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How to make a Student Visitor application

If you are from the EEA (the European Economic Area), Norway or Switzerland you do not need to apply for immigration permission to enter the UK.

If you are from outside the EEA and you are coming to study at LSE for less than six months, you can come to the UK as a Student Visitor. You cannot come to the UK as a General Visitor or Business Visitor. (see our guidance below about how to obtain this in addition to other visit visas you may have). This is because General and Business Visitors cannot study. Usually you cannot come to the UK as a Tier 4 General Student unless you are planning to continue on another programme at LSE (for example if you are studying on the Summer School and going to study on a full time programme at the LSE).

The information below applies to students coming to LSE to study (this list is not exhaustive - contact ISIS if you need advice):

  • A Summer School course only, with no intention to proceed directly to a full-time programme at LSE
  • Executive Summer School programme
  • A short Language Centre course only, with no intention to proceed directly to a full-time programme at LSE
  • Visiting research students who plan to attend LSE for less than six months
  • TRIUM Executive MBA students
  • MSc Health, Economics, Policy and Management
  • Executive Global Masters in Management
  • CEMS students coming to the UK for one term
  • IMEX students on International Management Programme
  • Executive LLM 
  • Executive MPA
  • Executive MSc Behavioural Science
  • Students coming to UK for short executive training courses
  • Students on the University of London International Programme coming to the UK to attend a study weekend 
  • Students who are returning for re-take examinations who will complete their studies and return home

What are the rules for Student Visitors?

  • You can stay in the UK for a maximum of 6 months (or 11 months to study English language only)
  • You cannot apply in the UK to extend your stay
  • You cannot work in the UK
  • You can study full time or part time and the course does not need to lead to a qualification 
  • You are not entitled to free treatment from the National Health Service (except in an emergency at Accident and Emergency in a hospital)

Where do I apply?

This depends on your nationality. If you are a 'visa national', you must apply outside the UK to enter as a Student Visitor. Visa nationals always need a visa to enter the UK. You can check if you are a visa national on the gov.uk website|.

If your country is not on the list, you are a 'non-visa national'. This means that you can choose to apply at the embassy in your own country for permission before you leave. Alternatively you can bring all your documents and apply at the airport when you arrive in the UK. If you apply at the airport, there is no charge.

When do I apply at the embassy?

You can apply up to three months before the date that you intend to travel to the UK (you can state on the application form when you intend to come to the UK and the visa start date will be close to this).  You can check how long it takes to process Student Visitor applications in your country on the UK Border Agency website. See under 'Other Visitor'.

Visa processing times|

Why apply at the embassy for 'entry clearance'?

It currently costs £80 to apply for a Student Visitor visa at the embassy.

  • As outlined above, if you are a 'visa national', you must apply at the embassy for entry clearance.
  • If you are coming to the UK for up to 11 months, (for English language programmes only) you must apply for entry clearance - you can obtain a maximum of 6 months if you present at the airport.
  • If you apply for entry clearance, it is possible to obtain 'multiple entry' permission. This means you can leave and re-enter the UK using the same Student Visitor visa (which will be a sticker in your passport). If you apply at the airport, you will be granted permission for one entry only (this will be an ink stamp) and when you leave the UK, the visa 'cancels' and you need to present again the next time you enter the UK.
  • When you arrive at the UK with 'entry clearance' you already have permission to enter the UK. This means if you are refused entry you have a right to appeal against the decision.

How do I apply at the embassy?

You need to submit  the online application form and you will also have to submit your biometrics (fingerprint scans and a digital photo of your face). In some countries you can only apply using paper forms. The Home Office website lists how you can apply  and how to book a biometric appointment. 

How do I select the Student Visitor Visa?

  • Reason for visit - Choose "Visit" from the options
  • Visa Type - Choose "Special Visitor" from the options
  • Visa Sub Type -  Choose "(Special) Student visitor", up to 6 months from the options

UK Visas and Immigration| General Information for Student Visitors

How do I apply when I enter the UK?

Remember you can only apply at the airport or on Eurostar or at a port if you are coming to study in the UK for less than six months and you are a 'non-visa national' - see 'Where do I apply?' above.

You don't need to complete an application form but you need to carry all your documents and present them to the immigration officer when you arrive who will ask you about your plans and about your programme of study at LSE. It is important that you state that you would like to enter the UK as a Student Visitor not as a General Visitor or Business Visitor.  Your passport will be stamped and the immigration officer may also write 'VST' in pen beside the date stamp.

What documents do I need?

To obtain permission as a Student Visitor you need a letter to show that you are going to study at a regulated institution. This includes institutions who hold a Tier 4 Sponsor License. Your letter from LSE will confirm that LSE holds a license.

  • if you are a new student and you have accepted an unconditional offer on your course you will receive an offer certificate or letter from LSE - it must confirm that you have accepted your unconditional offer*  (This is not the same as a 'Certificate of Acceptance for Studies' (CAS) and you cannot use the letter or certificate to apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa)
  • if you are a Summer School student, you will be sent a link to request a letter when you have paid your tuition fees (and accommodation if you are staying in LSE residences). you can check how to obtain this at:  Summer School Visa FAQs
  • if you are a returning for re-take examinations you can request aStudent Visitor letter from the Registry for students
  • If you are a research student registered overseas, you can request a letter from the research degrees unit

In addition to the document from LSE you need to show:

  • you are over 18 years old
  • your visit will not last longer than 6 months (unless you are applying for English language)  
  • you intend to leave the UK at the end of your student visit
  • you do not intend to work
  • you have enough money to support yourself while in the UK
  • you can pay for your return journey home (you can show a return ticket)

How much money do I need to show?

The immigration rules for Student Visitors do not state exactly how much money you need to show but the guidance states that you should  be able to show evidence of funds to cover your period of stay in the UK and your journey to and from the UK. 

What to do if you already have General Visitor or Business Visitor permission

Business Visitors cannot study in the UK.

If you are a non-visa national and you are going to apply for permission to enter the UK at the airport, when you arrive at the airport, you simply need to explain that on this trip to the UK, you plan to study at LSE for less than six months.  (See the guidance above about applying for permission to enter the UK at the airport.) If you are already in the UK with General Visitor or Business Visitor permission in the form of an ink stamp, we advise you to travel out of the UK and on your return, explain that you are entering for study, presenting your LSE documents.

If you are a visa national and you already have a sticker in your passport giving you multiple entry permission to enter the UK as a General Visitor or a Business Visitor, you will need to apply for Student Visitor permission in addition to the permission you already have.  The Home Office and UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs) have confirmed to us that it is possible to hold two different visas in your passport at the same time.  When you apply for your Student Visitor visa, you must clarify that you wish to retain your General Visitor visa or your Business Visitor visa.  Some students have experienced difficulty doing this, but we have been advised that this is possible to obtain.  When you arrive in the UK with two different types of immigration permission in your passport, you explain the purpose of your current visit to the UK and the immigration officer will place a date stamp next to the visa that you are using. 

If you are unclear about this process or you experience difficulties applying, please contact ISIS:

ISIS web query form
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More information

LSE Guide to Completing the Student Visitor Application Form|  (this is based on the paper form but you can use it to help you complete the online application form)

UK Visas and Immigration| - summary page on Student Visitors

UKCISA |- making a Student Visitor application

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