Travelling abroad: Guidance for internationals students considering short trips abroad during their stay in the UK.
It is recommended you start planning any travel in the earlier part of your stay rather than leaving it until the final stages. The vacation periods during the academic year are an obvious time for travel. It is rare that a student’s permission to return to the UK will expire at these times and if you need a visa for another country you may need to have several months left on your UK permission.
Before travelling you will need to check the immigration requirements of the country that you are travelling to and that UK law allows you to return. Make sure you take a photocopy or scan of your passport and visa/BRP card, and keep them in a safe place in case you lose the originals.The UKCISA website has more information about what to do if you lose your travel documents while abroad. We would also strongly advise that you take out travel insurance for your time outside the UK.
Checking immigration procedures for your destination
Before you travel you must check whether you will be able to satisfy the immigration requirements for your destination country. If you have to apply for a visa before travelling this could take weeks to be processed and so it is important to plan ahead. You can usually find all the information you need on how to apply, including what documents are required, on the website of the embassy for the country you plan to visit. Immigration enquiries are usually dealt with by the ‘visa’ or ‘consular’ section of the embassy, and sometimes outsourced to private companies.
Although the Student Advice and Support Service can help you access the information, it cannot give specialist advice on visa laws or procedures in other countries. If required, you will need to contact the relevant embassy direct.
You can find contact details for foreign embassies in the UK on the gov.uk website – see the London Diplomatic List.
The Schengen countries are:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
These countries have agreed to end border controls between each other and share a common visa scheme. If you need a visa to visit a Schengen country it can be used to enter other Schengen countries. A ‘short stay’ visa allows visits of up to 90 days, single and multiple entry visas are available.
If you are planning a trip to more than one Schengen country then you should apply to either the embassy of the country you will spend most time in or if you plan to spend the same amount of time in more than one country you should apply to the embassy of the first country you will visit. Visa application procedures and requirements for each of the Schengen countries varies, e.g. each country has its own policy on how much UK permission you must have left after your proposed trip.
Any Tier 4 permission to stay in the UK includes Northern Ireland but does not include the Republic of Ireland. However, between the UK and Ireland there is free movement of British and Irish Nationals and immigration checks between the British and Irish borders are made on an occasional rather than systematic basis. If you are planning to visit Ireland you should check whether you need a visa before travelling.
Although Chinese and Indian nationals can visit the UK and Ireland using a single ‘visit’ visa this does not apply to Tier 4 visas.
UK immigration requirements
If you have settled or pre-settled status under the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme you can travel in and out of the UK. The following information is for students with Tier 4 or Student permission.
If you have a Tier 4 or Student visa granted overseas or your Tier 4 or Student permission was granted by the UKVI inside the UK for a period of more than 6 months you should be allowed to re-enter the UK after a short trip abroad, unless the Border Officer at the port of entry decides your circumstances have changed such that your permission to stay should be cancelled (this is not likely to happen if you are a continuing student).
If your last period of Tier 4 or Student permission leave was granted in the UK for 6 months or less, your immigration permission will automatically come to an end (lapse) when you leave the Common Travel Area (see below) and you will not be able to return to the UK without obtaining fresh immigration permission.
If your permission has been varied, for example curtailed (reduced in length) by UKVI in response to leaving or finishing your course early, it will automatically come to an end (lapse) when you leave the Common Travel Area (see below).
You can expect to be refused re-entry to the UK if your immigration permission has lapsed, as in the above examples.
You can also be refused re-entry if the permission was last obtained on false information, or the Border Officer decides that there are medical grounds or that it would be ‘conducive to the public good’ to cancel the permission.
Evidence to carry in your hand luggage
In general, it is advisable to travel with recent documents in your hand luggage to confirm your ongoing student status and your ability to finance yourself. To confirm your ongoing studies, you should generate and print a student status letter from the Student Self- Service portal. Evidence of your ability to finance yourself could be recent bank statements or a sponsors’ letter.
Trips within the ‘Common Travel Area` (CTA)
The UK is part of a ‘Common Travel Area’ that also includes the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. If you travel within the Common Travel Area you can return to the UK using the remainder of your UK Tier 4 or Student permission. On your return to the UK you may still be checked by a Border Officer, so it is advisable to travel with the documents described above (see ‘Evidence to carry in your hand luggage’). Although your UK Tier 4 or Student permission remains valid while you are in the Common Travel Area you should still check the immigration requirements of the other parts of the CTA before you travel.
How can the University support you?
You can find guidance on various visa topics on the University’s webpages. These webpages include the most common visa related topics, questions and issues. You should always use the webpages first however if you require advice or guidance beyond what is covered on the webpages you can contact the Student Advice and Support Service.
Last Updated: 3rd April 2023