Short-term study visa

Travelling to Bristol via Ireland

If you are coming on a short-term study visa and have not secured your visa before travelling, do not arrive via Ireland.

The UK and Ireland have a Common Travel Area and you will not go through UK immigration after transferring in Dublin. You will not have a valid visa to study.

Who can apply

You may be able apply for a short-term study (STS) visa if you are:

  • studying in the UK on a part-time or full-time course that lasts less than six months, for example a Study Abroad course (see heading below for more information)
  • returning for exams
  • a visiting postgraduate research student
  • coming to the UK to do a medical elective (see heading below for more information)
  • coming to the UK for a distance learning course (see heading below for more information)

Read the UKVI Short-term study visa eligibility information to check if your proposed study is eligible for STS.

Please contact us before you travel if you are unsure if you are eligible for an STS visa.

Some nationalities are required to apply for an STS visa before travelling into the UK, whilst others can be stamped in under STS on entry into the UK at the airport (see 'how to apply' heading below for more information).

How long you can come for

An STS visa/entry stamp is given for a 6 month period.  However, an immigration condition of the STS is that you leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your study/research or before the end of the 6 month period, whichever is soonest. 

This means that you cannot add further periods of study/research within the 6 month visa period if they are not included in your original visa letter as the UKVI will not be able to determine if you are leaving the UK in time.  When you are granted STS the UKVI will assess if you are a genuine student, this includes whether you have given a true account of how long you intend to study in the UK.  Therefore, if you do not leave within the period expected, this could affect visa applications in the future.

STS should not be used 'frequently and successively'. For example, if you are seeking a second period of leave under the STS route where less than 2 months have passed since you last visited the UK as an STS student, or you are applying for more than 5 periods of STS leave within a 5-year period. Different time limits apply to students on distance learning programmes: please read the Distance Learning section below. 

For further information, please read the UKVI Short-term students guidance.

A short-term study visa cannot be extended. If you want to study a full-time course which lasts more than six months you will need a Tier 4 student visa.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

If you come as an STS student, the offer letter issued by your the relevant School/Faculty Office (not by supervisors or academics) will state if you require an ATAS certificate.  If you require ATAS, you will need an ATAS certificate before you can apply for an STS visa.  Holding an ATAS certificate is also a requirement to be registered at the University.  

It can take up to 20 working days to obtain an ATAS certificate, so please apply as early as possible.  Your faculty will be able to provide you with the information regarding your course/research that you require to make your online application for your ATAS certificate.  Please see our ATAS information for more details and the link to the application form.

Study Abroad students

If you are not sure if you want to stay for a year or just one semester, you should apply for a Tier 4 student visa to come for a year, because the STS visa cannot be extended.

If you are on an STS visa and you later decide you want to extend your stay, you will have to return home and apply for a Tier 4 student visa before you can return to the UK.

Visiting researchers

You can apply for a Short Term Study visa if you are coming to the UK to complete a short period of research or to learn how to conduct research. To be eligible to use this route you should be studying a course overseas that is the equivalent of a UK degree level course. You will be required to provide a letter from your home institution confirming what course you are studying, and that your proposed research at University of Bristol relates to it.

You will not be allowed to do any other research or be classed as a  sponsored researcher.  Any individual seeking to come to the University as a sponsored researcher must do so through the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) route of the point-based system. To explore this route, you should contact your hosting School in the first instance who would then liaise with the relevant HR Employee Services Team who can issue a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship if you are eligible.

Medical electives

If you are coming to study a medical elective, you can come on a Tier 4 student visa or on an STS visa.

An STS student can come to the UK for up to 6 months to complete one or more elective courses linked to their overseas study, where they are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as their principal course of study equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK.  Those studying electives are unable to complete any other type of work.  You will require an STS visa letter issued by the Faculty of Health Sciences. 

Distance learning

If you who choose to study through distance learning the University cannot offer sponsorship for a Tier 4 student visa.

You will instead need to secure an STS visa for every visit to the University, throughout the duration of your course.

There are risks and limitations associated with doing this, which should be carefully considered: 

  • For most nationalities, you will have to pay a visa application fee for each visit.
  • UK immigration rules and policies change often and with little notice. The University cannot guarantee that the STS visa rules in place when you begin a distance learning course will remain in place throughout the duration of your course. The rules in place at the time of each visa application will apply, not those in place when you begin your course.
  • If at any point your STS visa application is refused, this may affect future visa applications.
  • You will only be allowed to enter the UK for limited periods, totalling no more than 56 days in the UK in any 6 month period. Study completed during visits can include induction weeks, short periods of intensive face-to-face learning and exams or assessments. 
  • This route should not be used 'frequently and successively'. For example, if you are seeking a second period of leave under the STS route where less than 2 months have passed since you last visited the UK as an STS student, or you are applying for more than 5 periods of STS leave within a 5-year period.

For those courses where we offer the choice of full-time residential study or distance learning, the full-time residential mode with a Tier 4 student visa carries significantly less risk.

How to apply 

Some nationalities are required to apply for an STS visa before travelling into the UK, whilst others can be stamped in under STS on entry into the UK at the airport.  Even if you are not required to apply for an STS visa before travelling to the UK, you must ensure that you can meet the eligibility requirements of STS.  You will also need to travel with the required documents so that you can be stamped in under STS when you arrive in the UK (see 'documents you must provide' heading below for more information).

See the UKVI check if you need a UK visa to see whether you need to apply for the visa before travelling or instead bring the supporting documents with you to show at the border when you travel into the UK.  

If you are eligible to receive a stamp at the border and are a Registered Traveller, please do not use eGates as you will be admitted to the UK as a visitor and not as a short-term student.  

If you do need to apply before travelling to the UK, read UKVI how to apply information.

Documents you must provide

You must have an STS visa letter which states your study dates. This should only be issued by the relevant School/Faculty Office (not by supervisors or academics).

Read the UKVI list of documents you must provide for further details of additional supporting documents.

Working

You cannot work on a short-term study visa.

Health insurance

If you enter the UK on a short-term study visa, you are not entitled to National Health Service (NHS) treatment. We advise that you take out private medical insurance.

Contact us

Find out how to contact us

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