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Short-term study visa

The Short-term Study visa is for those coming to the UK for short periods of study at a Tier 4 institution. 

Who can come to the UK as a Short-term student?

Short-term Study visa and ATAS

Applying for a short-term study visa

Making an application in advance

Travelling to UCL via Ireland

Who can come to the UK as a Short-term student?

You may apply for the Short-term Study visa if the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Your programme of study is 6 months or less in duration and you do not need a Tier 4 visa
  • You are required to take resits and you need to be in the UK for 6 months or less
  • You are a PhD who needs to re-enter the UK only to attend your viva
  • You are a UCL Summer School student
  • You will undertake a medical elective at UCL. 

The only situation in which a student may use a Short-term Study visa to study a programme that will not be completed within their 6 month stay, (other than for an English language course) is where a student is undertaking distance learning.

 If you wish to use the Short-term Study visa to undertake distance learning in the UK must meet all of the following criteria, you must:

  • be studying for the majority of your programme outside the UK
  • be on a programme that is longer than 6 months
  • only enter the UK for limited period, totally no more than 56 days in the UK in any 6 month period - study completed during these visits can include induction weeks, short periods of intensive face-to-face learning and exams or assessments
  • secure a Short-term Study visa for every visit to UCL for the duration of your programme. 

Please note that Short-term Study visa holders may remain in the UK for up to 30 days after your course end date or study period, provided the total time spent in the UK does not exceed 6 months. 

Please see UK Visas and Immigration guidance on Short-term Study students 

The Short-term Study visa is generally easier to obtain than a Tier 4 visa but does have some limitations, these are as follows:

  • You cannot switch into another visa category once you are in the UK. This means you must leave the UK on or before the visa expiry
  • UK immigration rules change frequently and as such we are not able to guarantee that the current rules will be in place for the duration of your programme
  • If at any point during your programme your Short-term Study visa application is refused, this may affect any future applications submitted
  • You are not allowed to work in the UK
  • You are not covered under the NHS (National Health Service), this means you will need to make sure you have adequate medical insurance to cover your stay in the UK
  • You cannot bring dependants with you

Students must also not intend to use the Short-term Study visa to undertake frequent and successive periods of study.  A student is likely to be considered as intending to study in the UK for extended periods through:

  • successive use of the route if, for example, the student is seeking a second period of leave under the short-term study route where less than 2 months have passed since they last visited the UK for the purposes of short-term study
  • frequent use of the route if, for example, the student is applying for in excess of 5 periods of leave under short-term study within a 5 year period

Short-term Study visa and ATAS

If you are intending on entering the UK using a Short-term Student visa to study on a programme that requires ATAS approval, you are required to provide your ATAS certificate as part of the application process.  This is because all visa types now require ATAS not just Tier 4. 

Where you are applying for a Short-term Student visa to take your Doctoral viva, you may reuse the original ATAS certificate you obtained to study towards the same Doctorate for which you now have a viva examination.


Applying for a short-term study visa

Depending on your nationality you may not have to apply for this visa in advance of entering the UK. The UK separates countries into two categories for visitor visas: non-visa nationals and visa nationals.

If you are a visa national then you must apply for this visa before entering the UK. You can make your application from any overseas post. 

Non-visa nationals do not need to apply for this visa before entering the UK. All they need to do is ask for a Short-term Study visa stamp at the immigration desk when entering the UK. You can obtain this visa upon entry to the UK from any country of departure. It is still advisable to have all the necessary documents required in case you need to show them. 

Please note the Short-term Study visa stamp you obtain upon arrival is considered to be for a single entry. If you intend to travel in and out of the UK during your stay, it is recommended that you obtain a Short-term Study visa in advance. 

Using eGates on arrival

If you are coming on a Short-term study visa and have not secured your visa before travelling, do not use an eGate on arrival. You will need to see a Border Officer to obtain a stamp that will give you the permission needed in order to enrol at UCL.   If you enter the UK through the eGate you will not receive a Short-term Study visa stamp in your passport and instead will be considered a 'visitor'.  If you are classed as a ‘visitor’, you will not be allowed to enrol on your programme of study at UCL if it is longer than 30 days.


Making an application in advance

For further information and guidance please contact the Student Immigration Advice Team by using the contact form.


Travelling to UCL via Ireland

Important: If you are planning on arriving in the UK via the Common Travel Area, you should apply for UK entry clearance as a Short-term Student before travelling to the Republic of Ireland.  If you arrive via the Republic of Ireland and have not secured your visa before travelling, you will not have a valid visa for study.  More information can be found on the UKCISA web pages.