Find out if you need a standard visitor visa or a short-term study visa for a course at Sussex. See how to get one.
The correct visa
There are two visa routes for short courses at Sussex.
The visa you apply for depends on how long you will be with us.
The two routes are:
- a standard visitor visa – for specific types of study up to six months long
- a short-term study visa – for English language courses only, between six and 11 months in length.
Most students will use this visa route. You need a standard visitor visa if you are coming to the UK for up to six months, and are:
- doing a short course at Sussex, including our Undergraduate Summer School
- undertaking a period of study abroad at our university
- a visiting research student as part of your PhD
- returning to Sussex for your viva
- a distance learning student coming to campus
- returning to resit an exam.
Important: Your studies must be completed within the duration of your visit.
What you can’t do with a visit visa
- extend a visit visa
- change to a student visa in the UK
- apply for a graduate work visa (you must be in the UK on a student visa instead)
- get free non-emergency medical treatment through the NHS (you need private health insurance instead)
- work (including voluntary work, work experience or a placement – even if it is unpaid).
Important: You must see a Border Force Officer when you arrive in the UK – and each time you re-enter during your course. This is so you can get your passport stamped. If you are eligible to use an ePassport gate you do not need to see a Border Force Officer.
Ways to apply
How you apply for a standard visitor visa depends on which country you’re from. Check if you need to apply for a visa before you leave home or if you can enter with your passport when you arrive in the UK.
You must also apply in advance if you have a criminal record or if you’ve previously been refused entry into the UK.
Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates can apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver. This allows short-term study at Sussex but check the waiver restrictions.
Applying before you leave home
If you are coming as a visiting and exchange student on a course of study for less than six months, you should select 'Short-term study (up to six months)' as the main reason for your visit.
You can apply up to three months before you travel to the UK. Check visa processing times.
You must have all your visa application documents with you when you enter the UK, in case a Border Force Officer asks to see them.
Applying at the UK border
If you don’t need a visa to travel to the UK, you can apply to enter for free as a visitor when you arrive at a UK port of entry.
Tell the Border Force Officer you want to be admitted as a visitor to follow a short course of study for fewer than six months. You’ll need to show some documents (skip to documents and evidence). If you leave the UK during your course, you’ll need to show these documents every time you re-enter.
If you are eligible to use an ePassport gate, you won’t get a stamp in your passport. Instead, when you arrive at Sussex, we will ask to see your passport and boarding pass as proof of your right to study.
All documents must be originals. See detailed information on the documents you need.
You will need to provide a translation of any documents not in English.
You’ll also need to prove you have enough money to cover all reasonable costs of your visit, including tuition fees and living expenses without working or accessing public funds. There is no set level of funds you need to show; instead see funds guidance [PDF]. As there is no set level, your application could be refused if you do not provide evidence of being able to meet the costs. We advise that you use the proof of funds requirements for student visas as a guide.
You must also have a letter from Sussex confirming the details of your studies.
If you are:
- coming to Sussex to study abroad for a term, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- studying with our Undergraduate Summer School, email email@example.com
- an international junior research associate, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- returning for resits, email email@example.com
- returning for your viva, a visiting research student or PhD distance learner, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- studying with the Sussex Centre for Language Studies, email email@example.com.
Make sure you have any other relevant supporting documents specific to your situation.
All visitors to the UK must satisfy the genuine visitor requirement. You may need documents to prove this.
If you apply before you travel, you supply documents as part of your visa application.
If you’re eligible for a visa at the UK border, carry all documents in your hand luggage in case you need to show them to a Border Force Officer.
Arriving in the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
You can’t apply for a standard visitor visa on arrival if you enter via the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey (countries in the Common Travel Area).
This is because there is no immigration control at the UK port of entry.
If you want to enter the UK as a visitor through one of these countries, apply for a standard visitor visa before you leave home.
This is just a summary of what you need to know. For more details about the visit visa route and the requirements, refer to the Visitor immigration rules and the corresponding UK Visas and Immigration guidance [PDF]. Also see genuine visitor guidance by UKCISA.
This visa route is now only for students who apply for entry clearance to do an English language course between six and 11 months long.
We will update this information soon for students applying for our Sussex Centre for Language Studies programmes.
If you hold a short-term study visa which was issued before 1 December 2020, see the rules and requirements you must continue to meet.