Immigration and visas

Will I need a visa before coming to the UK?

EEA or Swiss nationals

If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss National you will need to obtain a Student visa to come to study in the UK if you do not have pre-settled or settled status and will be studying with us longer than 6 months.  If you are coming to study at Heriot-Watt University for less than 6 months you can study as a Visitor.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website contains detailed guidance on the rights and responsibilities of EEA nationals coming to the UK for study including information on the EU Settlement Scheme.

Non-EEA nationals

If you are a NON EEA national you will need to obtain a visa to come to study in the UK. Some non- EEA nationals coming to study for less than 6 months may be able to obtain this visa at the airport (Non Visa Nationals). Read more about the visa requirements for your country before entering the UK.

More information is also available on the Home Office website and the Vista Visa webpage.

How can I apply for my Student visa from my home country?

Read our detailed guidance on making a Student visa application and the documentation required. We strongly recommended that you read the Student Visa Policy Guidance which is published on the Home Office website.

Will I need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate?

If you require a visa to study in the UK then you may need to apply for an ATAS certificate. Only certain programmes are affected by the scheme and your school or institute will send you more information about this with your unconditional offer.
Once granted, this certificate should be printed and submitted with your visa application.

For more information and to check the list of programmes that require an ATAS approval certificate, please check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Will I be able to bring my dependants (wife or husband and children) with me?

You will only be able to bring your dependants to the UK if you are coming to study a Postgraduate course of at least 12 months, or if you are a government-sponsored student following a course which lasts longer than 6 months.

Please note, you may wish to travel to the UK separately in order to arrange suitable family accommodation for you and your dependants before they arrive.

You can find further information for International students with families including schools, healthcare, English languages classes and more.

How can my dependants apply for their visa?

In most cases, the PBS dependant application form should be completed online. Refer to our detailed guidance on making a Student dependant application.

Further information is also available from the UKVI, UKCISA and the British Council.

What documents should I have available when going through immigration control at the airport?

You should ensure you are carrying a telephone number for the University and that you have it readily available; the main telephone number for Heriot-Watt University is 0131 449 5111, and for the International Student Advisors' Office is 0131 451 4015. You should also ensure you have documents relating to your studies, accommodation arrangements and finances.

View more information on documents to have readily available for immigration control at the airport.

Do I have to register with the police?

If you hold a Student visa and are required to register with the police then you will have to apply for a Police Registration Certificate shortly after you arrive in the UK. To find out if you need to register please check the visa grant letter that was issued with your visa.

When registering with the police, you need to bring the following items:

  • Letter from Home Office stating that you are required to register, which is the letter you receive when the passport is sent back to you (please remember to bring this to the UK with you)
  • your passport
  • your BRP card (if you have one)
  • two recent passport sized photographs
  • your Heriot-Watt University enrolment letter
  • proof of your UK address
  • enrolment fee of £34 (cash only)

The department is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9am - 5pm

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.