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Travel and Re-entry to the UK

In this section you will find information about travel advice for new students before starting their course, and for continuing students who wish to travel during/after the course.

For New Students before starting a course

What happens after I receive my CAS and Tier 4 visa?

Congratulations, you are ready to embark on your new course! You should now read the information on our Welcome to Warwick website which will guide you from preparing your trip to the UK to the first a few weeks into your course. The International Student Office has comprehensive guidance specifically aimed at international students as well.

If you have never been to the UK before, the Welcome to Warwick programme run by the International Student Office can be a perfect way to introduce yourself to life in the UK: it provides airport pickup (from London Heathrow) and early enrolment, helps you tackle practical issues facing international students (opening a bank account, register with a doctor, Police Registration etc.), and gives you opportunity to discover UK learning style, local area, and meet new friends from across the world.

What should I carry in my hand luggage when I travel to the UK after receiving my Tier 4 visa for the intended course?

  • Your passport and visa (usually the temporary travel visa which is a multiple-entry visa valid for 30 days)
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (if you already have one)
  • 'Decision Letter' from the Home Office confirming the grant of your visa (and where to collect your BRP card, if applicable)
  • Evidence of accommodation (if available)
  • Police Registration Certificate (if this was required for previous study in the UK).

What should I remember to check once I arrive at the UK Border?

Once you arrive in the UK, remember to complete a Landing Card and take out your passport and visa ready to go through immigration. Answer any questions honestly if the Border official asks, and you may present any supporting documents when requested. Before leaving the window, please remember to check that an Immigration Stamp has been placed on your passport. This is very important because you will not be permitted to enrol if your visa is not activated by an immigration stamp (more information is availabe on Enrolment FAQ webpage).

Can I travel to the UK with a Tier 4 visa linked to a previous course of study that I recently completed (to study a course at the University of Warwick)?

Please be aware that it is risky to enter the UK in order to take up a course of study at the University of Warwick with a Tier 4 visa which is associated to a course you have recently completed (whether at Warwick or not), even if the date of the visa is valid. You will not have permission to enrol until you have submitted a Tier 4 visa application using a Warwick CAS and even if you are permitted entry to the UK, it does not mean that you will be eligible to make a new Tier 4 visa application from within the UK (you should first check your eligibility for making a Tier 4 Visa application in the UK). A Tier 4 visa application made outside of the UK is usually processed faster (an average of 3 weeks processing time outside of UK vs 8 weeks in the UK), and cheaper. Where possible, you should apply for a new Tier 4 visa with a University of Warwick CAS number for the correct course before travelling to the UK.

If you currently hold a valid Tier 4 visa linked to a previous course of study, and do not have sufficient time to apply for a Tier 4 visa using a Warwick CAS from your home country to start a new course with us, your options are:

1) Check whether there is a 'user pay service' available in your home country. In many countries the VFSglobal offers a fast-track visa application service (priority service/ super priority service) so that an application is decided within 5 or 1 working days (from the date you attend the appointment to the date of decision; you should add another 2-3 days before you can collect your passport/documents). If you decide to do so, make sure that you pay the additional charge and use this service.

2) If your only option is to return to the UK with your current valid Tier 4 visa and apply for a Warwick Tier 4 visa in the UK before your course start date/latest start date (you will be permitted to start the course as soon as your visa application has been submitted), you will firstly need to check whether you are eligible to make a Tier 4 visa application from within the UK. You will need to be aware of the risk as explained above and should bring all the evidence in your hand luggage to mitigate the risk. You should carry a print-out of your CAS, evidence of accommodation (whether temporary or long-term) as well as documents required for a visa extension (academic qualification, translations, financial documents, police registration certificate etc.) in your hand luggage. You should be prepared to be questioned on entry to the UK and should be ready to answer any questions associated with your intention of returning to the UK to pursue a further course of study. Please also try to arrive in the UK between 9am- 5pm so that the Border Force can contact the 'named contact person' in the International Student Office if they want to seek verification.

Please note that due to the risks associated with this option, you should use this option only after all other options are exhausted.

I applied for a Tier 4 visa but was given an Entry Clearance visa valid for 30 days. Why?

The UK government is changing the way that it issues permission for people to come to the UK from abroad for more than six months. The new system is being rolled out to different countries in three phases but will affect all countries by 31 July 2015, so that students applying for a Tier 4 visa from overseas now need to collect a Biometric Residence Card when arriving in the UK.

When you are preparing to travel to the UK, make sure that you bring the 'decision letter' from your visa application because you will need it to collect your BRP card. When you receive your BRP, make sure that you check all your personal details (spelling of your name, date of birth etc.), work permission condition, and the length of your visa are correct before leaving the collection point.

Can I enter the UK before the start date (or 'valid from' date) of my Tier 4 (including the 30-day) visa?

No. It will not be possible to activate your Tier 4 visa before the start date or valid from date of the visa (the visa must be stamped by an immigration official in order to be activated). If you enter the UK under a different visa category (for example, if you are a non-visa national and have been 'stamped-in' at the port of entry as a visitor), you will need to leave the common travel area and re-enter in order for your Tier 4 visa to be activated.

Please note that if you enter the UK via The Republic of Ireland your visa will not be stamped and, therefore, the University will not have sufficient evidence to prove that your visa has been activated. In this case, you are advised to retain your travel ticket or other proof of the date of your entry so that you are in a position to demonstrate that you have not entered illegally.

Can I use the 30 day travel vignette to travel multiple times?

The 30 day vignette is a multiple travel visa, hence if you have plans such as; you are coming to the UK first and then travelling overseas for a few days and then want to re-enter the UK (without having a BRP) - you will be able to re-enter the UK as long as your re-enter within the 30 day visa valid until date.

If you have travel plans which will take the UK re-entering date beyond the 30 day visa date, then please collect your BRP first. If you cannot collect your BRP then please do not travel as the UKVI will not let you enter the UK after the 30 day visa expires.

Can I still enter the UK/join the course after the 'latest course start date' on my CAS?

No. If you have not received a decision about your visa application after the 'latest course start date' on your CAS, your visa application will be refused as the Home Office will presume that you have missed the latest start date to join your course. Once the 'latest course start date' on your CAS is passed, if you have not fully enrolled (including completing online enrolment and attending an in-person visa check event on campus), you will not be able to join the course in this academic year and you should explore your options regarding deferral.

If you hold an offer for a research course (for example, a PhD), have applied for your Tier 4 visa successfully but unable to travel to the UK before the 'latest course start date' as stated on your CAS due to unexpected circumstances, it may be possible to negotiate a new 'latest course start date' although this is only considered in very exceptional cases. If it is agreed, you should liaise with your Admissions team in the first instance. You must ensure that you have received confirmation in writing from the University confirming that a sponsor note has been added to your live CAS, or the status of your CAS record has been updated and the new latest start date added to it, before travelling to the UK or applying for a new 30-day travel vignette (if applicable). You should print this confirmation in writing and carry it with you in your hand luggage when you travel.

Please note that, if you receive your Tier 4 visa and you travel to the UK after the 'latest course start date' as stated on your CAS, it is highly likely that you will not be permitted to enter by immigration officials. Even if you manage to enter the UK, the University will not permit you to join your course once your 'latest course start date' has passed.

Please note that your Academic Departments will expect you to join your course on time at the start of the course and the 'latest course start date' acts as a safety net if you have unexpected delays.

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For continuing students re-entering the UK:

I am going back to my home country/ on holiday for a short period. Are there any travel safety tips? What should I carry when I return to the UK?

Always travel with a copy of your passport and immigration permission - if your hotel has a safe, store the original documents there and carry duplicates when out and about. If your visa is a separate BRP card, remember that you will need both this and your passport to re-enter the UK when travelling overseas. Be mindful of your surroundings, never leave bags open or unattended and avoid carrying on your person high-cost items like digital cameras or tabletsIf travelling overseas, take out comprehensive travel insurance which will cover both your personal belongings and health care. If the worst happens and you lose your passport and/or visa, follow our 'Lost Passports and Visa' page for full advice on how to re-enter the UK.

When returning to the UK, you are advised to carry the following documents in your hand luggage:

  • Your passport
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (if applicable)
  • Status letter confirming your registration at Warwick. You can request this from Student Reception in Senate House on campus, or CAS print out if you have a Tier 4 visa and the end date on your CAS is longer than what is shown on the status letter (i.e. for PhD students)
  • Police Registration Certificate (if this is required). If you have registered with the Police but are waiting to receive back your Police Registration Certificate from them, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police will stamp your passport confirming that you have registered with them and you can show this if required. If you are required to register with the Police but have not yet done so, you are advised that you may have problems when you try to re-enter the UK if you are unable to show your Police Registration Certificate. You should therefore register with the Police prior to arranging travel, if this is a requirement for you.
  • Any evidence that you have been given consent to be absent from studies, for example, print-out of an email (if the travel will take place outside recognised University vacation periods because you have no class scheduled, or if you have been given permission by your academic department or the University). This should only be presented at the UK border upon request.
  • Documentation to support new Tier 4 visa application (if your current visa is about to expire)

I am planning to travel after my dissertation submission date/last exam date but before the official 'course end date'. Am I allowed to re-enter the UK using my Tier 4 student visa (if it is still valid)?

If you will return to the UK before your 'course end date' as detailed in your CAS, then you should be permitted entry because you are still a registered student and meet the requirement of your Tier 4 visa. The fact that you have fulfilled the academic requirement of the course does not change your immigration status as a student.

However, if you have had a course change (from a longer to a shorter course), or, are completing your research course earlier, and the university has reported your 'early completion', then you should not attempt to return to the UK using your current Tier 4 visa after the date of the report (you will receive an email notification within 24 hours of the report being made). This is because the report will trigger curtailment of your visa and you do not always receive notification from the UKVI successfully.

If you are returning to the UK very close to your course end date then you may expect the immigration officer at border control to question your reason of returning to the UK. We would therefore recommend that you bring 1) evidence that you are a current student (e.g., a Student Status Letter); 2) evidence of return ticket leaving the UK (if available) and 3) evidence of your purpose of returning to the UK (e.g., a copy of a new CAS/offer if you will pursue further studies; a copy of email confirming you will attend a Graduation Ceremony; print-out of a CoS if you have secured sponsorship for a work visa etc.). You should present these only if you are asked to do so and these should mitigate the risk of you being refused entry. You should avoid mention of work, if at all possible without being dishonest, as this often raises doubts in a border force officer's mind about your real reasons for re-entering the UK.

I am planning to leave the UK after I have finished my course but before I have attended my graduation ceremony. Am I allowed to re-enter the UK using my Tier 4 student visa (if it is still valid) to attend my graduation ceremony?

Since March 2018, we have been assured by the Home Office UKVI Policy Team that the Border Force officers have been briefed that attending the Graduation Ceremony is a permitted activity for students who have completed their course successfully (but NOT as a result of early completion), hold a valid Tier 4 visa and wish to return to the UK for the purpose of attending their Graduation Ceremony. If you fall into this category, you no longer need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa (although you can if you wish to). However, please note that the Border Force officials retain the right to establish that you are genuinely coming back to the UK to do what you said you would, and so it is important that you have sufficient evidence in your hand luggage in case you are asked (for example, email sent from Graduation Team confirming your registration; email from professional services or your academic department confirming you have passed your degree; return ticket to your home country after the Graduation Ceremony, etc.).

If you have any questions about inviting family/friends to attend your Graduation Ceremony, please refer to the Graduation webpage and the Standard Visitor Visa webpage as they will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa.

I am planning to travel in Europe after I have finished my course but return to the UK before my Tier 4 visa expiry date. Am I allowed to re-enter the UK using my Tier 4 student visa if there are good reasons, for example, if I have secured an internship?

Since March 2018, we have been assured by the Home Office UKVI Policy Team that if your complete your course successfully (and NOT as a result of early completion), the Border Force officers have been briefed that returning to the UK after the 'course end date' on your CAS to pursue further studies, undertake internship or look for internship or switch to Tier 2 visa etc., should not be considered as a 'change of circumstance'. Therefore, if you have completed their course successfully, hold a valid Tier 4 visa and wish to return to the UK for one of the reasons as stated above, you should be permitted to re-enter the UK.

However, please note that the Border Force officials retain the right to establish that you are genuinely coming back to the UK to do what you said you would, and so it is important that you have sufficient evidence in your hand luggage in case you are asked (for example, a letter confirming your internship; evidence that you are looking for internship; a print-out of CoS for Tier 2 visa; an email from professional services or your academic department confirming you have passed your degree; a return ticket to your home country before your Tier 4 visa expiry date etc).

As with any changes, some of the UK Border Force officials may not remember this and so the safest option is always not to leave the UK during this period (especially if the stake is high, for example, if you already have a CoS for a Tier 2 visa and failure to re-enter the UK may mean that you lose the opportunity for a Tier 2 job). However, if you have shown sufficient evidence to the UK Border Force official but are still experiencing difficulties re-entering the UK, please give us a call immediately.

Students with dependants or baby born in the UK

Students with dependants including babies born in the UK, for whom leave has not been applied for and obtained should seek advice from the Immigration Service before travelling out of the UK with their baby. This is because the immigration rules have changed and there is now a restriction on applying for leave for a baby born within the UK. This could mean student parents needing to obtain entry clearance from outside the UK before being able to re-enter with their baby.

If you have specific queries that have not been covered here, please contact the Immigration Service.

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Useful Links

British Council's

Creating Confidence booklet

for more useful tips to ensure your time studying in the UK is safe and enjoyable