What to do if you need to travel overseas

Can I travel during term-time?

Your Tier 4 visa is a "multi-entry" visa.  This means that you can travel into and out of the UK using this visa more than once. However, to remain eligilble for Tier 4, you must be residing in the UK whilst studying.  It is not intended to be used to reside outside the UK and only travel when you have teaching.

If your Tier 4 visa is still valid, you can travel during term-time under the following conditions:

  • your travel does not affect your attendance at classes;
  • if you do have to miss a class e.g. for a family emergency, you have sought permission from your department before travelling or at the earliest opportunity when overseas. Any unauthorised absences will be noted on your attendance register.

When you ask to re-enter the UK, a Border Force Officer (BFO) may check that you are still registered and studying at LSE.  You should carry a recent certificate of registration in your hand luggage.  We are unable to provide a letter confirming you have permission to travel during term time.

Frequent travel on weekdays during term-time is likely to be queried by a BFO.  If you have any evidence of the reason you had to travel, you should also carry this in your hand luggage.  

What if I am on an exchange/studying at an alternative location?

Border Force Officers do contact the LSE and if we are unable to verify that you are officially studying at an alternatve location, it may affect your ability to re-enter the UK.

Undergraduate students

If you are taking part in one of the LSE's official exchanges contact us for advice on your options, as keeping your Tier 4 visa in place will affect the cap on degree level studies.

Masters students

If you are taking part in a formal exchange as part of your programme e.g. CEMS, we will be required to inform the Home Office that you are studying at an alternative location.

PhD students

If you are a PhD student who is planning to undertake one of these activities as part of your programme:

  • fieldwork;
  • study elsewhere;
  • reside overseas

you must speak to the PhD Academy first before travelling.  We will then be able to advise you on your immigration options.

Schengen Visa for European travel

Certain nationalities need a Schengen visa to travel in Europe. The Schengen visa is a single visa for travel in a number of countries in Europe (the UK has not signed the agreement).  Different countries have different rules for applying so the easiest way to find out if you need a Schengen visa and how to apply for one, is to look on the embassy website of the country where you plan to travel.

Most countries ask for:

  • passport
  • application fee
  • evidence of travel plans
  • evidence of accommodation arrangements
  • evidence of travel insurance
  • evidence of your studies in the UK*

Most embassies advise you not to actually pay for your trip until you have obtained your Schengen visa, but some will require evidence of a booked flight)

*Some embassies may require a copy of your Certificate of Registration as part of your application and may specify that it be printed on LSE headed paper addressed directly to the embassy in question.  See the Certificate of Registration webpage for details and make sure you plan ahead to avoid delays to your application.

For a trip to several different countries, apply at the Embassy of the country where you will spend the most time.  If you are staying an equal amount of time in each country, apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the first country that you plan to visit.

Travel to the USA

If you are a non-US national and you want to visit the USA, the US State Department has provided a guide for visitors

US State Department > Temporary Visitors to the USA 

Security when travelling

Most students travel with no problems, but every year we have to advise LSE students whose passports/BRPs have been lost or stolen when travelling outside the UK.  To make things easier we advise:

  • Make copies of the personal details page and your visa sticker if you have one.  We advise making paper copies and phone photos.  Keep any paper copies in your luggage separate from your passport. 
  • If your visa is on a Biometric Residence Permit, make copies and take photos of the front and back. 
  • Understand if your travel destination or your personal demographics may make you vulnerable to theft.  For example, our experience (which is not a scientific survey) shows that it can be an issue for female Chinese students visiting major western European cities. 

Know before you go

If your passport is lost or stolen when you travel, read our web pages to find out what to do.

Lost or stolen passport

Can I return to the UK on my Tier 4 after my official programme end date has passed?

Once the official programme end date on your CAS has passed and you have no future studies in the UK, we advise you to avoid travelling out of the UK and planning to re-enter on your Tier 4 visa during the extra time on your visa. 

While the visa itself has not expired, the main intention of your  Tier 4 visa (studying at LSE) has now ended.  Every time you enter the UK, a Border Force Official (BFO) is required to check that you have the correct visa for your purpose. 

If your programme has formally ended, a BFO may correctly refuse to allow you to re-enter the UK on a Tier 4 visa because your circumstances have changed.

A BFO may accept that you are indeed returning for reasons connected to your studies, for example if you are returning to attend graduation.  Many students have re-entered successfully on their Tier 4 visa.  However, this is at your own risk and you must be honest about your intentions in the UK at the border.

If you are returning to the UK before your graduation, we advise you to carry a graduation letter as evidence of this. 

Request a letter for your graduation ceremony

If you do decide to travel and to re-enter the UK, you could be refused entry.  If you are a 'non-visa national' you may be granted entry as a Standard Visitor.   (Visa nationals must apply for a Standard Visitor visa outside the UK before travelling back to the UK so cannot obtain this at the airport).

A Standard Visitor cannot switch to any other status in the UK.  If you are planning an immigration application in the UK, for example a Tier 4 extension or a switch to Tier 2, you would not be able to do this in the UK .

If you are a non-visa national (you can enter as a visitor at the airport), it is a risk to re-enter the UK as a visitor immediately after the expiry date of your Tier 4 visa.  A Border Force Officer may have concerns that you are not a genuine visitor.

Can I return to the UK on my Tier 4 if I have been reported to the UKVI?

If the Registry have reported to the UKVI that we are no longer sponsoring you under Tier 4 e.g. you have deferred assessments, you should not plan to attempt to re-enter the UK on your Tier 4 visa.  A Border Force Officer will be able to see that the LSE have reported we are no longer sponsoring your Tier 4 visa and you have no studies at the LSE at that time. 

It is also a risk to return as a visitor soon after being reported.  The UKVI's expectation is that you will be returning home when you are not studying.  If you are taking a break from your studies, they may query why you have returned to the UK and could choose to refuse you entry.

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