short course or resitting your exam at City, University of London, and have enough money to pay your tuition fees and living costs during your stay.
  • An original confirmation letter from your School Office (or the Study Abroad team) which confirms your course/exam dates and tuition fees should be acceptable evidence.
  • You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK.

Documents required (when you apply as a Visa National)

Documents required for making a short-term study visa application, (make sure your documents are translated into English):

  • Apply via the Home Office’s online application form (make sure you select the correct visa category. Select 'Study' for Reason for Visit, select 'Student non points-based system' for Visa Type and select 'Short term student up to 6 months' for Visa Sub Type)
  • Application fee: £97 in local currency
  • Passport(s): 2 passport sized colour photographs
  • An exam confirmation letter from your School Office or an unconditional offer letter from Study Abroad team or Short Course team
  • Evidence that you have sufficient funds for your proposed visit (e.g. at least 6 months' bank statements and/or payslips). If your parents are funding your visit, you will need to provide proof of their finances and their relationship to you
  • Evidence of suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel reservations or a copy of your tenancy agreement if you are renting privately)
  • If possible, evidence you intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, for example a flight booking or, if you are a Study Abroad student, a letter from your home institution to show you will be returning to a course there
  • An ATAS certificate: under new rules introduced from 06/07/2018, students studying on certain science-based courses at Masters level and above will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. In the past this was only required for students coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, but it is now a requirement for all students undertaking these courses, even if you are only coming to the UK for a specific purposes such as a resit examination, PhD viva or to undertake a short period of research as part of an overseas course. You can find out more about applying for ATAS, and which courses require it, on our Tier 4 pages. You must obtain this before you apply for your visa. Further guidance can be found on the ATAS website.

Things to think about when applying for short-term study visa

In addition to the required supporting Short Term Study letter from the institution evidencing your course or resit, your visa application will be carefully scrutinized and an assessment made of your personal circumstances and whether you genuinely intend to leave the UK at the end of your proposed visit.

Former Tier 4 students - This is the case even if you have already spent several years in the UK as a Tier 4 student and have now returned home and are applying to come back for a short time e.g. to resit an examination.

Assessment of your current circumstances - Visa Officers will make an assessment of your current circumstances based on your answers to questions that are part of the online visa application form and they will assess whether what you say is a true indication of your circumstances.

Your current financial and work situation - Due to the assessment it is important to set out your current financial and work situation as fully as possible on the application form and provide independent supporting evidence as far as possible to back up what you are stating on the form.

"Frequent or successive study" - UKVI will be reluctant to issue you with a Short Term Study visa if they think you are truing to use this route to stay in the UK for long periods. The rules now explicitly say that you should not enter the UK in this category in excess of 5 times in any 5-year period, and there usually should not be a period of less than 2 months between each visa you are issued in this category. So, if you are coming in regularly (e.g. for periods of study as part of a distance learning course, or for multiple resit exams over a year) you must ensure that the letter you enclose from City is clear about what you are doing and your reasons for needing to do it, and you must explain this on the form.

Be clear what courses you will be taking - UKVI will assess your application for a Short Term Study visa based on the information you give them when you apply. The rules also state that you must now leave the UK within 30 days of completing the course (or before your visa expires, whichever is sooner.) This means you must leave within 30 days of the course you declared to UKVI that you would be taking. UKVI has confirmed that, if you subsequently choose to take other courses which you did not declare in your application, even if you are taking these within the validity of the visa, this could be seen as deception and adversely affect future visa applications.

The type of factors that visa officers will consider:

  • Proof of earnings in your home country if you have been working since returning home
  • Proof of your parents’ funds if you are relying on these and supporting evidence of the source of the funds in any bank accounts relied on eg proof of their earnings and/or evidence of money obtained from the sale of assets e.g. land.
  • How long you plan to be in the UK, and whether you plan to return. Although the Short Term Study visa is issued for a standard 6 month period, immigration officers are likely to be suspicious if you are coming to the UK for a long period when you are only studying for a short period (for example, resit examinations). If they are concerned that you may not be genuinely coming to the UK for the purposes of study then they can refuse your application

While it not easy to document specifically, it is important to show your strong family or economic ties to your home country e.g. a job offer for when you return home after the visit – especially if you are unmarried or not in a long term relationship with someone in your home country. Otherwise the Visa Officer is likely to make a judgement that you are not genuinely intending a short visit to the UK. If they think you intend to stay in the UK more long term then they may refuse your application.

If you are a Non-Visa National

If you are a non-visa national, you do not need to apply for a short-term study visa before you travel. Instead you can present your papers to the immigration officials on arrival at an UK airport and have the visa stamped into your passport. You should be stamped in for 6 months as a Short Term Student.

You will need to carry the following in your hand luggage:

  • Your passport
  • Your Short Term Study letter from City confirming your short course/resits
  • Recent formal evidence that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your course (eg: bank statement/loan letter).
  • If you have it, evidence you intend to leave at the end of your stay, for example a flight booking (if you are a Study Abroad student you may also take with you a letter from your home institution confirming you will be returning to a course there)
  • Under new rules introduced from 06/07/2018, students studying on certain science-based courses at Masters level and above will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. In the past this was only required for students coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, but it is now a requirement for all students undertaking these courses, even if you are only coming to the UK for a specific purposes such as a resit examination, PhD viva or to undertake a short period of research as part of an overseas course. You can find out more about applying for ATAS, and which courses require it, on our Tier 4 pages. You must obtain this before you travel to the UK, as you cannot start study without it. You may also be asked to show this to border officials when you enter the UK, so should have this in your hand luggage. Further guidance can be found on the ATAS website.

Applying for a pre-degree or Study Abroad course

If you are coming to complete a Pre-sessional English course before you can start your main degree programme, or for a Study Abroad programme, you may choose to apply for a Tier 4 student visa as it gives you the option to extend your stay for further study in the UK (subject to meeting certain requirements). Study Abroad students coming for one semester will usually be advised to apply as a Short Term Student, but it is occasionally possible to request the option to apply under Tier 4 if there is a very good reason.

The International Student Advice team can help you to extend your Tier 4 student visa from within the UK. However, you cannot extend your visa in the UK if there is a gap of more than one month between the day your visa expires and the day your new course starts.

Visitor Visas

If your main reason for coming to the UK is to study then you should obtain a Short Term Study or Tier 4 visa, depending on the length of your course. If you are in the UK as a Visitor you can study in the UK for up to 30 days (for example, if you wish to take a short course), however this should not be your main reason for being in the UK. There is, however, a concession in place for those who may hod long-term Visitor visas (visas that last for several years and allow multiple entries to the UK, e.g. to visit family.) If you hold one of these visas you can study in the UK (but only for a maximum of 30 days) where this is your main reason for entering on that particular occasion but the main reason for having obtained that visa in the first place must not have changed. For example, you might hold a visa which you use to enter the UK for permitted business activities, and be undertaking a distance-leaning course which requires occasional trips to the UK, this would be permissible provided it did not become the main/only reason for ever visiting the UK.

If you are unsure as to whether you can study on your visa, or you are unsure which visa to apply for, contact the Visa Advice team.

Medical insurance

If your course is less than 6 months long or you are coming back to the UK to resit your exam as a short-term student, you and your family are only entitled to limited free NHS treatment. You will have free emergency hospital treatment, but only the treatment given in a NHS Accident and Emergency department is free of charge. Once you are admitted on to a ward or given an outpatient appointment, charges will apply.

You will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient. It is therefore very important that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit to the UK.