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Standard Visitor Visa (Leaving & re-entering the UK)

A Student Visa is a multiple entry visa, which enables individuals to travel in and out of the UK, without limit, during the validity of the visa. There are some instances when re-entering the UK may be problematic. The guidance below highlights when there may be a potential issue re-entering the UK and provides advice on how to minimise such issues.

If you have any concerns about leaving and re-entering the UK during your studies please visit Student Support for further advice.

Travelling outside of the UK before you have collected your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

Under new regulations introduced in July 2015 the Student Visa will no longer be stamped in your passport. Instead you will be issued a 30 day entry stamp and a letter from the Home Office. Upon entering the UK, you are required to collect your BRP within 10 days. You are advised not to leave the UK before you collect your BRP, as you may have difficulties re-entering.

Re-entering the UK during your studies

If you travel outside of the UK during your studies you should be able to re-enter the UK, without issue, if your Student Visa is still valid. If your visa is issued as a BRP you must ensure that you travel with both your BRP and passport at all times. When travelling, you are advised to carry a recent Certificate of Attendance in your hand luggage. This can be used to evidence your current student status to an immigration officer if requested to do so. You can request a Certificate if Attendance by emailing the Registry. Please allow 48 hours for request to be processed. 

If you will be travelling during term time, it is also advisable to obtain a letter from your department confirming that your absence is authorised.

If you think there may be any additional complications when re-entering the UK, please see Student Support for advice.

Re-entering the UK after your course end date

If you are planning to travel outside of the UK after the completion of your course and graduation ceremony you may encounter problems when re-entering the UK, even if your Student Visa is still valid. If you are re-entering the UK and your main purpose for being in the UK has finished, it is at the discretion of the immigration official as to whether to allow re-entry. The closer the date of re-entry to your Student Visa expiry date, the more likely it is that you will encounter difficulties.

If you are re-entering the UK and you wish to apply for a via a different visa route it is advised that you carry some form of documentation to evidence your intentions (such as a letter confirming a job interview, or evidence of an application to the Innovation Startup programme etc). There have been cases where students have still been refused re-entry, so if you wish to avoid taking the risk it is advised that you either avoid travelling outside of the UK, or make preparations to apply before you leave in your home country (if the immigration rules permit this).

If you are going to be starting a new course of study, it is advised that you carry evidence of your new course (such as a printout of a CAS statement, or offer letter). You should also carry evidence to show that you can afford your new course of study and the living expenses (such as a bank statement). Please note that you can only apply to extend a Student Visa in the UK if your new course starts within one month of your previous visa expiring.

If you have any concerns in relation to the above please contact Student Support for further advice.

Re-entering the UK as a Visitor

If you have a Visitor Visa in your passport (which has not yet expired), or if you are a non-visa national, upon re-entering the UK (after completion of your course and your graduation ceremony) the UK immigration official may cancel your Student Visa and grant you entry on a Visitor Visa. This will be valid for a period of up to six months. It is important to note that if you enter the UK on a Visitor Visa, you will not be able to apply to switch into a different visa category. You will also not be able to make an application for a Student Visa in the UK on a Visitor Visa if you are intending to continue your studies.

Applying for a Standard Visitor visa

If you have friends or mainly who wish to come and visit you for a short period they can apply for a Standard Visitor visa. 

They must:

  • demonstrate that they are a genuine visitor who will leave the UK on or before the expiry date.
  • state, when they would like their visa to commence,
  • provide evidence to meet the visitor visa rules ( Appendix V)
  • ensure that the information you provide is accurate and truthful 

Visa National and Non-Visa Nationals

Non-Visa National 

If you're a non-visa national coming to the UK as a Visitor, then you're not required to apply for your visa before travelling. You can request entry as a Visitor on arrival from a Border Force Officer or if eligible, pass through eGates where you'll be digitally recorded as a Visitor. You must carry all necessary documents in your hand luggage such as your visa letter from the University and your financial evidence as you may need to show these to a Border Force Officer. If you're not eligible to use eGates, you will receive a Visitor visa stamp in your passport. Your entry to the UK is for a single visit and becomes invalid when you leave the UK.

You can apply for your visa before travelling to the UK if you wish. This would usually be issued as a multiple entry visa which can be beneficial if you plan on taking trips outside the UK during your course.

Please note that Irish nationals do not need permission to study in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements.

Visa Nationals 

If you're a visa national then you must apply for your visa before travelling to the UK. This is called Entry Clearance and you can apply in any country outside the UK, not just the country you normally live. Your visa will be a sticker inside your passport that is date stamped on arrival to the UK. Your visa will usually allow multiple entries to the UK during your course.You should read through the guidance provided by UK Council for International Student Affairs before making your application.


Student Support Office

+44 (0)20 7590 4140

[email protected]