Standard Visitor visa

From 1 December 2020 Standard Visitor visa has replaced the Short-term Study visa for any short-term study purposes except for taking an English language course. If you are applying to come to the UK to engage in any of the below activities, please do not apply for Short-term study visa and apply for Standard Visitor visa instead. 

Travelling to Bristol via Ireland

If you are coming to the UK to study for a short period of time on a Visitor visa and have not secured your visa before travelling, we do not advise that you arrive via Ireland.

The UK and Ireland have a Common Travel Area and you will not go through UK immigration after transferring in Dublin. It is likely that you will not have a valid visa to study for the duration of your course. 

Who needs a Standard Visitor visa

Students coming to the UK to do a period of study or research lasting up to 6 months

From 1 December 2020 Standard Visitor visa has replaced the Short-term Study visa for the purposes of studying in the UK for up to 6 months. The Short-term study visa is still available but is now only for the purposes of studying English language courses, so please be careful to not apply for it instead by mistake. You can study in the UK on a general Visitor visa, as long as your academic activity fits into one of the following categories: 

  • studying a course at an accredited institution (meaning one or more consecutive or concurrent programmes of study that will be completed within the validity period of the visitor permission)
  • completing a period of research
  • completing research tuition (for example, to learning about research)
  • completing 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
  • completing a study-abroad programme in the UK as part of an overseas course, where the programme is less than 6 months in length
  • sitting an entrance exam
  • re-sitting an examination or retaking a module
  • taking an oral (viva) examination for part of a PhD qualification at a UK institution
  • students on distance learning programmes who spend the majority of their course studying overseas and are coming to the UK for short periods of time for certain activities, such as induction weeks, intensive face-to-face learning, one-to-one progress checks or to sit exams or assessments.

When applying for a general Visitor visa you will need an acceptance/Visitor visa support letter from the University to submit with your application. Study Abroad students will receive this an acceptance letter from the Global Opportunities team, while all other students will usually receive Visitor visa support letter from their Faculty administration team at the University of Bristol. Students eligible to receive the Visitor visa at the UK border should bring the acceptance/Visitor visa support letter with them as they may get asked about the purpose of their visit to the UK. 

Students coming to study or research certain science and technology subjects at postgraduate level, will need to obtain Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance before starting their course at the University of Bristol. Please visit this webpage for further information. Your UoB Faculty Office administrator should be able to confirm if you need ATAS clearance to study with us. Although Visit visa applicants may not require ATAS for their visa application, it will be a requirement of registration at the University, so we strongly advise you obtain ATAS before you apply for the Visit visa and come to the UK. 

Please familiarise yourself with other eligibility criteria (e.g. finances) on this government webpage before applying for this visa. Some nationalities can apply for this visa at the UK border, but some will need to obtain it in advance of travel. To check whether or not you need to apply in advance, please use this online tool. Applications in advance attract an application fee. 

Visits for research or 'learning about research' internships

If you come to the University for a period of research or an internship, you will need to be clear about the nature of your activities at the University and if you will be registered as a student or as a member of staff so that you can determine the correct visa for your activitiy.  If you will be registered as a student and will be 'completing a period of research' or 'learning about research' you will be permitted to study on a Visitor visa provided that the period of research is part of/is relevant to your studies at your home institution. Full permitted activities that can be undertaken on a Visitor visa are listed in full in the Visit visa guidance. You are now allowed to receive payments for activities you are carrying out in the UK on Visit visa unless it is one of the permitted types of payments listed in V4.6 of Appendix Visitor.
Work (paid or unpaid) is not permitted on a Visitor visa. If you will be getting paid for your activities in the UK or/and will be employed, you should be registered as a member of staff. This implies a work activitiy rather than study and is not permitted on a Visitor visa.  If your internship will be work in its more traditional sense, it could be that a temporary work visa like Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) would be appropriate and you should speak to our Human Resources about this as you would require sponsorship under this scheme. 
If you will be coming under Erasmus+ you may be able to apply for the GAE visa sponsored by them:

Students attending graduation ceremonies

You may need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to return to the UK for Graduation.

Please see our Graduation information for more details.

Friends and family visiting you

Friends or family who want to visit while you are in the UK can apply for a Standard Visitor visa. They cannot apply for or extend a Standard Visitor visa once they are in the UK.

Please see our Inviting your family or friends (PDF, 132kB) information sheet for more information.

Applying for a Standard Visitor visa

Apply online for Standard Visitor visa.

Health insurance

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

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