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Advice and Counselling Service

LEAVING AND RE-ENTERING THE UK

 

 

See also Schengen Visas for information on Schengen visas and medical care arrangements for international students visiting other European countries.

Before you travel....

  • Do you need a visa for the country you are visiting or transiting through?  Check directly with the country's Embassy
  • Have you collected your Biometric Residence Permit already?  If you arrive in the UK with a 30 or 90 day visa vignette (sticker), you then have 10 days to collect your BRP. If you want to travel outside the UK shortly after you first arrive, collect your BRP first.  If you cannot collect your BRP and you need to travel in an emergency, contact us for advice.
  • Is your current application for Student immigration permission pending, but you need to travel in an emergency? If you travel you will cancel your pending application. Contact us for advice.

 

When and why are you re-entering the UK?

To continue your course
For a re-sit
After a course you studied as a Short-term student
After your course, before graduation
To make a Tier 4 application for a new course at Queen Mary University of London
After graduation

Travelling in and out of the UK before your Studies

*If your current Tier 4 or Student immigration permission has been curtailed, please check the section 'Can I travel and return to the UK after I have been reported to the Home Office?' on our Tier 4 reporting and curtailment page.*


To continue your course

With Tier 4 (General) or Student permission, you can leave and re-enter the UK as often as you wish before the end date of your course.  On re-entering, you will need to show the Border Force Officer some evidence, so you should carry all of the following in your hand luggage:

  • Your passport, and your BRP if you have one
  • An up-to-date Queen Mary Student Status letter showing that your course is continuing. You can download your letter from your Gradintelligence account. The instructions on obtaining your letter are on the Student Enquiry Centre web pages
  • If you are traveling during term time, you could ask your academic school to provide you with a letter to explain that your absence is authorised. You can direct the staff in your school to our guidance on absence, which includes a template letter.
  • Documents relating to your finances 

The UKCISA website has useful information about what happens at immigration and customs on entering the UK.

Short-term Student immigration permission that you applied for on arrival in the UK ends when you leave the Common Travel Area (this area comprises Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey). When you return to the UK, you will need to apply again for entry. You should carry in your hand luggage an up to date Queen Mary Student Status letter (see: Documents and Letters) and evidence of your finances e.g. recent bank statements, and a return ticket to your home country, if you have one.  Your new Short Term Student immigration permission may not be for a further six months: the Border Force Officer may give you just the time you need to complete your studies, or six months minus the length of time you recently spent in the UK as a Short-term Student.

If you are a national of a country which is allowed to enter the UK using the eGates, you must not use the eGates, you must request a Short-term Student stamp in your passport from the Border Force Officer each time you enter the UK. If you enter using the eGates, you will be considered to have Standard Visitor leave and will not be permitted to study for more than 30 days. 

A Short-term Student visa or entry clearance which you applied for before travelling to the UK allows multiple re-entries. You may be required to show that you are still studying. In your hand luggage carry an up to date Queen Mary Student Status letter, and evidence of your finances, e.g. recent bank statements.

For a resit

Please refer to the information in our guide How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to undertake my re-sits

After your course you studied as a Short-term student

As a Short-term Student, you are expected to leave the UK within 30 days of finishing your studies or before your immigration permission ends, whichever is sooner. If you leave the UK after your studies, for example to travel to Europe, you may be questioned about your intentions if you try to return to the UK as a Short-term Student, even if you are planning to study another course. If the Border Force Officer believes that you are making the UK your home through successive visits, then you could be refused entry to the UK.  

You can apply to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor instead, if you are genuinely coming for a short visit without studies. You will need to make a new application for Standard Visitor immigration permission before you travel to the UK, unless you are a non-visa national, in which case you can apply to enter as a Standard Visitor on arrival. To check if you are a visa national, see our advice guide What immigration do I need to study at Queen Mary?  If you are a non-visa national and request Standard Visitor immigration permission at the port of entry to the UK , it would be a good idea to carry evidence in your hand luggage to show your intentions in the UK, for example proof that you have sufficient funds to stay in the UK, evidence of where you will be staying, your itinerary in the UK and your return travel tickets to your home country. 

If you are intending to enter as a Standard Visitor, you must satisfy the requirement of ‘a genuine intention to visit’ (Appendix V of the Immigration Rules, paragraph 4.2). Visitors must not live in the UK through extended periods of frequent or successive visits. This is particularly relevant as you will have just spent a period in the UK as a Short-term student, which also comes under the 'visitor' category of the Immigration Rules. Check that you meet the requirements under the regulations for 'frequent and successive study' in the Standard Visitor Visa guidance

After your course, before graduation

You can ask the Border Force Officer to allow you to re-enter the UK with your Tier 4 (General) Student immigration permission, even though your course has now finished.  Border Force Officials will need to be satisfied that you are entering for study related reasons and will leave the UK before your visa expires, or you will submit an in-time application to extend your leave in the UK.  We strongly advise you carry the print out of the order confirmation from 'Your Graduation' to confirm the date of your graduation ceremony so the Border Force Officer can see that you have a study-related reason to re-enter the UK. 

You will receive the order confirmation from 'Your Graduation' once you have booked the ceremony. You can also carry a Student Status letter. You download and print a Student Status letter yourself. Read how to access your Student Status letter. Do not use an old student status letter: if you already have one, but it is more than a few weeks old, you should apply for a new one. 

If you are only coming back to the UK for graduation, and perhaps for tourism and  to pack up your belongings, you can choose to come as a Standard Visitor instead, not on your Tier 4 (General) Student immigration permission.  Standard Visitor status allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, which will be longer than your remaining Tier 4 permission, and it also saves you needing to prove that you are entering for a study-related purpose, which can be difficult if your course has now finished.  As a Standard Visitor you cannot do any kind of work, only short recreational study, and you cannot switch to any other immigration status.  Non-visa nationals can apply on entry as a Standard Visitor, while other nationals need to apply before travelling, but they can apply in any country not just their home country. We have guidance about applying for a Standard Visitor visa to return for your graduation ceremony

If after graduation you intend to extend your stay under Tier 4, or switch to another status such as Tier 1 or Tier 2, you can only do this if you have re-entered the UK with Tier 4 immigration permission.

To make a Tier 4 application for a new course at Queen Mary

As a general rule, it is always best and most straightforward to enter the UK with Tier 4 immigration permission issued specifically for your new course at Queen Mary. 

If it is not logistically possible for you to apply for the new Queen Mary Tier 4 permission before travelling, you can enter on your current immigration perrmission if you meet all these requirements:

  • Your current immigration permission allows you to make a Tier 4 application in the UK.  See our guidance 'Can you apply in the UK?'; and
  • You have everything ready to make the new Tier 4 application in the UK as soon as possible, including meeting the 28-day maintenance requirement. See our detailed Tier 4 guide for full information on eligibility, evidence, and how to apply.

You must make the new application before your programme at Queen Mary starts, and before your current Tier 4 permission expires.

You cannot start the application process from your home country.

In your hand luggage, we advise you carry

  • a print out of your Queen Mary CAS statement
  • other evidence you will be using in your new Tier 4 application for studies at Queen Mary, for example evidence of your money and any qualifications listed in the CAS

After graduation

It is important to understand that your Tier 4 status is not generic permission to enter the UK for any reason: it is issued specifically for you to enter the UK to start or continue your studies. 

If you travel during the post-study period, Border Force officials will need to be satisfied that you will either complete the study-related activity 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  with you when you travel to show to the Border Force Officer, if required, the reasons you are returning to the UK. You may have fewer study-related reasons to re-enter the UK after your graduation has taken place, so you may face more questions from a Border Force Officer and you could even be refused entry if the Border Force Officer is the Border Force Officer is not satisfied with your reasons for entering the UK. 

Travelling in and out of the UK before your studies

If you are planning to travel in and out of the UK prior to commencing your studies at Queen Mary, please note the following:

Non visa nationals:

If you are a non-visa national, you are not required to apply for and obtain a visa before you enter the UK as a Short Term Student or as a Standard Visitor.  

If you are coming to the UK as a visitor before you start your studies and plan to leave the UK before re-entering again to start your studies, you can obtain permission to enter the UK as a visitor as long as you meet the standard visitor requirements. If you are a national of a small number of non EEA countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or USA) you can enter the UK border by using the e-gates at the airport without needing to see a border force official. Most other non-EEA nationals are not able to use the e-gates.

Important: When you enter the UK again in order to commence your studies you can request Short-term Student immigration permission on entry to the UK, you MUST NOT use the e-Gates, because you will need a stamp in your passport from the Border Force Officer. If you are requesting Short-term Student permission on entry to the UK, you must speak to a Border Force Officer and request a Short-term Student stamp in your passport.

If you are coming to the UK to study on a Tier 4 you cannot normally hold more than one form of leave (visa) at the same time. However, exceptionally, as a non-visa (eg: Singapore) national, you are still eligible to be granted leave as a visitor before your Tier 4 entry clearance is valid. You must then leave and re-enter the UK after the ‘valid from’ date of your visa vignette, in order to enter as a Tier 4 student.

Please do check which immigration permission is appropriate for your studies at Queen Mary. For example if you are coming here for a course of study of longer than 6 months, you will need a Tier 4 visa. A Tier 4 visa cannot be requested at the UK Border, you would need to apply for and obtain it before coming to the UK. If you are coming to study for less than 6 months, Short Term Study may be the most appropriate immigration  permission for you.

Visa Nationals:

If you are a visa national for who entry clearance is compulsory, you can enter the UK no earlier than the valid from date on your entry clearance vignette (visa) in your passport. You cannot normally hold more than one form of leave (visa) at the same time.

In all cases, you must check to ensure that you enter the UK with the correct permission for the purpose of each entry at the border.

 

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