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The University of Southampton
Student Services

FAQ Leaving the United Kingdom

This page features frequently asked questions about leaving the United Kingdom for students using a Tier 4 visa.

It is important that you carefully read the questions on this page before contacting the University's Visas and Immigration Student Advice Service. However, if your question has not been answered then please contact us through our online enquiry form.

If I leave the United Kingdom to go travelling whilst studying at the University of Southampton then will I be allowed back into the country with my Tier 4 visa?

This will depend. If you are travelling during your allowed leave period (this varies upon level of study, click here for more information) OR if you have gained authorised leave then you should be allowed back into the United Kingdom. In order to minimise the likelihood of having problems re-entering the UK, we advise you to carry the following documents in your hand luggage for inspection by Border Force Officials:

• Passport

• Visa or Biometric Residence Permit

• Police Registration Certificate (if applicable) showing student's current address and visa status

• CAS email (if current visa is within one month of expiring and student is planning to apply for a Tier 4 extension)

• Evidence of funding (bank statement or sponsor's letter)


However, if you are travelling without permission during periods when you are supposed to be studying OR if you are travelling after the end of your course date then you may not be able to re-enter the United Kingdom.

I am travelling to Europe and need a Schengen Visa. How can I apply for this?

Please visit our webpage on travelling abroad during your studies for further guidance. However, it is important to note that the United Kingdom as well as the Republic of Ireland are NOT part of the Schengen area.

Can I leave the United Kingdom to write up my dissertation?

You are permitted to leave the country to write up your dissertation but you will NOT be allowed to return to the United Kingdom using your Tier 4 visa after you have left. When a Tier 4 visa is granted, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) expect that you will attend your study until your programme end date as stated on your CAS. If you are writing up your dissertation OR on the nominal roll then you are still expected to continue in attendance. We recommend that you show attendance on campus by using your ID card door access regularly (at least once a week) and also to regularly access the University's electronic systems (e.g. logging into: University Computers, eAssignments, Blackboard).

If you are not attending up to your programme end date, the University is required to remove sponsorship and notify the UKVI. From that day you can not re-enter the UK on your tier 4 visa. If you are in the UK you will be given 60 days to leave the country.

Can I leave the United Kingdom to conduct research for my dissertation?

You have to request authorised leave to conduct research outside of the United Kingdom.

If you are an undergraduate student then it is extremely unlikely that you will be required to leave the United Kingdom to conduct research for your dissertation, so it is doubtful that you will be granted authorised leave on this basis.

However, if you are a postgraduate student then you may be required to leave the United Kingdom to conduct primary research. You can download the form from our website and returned filled in to your Faculty's Student Office request authorised leave.

Visit FAQ on absence and attandance for more information on authorised leave.

It is important that you do NOT assume that this authorised leave will be granted and that you do NOT leave the United Kingdom to conduct research without gaining the authorised leave. You should apply as soon as possible and at least 2 weeks before your travel.

What visa type do I need to attend graduation?

If you are on a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa and your graduation is after your current visa expiry date then you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa to come back for your graduation. When you apply for your graduation, the Graduation team will issue you a letter to support your visa application.

I am returning home after the end of my programme but want to return for graduation. Can I use my current visa to return to the UK?

Your Tier 4 visa was issued for the length of your course and additional period of time after you have finished your studies.  When you have completed your programme, you are in your post-study period and you can enter and leave the UK up to the expiry date stated on your visa.

If you do travel during the post-study period, It is recommended that you carry any relevant documents with you to show to the Border Force officer if required e.g details of your visit to the UK, or documents to show that you will submit an application to extend your permission to stay in the UK.




Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you are uncertain about anything or you have a query, then our comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQs) page may have the answer.

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

You can talk to one of our visa advisors by coming to a visa drop-in session, or you can book an appointment for an in depth discussion.

Online enquiry form

Enquiry Form

You can contact us through our online enquiry form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the online enquiry form rather than to directly email us.

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