Study in the UK
for up to six months
Everyone can study as a visitor for up to six months
Studying in the UK as a visitor
International students can study in the UK for six months or less as visitors. Students do not need a visa if they are from an EU or EEA country, or any other country on the ‘non visa national’ list below. Students from Gulf Cooperation Council countries should apply for a visa waiver. Other students need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before travel.
Who needs a visa?
Students of any nationality on the ‘non-visa national’ list below do not need a visa to study in the UK for up to six months. Students from Gulf Cooperation Council countries should apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver.
All other nationalities need to apply for a UK Standard Visitor visa before they travel. See key facts below.
In all cases, students are able to study flexibly in the UK for up to six months. They are allowed to study at any institution that has an accreditation recognised by the UK government. All language centres that are accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English are suitable. Students are allowed to change course or change provider within the six month period in the UK.
The following nationalities can study in the UK without a visa, for up to six months:
Any EU or EEA country
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America
Notes for students arriving without a visa
Some students who do not require a visa to visit the UK are able to use the electronic passport gates (eGates). Students can only use the eGates if they are at least 12 years old, have a biometric symbol in their passport and are from the list of eligible countries (EU countries, Japan and South Korea amongst others).
All other students will speak to a border officer who may give them a Standard Visitor stamp in their passport. The officer may ask the student about their plans, so the student should explain their intention to study and have the course confirmation letter to show as well as evidence of the money they have to pay for the course.
Note that all visitors from the European Union need a passport to enter the UK.
Electronic Visa Waiver (EVV) for visitors from Gulf Cooperation Council countries
Students from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates should apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVV) before travel, which allows study for up to six months. This is quicker and cheaper than applying for a visa. Apply between 3 months and 48 hours before travel. Cost is £30. Find out more.
The EVV will soon be replaced by a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which will cost £10 per applicant and be valid for two years.
From 15 November 2023, you’ll need an ETA if you’re travelling to the UK and you’re a national of Qatar. You’ll be able to apply from 25 October.
From 22 February 2024, you’ll need an ETA if you’re travelling to the UK and you’re a national of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates. More nationalities will be added to the scheme later.
Students who need to apply for a visa
Students from any country not on the above list will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa before travelling to the UK, which allows study for up to six months.
Key facts: Standard Visitor visa
- Visitors with a Standard Visitor visa are allowed to study in the UK flexibly during the validity of the visa, which is usually six months.
- Students can study at any UK institution with a government-approved accreditation. All British Council accredited language centres are suitable.
- Students can change course or change provider.
- No minimum level of English required.
- Students cannot work with this visa, but they can volunteer.
- The application cost is GBP100.
How to apply for a Standard Visitor visa
When and where to apply:
- Students can apply for a Standard Visitor visa up to three months before they travel.
- They can apply for the visa from anywhere in the world.
- The application form can be found online on GOV.UK.
- Students need a current valid passport with a full blank page available for the visa.
- If the visitor plans to study in the UK during their visit, they should include a letter of confirmation from an approved accredited institution to show evidence of their plans. Students do not need to pay the full course fees before applying for a visa.
- Details of where they plan to stay in the UK. If accommodation is booked through the school, details including cost should be included in the confirmation letter.
- Evidence of enough money to pay for course fees, accommodation and living costs.
- Certified translations are required for any documents that are not in English. See the guide to supporting documents on GOV.UK.
- Students from some countries need to show evidence of a valid tuberculosis screening. Check the list of countries on GOV.UK.
Extra requirements for students under 18 years old:
- Students who are under 18 years old must provide contact details for at least one parent or guardian in their home country.
- If the student is travelling on their own they must have written consent from both parents (or one parent if they have sole responsibility) or their legal guardian. Ask the language centre for a template letter to ensure this meets the requirements.
- If the student is travelling with an adult over 18 years old who is not their parent or guardian, they need to name the adult on the visa application. This name will appear on the student’s visa. Two adults can be named on the application and the student must arrive with at least one of them.
- Find full details on GOV.UK.
Attending a visa application centre
After submitting the application form and required documents, visitors need to book an appointment at their nearest UK visa application centre to provide biometric data: their photo and fingerprints.
Check if local application centres are open
Most visa application centres are now open. Find a visa application centre on GOV.UK to check. If local visa application centres are closed due to Covid-19, it is still possible to start the process online. See ukcisa.org.uk for details.
Attending a visa application interview
Students applying for a Standard Visitor visa may be required to attend an interview. They should check their emails regularly, including the ‘junk’ folder to ensure they do not miss the invitation. Students can contact their language centre for advice to help them prepare for an interview.
Students can usually expect a response within three weeks. Some visa application centres offer a priority service for an additional fee, though service times are not guaranteed. Students should apply for their visa at the earliest possible opportunity, up to three months before their planned travel date.
English language centres continue to welcome international students to the UK. The success of the UK’s vaccination programme means students can travel with confidence. Some restrictions remain in place to keep everyone safe. There are different requirements for passengers arriving to the UK, depending on where they are travelling from. read more +
More on UK student visas
Study English for up to 11 months with the Short-term study visa
The short-term visa is for anyone over 16 years old who wants to study English in the UK for between six and 11 months.
Study English for longer than 11 months with the Student visa
A Student visa is required for international students who want to study English in the UK for longer than 11 months.
Choose an accredited English language course
All international students, whether they study as a visitor or with a study visa, must study at an institution with a government-recognised accreditation.