Standard visitor visa for study

The Standard visitor visa can be used for those coming to the UK for short periods of study (up to 6 months) at a Higher Education institution. 

Information about the Standard visitor visa for study purposes

On this page you can find further information about: 

Who can come to the UK as a Standard visitor visa to study?

From 1 December 2020, students who currently use the short-term student route will be able to enter under the Standard visitor route.

This will affect European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who enter the UK on or after 11 pm on 31 December 2020, if you are not eligible to apply under the EU settlement scheme - Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme.

You may apply for a Standard visitor visa to study at UCL if the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Your programme of study is 6 months or less in duration and you do not need a Student visa
  • You are required to take resits and you need to be in the UK for 6 months or less
  • You are a PhD student 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 Standard visitor 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 Standard visitor visa to undertake distance learning in the UK, you 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
  • secure a Standard visit visa for every visit to UCL for the duration of your programme. 

Students must not intend to use the visitor visa routes to undertake frequent and successive periods of study.  

Please see UK Visas and Immigration guidance on the Standard visitor visa rules

A Standard visitor visa is generally easier to obtain than a Student 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 date.
  • 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
  • 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


If you are intending on entering the UK using a Standard visitor 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 a Student visa. 

Applying for a Standard visitor visa for study purposes

Depending on your nationality you may not have to apply for this Standard visitor 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 the Standard visitor visa before entering the UK. You can make your application from any overseas post. 

Non-visa nationals do not need to apply for the Standard visitor visa before entering the UK. If you are a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA all you need to do is enter the UK using the E-gates. All other non-visa nationals will need to get their passport stamped by a border officer.

Immigration Health Surcharge

There is no IHS fee to pay when applying for a Standard visitor visa. This means you will need to pay to use non-emergency NHS services in the UK so you should obtain appropriate health care cover before your arrival.

Apply for a Standard visitor visa for short term Study

If you need a visa, you must apply online before you travel to the UK. You can access the online form at the following link:


Once you’ve started your application you can save your form and complete it later.

Proving your identity and providing supporting documents

As part of your online application, you need to book an appointment at a visa application centre. You’ll have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at your appointment.

Allow time to attend your appointment, as the visa application centre could be in another country. The visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application.

Check what documents you’ll need to apply

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 a 'Visa national' planning on arriving in the UK via the Common Travel Area, you should apply for UK entry clearance as a Standard visitor before travelling to the Republic of Ireland.  If you are a 'non-visa national' planning on arriving in the UK via the Common Travel Area, including the Republic of Ireland, you will find that there is no immigration control at UK ports of entry.

You could therefore either apply for the UK entry clearance as a visitor in your home country before travelling to the Republic of Ireland or you will automatically have permission to be in the UK for six months when you arrive in the UK from the Common Travel Area. 

More information can be found on the UKCISA web pages.