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Applying for a short-term visa

Short-term visas are for students wishing to study a course of six months or less (11 months if studying an English language course).

For the latest information on short-term visas head to Home Office guidance. If your course is more than six months long you must apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa instead. Equally if your course requires Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance you will need to have obtained a clearance certificate before making a short-term study visa application, either as entry clearance or at the UK border.

How to apply

Some students will need to apply for a short-term study visa before travelling to the UK (visa nationals) while others can apply on entry to the UK at immigration control (non-visa nationals).

If you are a visa national, you must apply for your short-term study visa before travelling. A list of nationalities considered to be visa nationals can be found under Immigration Rules Appendix 2.

Non-visa nationals are those nationalities that don’t appear on the Appendix 2 list. If you are a non-visa national you may apply for short-term study visa on arrival at a UK airport. However even if you considered a non-visa national, there are benefits to applying for your short-term study visa before travelling. These will be outlined in the following guidance.

Apply before travelling to the UK

A short-term study visa letter from Cardiff University will be required for your application. Once you have accepted your offer, the relevant team will be in touch to request the information required for your letter. This will then be generated and sent to you. Your letter will include your personal details, course information including course dates and whether you will need an ATAS clearance certificate to study your chosen course.

You will need to submit an online visa application form, scan and upload your supporting documents and book an appointment to provide your biometric information.

If applying in advance, you should receive a decision in approximately three weeks, although this may take longer during peak times of August-October.

Applying on arrival to the UK

Do not use the e-Passport Gates on arrival to the UK, even if you hold an eligible passport and even if you are directed to do so by airport staff. You will not be able to obtain the correct short-term study visa entry stamp using the e-Passport Gates.

A Short-term study visa letter from Cardiff University will be required for your application at the border. Once you have accepted your offer the relevant team will be in touch to request the information required for your letter, this will then be generated and sent to you. Your letter will include your personal details, course information including course dates and whether you will need an ATAS clearance certificate to study your chosen course.

Bring your short-term visa letter and the rest of your supporting documents in your hand luggage.

On arriving in the UK, go through immigration control and make sure that you see an immigration official in person so that you can present your documents and obtain the correct visa. Do not use the e-Passport Ggates even if you are eligible as you will not be able to obtain the correct entry visa and you won’t be able to enrol on your course.

Documents to bring

If you have applied in advance of your travel to the UK, you should have received your short-term study visa. You should still carry all documents submitted with your visa application in your hand luggage and the letter issued to you from Cardiff University. You may be asked by the Border Force Officer to present these when you enter the UK.

If you are applying for the short-term study visa at the UK border you should bring the following in your hand luggage:

  • Short-term Study Visa confirmation
  • confirmation letter from Cardiff University
  • ATAS clearance certificate (if applicable).

Fee paying students

You will need evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your course and living costs.

If you are financing your studies yourself, you must show you have enough money to pay your tuition fees for your whole course (as documented on your letter from Cardiff University) and also £1,015 per month for each month you are going to be in the UK to cover your accommodation and living expenses.

Non-fee paying students

You will not need to evidence funds for tuition fees, however you must provide evidence of enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. You must evidence a minimum of £1,015 per month for each month you are going to be in the UK to cover your accommodation and living expenses.

In addition to these documents, every applicant should visit the UK short-term study visa pages for further information about any other documents you must provide.

Length of visa

Whether you apply for your visa in advance of travelling or you apply on when you arrival time the UK you will receive a six-month vignette or a visa stamp in your passport. However, the Home Office rules state that you should leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your course (as stated on the your Cardiff University offer letter or invitation letter) or by the expiry date of your visa, whichever is earlier.

Travelling outside the UK

If you plan on travelling outside the UK during your course (for example, to other countries in Europe) it is strongly advised that you apply for your visa in advance of arriving to the UK.

A visa obtained in advance is a ‘multiple entry’ visa meaning you qualify to leave and re-enter the UK throughout the period of study. A visa stamp obtained upon arrival is a ‘single-entry’ visa, and increases the risk of being declined re-entry when you return to the UK.

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