How to apply for a short-term study visa

Find out if you need a short-term study visa to come to Sussex and how to get one.

Who needs a short-term study visa

You need a short-term study visa if you are coming to the UK for six months or fewer, and are:

  • Doing a short course of study 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.

You can also get a short-term study visa if you are doing an English language course of 11 months or fewer.

Important: You must see a Border Force Officer when you arrive in the UK. This is so you can get your passport stamped. You can show a document requesting a passport stamp [PDF 156KB] to staff.

Do not use an ePassport gate. These do not issue stamps. If you enter the UK through one you may not be able to register for your course at Sussex. You will need to leave the UK and re-enter to get your short-term study visa stamp.

What you can’t do with a short-term study visa

You cannot:

  • extend a short-term study visa
  • switch (change) to a Tier 4 in the UK
  • apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, as you need a Tier 4 visa for this
  • get free non-emergency medical treatment through the NHS
  • work (including voluntary work, work experience or a placement – even if it is unpaid). You can be a volunteer but you must check the difference between voluntary work and being a volunteer.

Email immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you want to come to the UK a long time before your course starts and you have a short-term study visa.

You must either intend to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your course of study, or at the end of the six- or 11-month period of leave granted, whichever is sooner.

You must not intend to study in the UK for extended periods that involve frequent or successive visits as a short-term student.

Ways to apply

How you apply for a short-term study 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 get a visa stamp 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.

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 short-term study visa.

If you are issued a visa for longer than six months, you also have to pay a healthcare surcharge. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

You must have all your visa application documents with you when you enter the UK.

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 short-term student when you arrive at a UK port of entry.

Tell the Border Force Officer you want to be admitted as a short-term student (not a standard visitor), and make sure the stamp you get in your passport shows you’re here as a short-term student. You’ll need to show some documents.

See how the stamp in your passport should look.

If you leave the UK during your course, you’ll need to show documents every time you re-enter the UK.

Arriving in the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands

You can’t apply for a short-term study 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 come to the UK as a short-term student and enter the UK through one of these countries, apply for a short-term study visa before you leave home.

Documents

If you’re applying before you leave home, you must include:

  • qualification certificates if your offer at Sussex was based on another course
  • a current passport with a page that’s blank on both sides, or other valid travel identification
  • information about where you’ll stay and your travel plans. Don’t pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa
  • links to your home country such as family, employment (include a letter from your employer stating that they consent to you visiting the UK for your study period and the date you are expected back to work), and property or other assets (include property ownership deeds or other paperwork which shows proof of ownership)
  • evidence of your finances
  • an ATAS certificate, if you’re studying certain science or engineering subjects.
  • If you’re coming to Sussex to do research or receive supervision as part of your PhD, a letter from your home institution confirming you’re registered on a PhD course and that the research or supervision at Sussex is relevant to your home course.

Getting a Sussex letter

You must also have a letter from Sussex confirming the details of your studies.

If you are:

If you’re studying with the Sussex Centre for Language Studies, and you need a letter, email efl@sussex.ac.uk.

Tip: If you’re applying at a UK port of entry, you’re unlikely to be asked for all these documents but we advise having them available.

Other documents you may need

If you have visited certain countries or are applying for certain courses, you might need additional documents.

Tuberculosis certificate

You might need a tuberculosis test certificate if you are studying a course longer than six months.

Check if you need to take a tuberculosis test.

Translations

If a document is not in English, it must come with a fully certified translation. See paragraph 16 for more guidance (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF).

Financial evidence

You need to show you have sufficient money to support yourself without working or getting help from public funds.

We recommend you prove you have the equivalent of £1,015 per month (the current Tier 4 maintenance/living costs figures) for the duration of your course.

However there is no set amount UKVI expect you to show.

Acceptable proof of funds evidence

Depending on your situation, you can use:

  • original bank statements
  • an official financial sponsorship letter
  • your parents’ bank statement and a letter from them which states they will cover your living and/or accommodation costs for the duration of your stay
  • confirmation that your home institution is covering some or all of your fees and living expenses
  • written evidence if you’re staying with friends or family in the UK, outlining their relationship to you and what they will be responsible for (for example, accommodation).

How you’re assessed

UKVI looks at your regular outgoings (such as mortgage, rent payments and financial support for any dependants) when it assesses you.

If applicable, give evidence of where your money comes from (for example, payslips or a letter from a parent), confirming they pay money into your bank account.

UKVI may:

  • make further checks if funds haven’t been in your account for a long time
  • want to know where your money has come from. If any large sums of money have been paid into your account recently (from a house sale for example), mention this in your application.

Travelling around Europe

See our guidance on applying for a Schengen visa if you’re visiting certain countries in Europe.

See more from Applying for a student visa