Standard Visitor visa and other routes

Lake, grassland and buildings at Jubilee Campus

Standard Visitor visa

A Visitor visa can be used by students who need to enter the UK for a short study period of up to six months. It can also be used by family or friends to visit you whilst you are here as a student or to attend your graduation.


Visitors can either apply for a Standard Visitor visa on arrival in the UK or they will have to apply for their visa before they travel to the UK, dependant on nationality. You can check if a visitor needs to apply for a visitor visa before travelling to the UK on the GOV.UK website.

Visitor visa for short-term study

The Standard Visitor visa route is open to certain students who need to study in the UK for up to six months. This includes visiting students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level with an offer to come to the University for a period of study abroad or exchange from a partner university, inter-campus exchanges, summer schools, and Erasmus+.

It is sometimes possible or necessary for students whose courses are longer than six months to apply for a six month visitor visa to come to the UK to complete a specific part of their course. This could include:

  • students who need to be in the UK for resit examinations as an external candidate

  • PhD students who need to come to the UK only for their viva examination and corrections, if they intend to return to their home country and do not wish to switch to the Graduate visa or any other visa

  • students on distance learning courses who need to enter the UK for a short period of intensive in-person teaching


  • You must have a current passport or travel document that is valid for the whole of your stay in the UK.

  • You will need a letter from the University to support your application under this route. Applicants will receive this from Admissions once they have been made an unconditional offer to study on a relevant course. Current students should discuss their suitability for this route with the Visa and Immigration team, and they will issue the letter where appropriate.

  • You must have financial evidence such as bank statements showing that you have enough money to cover any course fees, living costs including accommodation and the cost of your return journey. You can use someone else's money if you can demonstrate your personal or professional relationship with them.

  • You must have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if applicable for your course and you are not exempt. 


  • The visa is for six months and cannot be applied for or extended from within the UK
  • You cannot switch to another visa category from within the UK
  • You cannot undertake paid or unpaid work, except if you have applied for permission to come to the UK under the very limited Permitted Paid Engagements provision
  • You will not have access to the NHS, except as a private fee paying patient. Private health insurance is strongly recommended
  • Dependants cannot accompany you to the UK, except as visitors
Coming to study a presessional English course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE)?

CELE students are normally advised to apply for a Student route visa instead of a Visitor or Short Term Study visa, as there may not be time between courses to return home to make a Student visa application. See the specific visa advice for CELE applicants.



Obtaining a Standard Visitor visa on arrival to the UK

Depending on their nationality, some visitors can be issued with a Standard Visitor visa on arrival in the UK.

A visitor visa upon arrival in the UK will be issued as either:

  • A stamp in their passport, or
  • If they are entering via electronic passport gates (eGates), their leave will be issued electronically. They will not receive a stamp or any written reminder of their date of entry, so they should take care to note this down themselves and ensure they do not remain in the UK beyond six months. Nationals of the following countries can usually use eGates: EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA

If the visitor has a complex immigration history or previous experience of being refused a visa, they should consider applying for and securing the visa before they travel. Please contact the Visa and Immigration team if you have any questions about this.

In order to issue a visa for a maximum of six months, the immigration officer at the airport will ask to see documentation in order to determine that:

  • The visitor will leave the UK at the end of their visit
  • They’re able to support themselves during the trip
  • They’re able to pay for their return or onward journey
  • That they do not intend to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits

They may ask to see:

  • proof of reason for visit (for example, letter of invitation from the student)
  • proof of finances available (for example, recent bank statements, ideally belonging to the visitor)
  • evidence to show that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit, such as onward flight tickets, or evidence of sufficient funds available to pay for a flight

These documents must be in the hand luggage of the person seeking entry in order to show to immigration officers at the airport.

If the visitor does not speak English, you may wish to write a letter for them, to present on arrival which explains the purpose of their visit.

Check if you need a UK visa


Applying for a Standard Visitor visa prior to departure from home country

If the visitor is required to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before they travel to the UK, they must apply online and then attend a visa application centre in their home country. 

The visa application centre will record their biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) and request their documents. The documents, including their passport, may be retained while the application is being processed.

We strongly recommend reading the information on Standard Visitor visas, including how to apply and what documents and information to prepare.

Costs and processing times

It costs £100 to apply. Once the person has applied online, provided their documents and attended a biometric enrolment appointment, they will usually get a decision within three weeks. Depending on the country of application they may have the option to pay additional fees for a faster application processing time, known as Priority or Super Priority service.

Visitors can apply up to three months before they travel to the UK and we recommend allowing as much time as possible. There can be processing delays at peak times.


Length of visa

If they are successful in securing entry clearance as a Standard Visitor, they will be able to enter the UK for up to six months. In some cases, it is possible to apply for a multi-entry visitor visa, which can have a validity of two, five or 10 years. Each visit must still last less than six months on each occasion. Usually, a multi-entry visitor visa can only be secured where there is an ongoing, long-term reason for visiting the UK and it would not normally be issued where the applicant is making their first Standard Visitor visa application to come to the UK.

Documents a visitor should submit with their visa application

This list is not exhaustive and depending on an individual’s circumstances additional documents may be required. All documents can be originals, scans or photocopies, with the exception of passports which should be original.

Items to be provided by the applicant

  • Valid passport
  • TB test, if applicable. Check here:
  • Evidence of funds to cover all expenses. There is no specific amount of money that they must hold, but it would need to be enough to cover basic expenses such as food and entertainment, in addition to accommodation and travel. This will depend vary depending on the duration of the trip and what activities they have planned. Most guides estimate at least £50+ per day.
  • Personal bank statements or evidence of earnings. See the guide to supporting documents.

    Evidence to show that they intend to return home at the end of their visit. This can be difficult to evidence and the documents they could provide will vary depending on their individual circumstances, but some examples of helpful documents could include: proof of a job or study, proof of family ties, a mortgage, business, and previous travel documents/passports, which show a history of previous travel.

Items that can be supplied by you to support their application

  • A Confirmation of Student status letter university letter giving the course details and start, end and graduation dates of your course. Request the letter online at
  • An invitation or covering letter from you. This should provide details of any costs you will cover, accommodation such as a hotel reservation or a room in your house (in which case you can also include a copy of the tenancy agreement), an itinerary of planned activity and the dates and purpose of the visit. Use this example letter to help you structure your invitation letter, ensuring you base it on your own personal circumstances.
  • If you wish, you can fully fund a visitor to come to the UK and can send bank statements of your own to your friend or family member, though this is less common and can make the application more complex. Please seek advice from the Visa and Immigration Team in this situation.
  • Copies of your passport and visa (BRP or digital immigration status).

Apply online for a Standard Visitor visa


ePassport gates (electronic passport gates)

If you have a biometiric passport, some nationals can enter the UK using automatic ePassport gates. These gates use facial recognition technology to check your identity against the photo in your passport.

Nationals of any EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA are non-visa nationals who are also permitted to use ePassort gates on entry to the UK, if they have a biometric passport. 

If you enter the UK this way, you will not receive a stamp endorsement in your passport as you will not see a Border Force Officer. You will be permitted to enter the UK as a visitor for a period of six months. You need to retain evidence of your date of arrival in the UK such as an e-ticket or boarding pass. This will help you to remember the exact duration of your six month stay, and also you will need to show this evidence when you arrive at the University and register on your course.


Inviting family and friends to visit the UK

Any family member or friend can visit the UK for a short period of time while you are studying here.
The information on this page is relevant if you have family or friends wishing to visit the UK for up to 6 months.



Please note, if the above website states “You will not need a visa to come to the UK” it means that they don’t need to obtain a visa prior to travel. They will still need to meet the Standard Visitor eligibility requirements on arrival at the UK border. 

Conditions of stay

  • Visitors will normally be able to visit the UK for a maximum of six months. The six-month period cannot be extended and they cannot switch into another category in the UK. Visitors must genuinely seeking entry for a limited period and plan to return home at the end of their stay.
  • Visitors are not permitted to do paid or unpaid work while they are in the UK and they will also not be entitled to claim public funds. This means that they must be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to finance their stay in the UK.
  • Visitors are not eligible for healthcare under the National Health Service (NHS), so it is essential for them to have suitable medical or travel insurance, purchased in their home country before they travel to the UK.
  • They cannot live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits on the Visitor route
  • They cannot marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership – this requires a Marriage Visitor visa

Visit the GOV.UK website for more information on how to apply, visa fees, and supporting documents and information you’ll need.


Travelling to the UK

Useful links and information on visa and immigration information, visitor accommodation, tourist information and visiting Europe.

Visa and immigration

All visitors should carry relevant documents in their hand luggage to explain the purpose of their visit and their finances in case the immigration officer at the airport asks for more information before allowing the visitor to enter the UK.

Visitor accommodation

If you need to arrange accommodation for your visitors, in Nottingham or elsewhere in the UK, the choice is wide and varied. There are many websites which you can use to plan holiday accommodation in the UK.

UK tourist information

We recommend all visitors to the UK take a look at Here you will find a wealth of information on things to do, places to visit, and travelling around the UK.

Visiting Europe

If the visitor plans to go to any other European countries in the course of their visit to the UK and requires a Schengen visa, they should apply for this from the appropriate Embassy in their home country before travelling to the UK as it will not be possible for a visitor to secure that visa in the UK.


British National Overseas visa – BN(O)

The Hong Kong BN(O) visa provides a route to settlement in the UK for eligible British Nationals Overseas and their family members. See the UK Government guidance on eligibility and how to apply.

If you hold permission in this category you will be able to study and will not need a Student visa, subject to having a valid a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if applicable for your course and you are not exempt.

Other visas which permit study

If you hold immigration permission in another category not mentioned on this page, your visa conditions may permit study.

If you are an applicant or offer-holder and you are not sure whether the conditions of your visa permit study, please email the Visa and Immigration team for advice, including your Nottingham ID number and a copy of your Biometric Residence Permit or immigration status document. 


Visa and Immigration Team

Book an appointment to meet with
an immigration adviser via video call

t: +44 (0)115 84 66125