Short-term student visa

Last modified: 23 January 2024

This route is only for students who apply for entry clearance to do an English language course between six and 11 months long. For study of up to six months, you may instead be able to undertake this under the visitor route.

Am I eligible to apply for immigration permission as a short-term student?

You must have immigration permission in this category before you come to the UK (entry clearance). You can apply for entry clearance from any country outside the UK, but you must have permission to be in the country from which you apply. 

  •  You must be 16 or older when you apply (which is when you pay the immigration application fee).

Page 11 of the short-term students caseworker guidance also outlines the criteria for  accredited institutions. 

If the course is up to six months, you cannot use this route and should instead check to see if you are eligible to study the course as a visitor.

  •  The course must be an English language only (which means it is a course that consists only of English language study and cannot be combined with other subjects). In addition:
  • The English language course does not need to lead to a specific qualification.
  • There are no minimum academic requirements for immigration purposes, the course can be at any level, but your course provider may have specific admissions criteria.
  • You are not required to have a minimum English language ability, but your course provider may have specific admissions criteria.
  • There are no minimum hours which you must be studying during your time in the UK. 

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 Student permission; or
  • you have chosen not to apply for a Student permission 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', what you must do if you have it and what to do if you are refused permission. 

If you you are granted immigration permission

If you are successful, you will get immigration permission for 11 months. 

You will get a vignette (stamp in your passport) for 90 days, and then when you arrive in the UK you will need to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) from a post office or from your institution (if they have arranged with the Home Office for the BRPs to be sent to them. You will be given entry clearance showing a 90-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. This usually needs to be collected before the date on your vignette expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.  

Requirements you must meet while you are in the UK

See 'Applying for entry clearance' for information about the requirements you need to meet when making your immigration application.

While in the UK, you must only study on the course for which you were granted permission.  

You must intend to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your study (if it is before the date your immigration permission ends). If you do not leave the UK within this time, it could affect any future immigration applications to the UK (such applications could be refused and a time-bar applied if the Home Office believes you exercised deception about your intention in your short-term student immigration application). If your study (as stated in the letter you presented to the Home Office as part of your short-term student immigration application) continues until the date that your immigration permission ends, you must leave the UK no later than the date your immigration permission ends.

As a short-term student, you cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during your studies in the UK. In addition, you cannot engage in any business or professional activities 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 Student or in another appropriate immigration category instead.

Short-term students are not allowed to apply to switch into any other immigration category while still in the UK, or extend their permission as a short-term student. If you wish to continue studying in the UK after your entitlement to remain in the UK as a short-term student has ended, you will need to return home and apply for entry clearance as a Student, or in another appropriate immigration category. However, there is a requirement that you should not intend to make the UK your main home. Frequent and successive use of this route may suggest that you are.

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 - see applying for entry clearance.

What to do if your application is refused

There is a right to a apply for an administrative review of a refused application under the short-term student route. If you are refused, you will need to decide between one of the following two options:

  1. You can apply for an administrative review. You will need to do this within 28 days of the date you are refused and it costs £80. 

If this is successful, you will no longer have refusal on your immigration record, but should declare it on future immigration applications if asked about refusals, explaining it was overturned. The problem with this process is that it could take some time, which could mean you miss the start date of your course.

  1. You can apply for immigration permission again, but this will mean that you will have an unchallenged refusal that you must declare if you are asked in future immigration applications.

Applying for entry clearance

Last modified: 23 January 2024
Your application must include:
  • The completed application form. You have to fill this in online. You will be asked to 'Confirm your visa type'. Choose 'Short-term student'
  • The current application fee in local currency is £200 and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee which is currently £470, but please see our news item for news about an increase to this in February: UKCISA - international student advice and guidance
  • Your current travel document or other travel document which shows your identity and nationality
  • A letter of acceptance from an accredited institution (see page 11 of the short-term student caseworker guidance to see which institutions are accredited institutions) stating that you have been accepted onto an English language course and the length of the course (which can be no longer than 11 months).  For applications made from 6 April 2022, the details of the course length must indicate that the course lasts at least six months and no longer than 11 months.
  • Evidence of funds which show:
    • that you have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK.  There is no specific amount of money you must show when you apply for a short-term student visa. However you must show that you have enough money to support yourself  adequately without recourse to public funds and without working. The term ‘adequate’ is defined in the Immigration Rules as being a level of funds equivalent to a person being in receipt of income support "after income tax, national insurance contributions and housing costs have been deducted". Detailed guidance on what the Home Office considers 'adequate' support is available in the caseworker guidance on financial requirements.
    • that you can pay your course fees. If you have already paid the fees, you need to include evidence of this with your application 
    • you can meet the cost of your return or onward journey from the UK

    The funds must be shown as specified in Appendix Finance. Note that the evidence of funds must be in your name (either alone or as a joint account holder), or provided by an 'official financial sponsor' , or a combination. Only specific organisations are considered 'official financial sponsors' - see definitions.  From 5 October 2023 funds in the name of your parent, or legal guardian will be accepted if you also provide proof of your relationship and written consent from the parent or legal guardian to use those funds. This is reflected in Appendix Finance and in the financial requirements guidance for caseworkers.

  • If you have been continuously present in one of the countries listed in Appendix Tuberculosis of the Immigration Rules for six months and some part of that time was within the last six months before your entry clearance application then you will need to provide a valid medical certificate from an approved clinic confirming that you are clear of tuberculosis
  • If you are under 18  you must provide written confirmation from both your parents (it can be one parent if that parent has sole legal responsibility for you) or legal guardian that they consent to your application and to:
    • your living and care arrangements in the UK; and
    • your travel to, and reception arrangements in, the UK. 

You must provide evidence of your relationship to your parent(s)
or legal guardian who provide this consent and your parent(s)/legal guardian mut also provide their contact details. 

Guidance about meeting this requirement can be found under the heading 'parental consent requirement' in the Home Office guidance on Appendix Children.

You will need to provide a translation of any documents which are not already in English. 

You must also provide your biometrics (fingerprints and facial image). You will receive instructions about how to do this.

As part of the assessment of your application, the Home Office will consider whether you genuinely intend to study as a short-term student as your reason for travelling to the UK. Page 12 of the short-term student caseworkers guidance outlines the factors the Home Office will consider when they assess whether they believe you are a genuine short-term student. These factors match the requirements of the route, and if you are refused on the basis that the Home Office doesn’t believe you are genuinely coming to the UK to undertake studies as a short-term student, they must clearly set out why they are not satisfied the requirement is met.

The short-term student caseworkers guidance gives guidance on pages 12-13 on how Home Office caseworkers will assess 'frequent and successive' use of the route, which may (but will not automatically) lead to a refusal of permission.

If you use the route on multiple occassions, the Home Office will generally be expecting each course you study to be "a higher level of English Language proficiency against the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR)" each time. The short-term student caseworkers guidance says, for example, the course could be B1 level on the first instance then B2 level on the second instance. It also says: "However, there may be circumstances where an applicant requires a further period of study at the same level, for example a student who hasn’t achieved the English proficiency in the previous application."


Last modified: 16 October 2020

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, but will be allowed to study if the study meets certain requirements.

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


Last modified: 10 July 2023

Student sponsor licence

Home Office approved accreditation bodies

Home Office approved inspection bodies

Overseas higher education institution

Academy or state-funded school

Official financial sponsor