Visas for Language Centre students

All non-UK citizens will need a visa for study in the UK. It is important that you get the right visa for your study in the UK. The length of time you can stay in the UK depends on your visa.

Study visas

There are three types of visas to choose from, depending on the type and length of course - they are the Student visa, Short-term study visa and the Visitor visa.

If you are studying for a period of more than 11 months, you must apply for a Student visa before travelling to the UK. Read our step-by-step guide on how to apply for a Student visa.  

If you are studying English Language for a period of 6-11 months you can apply for a Short-term study visa.

If you are studying an English course for less than 6 months, you can apply for the Visitor visa.

If your course is less than 6 months, a Visitor visa is suitable for most students, but a Student visa allows you to work part-time while you are studying. Read our comparison guide to help you decide which visa to apply for

Short-term study visas

You can apply for a Short-term study visa to study English language in the UK.

This visa is only for English language courses that last longer than 6 months and up to 11 months.

Work is not permitted on the Short-term study visa and you cannot stay longer than 11 months or switch into another immigration route on this visa in the UK. 

Visitor visas

If you choose to apply for a Visitor visa there are two ways to apply, depending on your nationality:

If your nationality is on the UK Government’s list of visa national countries, you must apply online before you travel.

If your nationality is not on this list (an EU/EEA/Swiss national or non-visa national country), you can choose to apply online before you travel or you can get the correct immigration permission when you arrive at the UK airport (EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and non-visa nationals).

If you choose to get the immigration permission when you arrive, you must follow this guidance:

  • Always carry your University of Leeds offer letter to provide evidence the purpose of your visit, proof of accommodation booked in Leeds, and your most recent bank statements with you in your hand luggage to present to an Immigration Officer, to confirm you can support yourself financially throughout your course and pay for a flight home.
  • Confirm that you are coming to the UK to study if you are asked what the reason for your visit is.
  • Arrive in the UK near to the course start date as you are entering as a visitor for up to 6 months.
  • If you enter via the Republic of Ireland or a passport E-gate you will not pass through UK immigration control so you must retain your boarding pass and/or flight details to prove the date you entered. You will have permission to remain in the UK for 6 months. 

Work is not permitted on the Visitor visa and you cannot stay longer than 6 months, or switch into another immigration route on this visa in the UK. 

Please also read the UKCISA guidance before applying for your Visitor visa.

European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals

The deadline for applying for the EU settlement scheme has now passed. If you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme that has not yet been granted, you may have a Certificate of Application. Please read UKCISA’s international student advice and guidance.

UKCISA also has advice on the EU/EEA/Swiss travel documents that can be used to enter the UK from 1 October 2021.

Which visa should I apply for?

The visa type depends on the English language course you will study, the length of the course, and the English Language qualification that you have. Read our comparison guide to help you decide which visa to apply for

You can study on a Short-term study visa if your English language course is between 6-11 months. Further information about this type of visa can be found on the UKCISA website.

We recommend that you apply for a Student visa if:

  • Your English language course is longer than 11 months.
  • You have an offer to start an academic degree programme immediately after the completion of your English language course.
  • If your course is longer than 6 months and family members are accompanying you as dependents.
  • You wish to work part time.

To be eligible for a Student visa you will need to have a Secure English Language Test (SELT). You can find information about English Language qualifications that we accept, including SELTs, on our English Language certificates page.

You must remain on your pre-sessional English programme if you hold a Student visa, even if you obtain a higher IELTS score during the course. This is because if you stop studying, the University must report this to UKVI and your visa will be cancelled. You must also return home as you cannot extend your visa inside the UK due to not completing the course for which your visa was issued.

Please note that Student visas can be extended from inside the UK if they meet the UKVI’s Academic Progression and other requirements.

Short-term study and Visitor visas require you to leave the UK and return home after completion of the English language course to apply for a Student visa for your academic degree programme. 

Further information on making a student immigration application overseas is available from UKCISA

Who do I contact if I need visa advice?

Our Student Visa Advice team has qualified immigration advisers with up-to-date knowledge of changes to immigration law, so it is the only place on campus where you should ask questions about immigration. Please do not ask your friends or staff in your department for visa advice.

The Student Visa Advisers can answer questions about student visas and immigration at any stage of the student visa process. Please read the information on making a Student visa application in your home country.

If you have a question, or would like us to check your visa application, please contact the Student Visa Advice team at Don’t forget to put your name and Student ID number on any correspondence.

Please ask your questions early, before the issue becomes urgent.