Short-term study visa

On 24 April 2015 the Home Office removed the Student Visitor visa route and replaced it with the Short-term Study visa.

What is a Short-term Study visa?

There are 3 Short-term student routes:
  • Short-term student (6 months) – for applicants aged 18 and over for a maximum of 6 months’ study
  • Short-term student (11 months) – for applicants aged 18 and over for a maximum of 11 months’ English language study only
  • Short-term student (child) – for applicants aged under 18 for a maximum of 6 months’ study

Who is eligible for a Short-term Study visa?

The Short-term Study 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 and exam, re-take a module or undertake a viva if they are a postgraduate student, 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.

You must not be intending to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods on any Short-term study visas.

How long will the visa be issued for?

Short-term Study visas are issued for 6 months only. The only exception to this is for English language students who wish to attend exclusively English language courses. These students can apply for a Short-term Study visa allowing a stay of up to 11 months.

What are the conditions of a Short-term Study visa?

  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • You will have to show that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees and to fund your living costs(usually estimated at £1,015 per month)  and to meet the cost of your return journey

If you have already paid your tuition fees you will need to provide proof of this.

  • You must have an unconditional offer to study in the UK
  • You must leave the UK at the end of your course or at the end of the 6 months or 11 months granted leave, whichever is the earliest

At the end of your visit it is not possible to extend a Short-term Study visa or to switch into any other immigration category. Therefore if, after studying a short course, you wished to progress onto a longer course at a University, you would have to return home and apply for a Tier 4 student visa to return to the UK.

  • You will not be permitted to work in the UK (including a work placement or work experience)
  • You are not able to bring family with you as dependants.

Do I need to apply for entry clearance (visa) as a Short-term Study student prior to arriving in the UK?

  • 6 month Short- term Study: You must apply for entry clearance prior to arriving in the UK if you are a visa national. Non visa nationals may apply upon arrival
  • 11 month short-term study (English language only): You must apply for entry clearance prior to arriving in the UK regardless of your nationality.

Non-visa nationals

Nationals of some countries can travel to the UK for up to six months without needing to apply for a visa before travelling. These are called 'non-visa nationals'. If you are a non-visa national, you can ask for permission to be admitted to the UK when you arrive at immigration control. You will get a stamp in your passport that will allow you to stay in the UK as a short term student for up to six months.

Arriving in the UK via Ireland 

There is no problem if you have applied in your home country for a Tier 4 or short-term student visa/ entry clearance before travelling. Your UK visa/ entry clearance will not be date stamped on entry to the UK, but this is fine. You should keep evidence of your travel in case your date of entry ever becomes important or relevant. If you do travel and re-enter the UK later, for example after a short trip elsewhere in Europe (other than Ireland), your entry clearance will simply be date stamped on re-entry. 

This information is for nationals of the USA, Japan, South Korea and other non-visa nationals who are planning to travel to the UK via the Republic of Ireland, and enter the UK as a short-term student.

As a non-visa national, you can normally travel to the UK and apply when you arrive for immigration permission to enter as a short-term student (or other type of visitor) for up to six months.

Non-visa national students coming to the UK for a short course often choose to do this rather than applying for entry clearance before travelling. 

However, if you arrive in the UK from elsewhere in the CTA (this includes the Republic of Ireland), you will not have the opportunity to do this because there is no immigration control at your UK arrival point. You should therefore apply for UK entry clearance (a visa) in your home country before travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

If, despite the above advice, you do enter the UK from the Republic of Ireland with no specific UK immigration permission, and you are a non-visa national, you will in most cases automatically have permission to be in the UK only for three months, not for six months. 

The three months' permission allows you to study, but it may not be enough time to complete your short course, but you cannot extend your stay in the UK as a short-term student or Tier 4 student. If you need to be in the UK for more than the three months, you will need to leave the UK within the three month period, then re-enter asking for immigration permission to enter as a short-term student, for a maximum visit of six months.

Note also that any immigration permission you are given on arrival in the Republic of Ireland is for the Republic of Ireland, not for the UK.

Our Visa and International Support Team can give you further advice. Email:

I need to apply for entry clearance as a Short-term Study student. How do I apply?

You should read the detailed information on the Home Office website.

In most countries you have to make your application online (but if you are from North Korea you will need to apply using application form VAF1A April 2015).  

It is advisable to apply for a visa well in advance of your planned date of travel. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can check the guide to visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you’re applying from.

What documents will I need to prepare?

The Home Office list on their website the documents you should provide which you should download and read carefully prior to submitting your application.

You must submit these original documents along with a photocopy of each. You will also need to provide an acceptable translation of any documents which are not already in English.

You may also need ATAS if you are going to apply for a short term study visa if you intend to study in the UK on a course that requires this. Find out more here.

What should I carry with me in my hand luggage when I travel?

If you are a non visa national and are coming for 6 months only then there is no requirement to obtain entry clearance prior to travelling to the UK. You can make your application for entry as a Short-term Study student on arrival in the UK. There will be no charge for applications made on arrival in the UK by non-visa nationals.

You will still need to provide the Border Officer with a Short-term Study supporting letter from the university.  Please contact the relevant Admissions Team who will be able to provide this for you.   This letter should state the details of the course you’re studying, the duration and the cost. You will also need to show evidence that you can fund your living costs and pay (or have paid) your tuition fees.

It is also advisable for any student who has already obtained an entry clearance visa as a Short term Study student before travelling to the UK, to still carry all the documents that were submitted with their entry clearance application when travelling to the UK. The Border Officer may ask to see these documents on arrival in the UK.

IMPORTANT: Information regarding international Short-term students (under 6 months)

The UK Government has recently expanded the use of eGates to eligible nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America. As a result of this change, we need to ensure that if you are coming into the UK from any of these countries for a short-term study (less than 6 months) that you see an officer on arrival rather than use the eGates as you need to get your passport stamped on arrival. 

If you do use the eGates, you would be bale to enrol on your course but will not be able to study for longer than 30 days and would be required to leave the Common Travel Area (UK) and return ensuring you re-enter on the correct visa category (Short-term Study visa).