Short-term student visa

Last modified: 09 August 2017

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 (this can include people on distance learning courses who only want to come to the UK for a few weeks at a time, people coming to re-sit an exam, re-take a module or undertake a viva if they are a postgraduate student according to the Home Office's modernised guidance for its staff. But read page 12 of their guidance carefully for a warning about not doing this too frequently)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 (this can include people on distance learning courses who only want to come to the UK for a few weeks at a time, people coming to re-sit an exam, re-take a module or  undertake a viva if they are a postgraduate student according to the Home Office's modernised guidance for its staff. But read page 12 of their guidance carefully for a warning about not doing this too frequently)

When applying as a short-term student, you must intend to leave the UK at the end of your study (if it is before the date your immigration permission ends). If your study continues until the date that your immigration permission ends, you must leave the UK no later than this date. 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: 11 August 2017

If you want to come to the UK under this route, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • You are genuinely seeking entry as a short-term student
  • You are at least 18 years of age    
  • You have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to show you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses
  • You already have an unconditional offer to study in the UK
  • The study is for no more than 6 months
  • You do not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student
  • You intend to leave the UK at the end of the study or the end of 6 months, whichever of these is sooner
  • You intend to study at an education provider which:

The 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.  You can study part-time or full-time as a short-term student.

You cannot do any kind of work, work experience or work placement (even if it is part of your course, or is unpaid). You will not be allowed to do any business or professional activities in the UK.

You can change your course of study as long as the new course finishes at the same time or before the course for which you were granted immigration permission and the place of study still meets the criteria.​

English language course maximum of 11 months

Last modified: 09 August 2017

The Immigration Rules usually allow short-term students to come to 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.

If you want to come to the UK under this extended route, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • You have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to show you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses
  • You already have an unconditional offer to study an English language course in the UK
  • You intend to study an English language course only (you are not allowed to combine an English language course with any other studies)
  • Your English language course will be completed within 11 months
  • You intend to study at an education provider which:
  • You intend to leave the UK at the end of the study or the end of 6 months, whichever of these is sooner
  • You do not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student

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.  You can study part-time or full-time as a short-term student.

You will not be allowed to do any kind of work, work experience or work placement (even if it is part of your course, or is unpaid). You will not be allowed to do any business or professional activities in the UK.

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 police this will be stated on your vignette or the letter which accompanies the vignette.

Research or research tuition maximum of 6 months

Last modified: 09 August 2017

If you want to come to the UK under this route, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • You are enrolled on a course abroad that is at least equivalent to the level of a UK bachelor's degree
  • You already have an unconditional offer to undertake research or be taught about research (research tuition) at a UK institution
  • The offer is from
    • a UK institution that receives public funding as a higher education institution (from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, or the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland); or
    • a UK institution with degree awarding powers; or
    • Richmond, the American International University in London; or 
    • Health Education England
  • Your course provider abroad confirms that the research or research tuition is part of, or relevant to, your course abroad
  • You will not be employed at the UK institution as a sponsored researcher under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange), or Tier 2, of the UK's Points Based System for immigration
  • The research or research tuition will be completed within 6 months
  • You intend to leave the UK at the end of the research or research tuition or the end of 6 months, whichever of these is sooner
  • You do not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student
  • You have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to show you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses.

There are no minimum academic requirements for the research or research tuition for immigration purposes.

You are not required to have a minimum English language ability, but the UK institution may have specific admissions criteria.

There are no minimum hours for which you must be doing your research or research tuition during your time in the UK. You can do it part-time or full-time as a short-term student.

You cannot do any kind of work, work experience or work placement (even unpaid). You will not be allowed to do any business or professional activities in the UK.

Under 18s

Last modified: 09 August 2017

If you are under 18 you will have to meet all the requirements for a 'short-term student (child)':

  • You are under the age of 18
  • You already have an unconditional offer of a course in the UK
  • You intend to study at an education provider which:

    It cannot be a state-maintained school or institution (a state-maintained school or institution is defined as 'one which provides a free education and is primarily funded from' the public purse)

  • You do not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student
  • You intend to leave the UK at the end of 6 months
  • You have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to show you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses
  • There are suitable arrangements for your travel to, reception and care in the UK. You have a parent or guardian in your home country who is responsible for your care, and who confirms that they consent to the arrangements. See the Home Office information for an explanation of the evidence you will be expected to show about this. You can also read much more detailed information in the modernised guidance that the Home Office provides to its staff on the short-term student (child) route (see pages 17-21 of the guidance).

The course does not have 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.  You can study part-time or full-time as a short-term student (child).

You will not be allowed to do any kind of work, work experience or work placement (even if it is part of your course, or is unpaid). You will not be allowed to do any business or professional activities in the UK.

Do I need entry clearance?

Last modified: 10 August 2017

If you are applying under the 11-month short-term student route you must apply for entry clearance before travelling to the UK. It does not matter if you are a visa national or a non-visa national. If you are from certain countries you will have to pass a tuberculosis screening test before you apply. As part of your entry clearance application, you will have to pay an 'immigration health surcharge' of £150. This should mean you will be exempt from paying UK National Health Service hospital fees.

For the other short-term student routes, 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).

Visa nationals

Non-visa nationals

Applying for entry clearance

Last modified: 09 August 2017

Your application must include:

  • The completed application form. In every country apart from North Korea, you have to fill this in online. You will be asked your 'reason for visit'. Choose:
    • Reason for visit? - select 'study'
    • Visa type? - select 'study (non Points-Based System)'
    • Visa sub type? - select 'study - short-term student 6 months' if you want to come for a maximum of 6 months, or 'study - short-term study 11 months - English language' if you want to come for an English language course of between 6 and 11 months, or 'study - short-term student child 6 months' if you are under 18
  • The current application fee in local currency (£93  for short-term student visas up to 6 months, £179 for short-term student visas up to 11 months)
  • Your current travel document
  • One passport sized colour photograph
  • Evidence of your unconditional offer of study or research in the UK.  This is normally a letter from the institution that you intend to study at, on official headed paper, stating the title, duration and cost of the study. If you want to do research or research tuition, you will have to provide evidence that you meet all the requirements
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to show you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses.  There are no specific requirements which state the 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 without recourse to public funds and without working. It is advisable to provide evidence that you have enough money to cover your course fees plus accommodation and living expenses. Using the Tier 4 maintenance figures as a guide only, it would be reasonable to show that you have the equivalent of £1,015 per month, or £1,265 per month if studying in London, for the duration of your studies. If you will be staying with friends or family while in the UK, which will decrease your living costs, you can include evidence of this
  • All other supporting documents listed in the Home Office's website information for short-term students

You must submit the original documents along with a photocopy of each. You will also need to provide a translation of any documents which are not already in English.  Please read the Home Office's information on supporting documentsfor further details.

You must submit your completed immigration application to your nearest UK visa application centre. You do not need to apply in the country where you live.  

 

Visa conditions

Last modified: 09 August 2017

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: 23 May 2017

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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