Accessibility statement

Visitor Visa - study, graduation and family visits


Study as a visitor

If you are studying in the UK on a course of 6 months or less, it may be possible for you to enter the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa.

The course must be offered by an accredited provider, such as the University of York, but you can study more than one course during your stay and you are not required to hold a place on a course before you arrive.

You will need to prove that you have enough money to cover all reasonable costs of your visit without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of the return or onward journey. You will be able to use someone else's money to prove this if you have a personal or professional relationship with them, and they will provide support to you for the duration of your visit.

Importantly, unlike a Student Visa, you will not be able to work in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa. This includes unpaid work, so you would not be able to access placements or work experience opportunities during your stay.

My course is longer than 6 months but I will only be in the UK for 6 months (or less) to study. Can I come to the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa?

For most students this will not be possible as the course you are coming to study in the UK has to be less than 6 months, however there are some exceptions;

  • If you are on a distance learning course, the majority of which is studied outside the UK. You can use the visitor route for purposes including, assessments, one-to-ones and sitting exams as long as you only travel into the UK for a maximum period of 6 months in every 12 month period. 
  • Undertaking research in a UK institution that is part of a degree level course you are enrolled on in a country outside the UK. You cannot however be employed by the UK institution during your research. 
  • Undertaking electives at a UK higher education provider, but only if you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as your principle course of study, and the electives are relevant to your course of study abroad, are unpaid and do not involve the treatment of patients.

I am studying a pre-sessional English course with the International Pathway College (IPC), can I use a Standard Visitor Visa?

If you will be studying another degree programme after your pre-sessional course, you should apply for a Student Visa.

Even though it is possible to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa for your course, we recommend that you instead apply for a Student Visa. This is because if you come to the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa for your pre-sessional course, you will not be able to switch to a Student Visa in the UK for your Bachelor, Masters or PhD course. After finishing your pre-sessional course you would have to return to your resident country, to apply for a Student Visa, before starting your Bachelor, Masters or PhD course. 

For further information please see our web-pages on applying for a Student Visa from outside the UK

If you are not starting a degree course in the UK immediately after your pre-sessional course, then you can instead apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. It is important to note that you will have to leave the UK once the visa expires

Do all nationalities have to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa in advance?

No, some nationalities ( e.g EU/EEA countries, Switzerland, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Japan) will not need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa in advance of arriving in the UK. These are known as “non-visa nationals”. Even though you do not have to apply for a visa you will still be bound by the same restrictions as those who have to apply for a visa in advance (e.g unable to work).

You can use the UK Government’s online tool to check if you need a visa to come to the UK.

Can I use a Standard Visitor Visa for exam resits or for my viva?

Yes, but you will not be able to switch to a Student Visa or Graduate Visa in the UK. If you are coming to the UK for your viva it must be part of a PhD programme at a UK institution.

Can I use an e-gate to enter the UK?

If you are eligible to use an e-gate then you can use it to enter the UK. You should however keep evidence of the date you entered the UK (e.g. airline ticket). 

Find further information on using e-gates from the UK Government’s website.

Graduation ceremony

If you would like to invite guests to your graduation ceremony, they should apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

To assist them with their application you are advised to provide them with an original copy of your 'Confirmation of Study Letter' (or invitation to graduate if it is available) as supporting evidence.

Copies of your confirmation of study letter can be requested online via your e:Vision account.  You are also advised to write a covering letter explaining that you would like your guests to attend your graduation ceremony.

Please note, the University is unable to issue letters of invitation specifically for guests to attend a graduation ceremony.

Other visits

If you have family or friends who want to visit you in the UK during your studies, they should apply for a Standard Visitor Visa.

To help them with their visa application you should write them a letter of invitation. The letter should outline any activities you may have planned during their visit and an indication of the dates when the visit will take place. They can then use this letter as supporting information in their visa application.  The University is not able to provide you with such a letter.

Additionally, you should include with your letter a 'Confirmation of Study' letter, as it will confirm that you are enroled on a full-time course at York. This letter can be requested online via your e:Vision account.

Apply for a Standard Visitor visa