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Immigration and Visas

Travelling abroad and returning to the UK after your studies

Some students may plan to travel outside the UK after they finish their programmes, and come back to the UK to either look for jobs, or attend their graduation ceremony (e.g. masters students to attend January ceremony). 


The Tier 4 Policy Guidance confirms that once a student has completed their course they can use their Tier 4 visa to: 

  • Enter and leave the UK  
  • Work full-time in the UK, if your conditions of leave permit you to work  
  • Study in the UK  
  • Visit areas in the UK  
  • Apply to remain in the UK under an appropriate alternative route (e.g. Tier 1 and Tier 2)


Please be aware, however, that if you do intend to travel outside of the UK during this period, Border Force officials will need to be satisfied when you are entering the UK that you will either complete the activity you intend to carry out and leave the UK before your visa expires, or that you will submit an in-time application to extend your leave in the UK. You should carry any documentation relevant with you when you travel to show to the Border Force officer if required. 


Non-visa nationals

If you are a non-visa national (check Appendix 2) and you are re-entering the UK during the validity of your Tier 4 visa, you are considered as having entered on Tier 4. If you want to remain in the UK beyond your Tier 4 expiry date, you will need to leave the UK before your Tier 4 visa expires and re-enter the UK under a different immigration category, so that you do not become an overstayer.


Attending graduation

If you are returning to the UK on your Tier 4 visa, we would advise you to carry a visa assistance letter, confirming the date and that you will be attending. You can order this when you book your ceremony tickets. For further information, contact the Graduation team. You should ensure that you also have evidence that you intend to leave the UK before your visa expires (e.g. a plane ticket), or that you intend to apply for another visa in the UK, in case you are questioned by the UK Border Force official.

If your Tier 4 visa does not cover the date of your graduation ceremony, you will need to apply for a standard visitor visa.


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