Visitor Visa

For overseas students studying for less than 6 months

Who is the Standard Visitor visa for?

The Visitor visa can be issued to undertake various activities in the UK; these include tourism and leisure, academic visits, some short-term study, or to receive medical treatment. It is important to note that the activities permitted under the Visitor visa depend on the reason for which it was issued.

This page will focus on the provisions of Visitor visa issued for the purpose of studies.

As an international student, you can apply under the Visitor visa route in order to:  

  • Study a short course no longer than 6 months in duration
  • Undertake a short period of research (6 months or less)
  • Undertake examination re-sits or retake a module (6 months or less)
  • Complete a study-abroad programme in the UK as part of an overseas course
  • Attend a viva as part of a postgraduate course
  • Attend a graduation ceremony

If the length of your course is over 6 months you will need to apply for the Student visa or the Short-term study visa for English language courses of up to 11 months. You cannot arrive in the UK on a Visitor visa to study a course whose length is over 6 months: you may be refused entry at the border and in case you do enter the UK, you may need to leave the country and apply for a correct visa before being allowed to commence your course. The total amount of time you can spend in the UK under the Standard Visitor visa is 6 months and the course your visa was granted for must be completed within this time.

Successful applicants will be able to enter the UK to undertake the activity the visa was issued for. However, specific requirements and restrictions will be imposed on the applicant. It is important for you to know that under Standard Visitor visa:

  • You cannot work or take part in any work placement
  • You cannot undertake any business activities
  • You cannot extent the visa or switch to another visa in the UK
  • You cannot bring dependants with you
  • You cannot use this visa for frequent or successive visits to the UK
  • You can study more than one course, provided that: 
    • Each course meets Visitor visa requirements
    • The course is completed within the 6-month period and before your visa expires
    • Your offer letter used to obtain your visa confirms the course(s) you will study, including course dates
    • Additional courses undertaken after your visa is granted must be completed within 30 days of your initial course completion date 

Visa Nationals and Non-Visa Nationals

Not everyone needs to apply for this visa in advance. How you obtain your Visitor visa depends on whether you are from a ‘visa national’ or a ‘non-visa national’ country. You can find out which category your country falls into on the UKVI visa check website or via the Visa Nationals list.

If your country of nationality is listed on the Visa Nationals list, this means that you must apply and obtain the visa before travelling to the UK. Please follow the advice for applying as a visa national.

If your country of nationality is not listed on the Visa Nationals list, this means that you do not need to apply for the Visitor visa in advance; instead, you can apply for it at the port of entry (for example, at the airport). You will still need to have all the required documents with you. Please follow the advice for obtaining the visa as a non-visa national.

Applying for a Visitor Visa

How you apply depends on whether you are a visa national or non-visa national. Please follow the advice relevant to your circumstances.

Apply as a Visa National

If you are a ‘visa national’, you are required to apply for and obtain the Visitor visa before you travel to the UK.

Application overview:

  • You will need to apply using the online visa application form on the UKVI website
  • As first steps on the application, you will be asked to choose your language and select a country to attend a biometric appointment 
  • You will then be asked questions about yourself, your course, immigration history and your finances; you must be honest when answering these questions; please also make sure that the information matches the details on your offer or visa letter issued by the University, if applying to start a new course
  • You will then need to pay for your visa application – the current fee is £95

Once your online visa application form is submitted, you will need to book and attend a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, your biometric information (fingerprints, facial photograph) will be collected and your other documents will be verified.

Documents required

The following documentation will be needed for your visa application:

  • A valid passport (with at least one free page for your visa)
  • A formal letter from Regent’s University London confirming you have been accepted onto your course, or
  • A formal Student Status letter if returning to re-sit an exam or retake a module, or
  • A formal invitation to the Graduation Ceremony, if returning to attend Graduation
  • Details of where you intend to stay; you can submit supporting evidence such as a letter from your host, hotel reservation details or a tenancy agreement*
  • Evidence of your intent to leave the UK (funds for a return/onwards travel or booked tickets)*
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay: this includes living costs, accommodation, tuition fees and travel costs; Acceptable evidence can be either 6 months’ bank statements or payslips
    • When planning how much money you will need to show for your application, we advise you to have a minimum of £1,334 per month for living costs
    • Failure to show sufficient funds is one of the more common grounds for visa refusal. Please ensure you provide evidence which clearly shows the money you have available. If in doubt, please consult with the Student Immigration Advisor at [email protected] 
  • Official translations of any documents which are not in English or Welsh

* You should be careful about what accommodation and travel you pay for before you receive your visa in case your application is refused.

Applying as a Non-Visa National

If you are a 'non-visa national' (your country is not listed here: Visa Nationals list), you do not have to apply for a Visitor visa before you travel to the UK. Instead, you can apply for it on arrival at the UK Border. 

Please do not enter via the E-gate system; instead, go through the Border Control queue to allow the Border Control Officer to stamp your passport on arrival. Please make sure to tell them the purpose of your visit. The stamp you receive will not state the type of visa but you will still be deemed to be in the UK on a Visitor visa.

You must still have all the required documentation on you to present to a Border Officer if requested. Please see the list of required documents below and remember to carry the documentation in your hand luggage.

Documents required

You must have the following documents with you when you arrive at the UK Border:

  • A valid passport
  • A formal letter from Regent’s University London confirming you have been accepted onto your course, or
  • A Status letter if returning to re-sit an exam or retake a module, or
  • An invitation to the Graduation Ceremony, if returning to attend Graduation
  • Details of where you intend to stay; this could be supporting evidence such as a letter from your host, hotel reservation details or a tenancy agreement*
  • Evidence of your intent to leave the UK (funds for a return/onwards travel or booked tickets)*
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay: this includes living costs, accommodation, tuition fees and travel costs; Acceptable evidence can be either 6 months’ bank statements or payslips
    • When planning how much money will need to show for your application, we advise you to have a minimum of £1,334 per month for living costs
    • Failure to show sufficient funds is one of the more common grounds for visa refusal. Please ensure you provide evidence which clearly shows the money you have available. If in doubt, please consult with the Student Immigration Advisor at [email protected] 
  • Official translations of any documents which are not in English or Welsh

* You should be careful about what accommodation and travel you pay for in case your application is refused.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact [email protected] 

Arriving in the UK

Receiving your visa

If you applied for your visa online, you will need to receive a decision on your visa before travelling to the UK. A decision letter informing you of the outcome will normally be sent to your email within 3 weeks of your biometrics appointment. You will then need to either visit your Visa Application Centre or post your passport there in order for the visa to be endorsed in the document.

Once your receive your visa vignette, please make sure that all the details on it are correct: your name, your personal information, and the validity dates. You need to enter the UK during the validity dates on your visa vignette.

If you spot any errors, please contact your Visa Application Centre to get the errors corrected before travelling to the UK. If it is not possible to correct the error before travelling, please get in touch with an Immigration Advisor as soon as you notice the error ([email protected]). 

At the UK Border

Regardless of being a visa national or non-visa national, please make sure not to use E-gates on your arrival. Instead, please go through the standard Border Control queue. When you speak to the Border Control Officer, make sure to tell them you are coming to the UK to study, resit exams or attend graduation, accordingly to your circumstances. You must have all the required documents on hand, in case the Border Officer asks to see them (please refer to the previous section: How to Apply).

If you applied for your visa in advance and have a visa vignette in your passport, the Border Control Officer will need to stamp this vignette with the date of your arrival. If the Border Control Officer does not stamp your visa, please ask them politely for the stamp, saying that you were instructed by your University to obtain a stamp.

If you are applying at the border, you will need to obtain an entry stamp in your passport – it will show the date of your arrival. If the Border Control Officer does not stamp your passport, please ask them politely for the stamp, saying that you were instructed by your University to obtain a stamp.

Once you are in the UK, you will need to provide us with a copy of the stamp in your passport.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply for a Visitor visa?

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel. However, if you are a non-visa national, you can apply at the UK Border on arrival.

How long does it take to obtain a Visitor visa?

UK Visas and Immigration states that you will usually get the decision within 3 weeks of attending your biometrics appointment, if applying for your visa in advance (for visa nationals).

How long is a Visitor visa valid for?

The length of your Standard Visitor visa will depend on how you applied for it:

  • If you applied in advance of travelling to the UK and obtained a visa vignette, the visa will be valid for a period of 6 months (validity dates will be stated on your vignette)
  • If you applied at the border, your visa will be valid until you leave the UK, and for a maximum period of 6 months: if you leave the UK after 3 months and then want to re-enter, you would need to apply for a new visa at the Border

How much does it cost to apply for a Visitor visa?

The visa application fee is £95 if you apply in advance of your arrival. If you are a non-visa national and apply at the UK Border, there is no visa application fee to pay.

Can I work on a Visitor visa?

You are not permitted to work in the UK. Work is strictly prohibited. This includes any paid, unpaid or voluntary work.

I am an exchange/study abroad student – do I need a visa? 

If you are studying at Regent’s for two terms (more than 6 months), you will need to apply for a Student visa.

If you are studying for one term (less than 6 months) and you are from a ‘visa national’ country, you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa

For more information, contact [email protected]

I'm studying on an exchange/study abroad programme, can I extend my Visitor visa?

If you arrive to study at Regent’s for one term as part of an exchange/study abroad programme on a Visitor visa, and then decide you wish to complete a second term at Regent’s, you will not be able to extend your current Visitor visa inside the UK.

You must return to your country of residence and apply for a Student visa for the second term.

I'm studying on a pre-sessional English course, can I extend my Visitor visa? 

If you complete a pre-sessional English course on a Visitor visa, you must return to your home country to apply for a Student visa before you can continue to your degree programme. 

There is an option to request a single Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to cover the pre-sessional English course that allows you to apply for your new Student visa to study the degree-level programme from within the UK. 

However, you must ensure that you fulfil the Student visa requirements if you want to use this option.

Can I apply for my visa at the border?

Non-visa nationals are able to apply for a Visitor visa at the border. However, you must have all the required documents to hand.

Do I need a CAS to apply for a Visitor visa?

You do not need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for a Visitor visa.  However, you should provide your letter showing you have been accepted onto your course.

How much money do I need to show sufficient maintenance?

We recommend each student hold at least £1,334 per each month of their visit at the time of application.