Applying for a visa to attend graduation
Students who are not currently in the UK may need to apply for a standard visitor visa to attend graduation.
Do I need a visitor visa?
If you are outside of the UK (for example if your Tier 4/Student visa has expired, or if you are a distance learning student), and your main reason for coming to the UK is to attend your graduation ceremony and perhaps have a short holiday here, then you should apply for a standard visitor visa.
You can apply up to 3 months before you wish to travel to the UK.
It usually takes around 15 working days (starting from the date of your appointment at the visa application centre) for the visa to be processed. However, there are currently global visa delays and visitor applications have been taking an average of 7 weeks in 2022. In some countries you can pay an extra fee for a faster priority service but there is limited availability for this.
You can check the latest visa processing times here:
If you are a visa national then you must obtain the visitor visa before travelling to the UK. It is not possible to switch into this category from within the UK. You can apply in any other country, whether you are resident there or not.
If you are a non-visa national then you can also choose to apply at the UK Border when you arrive.
You can check whether you need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK on the UK Home Office website:
If you are a visa national then you must obtain the visitor visa before travelling to the UK. It is not possible to switch into this category from within the UK. You can apply in any other country, whether you are resident there or not. If you are a non-visa national then you can also choose to apply at the UK Border when you arrive. You can check whether you need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK on the UK Home Office website: UK Home Office website
Full information about the Standard Visitor visa, including how to apply, is available on the UK Home Office website:
What documents will I need?
The exact documents you need will depend on the details of your visit. The following is provided as a general guide. With the exception of your passport, all other documents can be originals or photocopies.
You must submit your original, valid passport. Your passport must have at least one page that is blank on both sides.
If you are not making your visa application from your country of nationality, you will need to submit evidence that you have permission to be in the country in which you are applying.
You will need to prove that you will be attending graduation. After you have registered for the graduation ceremony and ordered your gown and hood, you can request a letter to confirm that you have done this. You can find out how to do this on the University's graduation webpage:
If you will be doing any other activities whilst you are here, for example taking a short holiday, you will also need to show evidence of this.
You will need to demonstrate how you will fund your visit, and that you can afford to pay for your onward journey when you leave the UK.
There is no exact amount of money that you need to show, as this will depend on the nature of your visit. For example, if you will be staying with friends or family for a week, this will cost significantly less than if you will spend a month touring the UK staying in luxury hotels. This is why you should be clear about what you intend to do and where you intend to stay.
As a rough guide, Student route applicants coming to study in Edinburgh are required to show a minimum of £1023 per month for living costs.
There is no specific requirement for how you show this money. You could use your own bank statements, or your parents’ bank statements. Payslips or other proof of income is also acceptable, but it is important that you can prove that the money is available to you for your visit to the UK, and will not be used for other things.
The documents you provide should clearly show the source of your funds, particularly if the amount of money you will spend on the visit is disproportionate to your income/savings. For example, if your bank statements show that you have very little income or savings and then you have suddenly received a large deposit into your account, you should explain where this has come from and provide additional evidence to support this.
You must show that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit. The best way to do this is to provide evidence of any ties you have to the country you will be returning to - e.g. documents relating to employment, education, family, housing etc.
Please note that it is not necessary to submit flight details with your application. UKVI recommend that you do not book flight tickets until after your visa has been processed.
You will need to provide a professional translation for any documents which are not in English.
The above is provided as a general guide, however please note that the Student Immigration Service cannot give specific advice on visitor visa applications.
The Home Office have produced a guide to supporting documents on their website:
If you require specific advice for your situation you can find a list of regulated immigration advisers on the UK Government website:
When your visa is issued
Your visitor visa will be valid for 6 months. You do not have to travel on the exact dates provided in your visa application, however it is advisable to adhere to these dates (or at least the same duration of visit) as much as possible. If your plans change significantly, you may need to explain the reason for this to UK Border Force when you arrive, or to UK Visas & Immigration in future visa applications.
If you have applied for your visitor visa before travelling to the UK, you should carry all of your supporting documents with you in your hand luggage, as UK Border Force may request to see them when you arrive.
As a visitor, you will not be able to work in the UK and you will not be able to claim public funds. You will also not be able to extend your stay beyond 6 months or to switch into any other immigration category from within the UK.
You may be liable to pay for medical treatment in the UK and so you could consider taking out private insurance to cover this before you travel.