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International Student Visa Advice Team

Student Services Centre

London School of Economics and Political Science




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If you have a Non-Student Visa

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Standard Visitor

If you come to the UK with permission as a visitor, you cannot apply to switch to a student category in the UK, you will need to return home to apply for permission to study.

A maximum of 30 days study is permitted on the Standard Visitor visa.  However, the study must be incidental  to the reason you are travelling to the UK.  LSE does not permit students to take re-sit assessments or study for executive Masters programmes on a Standard Visitor  visa (including General and Business visitors).  

UKVI have produced a guide to the visitor visa routes which explains permitted study.

Tier 1

You can study while in the UK under any of the Tier 1 working categories.

If you intend to stop working, it is advisable to switch to a Tier 4 visa. This is because you should always have a visa that reflects your main purpose for being in the UK. If you travel in and out of the UK, you will have to explain your reason for re-entering the UK. If your main purpose has changed to study and you have a Tier 1 visa, the immigration officer has the right to cancel your visa and refuse you entry.

Tier 2 

You can study in the UK under Tier 2 (General) as long as you continue to work for your employer. It is advisable to check that your employer is happy for you to study while working for them.

If you stop working for your employer in order to study, you need to apply for a Tier 4 visa, even if you have time left on your Tier 2 visa. You can do this inside or outside the UK - but please see below 'Switching to Tier 4 .'

Dependant Visa

If you are in the UK as a dependant of someone with current immigration status in the UK, you can study.

If your visa expires and you cannot extend your stay as a dependant, you will need to apply as a Tier 4 student. You cannot do this inside the UK, you need to return to your home country and apply from there. 


If you are currently posted to the UK as a diplomat, you are exempt from immigration control therefore you can study in the UK.

If you are working as a diplomat outside the UK, you can enter the UK using your diplomatic passport but this does not permit you to study in the UK.  You will need to obtain immigration permission to study.  The kind of permission you will need depends on the programme that you are studying at LSE.  

If your spouse or your parent is currently in the UK as a diplomat and you are in the UK as their dependant, you are also exempt from immigration control and can study in the UK as long as your family member remains in the UK during your studies. 

If your spouse or parent is a diplomat outside the UK, you will need to obtain student immigration permission to study in the UK. 

Can I study part-time with a non-student visa?

If you are in the UK with a non-student visa that allows you to study, there are no restrictions on the number of hours that you need to study. This means that you can study part time if the option is available.

However, if your visa is going to expire during the course and you need to apply for a Tier 4  visa, you can only study on a full time basis. If you are part way through a programme at LSE on a part time basis, it may not be possible to switch to full time status. It is advisable, therefore, to only start a part time course if you have a visa that is valid for the duration of the course or if you are certain that you will be able to extend your stay in the UK with another non-student visa.

Switching to Tier 4

If you have to switch from a non-student category to Tier 4 you need to check if you can do this inside the UK or if you have to travel home to apply.

To be eligible for a Tier 4 visa, you need to be studying on a full time programme. 

ATAS Clearance

From the 6 April 2015, all  international students who require a visa and plan to study a programme that requires ATAS clearance, must obtain an ATAS certificate regardless of which visa they have.  At the LSE, very few students require ATAS and this is at Postgraduate Research level.  You will be informed if your course requires ATAS clearance as part of your offer.