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If you want to come to the UK to study at the University of East London (UEL) you will require a visa for study purposes, if you are not a British citizen or are a citizen of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

In the UK immigration rules there are two routes to come to the UK as a Student

  • Tier 4 (General) Visa - This is the main visa for studying in the UK. A Tier 4 visa allows the holder to come to the UK to study full time at UEL on our undergraduate, postgraduate, pre-sessional English and pre-Masters programmes. A Tier 4 visa will normally be issued for the full length of your course plus some extra time. Employment is usually allowed but restricted on this type of visa
  • Short Term Student Visa - This is a restrictive type of visitor visa which allows part time study and may be suitable for those on UEL distance learning programmes. A Short Term Student visa is only valid for a maximum of 6 months and cannot be extended (11 months if you are coming to the UK to study English only – which would not be applicable to UEL students). Employment is prohibited on this type of visa, and Short Term Students are not able to bring dependants to the UK with them.

These pages relate to Short Term Student category

  • If you are outside the UK and require more information on applying for a student visa under Tier 4 (General) Visas, click on Tier 4 (General) Visa - Applying for Entry Clearance
  • If you are already in the UK and require information on extending your student visa under Tier 4 click on Tier 4 (General) Visa - Extension in the UK
The Short Term Study visa replaced the Student Visitor visa on 24 April 2015. The Short Term Study visa may be appropriate as a route to come to the UK and study where a Tier 4 General student visa is not possible. To qualify as a Short Term Student and study at UEL, you must meet the following requirements:
  • You must be 18 or over
  • You must have sufficient funds to pay for your fees and all living costs whilst in the UK
  • You must have an unconditional offer to study at UEL on one of the types of courses listed below
  • The study must be less than 6 months
  • You must intend to leave the UK by the end of the course or end of 6 months whichever is earlier
  • You must not intend to study at UEL for extended periods of time through frequent or successive periods as a Short Term Student

The cases where you may consider coming to the UK as a Short Term Student are if:

  • You are studying on a UEL distance learning programme and occasionally need to visit the UK for classes or revision sessions... although the course of study might be longer than 6 months, each period of study is less than six months, or
  • You need to return to UEL after being on a break in order to complete re-sits only, or
  • You wish to study full time or part time on a short course (i.e. summer school) at UEL of less than 6 months, or
  • You wish to undertake research at UEL as part of your study (at bachelors’ degree level or above) at an overseas institution.

Note: If you are coming to the UEL to study a Pre-Sessional English or Pre Masters programme in order to progress to further full time study, you should not come to the UK as a Short Term Student. Instead you should apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

Note: If you cannot be issued with a CAS for your studies for any reason and you need to complete your course, a Short Term Study visa may be a possibility where you are able to complete your studies in less than 6 months.

If you come to the UK as a Short Term Student, you should be aware of the following limitations:
  • A Short Term Student visa is valid for a maximum of 6 months, in most cases
  • You cannot extend your stay in the UK as a Short Term Student beyond 6 months, in most cases
  • You cannot normally switch from Short Term Study to any other type of visa in the UK.
  • You are prohibited from any type of employment in the UK.
  • You cannot bring dependants in this category.
A Short Term Student must meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for Short Term Students. 

These rules include:

  • You want to come to the UK to study at UEL
  • You do not intend to stay in the UK more than 6 months at any one time
  • You do not intend to take any employment whilst in the UK
  • You do not intend to engage in any business whilst in the UK
  • You can maintain and accommodate yourself whilst in the UK
  • You have the funds to leave the UK within the time frame
  • You are genuinely planning to enter the UK as a short term student*

You will need to show evidence that you meet the above rules whether you apply for a Short Term Student Entry Clearance (Visa sticker in your passport) or you claim Leave to Enter the UK as a Short Term Student (only an option for non-visa national citizens).

*You may be asked to provide reasons and evidence if applicable for the reasons of your chosen study (including: why you have chosen the course, how it is relevant to your previous/ current studies, how it is relevant to your future/ current career prospects and how you can afford to finance your studies)

Visa Nationals

- Citizens of some countries must apply for entry clearance (visa) to come to the UK for any purpose and for any length of time. These citizens are known as Visa Nationals. If you are a Visa National, you must apply for entry clearance (a visa issued as a sticker in your passport) to come to the UK as a Short Term Student. To find out if you must apply for a visa to come to the UK as a Short Term Student see the UK Government website.

Non-Visa Nationals - Citizens of some countries may be able to come to the UK as a Short Term Student without applying for entry clearance (a visa issued as a sticker in your passport). This is only an option for citizens of countries who are Non-Visa Nationals. To find out if you are a Non-Visa National see the UK Government website.

We recommend that everyone coming to the UK as a Short Term Student applies for entry clearance in that category (whether you are a visa national or not). This is because it ensures that you enter the UK in the correct category as well as offering you some protection upon arrival in the UK in case an immigration officer declines you Leave to Enter the UK for any reason. However, if you are a non-visa national, you are not required to apply for entry clearance.

You can usually apply for a Short Term Study visa online. There is detailed information on the visa application process on the UK Government website.

Application Fee

  • The application fee is £89 (in local currency equivalent).

Biometrics

As part of the application process for Entry Clearance as a Short Term Student Visa, you will need to attend an appointment at the Visa Application Centre or British Embassy to:

  • provide a digital scan of your fingerprints and
  • have a digital photograph taken.

This process is known as biometric enrolment or biometric data collection. If you apply online you must also make an appointment to provide your biometric data at the nearest Visa Application Centre.

If are applying for Entry Clearance as a Short Term Student you will need to provide certain documents with your application.
  • Passport
  • Passport sized photo – see guidance
  • A Short Term Study Letter from UEL confirming your enrolment/ acceptance on to your programme of study, as well as fees due and paid. 
  • Bank statements and evidence of income - Bank statements and/ or payslips for the last 6 months showing enough to cover your stay in the UK for course fees and living expenses. (Using the Tier 4 maintenance figures as a guide only, it would be reasonable to show that you have the equivalent of £1,265 per month, for the duration of your studies. If you will be staying with friends or family while in the UK, which will decrease your living costs, you can include evidence of this). In all cases, you should be prepared to provide evidence of the source of your funds/ income.
  • Evidence of your travel and accommodation plans (although it is not necessarily advised that you pay for your accommodation and travel prior to obtaining your visa), including evidence that you will leave the UK after your studies (evidence of reasons to return to your home country; eg: letter of studies/ employment/ business interests etc)
Additionally you may also be required to provide:
  • Evidence of previous qualifications (official certificates/ transcripts)
  • Evidence of English Language ability (e.g. IELTS) - if applicable
  • Evidence of marital status (unless single)
  • If you are applying in a country where you are not a national, evidence of your immigration status there
  • If you are being financially supported by someone else, for example your parents, you can provide evidence of their finances to show that you can maintain and accommodate yourself whilst in the UK, as well as evidence of the source of those funds.
  • If you are coming to UEL to conduct research for your Bachelors (or above) level studies at an overseas institution, you will also require a letter from your home institution confirming that the research that you will be undertaking at UEL is relevant to your studies.

You will need to submit original documents with your visa application as well as a photocopy of each document. If any documents are not in English, you will also need to provide an official, verifiable translation.

Note on the letter from UEL

If you are starting a new course, the letter from UEL will be issued by the International Admissions team - who will first discuss the details of your programme of study with your academic department. Normally the start and end dates of your programme of study will be less than 6 months (except in the case of distance learning).

If you are applying for a Short Term Student Visa in order to return to the UK to undertake re-sits to complete your current course, please contact the hub to request a Short-term Student Visa letter.  

This letter is vital for any applications for Entry Clearance as a Short Term Student, as well as for those entering the UK without Entry Clearance as a Short Term Student (in the case of non-visa nationals), as it contains all the UK Visas & Immigration required information.

If you are on a distance learning programme and visit the UK on a regular basis (for example three times a year) this should be explained on the UEL letter including, as far as possible, the periods of study when you are expected to be in the UK.

Note: If you are expected to be in the UK on a very regular basis for large periods of time (beyond 6 months), it is unlikely that you will be considered as a Short Term student but may be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa- if your studies are full time and you meet all the requirements.


If you are applying for Entry Clearance as a Short Term Student to study at UEL, you should prepare early. This is because the application process can sometimes take a long time.
  • Complete the admissions process to UEL & pay the required fees
  • Receive a Short Term Student visa letter from UEL
  • Prepare your application at least one month prior to application (collect documents)
  • Apply for the Short Term Student visa about one month before the start date of your programme.
  • Arrange and attend appointment to provide your biometric data

Note: Your visa will be valid for a maximum of six months.

The UK Home Office provides an approximation of visa processing times - whilst most visa applications are processed within 3 weeks and often quicker, it can sometimes take much longer. You may therefore, decide to apply a little earlier than 1 month before intended date of travel


  • Check the Short Term Student rules and requirements
  • Start preparing your application early. Do not leave it to the last minute. This is because you will need to collect a number of documents, some of which you will have to request from the university, bank etc. Also early applications allow time to resolve any problems in case of returned or refused applications.
  • Read the advice and guidance carefully
  • Read the questions on the application very carefully and complete the application form in all relevant sections - stating your intended travel date
  • Collect together all the necessary documents
  • Take photos in line with the UK Visas & Immigration photo guidance
  • Email isa@uel.ac.uk to clarify any doubts or ask specific questions
  • Pay the appropriate fee
  • Write a list of documents that you are submitting with your application
  • Photocopy everything for your records and to submit with your original documents
  • Submit the completed application and all original supporting documents (plus copy of each)
  • Arrange and attend your biometric appointment

If you are arriving in the UK without Entry Clearance (as a non-visa national) and claiming Leave to Enter the UK as a Short Term Student, you should have in your possession the same documents as listed above, in case you need to prove Short Term Student status. You should also ensure that the Immigration Officer at your port of arrival to the UK understands that you are entering the UK as a Short Term Student.

Normally the immigration officer should date stamp your passport on arrival and endorse the stamp with the code to reflect that you have entered the UK as a Short Term Student. 


Student Arrivals

UK Border Force have produced a helpful list of top tips for first time students arriving to commence their studies in the UK. These tips are designed to ensure that you are not unduly delayed when entering the UK. They are also to better prepare you for the types of documents they may ask you to present at border control. 

UK Border Force want to make sure you have everything you need to get through the UK border as efficiently as possible. Follow these top tips for a smooth journey through the UK border:

  1. Have your passport (and visa, if applicable) ready.
  2. Ensure you complete a landing card (if a non EEA National).
  3. Have your University Short Term Study letter ready. 
  4. Keep any medical documentation, recent bank statement and details of where you are staying in your hand luggage, the Border Force may ask to see this information.
  5. Do not bring in any meat or dairy products from outside the EU.
  6. There are also restrictions on other food products such as fish, eggs and honey, as well as some fruit, vegetables and plants (e.g. bulbs, seeds, cut flowers and tree bark). 
  7. There are also restrictions on the amount of tobacco, alcohol and gifts you can bring in the UK. If you exceed your duty-free allowance and do not declare them, all of your items could be taken away from you. 
  8. Never bring in counterfeit goods, illegal drugs, offensive weapons or indecent or obscene material. Some items are restricted and will require a licence or permit.
  9. You must declare any sums of cash of £10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling from a country outside the European Union.
  10. Never give false or misleading information (including forged or counterfeit documents).