Travelling and inviting friends and family
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, 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 at the end of studies
If I finish studying and leave the UK, can I return to the UK before my Student visa has run out? Can I return using the same visa for my graduation ceremony or other reason?
Your Student visa will normally have an additional period of leave after you have finished your studies. Once your sponsor (the University of Bedfordshire) has confirmed that your studies are complete and you are in your post-study period, you may enter and leave the UK. This means you can travel and return for your graduation ceremony.
If you do travel during your post-study period, you may need to satisfy Border Force officials when you enter the UK that you will either complete the activity you intend to carry out 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 relevant with you when you travel to show to the Border Force officer if required.
You can request a letter from SID that confirms that you are in your post-study period and you wish to exercise your right to enter and leave the UK until the end of your visa.
How can I attend my graduation ceremony if I have left the UK and my Student visa has run out?
If you return home after you have completed your studies and your Student visa has expired, we recommend that you obtain a Standard Visitor visa so you can return to the UK for your graduation ceremony.
Find out more about applying for a Standard Visitor visa
Invitation letters to assist you with your Standard 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.
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.
- Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
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)
- you will visit first, if you'll be spending about the same amount of time in each Schengen country that you visit.
Inviting Friends and Family
It is possible for family members and friends to visit a student in the UK whilst they are studying, also for the graduation ceremony. Nationals of most countries are required to have a visa to enter the UK. The category they would apply under is ‘Standard Visitor Visa’. To find out if your friend or family member is required to have a visitor visa please check GOV.UK - UK Visa
Visas in this category are normally granted for up to 6 months and visitors must show they intend to leave the UK at the end of the visit and have enough money to support themselves during their visit.
Visitors under this category are not allowed to work during their visit to the UK, and study cannot be the main reason for their visit. It is also not possible to switch from this category to another visa in the UK such as a Student Visa.
For detailed information about this visa, including cost, how to apply online and documents required: GOV.UK - Standard Visitor Visa
As your family member or friend is coming to visit you, they should include in their application (with other documents required):
- Letter from the student inviting the friend/family. This should explain that you are a student at University of Bedfordshire, your relationship to the visitor, the reason for their visit including why the visit is taking place at this particular time. Details of any accommodation or any financial support you may give them. This is not mandatory.
- Photocopy of the visa and bio-data pages of your passport
- Letter from the University confirming the student is studying here. Students can get this from SiD - PDF 139.7 KB
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