International graduands

If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you may need a Visa to attend graduation.

Red, amber and green rules for entering England

If you or your guests are travelling from abroad to attend a graduation ceremony then you must follow the UK government’s rules for red, amber and green countries. This is in line with our attendee code of conduct, which you agree to follow by attending your ceremony.

This may include a period of quarantine and/or Covid testing. These are mandatory and you must not leave quarantine early to travel to campus.

Changes to the list of countries can happen at short notice, so we recommend that you keep checking the UK government website for updates and ensure that you are fully insured and/or have flexible cancellation policies attached to your travel and accommodation arrangements. The University is unable to reimburse any graduands or guests for travel and accommodation costs incurred due to changes in restrictions.

Should your plans need to change due to travel restrictions you can arrange a refund for your graduation tickets and request a deferral to 2022 if you wish.

Attending graduation on your Tier 4/Student Visa

If your Tier 4/Student visa has not yet expired and your course has not ended early, you can return to the UK for the purposes of attending graduation as long as you can prove to the Border Force Officer that this is your primary intention. In March 2018, The Home Office confirmed that Border Force were briefed regarding this, however, we strongly suggest that you carry the following:  

  • A letter that confirms you have recently finished your course
  • The invitation letter to the graduation ceremony
  • Evidence that you will be returning back to your home country (i.e. return flight ticket)

Remember that re-entry to the UK is never guaranteed and the Border Force Officer retains the right to question if you are genuinely coming back to the UK for the graduation ceremony.

Important:  If your course has finished earlier than the original expected end date (eg. if you dropped the work placement year) the Visa Compliance Office will need to inform the Home Office about this. This means that you won’t be able to re-enter the UK on your Tier 4/Student visa and instead you will need to apply for a Visitor Visa. If you are an early finisher and you plan to attend the Graduation Ceremony during the validity of your Tier 4/Student visa please do not leave the UK.

Please email internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk if you have any further questions.

Attending graduation on a Standard Visitor Visa

If your Tier 4 leave has expired, you will not be granted an extension to attend the graduation ceremony. We suggest that you leave the UK and make an application for a Standard Visitor Visa. In order to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa, you will need to provide a copy of the graduation invitation email sent to you by the Ceremonies Office inviting you and your guests to attend the Graduation Ceremony. This invitation email is sufficient to support your visa application as the Home Office does not require names of the guests to be listed. Please note that the invitation does not need to be an original letter. You will need to print off the invitation email and enclose it with your application. In the unlikely event that your Embassy specifically asks you to provide an invitation letter instead of an invitation email, please contact ceremonies@surrey.ac.uk, they will issue a letter for you.

Guests attending graduation

If you want to invite family members or friends to come to the UK for your graduation ceremony, they will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. Please note that International Student Support do not provide invitation letters for students inviting guests to the graduation ceremony. We advise that you to book tickets for the ceremony online. Your email booking confirmation can be used by your guests. If you have any questions regarding booking tickets for your guests, email ceremonies@surrey.ac.uk.

Travel insurance advice

If you are booking travel and accommodation please ensure your travel insurance will cover you if you do subsequently need to change or cancel your bookings. Unfortunately, the University will not be able to refund any ancillary costs, such as for travel and accommodation, should government guidance change and the event be cancelled or postponed.