Immigration and Visas

Applying for a visa in your home country

If you are currently outside the UK, you can find full information here about the UK immigration rules to help you make the appropriate visa application to study at the University of Surrey.

Short-term Study Visa

If you are not eligible for a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you may be eligible for a short – term study visa:

  • For up to six months to study a short course; or
  • For a period of up to six months to do research as part of a research degree outside the UK; or
  • For up to eleven  months to study an English language course; or
  • If you are enrolled on a course abroad that is at least equivalent to the level of a UK bachelor's degree, and are coming to the University on an exchange programme; or
  • To visit your supervisor for a short period as part of a collaborative research degree; or
  • To resit examinations without attendance during your degree programme.

Non-visa nationals may be able to apply for this at the port of entry in the UK rather than making an application for entry clearance at the British Embassy or High Commission. However, please seek advice by emailing internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk.

You can only apply for a short – term study visa outside the UK. Individuals on a short – term study visa cannot switch into another immigration category whilst in the UK.

As a student visitor, you cannot do any kind of work or work placement during your studies in the UK. If you want to be allowed to work in the UK during your studies, you will need to apply to enter the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student. You will also not be covered by the National Health Service so you must ensure that you take out adequate health insurance before you travel to the UK.

Applying for a visa in the UK

If you have been studying a full-time programme at a different institution in the UK, you should already have entry clearance (a visa) in your passport or leave to remain on a Biometric Residence Permit giving you permission to study for a certain length of time at that institution. If you already have an unconditional offer for your new programme at the University of Surrey, and you can meet the maintenance requirements, you can start your immigration application three months before the programme start date, provided your immigration permission runs out no more than one month before your new course starts.

Check carefully the date on which your leave to remain in the UK is due to expire. If there is more than a one-month gap between the end of your current visa and the start of the new course, you will need to go back to your home country and make a new entry clearance application from there (see above for information on how to do this).

If you made your most recent immigration application for a different Tier 4 sponsor, you will need to make a new Tier 4 application for the University of Surrey. The University will allow you to start your new programme when you have made this immigration application – you do not have to wait until you receive a decision but you start your course at your own risk and, if your visa application is unsuccessful, the University may have to stop sponsoring you.

It is recommended that you apply for your Tier 4 student visa through International Student Support as the team will be able to check your visa application thoroughly and ensure a smooth registration process. Full information about the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa application process can be found here.

Students from the EEA or Switzerland

If you are an EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss national, you can enter the UK freely without requiring prior entry clearance. You will need to show your passport or national identity card upon entry. Once accepted on a programme of study you have the right of residence in the UK for the duration of the programme.

Full information for EEA students can be found in the UKCISA information sheet.

University of Surrey as a Tier 4 Sponsor

As a Tier 4 Sponsor, the University of Surrey is responsible for monitoring students during their studies. We will check your passport and valid leave to remain/enter to ensure that you have a visa linked to the University. If you have a visa currently linked to another University, you will not be able to register. You will need to make an application for a new visa linked to the University of Surrey before registration can take place.

The University has a duty to report to UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) if you:

  • Fail to arrive for the start of the programme
  • Withdraw from a programme
  • Defer from your programme of study 
  • Suspend your studies
  • Complete your programme before the expected end date 
  • Fail to attend without authorisation from your faculty.

All the above may lead to your visa being curtailed. You must therefore keep in touch with your Faculty and International Student Support at all times, particularly if you encounter any problems before or during your studies.