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Tier 4 (General) Student or Student Visitor?

Who can choose between Tier 4 Student and Student Visitor?

If you are coming to study for a short period at LSE you may be able to choose to come to the UK as a Student Visitor or as a Tier 4 Student. The application processes differ and the kind of permission you have when you are in the UK differs. Check on the table below to help you decide which category is best for you.

If you are coming to LSE to study on the Foundation Language Programme and you will take the final exam and obtain the certificate qualification,  you can also choose which category to apply in. 

If you are returning to LSE to re-take exams, you can choose which category is best for you depending on what you intend to do after your exams.

Who can study only with Tier 4 Student?

If you are studying on a full time degree programme for longer than six months you must apply for a Tier 4 Student visa. This includes General Course students.

Who can study only as a Student Visitor/Short Term Student?

From the 24 April 2015, the Student Visitor visa will be re-branded as the Short Term Student visa.  Depending on when you apply or when a decision is made on your application, you may receive a visa which says either Student Visitor or Short Term Student.

The Student Visitor/Short Term Student category is for programmes that are less than six months,which do not lead to a qualification and are not a part of a Study Abroad programme or for distance learning students who only have to come to the UK occasionally.

Can I study for one year with two Student Visitor visas?

No. This is not permitted under the immigration rules and you must obtain a Tier 4 Student visa.  Even if you plan to travel during the holidays (and so stay in the UK for less than six months at a time), this is not an option because it is not intended to be used for full time study. There is also a general rule that states that visitors cannot stay in the UK for longer than six months in any twelve month period.

Does the Student Visitor visa count towards the five-year cap?

No. Student Visitor/Short Term student  does not count when calculating time spent in the UK as a 'student'.

What's the difference between Tier 4 and Student Visitor/Short Term Student? 


Tier 4 Student                           

Student Visitor/Short Term Student

How much time will I get to study in the UK?

If the course is less than six months the visa will be granted for the length of the programme plus one week.

If the course is longer than six months but less than 12, you will granted for the length of the programme plus two months.

Please note - LSE students returning to re-take exams will obtain a CAS that lists the exam period only.  This means that you are likely to be granted just one additional week after the end of the exam period.

Visa will be granted for a maximum of 6 months (this is the standard period regardless of how long you intend to remain in the UK)

Do I need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from LSE? 


No - You must obtain a Student Visitor/Short Term Student visa letter.

Do I need to take an English test?

If you are coming to study on a full time degree programme you can take an English test or you may be assessed by LSE - the admissions team can advise you.

If you are continuing on your programme, LSE will confirm your English language programme.

If you are coming to study on the Language Programme or are studying a Summer School programme as a condition of your offer at LSE, you will need to pass a Secure English Language Test  (SELT) from an approved UKVI provider and show that you have obtained an English language level of 'B2'  (this is IELTS 5.5).  The LSE Language Centre or Graduate Admissions (for conditional offers) can advise.


Do I need a letter from LSE to show I have accepted an unconditional offer or that I am already a LSE student?



Can I get this kind of immigration permission at the airport?

No. You must apply at the embassy or the visa application centre in your home country or the country where you are living.

Yes, but only if you are a 'non-visa national'.  You can check the list of 'visa nationals' on the UK Visas and Immigration website. If your country is on the list, you cannot apply at the airport and you must apply at the embassy or the visa application centre

UK Visas and Immigration|

Can I travel in and out of the UK?

Yes. The visa does not 'lapse' when you leave the UK. 

If you have applied at the embassy, and the visa says 'multi' on it, it does not 'lapse' and you can come in and out of the UK several times.

If you apply at the airport you are granted 'single entry'. This means that you have to apply again each time you arrive at the airport (and need to show the correct documentation each time).

Can I extend my time in the UK?

Yes. You can apply to stay in the UK as a student if you are continuing on your programme or you decide to study for longer in the UK.   Please note, there must be no longer than 28 days from the end of your visa and the start date of your new programme.

You can also extend if you are eligible to switch into a work category

No.  You must leave the UK within six months. You are only able to spend a maximum of six months in the UK as a visitor in any 12 month period. 

 Can I work?

Yes, you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time (or 10 hours if you are studying below degree level). From the official end date of your programme you will be able to work full-time until your visa ends. 

No. You cannot work paid or unpaid.

Can I use the National Health Service?

Yes, if your course is longer than six months. If it is less than six months you would need to have medical insurance. - Please check our news page| for information on the Immigration Health Charge

No, you would need to have medical health insurance

Can I bring dependants?

Yes, but only if your programme is:
12 months or longer and you are studying at postgraduate level or
6 months or longer and you have a full government scholarship

No, your family will need to enter as General visitors/ Visa Standard from 24 April 2015.

Where can I get more information about how to apply?

ISIS Tier 4 guide for new students| [pdf]

How to make a Student Visitor application|

 I am confused, where can I get advice?

You can contact the International Student Immigration Service using the web query form.

ISIS web query form |