Students Staff

Visitor route – study of up to 6 months

On the 1 December 2020, the Short-term student (6 month) Immigration Rules were removed, the Standard Visitor rules have been amended to allow study at an accredited institution of up to 6 months. You will be required to provide an acceptance letter from the institution or institutions with details of the courses you wish to study. The Home Office guidance states that 'study' refers to one or more consecutive courses or one or more courses taken at the same time, which must be completed within the duration of your visit (maximum of 6 calendar months).

EEA and Swiss nationals will need to apply for entry to the UK under the UK’s Immigration Rules from 1 January 2021, unless you already have settlement rights.

Visitors to the UK cannot work, bring dependants and cannot apply for further permission to stay in the UK for a longer period to study or work. Find out more about what you can do as a Visitor to the UK by reading the UKCISA guidance.

If you’re coming to study for more than 6 months or, will be undertaking a work placement as part of your course or, will be studying a pre-sessional English course you should be able to apply under the Student route if you are eligible for our sponsorship.

What to do before you travel

At least 3 months before you are due to start your studies:

Read the UKCISA guidance to find out all you need to know about applying for entry as a Standard Visitor overseas or at the UK border if you are eligible and gather all the documents you’ll require.

  • Check what visa you need to study in the UK and;
  • Find out if you are a visa national, if you are you must apply for entry clearance overseas before you travel to the UK and be issued with an entry clearance vignette which will be put in your passport. If you aren’t a visa national, you’ll be able to apply for entry at the UK border when you arrive and;
  • Check your course finish date, you’ll need to make sure you don’t travel into the UK more than 6 months before that date and;
  • Check you can meet all the Immigration Rules and requirements and;
  • Obtain all the documents you will require and check what you’ll need from the University to support your application, see the relevant category of student below for more information.

Applying for entry clearance overseas

We recommend you apply at least 2 months before you are due to start your studies, you may have to travel to another country for your biometric appointment and it can take at least 15 working days to receive an outcome from the date of your appointment. You may be able to book a priority service to receive a quicker outcome.

You should complete your application to enter as a Standard Visitor online. Make sure your intended date of travel is no more than 6 months before your course end date.

Applying for entry at the UK Border – non-visa nationals

If you are a visa national, you must obtain entry clearance before you travel.

If you aren’t a visa national, you can apply for entry overseas before you travel or at the UK border. If you decide to apply for entry at the UK border, you must ensure you carry all the documents you require to prove you are a genuine visitor in your hand luggage, including evidence that you meet the requirements to study as a Standard Visitor.

  • Applying for entry to the UK at the border

    If you’re a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United States of America, Europe and Switzerland you can use the e:gates at the port of entry.

    You won’t get a stamp in your passport so it’s very important you keep your travel ticket as proof of the date you entered the UK. You’ll need this for various reasons, including to study with us.

    You’ll need to leave the UK within 6 months of the date you entered.

  • Travelling via the Republic of Ireland (Common Travel Area)

    If you aren’t on the visa national list, you can apply for entry to the UK at the border. However, if you travel via the Republic of Ireland (for instance Dublin) you will not pass through UK immigration and will not be able to seek entry for up to 6 months as a Standard Visitor to study. Instead, you will have permission to stay in the UK for up to 3 months only, to study for longer than 3 months you will have to leave the UK and re-enter as a Standard Visitor. Further information is available from UKCISA.

    If your course is for longer than 3 calendar months, we recommend that you either, book a flight that does not come via the Republic of Ireland or; that you apply for entry clearance overseas prior to travelling to the UK.

    If you have already booked a non-refundable flight or, have already entered the UK via the Republic of Ireland contact our International Services Team for advice, use the online enquiry form for current students.

What else you’ll need

The following types of Essex students should be able to study with us as a Standard Visitor and will need to provide evidence of your studies to apply for entry. Read the information in the relevant category below to find out more.

The University will require evidence of your entry clearance and date you travelled into the UK (flight ticket/boarding pass) in order to complete your registration and right to study check.

  • Essex Abroad (study abroad)

    A Standard Visitor can study at an accredited institution on a study-abroad programme in the UK as part of an overseas course, for a period of up to 6 calendar months.

    A letter will be provided to you by Essex Abroad, this will confirm your course details, tuition fees and University accommodation. If you make payments to the University for tuition fees or accommodation you may need to provide the receipts when you apply for entry as a Standard Visitor.

    If you will be studying at Essex for more than 6 calendar months, you won’t be eligible to apply under this route but should be able to apply under the Student route. Contact Essex Abroad to find out if you’re eligible for our sponsorship.

    Once you’ve started your studies with us, if you would like to continue studying for longer than 6 calendar months, please contact Essex Abroad in the first instance to ask if this is possible. Please be aware that you wouldn’t be able to apply for further immigration permission from inside the UK to study for longer and would have to return home to make an application for a Student route visa from overseas.

  • Visiting Research Student

    A Standard Visitor can come to the UK for research tuition or to complete a period of research for up to 6 calendar months. Please be aware that:

    • You must be aged at least 16 years of age or above at the date of application and;
    • You must be enrolled on a course of study abroad equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK and;
    • You must be studying at a UK higher education provider and;
    • Your overseas institution must issue you with a letter to confirm that:
      1. The research or research tuition that you will be conducting in the UK, is relevant to the course of study that you are enrolled on overseas; and
      2. You will not be employed at the UK institution, either as a sponsored researcher under Appendix Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange Scheme Worker, or otherwise.

    If you're planning to study a postgraduate qualification in certain subjects with us, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate and if so, will need it before you can apply for entry clearance and before we’ll issue you with a supporting letter. An ATAS certificate is valid for a period of six months and the earliest that you can apply for an ATAS certificate is up to nine months before the start date of your course. It usually takes 20-30 days for an ATAS certificate to be processed. Nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are exempt from obtaining ATAS clearance.

    Request a letter to support your Standard Visitor application from our Graduate Admissions team.

  • Distance Learner

    If you're coming to Essex for a maximum of 6 calendar months as part of your distance learning course, you should be able to do so as a Standard Visitor.

    If you're planning to study a postgraduate qualification in certain subjects with us, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate and if so, will need it before you can apply for entry clearance and before we’ll issue you with a supporting letter. An ATAS certificate is valid for a period of six months and the earliest that you can apply for an ATAS certificate is up to nine months before the start date of your course. It usually takes 20-30 days for an ATAS certificate to be processed. Nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are exempt from obtaining ATAS clearance.

    Request a letter to support your Standard Visitor application from the International Services team. It will usually take up to 5 working days for this to be produced and will be emailed to you as a pdf document.

  • Essex Summer Schools

    If you’re coming to Essex for one of our summer schools, you can do so as a Standard Visitor. Request a letter to support your visitor application from your summer school.

  • Resitting exams or retaking modules

    If you are returning for less than 6 calendar months and this is your final year, you’ll be able to apply to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor. Please be aware visitors wouldn’t be eligible to apply for immigration permission to stay under the new Graduate route.

    Request a letter to support your visitor application from the International Services team. It will usually take up to 5 working days for this to be produced and the letter will be emailed to you as a pdf document.

    If you are returning to resist exams or retake modules and will continue the same course in the next academic year, you should be able to apply under the Student route,if you are eligible for a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from our International Services Team. However, please be aware that our sponsorship is not guaranteed.

  • PhD students attending viva and/or finishing thesis

    If you are returning for up to 6 calendar months to take your viva examination, you should be able to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor. Please be aware visitors wouldn’t be eligible to apply for immigration permission to stay longer under the new Graduate route.

    If you're studying a postgraduate qualification in certain subjects with us, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate and if so, will need it before you can apply for entry clearance and before we’ll issue you with a supporting letter. An ATAS certificate is valid for a period of six months and the earliest that you can apply for an ATAS certificate is up to nine months before the start date of your course. It usually takes 20-30 days for an ATAS certificate to be processed. Nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are exempt from obtaining ATAS clearance.

    Request a letter to support your visitor application from the International Services team. It will usually take up to 5 working days for this to be produced and the letter will be emailed to you as a pdf document.

    You may be able to apply under the Student route, if you are eligible for a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from our International Services Team. However, please be aware that our sponsorship is not guaranteed.