Travelling at the end of your studies
Advice on travelling at the end of your studies, including re-entering the UK before your results are released, before your graduation and following your graduation.
What you need to be aware of
As you will have a visa during the 'wrap-up' period, you are allowed to re-enter the UK if you have travelled abroad. UK Visas and Immigration have advised us that you are entitled to leave and return to the UK as often as required.
However, they have also advised us that you may be questioned by Border Force Officers on whether you intend to adhere to the conditions of your visa.
You might also be asked why you are coming back to the UK if you have completed your programme of studies. This is because it is their job to check what you intend to do in the UK.
For people who have a visa for the UK, such as students, this intention test is to confirm the person is arriving for the same general purpose for which their visa was granted. They will want to be satisfied that your circumstances have not significantly changed as to make your visa permission obsolete.
For students specifically, they may want to know your reason for re-entering using your Tier 4/Student visa if you have finished the studies for which it was granted.
In the vast majority of cases, people do not encounter significant problems or even further questions upon arrival. However, it is important to set out the position so that you are aware of what may happen and the kind of documents and actions you might take with you to minimise risk and evidence your position.
If you need to travel after the end date of your course, you should take information about the date you might expect your results to be released and the date of your graduation.
If questioned on arrival, you can advise that you are awaiting the results of your course and that you intend to stay on for your graduation.
You should arrive prepared to show evidence of your graduation date. You should also be able to provide evidence of a flight ticket out of the UK, or to be able to explain that you still have issues to attend to in packing your belongings and ending contracts and accounts.
You should carry evidence with you to show that you intend to leave the UK before your visa expires, or that you intend to make a further immigration application (for example, a CAS or a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for a Tier 2 job).
Early completion for whatever reason is required to be reported to the Home Office. This means you cannot re-enter the UK even though your Tier 4/Student permission still appears to remain valid.
Student Administration will have emailed you using contact details on your student record before any report was made to the Home Office to let you know this was happening and to explain the consequences.
UK Visas and Immigration has confirmed that students who have stopped studying earlier than expected will not be permitted to return to the UK using their Tier 4 visa.