Short-term study visa

Change for visa applications made on or after 06 July 2018

Clearance from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was previously required for those wanting to do a period of research or study which exceeds 6 months on a course with a relevant JACS code. From 6 July 2018, there will be a requirement for those studying courses with a relevant JACS codes to obtain ATAS clearance regardless of the length of course. 

ATAS clearance will also be required for those coming to the UK under the short-term student route in order to study relevant courses for up to six months. This will affect those on relevant courses who come to the UK using this route to undertake a course, research or research tuition, an elective, a viva, a re-sit exam, a re-take module or part of a course under the distance-learning provision. 

If you are unsure if you require this please contact your Academic School. 

What is a Short Term Study Visa

Students from outside the EEA who are coming to the UK to study a programme that is less than six months in duration, can apply for a Short Term Study visa instead of a Tier 4 Student visa. There is also an 11 month duration Short Term Study visa specifically for longer duration English language study. This visa is likely to be suitable if you are doing the following:

  • Studying English over the summer or coming to the UK as an exchange/transfer student for one semester.
  • Undertaking a short period of research as part of a degree course that you are studying abroad.
  • Visiting the UK as part of a Distance Learning programme (limited to a study period of 56 days in any six month period. )

If you choose this visa option please note that you must leave the UK within 30 days from the end of your study period, or before the visa expires, whichever comes first. Holders of this visa type are not able to extend their stay or apply for a different visa type from within the UK.


  • can be applied for from any country, not just your home country
  • cheaper than Tier 4 Student visa
  • Visa Nationals must apply for their Short Term Study 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 Short Term Study visa to be issued as a stamp by a UK Immigration Officer. We would however, always recommend applying before you travel.


  • can only be issued for a maximum 6 or 11 month duration
  • visa holder must leave the UK within visa duration or within 30 days from the end date of the study period (whichever is earlier)
  • the visa cannot be extended are does not allow ‘switching' in 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 short-term student, we recommend that you take out private medical insurance (unless you have paid the immigration health surcharge)

Please note that if you are using the Short Term Study visa route to study on our Pre-sessional English programme over the summer, you must make sure that after your language studies finish you will have enough time to return to your home country to obtain your long term Tier 4 Student visa before your degree programme starts.


Short Term Study Visas 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 short-term study route where less than 2 months have passed since they last visited the UK for the purposes of short-term study.
  • frequent use of the route if, for example, the student is applying for in excess of 5 periods of leave under short-term study within a 5 year period
Application process

The application fee is the local currency equivalent of £93. Short term students studying English language for more than 6 months but not more than 11 months will be charged £186. 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 Short Term Study visa, but we would recommend you plan to show evidence of at least £1015 per month of UK study as this is the maintenance funding requirement for Tier 4 Student visas. Bank statements covering a period of up to six months before application date should be submitted. As Short Term Study 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 V - Visitor Rules - Appendix 2 then you must apply for a Short Term Study visa before travelling. If your country is not on the Visa National list then you can either apply for the Short Term Study visa 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 short term student. If granted, this visa will be issued in the form of a date stamp in your passport, but you must ensure that the stamp is endorsed as ‘SV' or ‘SVV' by the Immigration Officer or the stamp reads 'Short Term Study' as without this confirmation that you have been admitted as a short term student you will not be permitted to enrol in the University.

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

Please note that if you are a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America and you are coming to the UK and intend to get a Short term Study visa stamp in your passport on arrival you should not use the eGates.  This is becuase you will not get a stamp in your passport and will be in the UK as a visitor only, Heriot-Watt University would then not be able to enrol you on your course. You should instead line up for one of the immigration booths instead. You can use this Request for a passport stamp flyer to hand to an immigration officer.

Key information

International Student Advice