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Advice and Counselling Service

Visitor permission

The Visitor Route allows you to come to the UK for a maximum of six months. Here, you’ll be able to check if Visitor immigration is appropriate for your course of study and how to apply for or request permission as a Visitor.

Overview  

You must have sufficient funds to pay for your fees and all your living expenses whilst you are in the UK.  

A holder of Visitor immigration permission is not permitted to work in the UK. Visitors can undertake volunteering provided it is for a registered charity and will be for no longer than 30 days in total. Visitors may not undertake voluntary (unpaid) work. 

Visa nationalsmust apply for entry clearance  as a Visitor before travelling to the UK.  

Non-visa nationals may be eligible to request leave as a Visitor on arrival in the UKor may choose to apply for entry clearance from their home country if they have a complicated immigration history or criminal record. 

You should not intend to study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a Visitor.  

Visitor immigration permission is not normally suitable for courses longer than 6 months. 

Which courses are eligible?

Visitor permission could be suitable for you if you are: 

  • studying at Queen Mary for one semester as part of a study abroad programme; or 
  • studying a distance learning course if you are studying for the majority of time outside the UK and you only need to come to the UK occasionally for short periods of time; or 
  • taking part in the Queen Mary Summer School 
  • undertaking re-sit exams if the study period does not exceed six months; or 
  • a postgraduate student who is taking their viva (oral) examination if the study period does not exceed six months; or 
  • coming to the UK to conduct research or to receive tuition on how to conduct research towards your studies at an academic institution outside of the UK 
  • coming to attend a Pre-sessional English course. However, please note that you will then need to go home to apply for Student immigration permission before you can return and enrol on your degree programme. You will need to check that you will have enough time to do this. 
  • completing one or more elective course(s) linked to your overseas study, where you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as your principal course of study equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK  

If you are returning for re-sit exams or for a viva examination, we would suggest that you include evidence, and explain this in a cover letter to include with your Visitor visa supporting documents.   

A course of study refers to one or more consecutive or concurrent programme(s) of study that will be completed within a six-month period. If you intend to undertake more than one course during the six-month validity period of your Visitor permission, you should declare all of them as part of your application.  

Application process before you travel

Where to apply

You apply online and can attend an appointment at any Visa Application Centre overseas (if required). You cannot apply in the UK. 

You can find UKVI directory of Visa Application Centres here: www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre

How much does it cost?

The current application fee in local currency is £95.

Which form do I need?

You apply online, except if you are in North Korea. Apply online on the web page: www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa/apply 

Enrolling your biometric details

As part of the application, you will usually need to give your biometric details at a Visa Application Centre. The staff there will scan your fingerprints and take a digital photograph of your face. Your application will be processed after you have given your biometric details.

For more information about Visa Application Centres in your country, see www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre

When to apply

You can apply up to three months before the date of your intended to travel to the UK. It is a good idea to apply as early as possible within this time frame because it can sometimes take a long time for visa applications to be decided, especially during the busy Summer period. 

Apply when you arrive in the UK

If you are a non-visa national (your nationality is not listed on the visa national list), you can request permission as a Visitor on arrival in the UK. 

What are the advantages? 

  • It is free. 
  • You do not need to make an immigration application before you travel. 

How do I apply? 

As a non-visa national, when you travel to the UK you can request permission as a Visitor from a Border Force Officer when you arrive at the airport, seaport or international rail terminal. You may be asked to show evidence, listed in 'Supporting documents', so carry the relevant documents in your hand luggage.

Entering through the eGates 

You can usually be granted deemed permission as a Visitor by entering through the eGates if you are a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA. If you enter through the eGates, then it is advisable to keep evidence of the date you arrived in the UK i.e. flight ticket and boarding pass.   

You will not normally receive a stamp in your passport if you are an eGate national. You can demonstrate your Visitor status by showing evidence of the date that you arrived in the UK. You are subject to the Visitor conditions and are permitted to stay in the UK for up to six months. You should leave the UK before the end of the six month period.  

What are the advantages?

  • It is free. 
  • You do not need to make an immigration application before you travel. 

How do I apply?

As a non-visa national, you can request permission as a Visitor from a Border Force Officer when you arrive at the airport, seaport or international rail terminal. You may be asked to show evidence, listed in 'Supporting documents', so carry the relevant documents in your hand luggage.

Supporting documents

  • A valid passport or travel document 
  • A letter Queen Mary with the details of your studies. To obtain a letter: 
    • New students – You can use your offer letter as evidence. If you do not have a copy or for more information, contact: 
      • Study Abroad and exchange students – study-abroad@qmul.ac.uk 
      • All other new students – Please contact the admissions team that is dealing with your application. If you are not sure which team is dealing with your application, e-mail admissions@qmul.ac.uk 
    • Continuing students: 
      • If you will be undertaking re-sit exams, contact the Immigration Compliance Team: casinfo@qmul.ac.uk  
      • If you are a Research student coming to defend your viva only, request a letter from the Research Degrees Office and ensure that it contains the date of your viva.  
    • If you are a distance learning student outside the UK and you need to visit the UK, please contact your Academic School.  
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to pay your course fees, accommodation and living expenses while you are in the UK. You could show your bank statements, receipts for your course fees, receipts for any booked accommodation or a letter of invitation from family or friends if you will be staying with them, plus evidence that they can afford to give you free housing. There is further information about this on this page in the following section 'Tips on completing the Visitor immigration application form'. If you are being financially supported by someone else, for example your parents, you can provide evidence of their finances to show that you can maintain and accommodate yourself whilst in the UK. 

We recommend, if possible, that you show evidence of where the funds have come from. For example, if you are showing money in your parent's bank account as evidence that you have sufficient funds, you might show proof of your parent's employment, business or property. This is not a requirement, but we are advising that you include this evidence if you can, because we have seen a number of refusals recently on the basis of not including this evidence.  

  • Evidence showing that you intend to leave the UK within six months, or at the end of your studies, whichever is sooner. You could show a return ticket home, a letter from your employer or education institution showing that they expect you to return to your work or studies. 

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to include the following: 

  • ATAS security clearance certificate. Some MEng degrees and other postgraduate qualifications require an ATAS security clearance certificate. Read our guidance about ATAS.  
  • If you are not a national of the country in which you are applying, your residence permit, visa or other evidence of your status in this country 
  • Evidence of previous qualifications (official certificates/ transcripts) 
  • Evidence of English Language ability (e.g. IELTS) - if applicable 
  • Evidence of marital status  

You can find more details of the requirements on the UKVI website. 

If your immigration application is successful, your passport should be returned to you with a Visitor visa sticker.  

If you are a non-visa national and are requesting Visitor permission at the port of entry to the UK, you can carry the above documents which are relevant to you in your hand luggage. You do not need to pay a fee. 

Tips on completing the Visitor application form

There are some questions that students frequently ask us when completing the Visitor application form. 

The form asks about my finances, but I’m not sure what to write. 

The application form asks some specific questions about your money, where it is coming from and what you will be spending it on. If you feel that the Entry Clearance Officer who assesses your application may not understand your financial situation, you can include a budget with your supporting documents. A budget may also help you plan your finances. For more information on writing a budget, we have a budget spreadsheet that you can personalise on our website, as well as useful money saving ideas.  

The UKVI Guide to supporting documents for visiting the UK [PDF 191KB] includes a section ‘Information about your finances and employment’, which explains what financial documents are acceptable evidence of your funds. The guide mentions showing bank statements or payslips for up to six months prior to your application. However, the Immigration Rules for Visitors do not mention having to show that the funds have been held for a specific length of time, nor do they state which documents will be considered as acceptable evidence. The Immigration Rules only state that you must show you have enough money to pay for your living costs while you are in the UK and to pay for your return flight home. It would be reasonable to estimate your living costs based on the Student requirements, which is a minimum of £1334 for every month you will be in the UK. We would also advise you to provide evidence that you, or the person who is financially supporting you, has held the money for at least a 28 day consecutive period prior to making your application (this is the requirement for Student visa applications). 

How should I answer the question about my course name and qualification? 

We advise that you write your course name exactly as it is on your offer letter.  

If you are applying for Visitor permission to study abroad in the UK as an associate student or as part of the Queen Mary Summer School, you can say the name of the course and "no qualification" for the question about the qualification you will get. For example, you would write: "Associate student - no qualification" or "Summer School student- no qualification" depending on your situation. 

If you are returning to the UK to undertake your resits, you should write the qualification you will obtain on successful completion of your course.  

What should I put as the start and end date of my studies? 

Normally, this would be the length of your course. However, if you are a distance learning student or a student undertaking re-sit exams or defending their viva, you should enter the time you are expected to be in the UK on this occasion (e.g. if you are undertaking re-sits, the start and end date of the exam period). 

Inviting your friends and family to visit you

If you want to invite a relative or friend to visit you in the UK, and they need a visa, they will need to apply for a Visitor visa at their nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC). There is information about how to apply, and the documents required on the gov.uk website. 

In addition, it is usually helpful for your visitor to provide: 
• proof of your enrolment at Queen Mary University of London or your graduation ceremony if applicable (see below) 
• a letter of invitation from you (see below) 

Students sometimes ask us in Advice and Counselling for an additional formal letter of invitation for their visitor, but this is not necessary.   

Proof of your attendance at Queen Mary 

If you are a current student you can send your family your Student Status Letter. Your family should not use a letter that is more than a month old when they submit their immigration applications or travel to the UK. 

Proof of your Graduation Ceremony 

If you are inviting your family or friends to attend your graduation ceremony, and have booked your ticketsyou can print the order confirmation. 

Your letter of invitation 

Write a letter, addressed to the Entry Clearance Officer at the VAC where your visitor is applying for their visa. Include in your letter: 

  • the full name and date of birth of the proposed visitor(s)
    • their relationship to you (parent, friend, etc.)
    • why they want to visit you (for a holiday, to attend your graduation, etc.) 
    • how long they want to stay in the UK and, if possible, their proposed arrival and departure dates 
    • where they intend to stay; if they plan to stay with you, then give your full address 
    • your own immigration status in the UK (for example, Student) 

What to do next 

Send your invitation letter and Student Status letter, or graduation order confirmation, to your friend or relative so they can include them with their visa application.  Do not send it direct to the VAC. 
Again, you do not normally need any additional letter from Queen Mary, only proof of your student status or of your graduation ceremony. 

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