Applying for a short-term study visa

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What is a short-term study visa?

A short-term study visa will allow you entry to the UK to study a short course for a maximum of 6 months, or up to 11 months if you are coming to study an English language course.

A short-term study visa may be appropriate if you are:

  • a study abroad exchange/CATS student coming to UH for less than 6 months.
  • repeating module(s), and the time needed to repeat is less than 6 months.
  • an external research student and need to visit campus for less than 6 months to do research, or to receive instruction on how to conduct research.
  • returning to re-sit an exam and the time needed to re-sit is less than 6 months.
  • returning to attend your viva.

Please note that you cannot apply for a short-term study Visa from within the UK.

If you will be studying a pre-sessional English course and intend to continue your studies afterwards, you should apply for entry clearance under Tier 4 (General) and not as a short-term student.

Am I eligible?

To apply for a short-term study visa, you must:

  • be genuinely seeking entry to study as a short-term student.
  • be joining a short course of study in the UK (max 6 months - or 11 months if studying an English course).
  • have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK – you will need to show that you can pay for your tuition fees, accommodation & living expenses.
  • have an unconditional offer to study from the University of Hertfordshire.
  • be able to pay for your return or onward journey.

If you’re under 18 you must also:

  • have made arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK.
  • have permission from your parent or guardian to study in the UK


If you enter the UK on a short-term study visa, you cannot:

  • work – paid or unpaid.
  • undertake a paid or unpaid work placement, even if this is part of your studies.
  • extend your visa in the UK – you will need to leave the UK within 30 days of your course end date, or before your visa expires, whichever is the sooner.
  • apply for other visas from within the UK.
  • bring dependants.
  • access the National Health Service (you will need to obtain private health insurance).

If you wish to do any of the above, then you must make an application for a Tier 4 General student visa instead.

As you must be genuinely seeking entry to the UK as a short-term student you may, as part of the visa application process, be required to undergo an interview with the Home Office. Read further details about credibility interviews.

Where and when do I apply?

Visa nationals

Some nationalities (visa nationals) will need to apply for and receive a short-term study visa before they travel to the UK.

Check that you are eligible to apply and can meet the requirements. Read the UKCISA guidance and the information available on the Home Office website.

You can apply up to 3 months before your course start date (shown on your University offer letter). You can find the application form on the Home Office website. You will also need to provide the visa fee payment, your original offer letter, information about your accommodation arrangements and original financial documentation which shows how you intend to fund your studies.

You will only get a visa for a maximum of 6 months (or 11) from the date you confirm to the Home Office as your intended travel date, so make sure that you will have enough time on the visa to cover the whole of your course.

short term 1

When you travel to the UK, make sure that you bring all of the documents that you submitted with your visa application with you – the Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive.

Non-visa nationals

If you are a non-visa national, you can either apply for the visa outside of the UK (before you travel) or you can apply at the UK port of entry when you arrive (for example, at Heathrow airport).

You can check to see if you are a non-visa national on the Home Office website.

If you plan to obtain entry clearance when you arrive, you will need to show all of your offer documents to the Border Force Officer, such as your unconditional offer letter and evidence of your finances.

Unless you have prior entry clearance, you should avoid travelling to the UK via the Republic of Ireland, as you will probably be unable to apply for entry as a short-term study student. Any stamp you do receive when travelling through the Republic of Ireland is likely to result in you having insufficient leave to complete your studies at the University.

When you arrive at the UK airport, you must NOT use an eGate. You must ask the Border Force Officer to be admitted as a short-term student (rather than as a general visitor) - you will need to clearly explain to the Border Force Officer that you will be studying. Make sure that they look at your offer letter. The stamp you will be given in your passport should indicate that you are here as a short-term student. The stamp is your ‘visa’ and will last for 6 months. Please note that the Border Force Officer can use your course end date (on your offer letter) as your visa expiry date. Students on short-term study visas are expected to leave the UK within 30 days of completion of their course, or before their visa expires, whichever is the sooner.

You can save this PDF to your phone or print it out and show it to Border Force Officials on your arrival to the UK to explain that you need a stamp in your passport.

If you are a Registered Traveller, when you arrive in the UK you must go through passport control and see a Border Force Officer - do not use an eGate. If you use an eGate you will be entering the UK as a visitor, not as a student.

Below are examples of short-term study visas obtained at the UK airport – note the wording which says ‘Leave to enter as a short-term student’ – your visa stamp must have this wording. If not, query this with the Border Force Officer.

See the example below:

short term 2short term 3

For further guidance about seeking entry as a short-term student see the Home Office.

Make sure you don't come to the UK too early to ensure you can stay until your course has finished.

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