The Visitor Visa is a short visa that allows you to visit the UK.  A Visitor Visa will also allow you to study at Aston University for a period of 6 months or less.

Do I require a Visitor Visa?

The following situations are when you are likely to need a Visitor Visa:

Repeating assessments

If you are on a longer course at Aston, but you are asked by your College to repeat assessments without attendance (for example - just sitting the exams in January or June), you may need to leave the UK and return with a Visitor Visa to complete your assessments. If you think this applies to you, please contact the International Advice Team to discuss the situation.

Exchange Programme

If you are currently studying a degree course overseas and have been accepted to study in the UK as part of an exchange programme of less than 6 months, then the Visitor Visa may be the appropriate visa to get. For example, you are currently studying a bachelors course overseas and you will be coming to Aston for one semester.

Distance Learning

If you are currently registered as an Aston student studying a distance learning course overseas, and need to enter the UK to partake in a short period of UK-based study as part of the course. For example, you are completing an MBA overseas via distance learning and need to enter for one week to attend mandatory UK-based tutorials. 

Period of overseas research at Aston

If you are currently studying a PhD at an overseas university and have been invited by Aston University to partake in research that forms part of your thesis.

How do I apply for a Visitor Visa?

Your College at Aston University will supply you with a Visitor Offer Letter confirming your course details and other information. You will need to submit this letter with your application.

You will generally also need the following documents to support your application.  Try and get these documents before you apply online:

  1. Passport 
  2. Evidence that you can financially support yourself during your stay in the UK. There is no mandatory amount of money that you have to hold but it is your responsibility to prove to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you reasonably have enough money available to cover the costs of your journey and stay. We recommend that you follow the Student Visa rules if you are unsure and try and show you have at least £1023 available per month for the length of stay.   
  3. Proof of accommodation (or demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay for accommodation as it is not recommended that you pay for accommodation before getting your visa).
  4. Official Visitor Offer Letter from Aston University.
  5. Proof of overseas study (if coming on an exchange programme)
  6. Certified translations if any of your documents are not in English
  7. Your proposed study in the UK may also require an ATAS certificate. Please refer to our guidance if you do require an ATAS certificate.
ATAS Guidance808.06 KB

Please refer to the UKVI website for more in-depth information about what documents you need for this visa application 

To apply online, please visit the UKVI application website.

Please select "Apply Now" to start this application

Please note that a CAS number is not required for a Visitor Visa application.

Please email for further advice about the visa application if you have questions.

Visitor Visa Conditions
  • You cannot undertake any employment or work in the UK. You may be able to "volunteer" but please contact us for advice before you commit to any work. 
  • You will be granted a 6 month visa by default, but you must intend to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your course or at the end of the 6 month period, whichever is earliest. Not leaving the UK within this time frame may affect future visa applications.
  • You can only do permitted activities as a visitor in the UK. See Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities, for more information.Accordion content 1.
Do I need to apply for a Visitor Visa?

If you are a national of any of the countries listed in Appendix Visitor: Visa Nationals List then you will definitely need to apply for the Visitor Visa before you travel to the UK. This is known as applying for Entry Clearance.

If you are a national of a country that is not on the above list (e.g. USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia etc) then you are considered a "Non-Visa national". This means that instead of formally applying for a Visitor Visa before you travel, you have the option of obtaining Visitor permission at the UK border when you pass through immigration.

Please continue with the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) section below.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)

The Home Office have announced that for certain non-visa nationals, who wish to obtain visitor permission at the UK border, you will have to apply for an "Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)" first. You would only be permitted to obtain visitor permission upon entry if your ETA is approved, so it is advised that you obtain this before you travel to the UK as the estimated processing time is 3 working days.

This is a phased process and so far includes: 

Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates

With more countries to be added to the scheme later. 

It is important not to confuse the ETA scheme with applying for a Visitor Visa before you travel. Both Visa and Non-Visa nationals always have the opportunity to formally apply for a Visitor Visa before travelling to the UK. 

We generally recommend that everyone utilises the visitor route by applying for entry clearance before travelling to the UK.  This reduces the risk of mistakes being made at the border, which may prevent you from undertaking your studies here. If you are refused an ETA, then you must apply for a Visitor Visa and have this approved before you travel. 

If you need ETA authorisation and have this approved, we generally advise that you bring all of the documents that you would have used in applying for entry clearance to present at the border. You must make it very clear to the Immigration Official that you wish to enter as a Visitor and present all of your documents. This means that you must carry all documents in your hand luggage.    

If you are successful, then your passport will be stamped with an "Entry Stamp" which will bear the date you entered the UK.


Entry via E-Gates is available for certain nationalities at most air and rail ports. Eligible nationals from all EU/EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America with a biometric-enabled passport can use the automated E-Gates on arrival into the UK, free of charge. Nationals from these countries will also no longer need to complete a landing card on arrival.

Those entering the UK via an E-Gate are not required to see an Immigration Official at the Immigration Desk. For those that require it, you will still need ETA authorisation if using the E-Gates. 

If you use the E-Gates, then you will automatically enter as a visitor but you will not receive any stamp in your passport. In order to enrol onto your course, we need to confirm the date of your entry therefore, we advise that you retain evidence of your travel (e.g. flight ticket) ready to show us at enrolment.

Arriving via Ireland

If you planned to travel to the UK and get stamped in as a Visitor at the airport, then we strongly advise that you do not arrive via the Republic of Ireland. This is because you would enter the "Common travel area" first and your connecting flight to England will be a domestic flight. This means that you will not pass through a UK immigration desk or an E-Gate when you get to England.

Instead, you will be stamped with a 90-day visitor stamp when you arrive at Ireland and this visa stamp will not be appropriate for short periods of study in the UK.

More information can be found here.

Medical Insurance

As you will only be coming to the UK for less than 6 months, you will not be asked to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge to help cover healthcare costs in the UK.  Entering with a Visit Visa means that should you require certain healthcare services in the UK, such as hospital aftercare, then you will be liable to pay for this and this can be extremely expensive. 

We highly recommend that before you travel to the UK, you arrange private medical insurance to cover medical costs in the UK should you require it. Please see this page for further information.

Advice and Support

For advice and support with your Visitor Visa application, or to ask any questions related to Visitor Visas, please contact the International Advice Team by email to or telephone +44 (0)121 204 4567.

Last updated: 12/06/2024 KB