Students Staff

Applying for a short-term student visa

A short-term student (STS) visa enables people from outside the EEA to study short courses or part of a longer course in the UK. There are two short-term student routes:

  • Short-term student for applicants aged 16 and over.
  • Short-term student (child) for applicants aged under 16 for a maximum of 6 months study.

Make sure you are aware of what conditions you will have and what you can and can’t do in the UK with this type of visa.

Where to apply

If you are a visa national you must apply for entry clearance overseas, before you travel to the UK. Don’t travel until you have received your passport back that contains your vignette (sticker).

If your country is not on the visa national list, you can choose to apply overseas or when you arrive at the UK border provided your course is a maximum of 6 months long. If applying at the border, you will have to show evidence you meet the short-term student requirements to be granted entry. Your passport will be stamped showing you have been granted entry as a short-term student for 6 months from the date of entry. If you are under 18 you should read the Home Office guidance for more information regarding seeking entry to the UK. Please do not enter as a Registered Traveller via the eGates at the port of entry, if you do you will be entered as a visitor and we won’t be able to register you to start your course.

Travelling to the UK via the Republic of Ireland (or elsewhere in the Common Travel Area)

Non-visa nationals (this includes the USA and Japan) who enter the UK via the Republic of Ireland (for instance Dublin) will not pass through UK immigration and will not be able to seek entry for up to 6 months as a short-term student, in most cases you will automatically have permission to remain in the UK for up to 3 months only. Therefore, if your course at Essex is for longer than 3 calendar months from the date you travel from the Republic of Ireland you should ensure 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.

Further information is available from UKCISA. Contact our International Services Team if you have already booked a non-refundable flight or have already entered the UK via the Republic of Ireland for advice.

When to apply overseas

You can apply overseas up to 3 months before your intended date of travel to the UK. In most countries you apply online and will book an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Additional information for Essex applicants and students

The type of short-term student visa you apply for depends on the length of your course and your age on the date you submit your visa application. Select the relevant Essex course or reason for your application below to find out more.

  • Pre-sessional English Language

    The short-term student category is not appropriate for pre-sessional students. This is because there is not enough time for you to return home to apply for a visa to start your main course. You may be able to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa and will need to request a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) from Essex Pathways.

  • Essex Abroad (study abroad)

    If you will be studying at Essex for up to six calendar months and are over 16 or over, you should:

    • apply for a short-term student (six months) visa

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa application from Essex Abroad.

    If you will be studying at Essex for more than 6 calendar months you won’t be eligible to apply for a short-term student visa but may be able to apply as a Tier 4 (General) student if you are eligible for a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). Check with Essex Abroad.

    It's sometimes the case that students want to spend a longer period studying with us than they originally planned, it isn't possible to do this as a short-term student. Please seek immigration advice from our specialist advisers if you would like to extend your period of study at Essex.

  • Visiting Research student

    If you're coming to Essex for research tuition or to complete a period of research for up to 6 calendar months.

    • apply for Short-term student (six months) visa.

    The following must also apply:

    • you must be studying a course overseas that is equivalent to a UK degree.
    • the research must form part of, or be relevant to the course and you will need to provide confirmation of this from your overseas education provider.
    • you cannot be employed in the UKas a sponsored researcher

    If you're planning to study a postgraduate qualification in certain subjects with us, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can apply.

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa application from Graduate Admissions.

  • Distance Learner

    If you're coming to Essex to undertake distance learning and this is the main purpose of your visit to the UK:

    • apply for short-term student (6 months) visa.

    The following must also apply:

    • you must be studying for the majority of your time outside the UK for a UK qualification by distance learning
    • be on a course that is longer than 6 months
    • only enter the UK for limited periods, totalling no more than 56 days in the UK in any 6 month period – study completed during visits can include induction weeks, short periods of intensive face-to-face learning and exams or assessments

    A course can be both a distance learning and a part-time course. As long as the above criteria are met, the course will be considered a distance learning course for STS visa purposes.

    Depending on your PhD subject, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate before we can issue you a letter to apply for your visa.

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa 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 would like an original letter sent by standard postal services please mention this in your request and provide the overseas address you would like this sent to.

  • Essex Summer Schools

    If you are studying a short course of less than 6 calendar months and this is the main reason for your visit to the UK:

    • apply for a short-term student (6 months) visa.

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa application from your summer school.

    If you studying a short course for no more than 30 days but the main purpose of your visit to the UK is tourism:

    • apply for a Standard Visit visa, you can undertake a short course at an accredited institution for a maximum of 30 days as a standard visitor.

  • Resitting exams or retaking modules

    If you are returning for less than 6 calendar months and this is your final year:

    • apply for a short-term student (6 months) visa.

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa 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 would like an original letter sent by standard postal services please mention this in your request and provide the overseas address you would like this sent to.

    If you are returning to resit exams or retake modules and will continue the same course in the next academic year:

    • you should apply as a Tier 4 (General) student if you are eligible for a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from our International Services Team. (It may not be possible for us to sponsor you under Tier 4 until you have passed your resit/retake).

  • PhD students attending viva and/or finishing thesis

    If you are returning for up to 6 calendar months to take your viva examination:

    Depending on your PhD subject, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate before we can issue you a letter to apply for your visa.

    Request a letter to support your short-term student visa application. It usually takes up to 5 working days for this to be produced and the letter will be emailed to you as a .PDF document. If you would like an original letter sent by standard postal services please mention this in your request and provide the overseas address you would like this sent to.

  • English Language Courses for the Dependants of International Students and Staff - 2017-2018

    These classes are open to adult dependants of our registered full time international students and current members of staff. If you wish to attend these classes you will need to have a valid visa that allows you to study in the UK such as a Tier 4 or Tier 2 dependant visa. This course is not eligible for a letter to apply for a short-term student visa.

    Dependants of students and staff who have a type of visitor visa are allowed to study an English course for up to 30 days at an accredited institution provided that this isn’t the main reason of your visit to the UK. Therefore, we only register dependants who have visitor visas for up to one term maximum, attendance is limited to two days in each week. If you are taking any other recreational or English courses with other UK education providers, it is your responsibility to ensure you are not breaching the conditions of your visit visa by exceeding the maximum total of 30 days study whilst you are in the UK. Read the Home Office guidance for more information about what you can and can’t do in the UK as a visitor.

    Please be aware that the ECDIS programme will not continue after July 2018.

Home Office guidance

It is important that you read the Home Office rules and guidance before applying and ensure you meet all the requirements, including providing the necessary evidence: Website, Guidance, Immigration Rules

Further information

  • Changing course or further study

    You must seek advice before changing your institution or course, you should only intend to study the course/courses you provided details of when you applied for leave to enter the UK as a short-term student.

    You must leave the UK within 30 days of the date you told the UKVI/UK Border force you’d complete your studies. During this 30 day period you can undertake further studies but you must not study or stay in the UK for longer than 30 days.

    If you want to study for longer than you originally said, you should seek advice from the institution you want to study with before doing so. If you want to study at Essex for longer than you originally planned you should seek advice from our specialist advisers.

  • Applying for more time as a short-term student

    Short-term students are not allowed to make immigration applications from inside the UK. In addition, a short-term student should not intend to live in the UK through frequent and successive periods of study, it is not always possible to apply for subsequent entry clearance to study further in the UK.

  • Studying with another type of UK visa

    It is possible to study with most types of visa, however, you must be in the UK for the main purpose your visa was issued and continue to meet the requirements of that visa. Check your visa conditions do not have study restrictions as you may need a different type of visa. Our University will only be able to register you to study a course with us if you have valid leave that allows that study. Your visa should be valid for the whole duration of the course.

    If you have a Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 visa, you may need an ATAS certificate to study a Postgraduate qualification in certain subjects.

    If you plan to study a postgraduate qualification in certain subjects with us, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate first.

    If you have a visitor visa you are only able to study for up to 30 days in the UK during your visit and it must not be the main reason for your visit to the UK, the type of study is also restricted.

    You cannot hold more than one UK visa so if you apply for another type of leave your existing visa should be cancelled by the Home Office.

  • Working

    Short-term students cannot work or carry out any business in the UK, including participating in work experience as part of a course.

    If your course includes a work placement or work experience you should apply for entry clearance under Tier 4 (General), if you are eligible, and not as a short-term student.

  • Volunteering

    You can volunteer but you cannot be a voluntary worker. Check what the Home Office mean by voluntary worker before you take up any volunteering opportunities.

  • Bringing family members with you

    It is not possible to make dependant applications when applying for a short-term student visa. If your family are from outside the EEA they should check what type of visa they may need to apply for.

  • Your intended date of travel

    This is the date you want to come to the UK to study, you may want to arrive earlier than your course starts but please be careful not to come too early as your visa must cover the whole duration of your course. For instance, if your 6 month course finishes on the 29 March 2018 you should not travel to the UK before the 29 September 2017. We won’t be able to register you if your visa doesn’t cover the length of your course

  • How much money you will need

    You must have enough money to maintain and accommodate yourself and meet the cost of your onward or return journey and provide evidence of this when applying for entry as a short-term student. Unlike Tier 4 an amount has not been specified by the Home Office. You could use the Tier 4 maintenance (funds) as a guide, current requirements are tuition fees due plus, for each month of your course - £1015 if you’re studying at our Colchester or Southend Campus or; £1265 if studying at our Loughton Campus.

  • Leaving the UK

    • If you applied for entry on or after 11 January 2018 - you must leave the UK within 30 days of finishing your studies or by the date your entry clearance expires, whichever is sooner.
    • If you applied for entry before 11 January 2018 - you must leave as soon as you finish your studies or by the date your entry clearance expires, whichever is sooner.

Immigration advice and guidance

We recommend reading the Home Office information and the UKCISA guidance.

If you have applied to study with us or are a current student and need further advice, please contact us with any questions you have about making a short-term student visa application.