Travelling Abroad

While you are in the UK you may want to visit other European countries, or occasionally go home to visit friends and family.

When you visit other countries you might need a separate visa to enter them, and you need to check you have permission to re-enter the UK when you come back. Students who leave and re-enter the UK should carry documents to show that they are enrolled on their course.

Travel in Europe

Before travelling to any country outside the UK you must check if you need a visa. Refer to the embassy website of the country you want to visit. Not all students from outside the EEA need a visa to travel in Europe.

Always check that your passport is valid and that it will not expire while you are away.

Schengen visa

The following European countries have an agreement where one visa (the Schengen visa) allows you to travel in their area:

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

How to obtain a Schengen visa

Apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the country you will visit.  If you are visiting more than one Schengen country, apply at the embassy of the country where you will spend the most time. If you will spend an equal amount of time in many of the countries, apply at the embassy of the country you will visit first.

If the embassy requires you to book an appointment, it can take several weeks.

Each embassy has a slightly different application procedure and may ask you to supply different documents. Many require you to have between three and six months remaining on your UK student visa or residence permit. Check the requirements carefully on the embassy website. Most of the countries participating in the Schengen visa scheme use VFS Global or TLS Contact to administer their applications.

Types of Schengen visa

To visit the Schengen area as a tourist you need to apply for a short stay Schengen visa, which can be issued as single, or multiple entry. A single entry visa allows you to enter the Schengen area once during the validity of the visa. It becomes invalid when you leave.

A multiple entry visa will allow you to enter and leave the Schengen area several times, as long as it has not expired.

Schengen transit and airport transit visas are available for travellers who are passing through the Schengen area. For more information contact a Student Adviser.

Returning to the UK

Students with a Tier 4 visa

Enrolled students, with a valid Tier 4 visa, can leave and return to the UK. However, when you come back through immigration control, you may be asked to prove that you are still a student. You should carry the following documents: 

  • Student status letter, which confirms that you are enrolled on your course. You can request this from your college office.
  • Bank documents to show that you have money to support yourself during your studies.
  • Your passport and UK visa or residence permit.
  • Police registration certificate (if you were required to register).

The main purpose of a Tier 4 visa is study. If you return to the UK before your permission expires, but after you have completed your course, you could be refused entry. This is because you are not a student and no longer fulfil the main purpose of your visa. Ask for advice from a Student Adviser before you travel.

Student visitors

If you do not need entry clearance to come to the UK (i.e. you are a non-visa national and your course is less than six months) and you apply to extend on re-entry to the UK, you should be given permission to stay for a maximum of 6 months as a Student Visitor.

The immigration officer will look at your previous immigration history before granting this permission.

Remember that you cannot extend your stay as a Student Visitor, and cannot work while a Student Visitor.