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 three short-term student routes:

  • Short-term student (6 months) for applicants aged 18 and over
  • Short-term student (11 months) for applicants aged 18 and over for a maximum of 11 months English language study.
    (Under 18s are not eligible to study for more than 6 months as a short-term student.)
  • Short-term student (child) for applicants aged under 18 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. You should leave the UK as soon as you have finished your course or by the date your entry clearance expires, whichever is sooner.

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.

Types of short-term students

  • Essex English Language Programme

    If your course is up to 6 calendar months long and you are over 18, you should:

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

    If your course is up to 6 calendar months long and you are under 18, you should:

    • apply for short-term student (child) visa.

    If your course is between 6 and 11 calendar months long and you are over 18, you should:

    • apply for a short-term student (11 months) visa. Please be aware that you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and will need to select a location in the UK where you can collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) after you have arrived. A 30 day entry clearance vignette will be placed in your passport and you must enter the UK during that time.

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

  • 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 6 calendar months and are over 18 you should:

    • apply for a short-term student (6 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.

  • Visiting Research student

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

    • apply for Short-term student (6 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

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

  • Distance Learner

    If you studying an Essex degree as a distance learner and need to come to the University for up to 6 calendar months and this is the main purpose of your visit to the UK:

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

    Request a Certificate of Registration to support your short-term student visa application from the Student Documentation Ordering System. Please mention that it is for a short-term student application and give the overseas address you want it sent to.

    It will usually take up to 5 working days for this to be produced and it will be sent by standard postal services, if you need to receive it sooner please mention this when you apply, you will be advised how to arrange and pay for a faster courier service.

  • 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.

    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

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


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

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 and you are over 18, you can choose to apply overseas or when you arrive at the UK border provided your course is up to 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 may not be able to apply at the UK border, read the Home Office guidance for more information.

When to apply overseas

You can apply overseas in a country where you are legally resident, 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). Your application is considered by an Entry Clearance Officer at the nearest visa processing British Embassy or Consulate. You can’t apply for this type of leave from a country where you are not considered to be resident.

Further information

  • Changing course

    You can change to a different course or, study another course after you complete the first course. However, you must be able to finish the new course before your visa expires.

  • 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 so there is a risk that subsequent applications for entry to the UK as a short-term student may be refused.

  • 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 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.

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.