Standard Visitor Visa route

Since 1 December 2020 there have been changes in the UK Immigration rules.

Please click the link to see if you need a visa to come to the UK.

In order to enter the UK you must hold a valid visa.  

The Standard Visitor Visa can be used for the following reasons: 

  • To do a short course of study (for example attend residential elements of a Blended Learning course) 
  • To re-sit exams 
  • To attend your viva 
  • To attend your graduation 
  • To take part in research or an exchange programme as an academic 

The visa is also used for: 

  • Tourism, for example, a holiday or to see your family and friends 
  • Certain business activities, for example, attending a meeting 
  • Medical reasons, for example, to receive private medical treatment 

You cannot: 

  • Do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person 
  • Do a course of study that lasts longer than six months( for these see Short-term study visa or the Student visa route) 
  • Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits 
  • Claim public funds (benefits) 
  • Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You’ll need a Marriage Visitor visa instead 

Read the guidance for more information about what you can and cannot do with a Standard Visitor visa


Visa and Non-Visa Nationals 

If your nationality is not listed here, then you are a Non-Visa National under the UK Immigration Rules, and you should read and follow the guidance in the Non-Visa National section below. 

If your nationality is listed then you are considered a Visa National under the UK Immigration Rules, and you should read and follow the guidance in Visa National section below. 

Non-Visa Nationals 

You can apply: 

  • In advance, outside of the UK, within any country that you are legally in 


  • On arrival at the UK Border; you must go to a border control officer at the immigration desk to get a stamp in your passport. This will allow you to study in the UK

N.B. You cannot get a stamp on your passport if you use the e-Passport gates. 

You can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa at the Immigration Desk on arrival at a UK Border. 

You will still need to carry with you the same application evidence as stated on the government website:  

You will need to re-apply every time you enter the UK Border, even if you already have a stamp that has not expired yet (i.e. from a previous visit to the UK). 

 However, you can apply in advance, which means you will not need to apply every time your enter the UK Border. 

If you wish to do this, please follow the guidance in "Section 7: How do I apply for a Standard Visitor Visa?", below. 

Visa Nationals 

You must apply: 

  • In advance, outside of the UK, within any country that you are legally in

If you are a visa national, you will need to apply for your visa in advance of your visit to the UK. 

You can apply: 

  • No more than three months before you intend to travel
  • You can specify the date you want the visa to be valid from but it is usually valid from the date of issue. Therefore, if you are coming for a short course or a period of visiting research of five-six months, there is a risk that your visa will not cover the whole length of the course if issued more than one month before your course start date

A standard overseas UK visa application currently takes up to 15 working days, which is around a month. Please, ensure you have given yourself enough time to make the application, receive your visa and travel to the UK. 

Visit Visa application requirements are provided on the government website here:

Non-Visa Nationals 

If you are applying on arrival

  • You must carry your application evidence with you. 
  • You must visit the Immigration Desk, on arrival at the UK Border. 
  • You must state the purpose for your visit, e.g. short period of study under 6 months, attending a viva, tourism, etc. 
  • The Border Force officer will ask you for any evidence they require - do not volunteer any evidence unless they specifically ask you for it. 

If they are satisfied, they will endorse your passport with an ink stamp  

  • Once you have cleared the Border Control, you will have leave as a Standard Visitor. 

If you are applying in advance

  • Please follow the guidance for Visa Nationals below. 

Visa Nationals 

You must apply for your visa in advance: 

  • To apply for a visa, you will need to collect all your application supporting documents first 
  • Once you have all your application supporting documents you need to make your application using the online application form 
  • Once you are satisfied that you have filled in the form correctly, your need to pay for your application fee, and submit your online application. 


What happens after you have applied: 

If you have applied in advance: 

Once you have submitted your online application, you will need to attend an appointment to verify your evidence. 

You will then receive a decision to the email address you provided in your application in about three weeks. 

You will then need to either: 

  • Attend the VAC to have your passport endorsed with your visa vignette OR 
  • Post your passport to the address you were asked to, to have it endorsed with your visa vignette. 

Once you have received your passport back, you should check your vignette for any errors, e.g. spelling of name, the visa is valid for 6 months. 

You can then travel to and enter the UK during the validity period of your vignette. 

Arriving to the UK 

Once you arrive at the UK Border, go to the Immigration Desk to have your visa activated by the UK Border Force. 

Before you leave the desk, please check that they have endorsed the right vignette by checking that it has the date of your entry stamped on it. 

N.B. If it is not stamped, you may have to leave the UK and re-enter to activate your visa. 

Visitor visas for family members to attend a student’s Graduation or visit them 

If the family members require a visa to travel (visa nationals) to the UK they will also need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa to attend a student’s graduation ceremony or visit them in the UK. 

What they will need:

  • Current application fee 
  • Current valid passport 
  • Two passport size colour photos 
  • Evidence of sufficient funds for their proposed visit (provide at least 3 months’ bank statements. If the student is funding their visit then the student will need to provide evidence of their finances) 
  • Evidence that they intend to leave the UK after their visit( e.g. a letter from their employer, or return ticket) 
  • Evidence of their relationship to you (e.g. birth/marriage certificate, family book etc.) 
  • Copy of the RAU Graduation invitation letter (required only if attending graduation) 
  • Copy of the RAU Student Status letter 
  • A letter from you inviting them to attend your Graduation ceremony or visit you in the UK 
  • Copies of your current passport and student visa/BRP 

N.B. The application must include official translation of any documents that are not in English language.