Attending your graduation
Attending your graduation on Student visa (previously Tier 4)
Please choose from the two options below one which best describes your current visa:
If your Student/Tier 4 visa expires after your graduation date
- If you stay in the UK between your course end date and your graduation date, you can remain in the UK on your Student visa to attend your graduation ceremony.
- If you leave the UK between your course end date and your graduation date - students must be seeking leave to enter to the UK for the same purpose as that for which their Student visa was granted. If you have travelled outside the UK between your study end date and the graduation day, when you attempt to re-enter the UK, please ensure that you carry with you some evidence that you will be attending your graduation.
Your BRP allows you to travel in and out of the UK until it expires, however, if you do return to the UK shortly before your visa expires and after your study end date has passed, the border officers may ask you some additional questions to understand why are you returning to the UK so close to your visa expiry date. You should be prepared to reply to these questions.To support this, you may choose to prepare some paperwork and carry it with you when re-entering the UK:
- You may choose to request a student status letter from your Faculty Office and ask them to include your graduation date on this letter;
- If you have received email invitation or any related communication from the Graduation Office about your graduation ceremony, this evidence could also prove to be useful when re-entering the UK on your Tier 4 visa for your graduation;
- You may wish to request a visa support letter issued by the Graduation office. Please see below in Standard Visitor Visa section for more information on how to request this letter. This letter can only be issued when your graduation attendance has been confirmed.
- A copy of your return ticket home (if available).
If you are worried about re-entering the UK on your Student/Tier 4 visa, you may choose to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. Please see the next section for more information.
If your Student/Tier 4 visa expires before your graduation date
If your Student/Tier 4 visa expires before your graduation ceremony, your visa options to attend the graduation are as follows:
- leave the UK and re-enter on Standard Visitor visa but re-entry would have to be done after your Student/Tier 4 visa has already expired. This is to ensure you are not admitted on a Student/Tier 4 visa which would cause the risk of overstaying. If you arrive during your Student/Tier 4 visa validity time, you would automatically be admitted on your Student/Tier 4 visa as it is more favourable leave. Visitor visa allows to remain in the UK for up to 6 months. Some nationalities would be able to gain entry at the border on arrival but some would have to apply via embassy / visa application centre from a country outside the UK so the costs would vary depending on where you travel, how long you need to stay there and if you have to apply in advance
- apply for the Graduate visa which allows students to remain in the UK for further 2 or 3 years (depending on your course) to live and work in the UK. This visa type costs £715 for visa application plus £1,248 for health surcharge for 2 years or £1872 for 3 years. You would be able to apply for graduate visa from inside the UK after you have been made successful and whilst you still have a valid student visa.
If you are exiting with a lower award or downgrading after third year exams
If you are exiting with a lower award or downgrading in your third year after your final exams (for example, MEng to BEng, MSci to BSc etc), the University will have to report this change in your circumstances to the UKVI and as a consequence your visa will be shortened.
The below guidance applies if you are not staying in the UK to apply for the Graduate Route visa or any other type of visa.
If you downgrade / exit with a lower award shortly after your third year exams and:
- if you stay in the UK between exams and your graduation date, you can remain in the UK on your Student/Tier 4 visa to attend your graduation ceremony. Please make sure you read all email / post communication about visa curtailment sent to you by us or the UKVI and do not overstay the 4-month period stated in our email communication.
- if you leave the UK between your exams and the date of graduation ceremony, we do not advise you attempt to re-enter the UK on the same Student/Tier 4 visa during your visa curtailment (shortened) period. After we have notified the UKVI about you exiting with a lower award or downgrading after your third year exams, you can normally only leave the UK once and, depending on where the UKVI are with processing the University's report, may not be allowed to re-enter on the same visa even if the 4-month period has not yet elapsed. The visa may also lapse if you are already outside the UK when the report is made. In these scenarios, you should apply for a Standard Visitor Visa to re-enter the UK for your graduation. Please see the next section for more information.
Attending your graduation on Standard Visitor Visa
If you are worried about re-entering the UK on your Student/Tier 4 visa or if your visa expires before your graduation day, you will have to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa.
- You cannot apply for a Standard Visitor Visa in the UK
- You cannot switch from a Student/Tier 4 visa to a Standard Visitor Visa when you are in the UK
Check here if you need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa before you travel to the UK:
- If you are required to apply for your Standard Visitor Visa before your travel to the UK, please do so from your home country;
- If you are a non-visa national and can be granted permission to enter as a Standard Visitor at the border, please read the guidance on what documents to prepare here.
Please note – entering as a Standard Visitor would supersede any remaining Student/Tier 4 leave you would have had left.
Supporting documents for your Standard Visitor Visa
Once you have received your graduation invitation email and completed the online form confirming your attendance, you can request a visa support letter to support your Standard Visitor Visa application.
Visa support letter confirms that:
- you are eligible to attend your graduation if the University confirms your academic award
- the date of your graduation ceremony.
Guests’ names are not included in the letter. Two guest tickets are guaranteed for the ceremony.
How to request a visa support letter
To request your visa support letter, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- request a visa letter for graduation
- your name
- student number
- postal address
Please remember, the Graduation Office will only be able to issue this letter if you have received your graduation invitation email and completed the online form confirming your attendance.