Many International students take the opportunity to travel to other countries during their time studying in the UK, to visit family back in their home country or to visit another European country to visit friends, take part in a class trip or simply for tourism.
There are important considerations to make when planning a trip, in relation to permission you may need to enter another country and how to ensure you can return to the UK without any problems.
Going to other European countries
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.
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 1 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 3 and 6 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 returning to the UK before the end date of their course (as shown on your CAS) and whose Tier 4 (General) visa is still valid can leave and return to the UK. However, when you arrive back at the UK border, you may be asked to prove that you are still fulfilling the purpose of your visa (i.e. studying on the course for which your visa was granted). You should therefore carry the following documents:
- Student status letter, which confirms that you are enrolled on your course. Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon students can get one from the Contact Desk at their college, CSM students from the CSM Student Centre, LCF students from the Student Administration office at John Prince’s Street, and LCC students from LCC’s Information Centre.
- Bank statements to show that you have money to support yourself during your studies.
- Tier 4 (General) visa
- Police registration certificate (if a condition of your visa is that you must register with the police).
Students must not attempt to return to the UK after their course end date (as shown on their CAS), even if their Tier 4 (General) visa is still valid. This is because they have fulfilled the purpose of their visa and may be prevented from entering the UK at the border. Students who have a CAS to start another course who wish to return to the UK to extend their visa should seek advice from the Student Advice Service.