How to apply for a short-term study visa

You can apply for a short-term study visa if you:

You can also apply for a short-term study visa if you are a current Sussex student and you need to come back for your viva, or do resits/ SITS.

See UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) guidance on short-term students (always check that you are using the most up to date guidance).

We recommend that you also read the UK Council for International Student Affairs guidance on short-term students.

What you can and can’t do with a short-term study visa

You can:

  • study a course of six months or fewer at Sussex. This includes visiting and exchangeInternational Summer School or distance learning courses
  • study an English language course of 11 months or fewer. If you’re doing a pre-sessional course, apply for Tier 4 visa instead
  • do a short period of research as part of a Sussex degree, or research tuition.

You can’t:

  • extend a short-term study visa
  • switch (change) to a Tier 4 in the UK
  • apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, as you need a Tier 4 visa for this
  • work (including voluntary work, work experience or a placement – even if it is unpaid). You can be a volunteer but you must check the difference between voluntary work and being a volunteer.

Email if you want to come to the UK a long time before your course starts and you have a short-term study visa. 

You must either intend to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your course of study, or at the end of the six or eleven month period of leave granted, whichever of these is sooner.

You must not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student. A definition of this can be found on pages 11-12 in the guidance. An example of this includes where less than 2 months have passed since you last visited the UK for the purposes of short-term study.

Ways to apply

How you apply for a short-term study visa depends on if you are a visa or non-visa national.

If you are a non-visa national (countries such as the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong), you can either apply:

  • online for a short-term study visa before you arrive
  • when you arrive at the port of entry to the UK. 

If you're a visa national, you must apply online for a short-term study visa before you arrive in the UK. 

You must also apply in advance if you have a criminal record or if you’ve previously been refused entry into the UK.

  • How to apply online

    If you are applying for a short-term study visa before you arrive in the UK, you must apply online on the UK Visas and Immigration website

    You can apply up to three months before you travel to the UK. Check visa processing times.

    Check how much it costs to apply for a short-term study visa.

    If you are issued a visa for longer than six months, you also have to pay a healthcare surcharge. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

    On the application form, fill in the following options:

    • reason for visit: Study
    • visa type: Study (non points based system)
    • visa sub type: Study - short-term student six months (or 11 months if coming for English language study only).

    You must have all your visa application documents with you when you enter the UK.

  • How to apply on arrival (non-visa nationals)

    If you are a non-visa national, you can apply to enter the UK for free as a short-term student when you arrive at a UK port of entry.

    When you arrive, you must show the following documents to the Border Force Officer:

    • your unconditional Sussex offer letter
    • any qualification certificates that your offer at Sussex was based on (e.g. a previous course)
    • evidence of your finances.

    Tell the Border Force Officer that you want to be admitted as a short-term student (not a standard visitor), and that the stamp you get in your passport shows you're here as a short-term student.

    See how the stamp in your passport should look.

    If you leave the UK during your course, you'll need to show the above documents every time you re-enter the UK.

    If you arrive in the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands

    You can't apply for a short-term study visa on arrival if you enter via the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey (countries in the Common Travel Area).

    This is because there is no immigration control at the UK port of entry.

    If you want to come to the UK as a short-term student and enter the UK via one of these countries, then apply online for a short-term study visa before you travel.

  • Visa application documents

    You must include:

    • your unconditional Sussex offer letter
    • qualification certificates if your offer at Sussex was based on another course
    • a current passport with a page that's blank on both sides, or other valid travel identification
    • information about where you'll stay and your travel plans. Don't pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa
    • a tuberculosis (TB) certificate if your course is more than six months. Check if you need to take a tuberculosis test
    • links to your home country such as family, employment (include a letter from your employer stating that they consent to you visiting the UK for your study period and the date you are expected back to work), and property or other assets (include property ownership deeds or other paperwork which shows proof of ownership).

    Check the Home Office guide for a full list of visa application documents. 

    You need to provide the original documents and an official translation of any documents that aren’t in English.

    Email for more information.

    If you're coming to Sussex to do research or research tuition

    You also need to provide a letter from your course provider abroad.

    Your course provider needs to confirms in the letter that you're registered on a research or research tuition course that is either part of, or relevant to, your course abroad.

    Find out more about applying if you're doing research or research tuition.

  • Financial evidence

    You need to show that you have sufficient funds available to support yourself without working or help from public funds.

    We recommend you prove you have the equivalent of £1,015 per month (the current Tier 4 maintenance/living costs figures) for the duration of your course.

    However there is no set amount that the Home Office expect you to show.

    Acceptable proof of funds evidence

    Depending on your situation, you can use:

    • original bank statements
    • an official financial sponsorship letter
    • your parents’ bank statement and a letter from them which states that they will cover your living and/or accommodation costs for the duration of your stay
    • confirmation that your home institution is covering some or all of your fees and living expenses
    • evidence if you're staying with friends or family in the UK (as this reduces the funds you need to prove). Include written confirmation from them for what they will be responsible for (e.g. accommodation) and their relationship to you.

    How you're assessed

    Entry Clearance Officers look at your regular outgoings (such as mortgage, rent payments and financial support for any dependants) when they assess you.

    If applicable, give evidence of where your income comes from e.g. payslips or a letter from a third party (such as a parent) which confirms that they pay money into your bank account.

    Entry Clearance Officers may:

    • make further checks if funds haven't been in your account for a long time
    • want to know where your money has come from. If any large sums of money have been paid into your account recently (from a house sale for example), mention this in your application.
  • Travelling in Europe

    If you want to travel to another European country while you are studying in the UK, check if you need a visa to visit that country before you arrive in the UK.

    If you are a visa national and need to apply for your short-term study visa online, you probably need to apply for a Schengen visa if you want to visit European countries in the Schengen area.

    You should apply for a Schengen visa in your home country.

    If you are a non-visa national, you might not need a Schengen visa but you should check with the embassy of the country you want to visit.