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Visa support for study abroad and exchange students

Find out what visa you need as a Study abroad or Exchange student

If you will study on an Exchange or Study Abroad programme, you need to apply for a visa depending on how long you will be in the UK:

Visas for 6 months or less

You will need a visa from the ‘Standard Visitor for the purpose of Study’ category to study an Exchange or Study Abroad programme in the UK for 6 months or less. 

The ‘Standard Visitor for the purpose of Study’ visa can’t be extended and you aren’t permitted to work on this visa. 

If you’re a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and already hold pre-settled or settled status in the UK, you don’t need another visa to study an Exchange or Study Abroad programme in the UK.

If you’re from a country on this list of nationalities requiring entry clearance, then you’ll have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa for the purpose of study before you travel to the UK. 

If you are from a country that is not on this list you can choose to apply for a visa before you travel or when you enter the UK. If you don’t get a visa before you travel, you’ll need to produce all the documents to support your application to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor for the purpose of study to the Border Force Officer when you arrive at the port of entry in the UK.

If you hold an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) document you don’t need to apply for Entry Clearance before you travel. Please ensure that you meet the criteria for this.

If you have a biometric passport, you can use the eGates to enter the UK in the ‘Standard Visitor for the purpose of Study’ category for a period of 6 months or less. You will require the supporting documents mentioned below. If you use the eGates to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor for the purpose of study, you won’t receive a stamp in your passport as you don’t have to see a Border Force Officer. 

Please note: It’s important you keep evidence of your date of arrival in the UK if you use the eGates, for example your e-ticket or paper or electronic boarding pass. You’ll need to provide this evidence when you complete your registration with the University.

If you want to travel to the UK using your national identity card and not a passport (EU, EEA or Switzerland only), you’ll need to apply for Entry Clearance before travel in order to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor for the purpose of Study.

Documents you'll need with you to apply for entry:

  • Your official travel document (e.g. passport)
  • A supporting letter from your current University confirming that the exchange programme is part to your studies at your home institution and that you will return to your main course of study on completion of the exchange programme
  • A supporting letter from the University of Portsmouth confirming your course details – this will be issued when you have been accepted onto the Exchange and Study Abroad programme
  • If your course requires ATAS, you will need to provide an ATAS Certificate before we can give you a supporting letter
  • Your bank statements. You'll need to show evidence of finances and may be asked to show this information to a Border Force Officer when you arrive in the UK. We recommend you have £1,023 per month in your bank account for each month you will be in the UK to cover your living costs and travel to and from the UK. We recommend that you show that the funds have been in your account for at least 28 days. Your income and savings will be looked at minus any financial commitments that you have.

Visas for more than 6 months

You will need to apply for a Student Route visa if you’re coming to the UK to study for more than 6 months.

If you’re a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and already hold pre-settled or settled status in the UK, you don’t need another visa to study an Exchange or Study Abroad programme in the UK.

If you’re already studying an Exchange or Study Abroad programme in the UK and want to extend your visa, you need to return to your home country to apply for an extension. You can’t apply to extend your Student Route visa from within the UK. 

Contact us for more information 

If you have any queries, please contact our International Student Advice team by emailing student-visa@port.ac.uk

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