SOAS University of London

International Students

Student Visa & overseas travel

When you travel, make sure you carry any official letters we’ve given you, and keep your passport and visa secure at all times. If they’re lost or stolen, you will not be permitted to return to the UK and you’ll have to return to your home country to apply for a new passport.

You should also be able to show immigration staff that you have enough money to support yourself.

Travelling home during term time

We expect you not to travel out of the UK during term time. If you have exceptional circumstances like a bereavement or urgent medical treatment, and you need to return home during the term, you must:

  1. Talk to your course convenor or the Faculty Office to make sure you have academic approval to miss classes (you’ll need exceptional reasons for this, plus email confirmation).
  2. Notify the Registry of when you’re leaving the UK and when you’re expecting to return. They’ll also need to see your academic approval.
  3. Obtain a letter from the Registry that you can present at the borders to show you have the permission to travel.

Travelling during the school holidays

There’s no reason why you can’t travel out of the UK during the holiday periods as long as you have the necessary documents to satisfy the Immigration staff at the port of entry that you meet the requirements for entry to the UK as a student.

Before you travel abroad you should:
  • Check that your passport won’t be expiring while you’re away. If it will be, apply for a new one in plenty of time before your trip, and carry both passports with you when you travel.
  • Check that your current leave to enter or remain in the UK won’t be expiring while you’re away.  If it expires, you might not be allowed back in the UK. You can’t extend your leave to remain when you re-enter the UK. If in doubt, see the International Student and Welfare Advisor.
  • Check with the Embassy of the country you intend to visit whether or not you’ll need a separate visa to travel there. If you do need one, apply for a visitor visa at the Embassy in plenty of time. The Embassy websites should give you all the information you need.
  • If you’re travelling within Europe, apply for a Schengen visa to the Embassy of the country you plan to spend most time in, or the country you’ll go to first. You’ll need a specific letter from the Registry confirming your student status. Each Embassy will have their own application form, and you’ll need to check their website to find out what procedures you need to follow.

Travelling after your studies have finished

Once you’ve finished studying at SOAS, you’ll no longer meet the requirements for entry as a student. So we strongly advise against trying to re-enter the UK after your studies have finished. If you do try, you could be refused entry, or at best admitted as a visitor (non-visa nationals only).  

If you’re planning to switch to another visa category after your studies, we advise that you do this first before travelling.  

Don’t assume that you can easily re-enter the UK under your student visa if you’re no longer a student.

If your return to the UK is delayed

You must let the Registry know your new return date as soon as you know it. That way, we’ll be able to give you an addition letter, to ease your re-entry to the UK.

If you’re travelling outside of term time, you don’t need a letter from SOAS or academic approval.

If you’re at all unsure, the International Student and Welfare Advisor should be able to give you more information and answer any questions.