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Visas for a short course

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:

Important: These new routes came into effect on 1 December 2020. If you have a short-term study visa issued before 1 December 2020, see the rules and requirements for you.

EU/EEA students entering the UK on or before 11pm (BST) on 31 December 2020 can do so using their EU/EEA passport and then apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. See our detailed Brexit information. You will then not need to apply for a visit visa to study. If you enter the UK after this time, you will need a valid visa to study.


Standard visitor visa

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 International 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.

What you can’t do with a visit visa

You cannot:

  • extend a visit visa
  • change to a student visa in the UK
  • apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme or 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 Kuwait, Oman, Qatar 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

You must apply online on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.

You can apply up to three months before you travel to the UK. Check visa processing times.

Check how much it costs to apply for a visit visa.

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.

Documents and evidence

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:

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.

More detail

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.


Short-term study visa

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.

In the meantime, email immigration@sussex.ac.uk or refer to this UKCISA guide on the short-term visa route.

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.

See more from Applying for a student visa