British Student Visa: Travelling Abroad During Your Studies
Generally speaking, overseas students are allowed to travel abroad during their studies and should have no problems re-entering the UK after their trip abroad as long as:
the date of travel falls within their holiday period
their Tier 4 student visa/Biometric Residence Permit is still valid and
their circumstances have not changed.
It is important to remember that Border Force Officials are required to check that anyone, who enters the UK, has the correct visa for their purpose. So, in order to minimise the likelihood of having problems re-entering the UK, I would always recommend that students carry with them the following documents on their travels:
A letter from their university/college confirming their registration and the dates they are permitted to travel
T4 visa/Biometric Residence Permit
Evidence of TB Certificate (if required)
Police Registration Certificate (if this is required).
Proof of availability of funds
In exceptional circumstances, like an urgent medical treatment or bereavement where students have to travel during term time, I would advise that students obtain a consent letter from their school or university showing that they have permission to travel. These documents would only be presented at the UK border, if requested by a Border Force Official.
COMPLETED COURSE or VISA CLOSE TO EXPIRY
Students often contact me and ask me for advice about re-entering the UK after they have completed their course or, if their visa is close to expiry. My advice is always to be very cautious, because it is a grey area. Generally speaking, students should be permitted re-entry to the UK, if their dissertation submission date or their last exam date is before the end of the official course date and they have permission from their university/school to travel.
However, in cases where a student’s visa is very close to expiry, I would advise against making trips outside the UK, because Border Force Officials are entitled to refuse re-entry to the UK on the basis that students, whose studies have ended, no longer meet the Immigration Rules for student visas. The reasoning behind this is that their circumstances have changed and they are attempting to re-enter for a purpose other than that for which their visa was granted. Given that entry refusals must be declared and explained on all future visa applications for the UK and often for other countries, I would recommend not taking a risk.
However, in exceptional circumstances where a student has to travel outside the UK, my advice is to be prepared for the questions of an immigration officer at border control and to have some evidence to back up answers. Students for example, who are intending to pursue further studies, should not only bring student status letter showing that they are current students, but also a copy of a new CAS/offer to show that they will pursue further studies. For those, who have been offered post-graduate work it is important to printout a CoS to show that they have secured sponsorship for a work visa. Again, these documents should only be presented, if asked to do so by a border force official and then be used to mitigate the risk of being refused entry.