Standard Visitor visa and other routes

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Standard Visitor visa and other routes

As well as the Student route visa, there are other types of visa which permit study in the UK in certain circumstances. 

Standard Visitor visa

Who needs a standard visitor visa?

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

  • 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 for the very limited Permitted Paid Engagements 
  • 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

How to apply

Visa nationals

If you are a national of a country on the list of 'visa nationals' you must apply for entry clearance in advance of coming to the UK, from your home country (where you are normally resident). The 'visa nationals' list is in the Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa National list. 

You can apply online, and then you will be prompted to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre, to have your biometric information taken. 

Non-visa nationals

If you are a national of a country not included on the 'visa nationals' list (see above), you do not need to apply for your visa in advance and can instead obtain permission on arrival at the UK border. This includes EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. You should carry the documents referred to above in your hand luggage in case they are asked for by a border officer.

You should consider applying for the visa in advance if you have a criminal record or have previously been refused entry to the UK.

If the GOV.UK 'Check if you need a UK visa' tool states that you "do not need a visa" it means that you don't need to obtain a visa prior to travel, because you are a non-visa national. You will obtain a visa on arrival at the UK border.

eGgates (electronic passport gates) 

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 eGates 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. 

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.


Further information

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. 


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