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Immigration and visa advice

Students with other visas

If you are in the UK with any visa other than a Tier 4 student visa, then you immigration status may have implications on whether you can undertake study or not. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are complying with the Immigration Rules at all times. If you are unsure of your position, do contact a Student Advisor.

Standard Visitors

If you have entered the UK as a Standard Visitor, you cannot usually study in the UK. This is because the Visitor rules state that you must “not intend to study” while you are here in this category. If you have entered the UK or obtained leave in advance in this category and wish to study, contact a Student Advisor who will be able to tell you how to make a valid application to come to the UK for your studies. 

NB: The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the General Visitor visa, Family visitor visa, and the Business Visitor visa (which included visas for academics, doctors and dentists).

The only exception to this is that someone with leave as a Standard Visitor can study a course of less than 30 days in duration, provided that the main reason for being in the UK is not to study. For example, if you are already in the UK as a Standard Visitor and are here for genuine tourist purposes, and then decide to undertake a short course while you are here (for example, a short cookery course), this might be allowed. See the UKVI's guidance on Permitted Study for more details.

  • Long-term, multiple entry Visitor visas

If you can prove you need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period, you can apply for a visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.

As above, someone with leave as a Visitor can study a course of less than 30 days in duration, provided that the main reason for the visit to the UK is not to undertake study.

  • Family members and switching

Please note that if you are coming to the UK for less than 6 months, or for any course which is at undergraduate level or below regardless of length, it is not possible to bring dependants to the UK with you. If your partner/children want to visit you while you are in the UK, they will need to come to the UK as Standard Visitors.

You should also note that you cannot switch from a Visitor visa or Short-term Student visa to another type of visa (e.g. Tier 4) from within the UK.  

Work categories & Dependants

  • Work

If you have obtained any form of work visa (e.g. Tier 2, Tier 5) then you are allowed to study either full- or part-time in the UK. However, the immigration rules state that in order to obtain leave in one of these categories you “must intend to work”. 

If you later change your mind and decide to study, there is a danger that the immigration authorities may think that your reasons for being in the UK have changed, and as a result they could even decide to cancel your visa. If you do undertake study while holding a work visa, it is advisable to continue working in the UK, and if you are unsure of your situation, you should seek advice from a Student Advisoer before taking any action. It is acceptable to study part-time whilst holding a visa in one of these categories. 

  • Dependants

If you are in the UK with leave as a Points Based System (PBS) Dependant (for example, your partner has a Tier 4 or Tier 2 visa) then you can usually work or study while you are in the UK. You will be allowed to study part-time or full-time. More information on dependants is available here

In both casesif you are a part-time student and your employment / dependant visa runs out before the end of your course, you cannot switch into a Tier 4 Student visa in order to complete your studies, as Tier 4 Student visas are only for full-time students.


If you have leave in any category not listed above and are not sure of your rights in the UK with regards to work and study, contact a Student Advisor.

UKCISA provides further guidance on this matter.

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