Short-term student visa

Last modified: 31 March 2016

This information is for you if you are currently outside the UK and you want to come to study in the UK as a 'short-term student' because either:

  • you are not eligible to apply for a Tier 4 student visa OR
  • you have chosen not to apply for a Tier 4 student visa as you meet the requirements for a 'short-term student' visa

This information explains what you need to do to get immigration permission in order to come to study in the UK as a 'short-term student'. ​

The ordinary 'short-term student' category will allow you to come to the UK if you are 18 years or older, and want to enter:

  • for up to 6 months to study a short course OR
  • for up to 11 months to study an English language course OR
  • if you are enrolled on a course abroad that is at least equivalent to the level of a UK bachelor's degree, you can enter for up to 6 months to do research, or to receive tuition on how to conduct research, at a UK institution

The 'short-term student (child)' category will allow you to come to the UK if you are under 18 years old, and want to enter:

  • for up to 6 months to study a course

As a short-term student, you must leave the UK on or before the date that your immigration permission ends. Short-term students are not allowed to apply to switch into any other immigration category while still in the UK. If you wish to continue studying in the UK after your immigration permission as a short-term student has come to an end, you will need to return home and apply for entry clearance as a Tier 4 student, or in another appropriate immigration category.

As a short-term student, you cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during your studies in the UK. If you want to be allowed to work in the UK during your studies, you will need to apply to enter the UK as a Tier 4 student or in another appropriate immigration category instead. We have information about which Tier 4 students can work in the UK.

For information from the UK immigration authorities about short-term students, please read the Home Office information for applicants. You can also read the modernised guidance on short-term students that they give to their own staff.

Short course maximum of 6 months

Last modified: 31 March 2016

English language course maximum of 11 months

Last modified: 31 March 2016
The Immigration Rules usually allow short-term students to come the UK for a maximum of 6 months. However, there is a special provision in the Immigration Rules that allows people to come as short-term students for up to 11 months, if they want to study a course that is purely an English language course.

Research or research tuition maximum of 6 months

Last modified: 31 March 2016

Under 18s

Last modified: 31 March 2016

Applying for entry clearance (a visa)

Last modified: 31 March 2016

First you need to establish whether you are a visa national or a non-visa national. To do this, check whether the country you are a citizen of appears on the visa national list (you will need to open up the heading 'Appendix 2. visa national list'; and if you see an asterisk next to your country, open up the next heading, 'Holders of specified travel documents' to see if you fall into any of the exceptions listed there - for example the one for passports issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Macao Special Administrative Region, or Taiwan passports that show identification card numbers).

If you are a visa national then you must apply for entry clearance as a short-term student before you travel to the UK.

If you are a non-visa national it is not compulsory to apply for entry clearance before you travel, if you wish to come to the UK as a short-term student for up to 6 months. If you choose not to apply for entry clearance then you can apply to enter the UK as a short-term student on arrival at the port of entry. 

If you are a non-visa national and you want to study an English language course which will last for more than 6 months but a maximum of 11 months, you must apply for entry clearance (and if you are from certain countries you will have to pass a tuberculosis screening test before you apply).

Entry clearance as a short-term student can be applied for from within any country outside of the UK (it does not have to be the country where you normally live).

Visa conditions

Last modified: 31 March 2016

As a short-term student, you have the same conditions, whether you applied for entry clearance or not.

If you have successfully applied for entry clearance, check the vignette (sticker) in your passport for the date that your entry clearance is valid from. Do not enter the UK before this date.

If you applied under the provision for those coming for English language courses of between 6 and 11 months, you will have been given entry clearance showing a 30-day window in which to enter the UK. You will need to follow the instructions on the accompanying letter about how to collect your Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

As a short-term student, you have following conditions:         

  • you cannot work or do work experience while you are in the UK. This includes paid or unpaid work
  • you cannot do a work placement as part of your study.  If this is a requirement of your course, you should apply for entry clearance as a Tier 4 student instead, if you are eligible to
  • you cannot do any business or professional activities in the UK
  • if you have been granted entry clearance for up to 11 months under the short-term student category, you may be required to register with the police within 7 days of your arrival in the UK. If you are required to register with the police, your entry clearance vignette will state this. Not all 11-month short-term students are given entry clearance that is subject to this condition
  • you have no recourse to 'public funds'.  'Public funds' are defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules as a list of specific benefits available. When applying for immigration permission to enter the UK, you must provide evidence that there is sufficient money available for your maintenance and accommodation, without having to claim any of these benefits.

You cannot extend your stay in the UK, or switch into any other immigration category while you are still in the UK as a short-term student. 

Medical insurance

Last modified: 31 March 2016

If you are coming for up to 6 months, look at the page for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (depending on where you are going to stay in the UK) to see whether you will be entitled to free hospital treatment if you become ill during your trip to the UK. Many short-term students are not entitled to free hospital treatment and so need private medical insurance. This is a matter for you to sort out, and will not be of any relevance to your immigration application.

The situation is different if you are using the 11-month short-term student route

Dependants

Last modified: 31 March 2016

The immigration rules do not allow a short-term student to bring family members to the UK, because there is no such category as 'dependant of a short-term student'.

Therefore, if you are applying as a short-term student and you have a spouse, partner, child or other person who wants to come with you to the UK, they must apply to come to the UK in their own right as standard visitors.

A standard visitor will be granted a maximum of 6 months' immigration permission, even if you have been granted immigration permission for more than 6 months. They will not be allowed to work or study (although in certain circumstances study of up to 30 days is allowed). If they want to study, they should also apply as a short-term student.

If you are eligible, and choose, to apply under Tier 4, then your family might be able to apply as your dependants (see Dependants for more information about this).


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