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Travelling during your studies

Travelling in holiday time

There is no regulatory prohibition to you travelling during holiday periods, either in terms of the UKVI or the University. Please be aware that you must be sure of your dates of travel, and that they fall within your holiday period. The dates of your holiday period can generally be established by asking SID, but please note that if you are working on your project/dissertation, or are still attending classes, you are not considered to be in a holiday period.

You should obtain a letter from SID which you can carry with you on your travels. It is important that you do this in case the immigration officials require proof of your status upon your return to the UK. This letter will contain the dates we have permitted your travel.

It may also be beneficial to carry proof of availability of funds, in case these are required by the immigration officer.

Travel in term time

If you need to travel outside the UK during term time, you must seek permission from the International Office.

There are two reasons for this policy:

  • You may be missing lectures and other expected points of academic contact at the University. This may render you in contravention of University attendance policy and UKVI regulations (see question 17 above), and will have a negative impact on your ability to complete the course with the grades you desire.
  • It may be difficult for you to return to the UK. Immigration officers may wish to see proof that you have been given permission to travel and to return to the UK by the University, and if they are not satisfied with the proof you provide they may refuse or delay your entry to the UK. This will result in you missing even more of the course than you or the University expected.

Leave requests will be individually assessed by staff in the International Office who can consider your circumstances and reasons for requesting term time travel. To enable us to properly consider your leave request please provide supporting documentary evidence, for example, a medical certificate.

If permission is granted, you will receive a letter of authorisation, to assist you in your travels. If you travel without authorisation, the University may take action in accordance with UKVI guidelines, possibly culminating in the termination of your sponsorship and curtailment of your visa.

Travelling Home (end of study)

If I leave the UK before my graduation ceremony, can I return to the UK to attend it?

As you are not returning to the UK to study, an Immigration Officer will be entitled to stop you entering the UK because you have a Tier 4 (General) student visa which is for study. Therefore if you do return home after you have completed your studies, we recommend that you obtain a General Visitor visa so you can return to the UK for your graduation ceremony.

Find out more about applying for a General Visitor visa

Invitation letters to assist you with your General Visitor visa application are available from SID. You will be sent an email giving information about how to obtain this letter once the date of your graduation ceremony has announced. 

If I finish studying and return to my home country, but I decide that I wish to return to the UK before my visa has run out, can I return using the same visa, or do I need to apply for a new visa?

Your student visa is issued to allow you to study in the UK, you should not travel to the UK on that visa once you have finished studying. Immigration officials may not allow you entry to the UK if they are not convinced that you are returning to study on the course, and at the University, for which the visa was issued. If you are refused entry, you may not be granted a visa to travel to the UK in the future.

You therefore have 2 choices:

  • You stay in the UK once you have completed your course of study if you wish to use the time remaining on your Tier 4 student visa. Most students on a Bachelor or Master's level course will have 4 months added to their visa duration after the expected end date of their course. Remember you must still make sure you return to your home country before your visa expires.
  • You leave the UK and apply for a different visa that lets you to return to the UK.

Remember the visa you travel on must always match the purpose of your visit (e.g. someone wishing to enter the UK using a Tier 4 student visa must be coming to study).

Travelling to other countries

Each country has its own set of requirements. Check the website of the specific country's consulate or embassy for information about travelling to that country. If you do need a visa, you should start making enquiries at the relevant embassy as early as possible, as the application process can be lengthy. The average processing time is 3 weeks but this can often be longer during busy vacation periods, for example, Christmas, Easter and over the summer. It's also important to note that most embassies require you to have 3-6 months visa/leave to remain in the UK still remaining in your passport at the end of your trip.

However, there are several general areas you ought to think about when applying for a visa to visit another country.

These may include:

  • Application form (perhaps with photo)
  • Fees for visa application
  • Valid UK visa with valid passport
  • Financial requirements of the country to which you hope to travel
  • Insurance requirements, e.g: travel and health
  • Evidence of your activity in the UK, e.g: a letter confirming student status
  • Evidence of your intention to return to the UK
  • Evidence of having a place to stay e.g: invitation letter or proof of hotel booking

Travelling to Europe

Do I need to apply for another visa if I want to travel to another EU country?

A visa granting leave to stay in the UK does not allow you to travel to other countries in the EU.

Each country in the EU is an independent nation state with its own independent immigration rules. Check the website of the relevant country's consulate to find out what you need to do to travel to that country.

However, most countries within the EU, as well as Norway and Switzerland, are members of the 'Schengen Area'. One Schengen visa will allow you entry to all of these countries.

For more information about obtaining a Schengen visa, visit the website of the embassy of the country or countries you wish to travel to.

If you plan to travel to more than one of the countries listed below and you are travelling for less than 3 months as a tourist (not working), the Schengen Agreement allows you to use one visa to enter all of the signatory states.

These are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

You should apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the country which:

  • you will spend the longest amount of time in (your main destination) OR;
  • you will visit first, if you'll be spending about the same amount of time in each Schengen country that you visit.

Travelling after the end of studies

If you are on a Tier 4 general student visa or a Short Term Study (STS) visa and you wish to travel to another country after you have completed your studies and then return to the UK on that visa you may not be allowed back into the UK. This is because your visa is for study and you no longer have anything to study as you have completed your studies. If you have time remaining on your visa after you have completed your studies and you wish to travel, we advise you to travel within the UK.

Bedfordshire University

International» International student support» Visas & immigration guidance» Travelling during your studies