Visit Visa - Study under 6 months

Studying using the Standard Visit Visa

Students who are coming to the UK to study a programme that is less than six months in duration, can apply for the Standard Visit Visa instead of a Student visa if they wish. There is also an 11 month duration Short Term Study visa specifically for longer duration English language study.

If you choose this visa option you can remain in the UK beyond the end of your studies, for example if you wish to travel in and around the UK, however you must leave before your 6 month stay expires.

ATAS requirements

To study or research certain subjects at postgraduate level or above, you may need to get an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you start your course or research


  • can be applied for from any country, not just your home country
  • cheaper than the Student visa
  • Visa Nationals must apply for their Standard visit visa and have it issued in their passport before travelling. Non-visa nationals can however choose to present their supporting documents on entry to the UK and ask for a Standard visit visa to be issued as a stamp by a UK Immigration Officer. If you have a biometric passport you can also enter via the e-Gates and receive a digital designation.


  • can only be issued for a maximum 6 month duration
  • the Visit visa cannot be extended and does not allow ‘switching' to another visa category in the UK
  • no employment permitted (including work experience or work placements as part of your studies)
  • cannot bring family to the UK with you as dependants. Family members must apply in their own right as standard visitors
  • will only include access to limited free healthcare in the UK. If you are in the UK as a visitor, we recommend that you take out private medical insurance (unless you have paid the immigration health surcharge)


The Standard visit visa should not be used for frequent successive study. A student is likely to be considered as intending to study in the UK for extended periods through:

  • successive use of the route if, for example, the student is seeking a second period of leave under the visit visa route where less than 2 months have passed since they last visited the UK for the purposes of study under 6 months.
  • frequent use of the route if, for example, the student is applying in excess of 5 periods of leave under the visit visa within a 5 year period

Application process

The application fee is the local currency equivalent of £95. Visa nationals should apply online using the Home Office website, except students from North Korea who should use the VAF1D paper application form. Applications can be submitted a maximum of three months in advance of your UK study start date, and from any country.

Supporting documents

You will need to submit a supporting letter from Heriot-Watt University confirming you have been accepted on to your study programme. The acceptance letter must detail your programme start and end dates, and information on any tuition fees due.

If you are coming to the UK to study as part of an overseas course, or undertaking research whilst already enrolled on an overseas degree course, you should provide a letter from your home institution confirm that they permit your absence and that the UK study is part of, or relevant to, your course of study.

You will also need to provide evidence of funds to cover fees and living costs, either in the form of scholarship funding or bank statements. There is no specific guidance from UK Visas and Immigration on the level of funding that you need for a Standard visit visa, but we would recommend you plan to show evidence of at least £1023 per month of UK study as this is the maintenance funding requirement for the Student visa. Bank statements covering a period of up to six months before application date should be submitted. Since visit visas cannot be extended beyond 6 months, when applying for this visa you should also plan to show evidence of your onward travel arrangements from the UK at the end of your studies at Heriot-Watt University.

Further guidance on the documents required can be found on the UKVI website: Supporting Documents.

Non-visa nationals

If your nationality appears on the Home Office Visa Nationals list at Immigration Rules: Appendix Visitor - Visitor national list then you must apply for a Visit visa before travelling. If your country is not on the Visa National list then you can either apply before you travel or alternatively you can present the supporting documents listed above to an Immigration Officer when you arrive in the UK and ask them to grant 6 months Leave to Enter as a visitor or enter via the e-Gates. If granted, this visa will be issued in the form of a date stamp in your passport.

If you plan to enter via the Republic of Ireland you should apply for your visa permission before travelling. For further information please refer to the guidance on the UKCISA webiste.

eGate travellers

As mentioned above, biometric passport holders from non-visa countries can enter the UK using the e-Gates, if you choose this option please note that Heriot-Watt University will need to see evidence of the date you entered the UK at enrolment, for example your flight ticket, this is so we know when your 6 month study period expires.

Student information desk

Our administration staff are available to answer your enquires through the Student information desk. You can also view frequently asked questions (FAQs) for many topics related to the student lifecycle.