I am an International doctoral student in Canada and want to conduct a brief 4-month research visit to the UK to run some experiments that complement my Ph.D. studies. I have to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa; however, I am really torn between 'short-term study' and 'academic visit' subcategories.

According to the UKVI website I can 'do a short piece of research that’s relevant to your course overseas' under the 'short-term study' option of the visitor visa. But when I choose this option it asks for the proof that I am enrolled or accepted on a UK course, which is not applicable. Does anyone know what I should do? Can I apply under the 'academic visit' even though I am still a student? I have obtained letters from my home and host supervisors supporting my visit.

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    – Willeke
    Jul 21, 2023 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


A visitor visa under the study route is usually the appropriate category for visiting PhD students conducting short-term research in the UK as part of their degree program abroad.

You do not need to show that you are enrolled in a UK institution, only that "you’ve been accepted by a UK higher education institution to take part in research that’s relevant to the course you’re studying overseas", which can be justified by letters from your institution overseas (in Canada) and your host institution (on their official letterheads, preferably from the department or above).

If you are not a Five Eyes or EEA/CH national, your research may need ATAS approval in certain domains (including almost all STEM subjects). This can take a very long time to process, especially for nationals of China, Iran and other "non-friendly" countries, and you need to be prepared for a possible refusal.

  • I see. The only remaining problem is that if I select the 'short-term study' the application asks for the course name, the qualification I get, and the course start and finish dates. Should the dates be the dates that I want to visit the institution in the UK? Also, is the course name my field of research or the Department name? I have obtained the ATAS certificate.
    – KFK
    Jul 21, 2023 at 13:51
  • 1
    @KFK Yes, put some reasonable answer and give an explanation of your status, purpose of stay and other relevant information (duration, funding) in the explanation space provided.
    – xngtng
    Jul 21, 2023 at 14:07

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