Individuals from outside the EU can enter the UK with a student visitor visa if they wish to study a short course. Such visas will ordinarily be granted for up to 11 months and they prevent the student from undertaking employment whilst in the UK. No extensions are available; if they wish to study for a period longer than 11 months, they should apply under the Tier 4 (General) category of the points-based system.
A student visitor must be 18 or older and must have been accepted to study a course that is run by one of the following:
- An institution accredited by Accreditation UK or the Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS), which offer accreditation for providers of English language courses;
- An institution accredited by the British Accreditation Council (BAC) or the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC), which accredit a range of courses;
- An institution inspected or audited by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), HM Inspectorate of Education (in Scotland), Estyn (in Wales), the Education and Training Inspectorate (in Northern Ireland) or the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI);
- A licensed sponsor under Tier 4 of the points-based system; or
- An overseas higher education institution that offers only some of its programmes in the UK, holds its own national accreditation and offers programmes at the same level as a UK degree.
Applicants must demonstrate that they intend to visit the UK for a period no longer than six months (or 11 months if they taking a course in the English language). They must also prove that they do not intend to:
- Perform the activities of a business, sports or entertainer visitor;
- Marry or register a civil partnership;
- Provide services or goods;
- Receive private medical treatment; or
- Work (whether paid or unpaid).