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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 Office for Global Engagement 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 Global Engagement 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?

  • Your passport and visa (if contained within your passport)
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (if you already have one)
  • Letter from the Home Office confirming the grant of your visa, i.e., decision letter (if you are given a travel visa valid for 30 days)
  • A print-out of Warwick CAS (Confirmation for Acceptance of Studies) email (if not available, a print-out of Statement of Offer)
  • Evidence that you have sufficient funds available to support yourself (e.g. bank statements, sponsor letter)
  • Evidence of accommodation (if available)
  • Evidence of TB Certificate (if required)
  • Police Registration Certificate (if this was required for previous study in the UK).
  • Documents used to support your visa application as mentioned in your CAS, i.e., original degree certificate/transcripts or ATAS certificate
  • A print-out of email from the University confirming a new latest start date if you are travelling to the UK after the original latest start date on the CAS (research students only)

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. When arriving at the UK border, an Immigration Officer may not be satisfied that you meet the Immigration Rules for entry as a Tier 4 student when your current Tier 4 visa is linked to a course/institution by whom you are no longer sponsored and you could be refused entry to the UK. Therefore, in most cases you would be advised to 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) so that an application is decided within 5 working days. If 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 the academic progression rules allow you 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 Office for Global Engagement 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 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)
  • Evidence of TB Certificate (if required)
  • 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 (if the travel will take place outside recognised University vacation periods or if you are given a period of authorised absence). This should only be presented at the UK border upon request.
  • Documentation to support new Tier 4 visa application (if current leave is close to expiry date)

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 will no longer meet the requirement of a student from the date of the report.

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?

In order to enter the UK using your student visa, you must still meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for student visas. Students whose studies have ended and who do not intend to take another course when they return to the UK will have difficulties showing that they still meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for students. If a border force officer considers that your circumstances have changed or that you are attempting to re-enter for a purpose other than that for which your leave was granted, your immigration permission can be cancelled and you can be required to leave the UK or, if you are a non-visa national, you can be granted leave to enter as a visitor instead.

We would recommend that if you are leaving the UK and intending to return for the purpose of just attending your graduation ceremony, you obtain a Visitor (Standard) Visa to do this to avoid any risk in being refused entry to the UK. You should be aware that it is not possible to switch from a visitor visa to another visa category within the UK and this may therefore impact your decision whether to leave the UK before graduation or not.

We are aware that recently, some students have got in touch with the UKVI International Enquiry Service or their local British Embassy with the same question, and some of them have been advised that they can return to the UK to attend Graduation Ceremony using their current Tier 4 visa, as long as the University has not withdrawn their CAS, and that they bring (in their hand luggage) 1) evidence that they have been studying (e.g., a Student Status Letter); 2) evidence of return ticket leaving the UK and 3) evidence that they will be attending the Graduation Ceremony (e.g., a print-out of the confirmation email from the Awards & Ceremony team). We would also advise that you bring a print-out of the email from the UKVI/ Embassy which contains such advice. These should mitigate the risk of you being refused entry as we highlighted above. 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.

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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