Visiting the US with a UK Student Visa: Overview
Students from the UK who hold valid Student Visas have two main options for visiting the US temporarily as tourists. One choice is to apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa which permits stays up to 6 months.
Another option is to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. This requires getting travel authorisation through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). With an approved ESTA, UK Student Visa holders can visit for up to 90 days without requiring a formal visa.
To be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, students need to show proof of enrollment at a UK university and strong ties to the UK. While in the US as tourists, they cannot study or work.
- Visiting the US with a UK Student Visa: Overview
- Travelling to the United States with a UK Student Visa: Eligibility Requirements
- Travelling Outside the UK While Studying
- Types of Visas for Visiting the US
- How To Apply for a Visitor Visa
- What Documents Do I Need for a US Visitor Visa?
- Processing Time and Fees
- What To Do If My Visa Gets Denied?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Travelling to the United States with a UK Student Visa: Eligibility Requirements
To apply for a visa or the Visa Waiver Program, you must:
- Have a UK Student Visa that is valid for at least six months after you enter the US
- Prove you have enough funds to support yourself during your time in the US
- Have a return flight booked at the end of your stay
- Complete ESTA clearance and meet all normal US Visitor Visa requirements (Waiver Program applicants only)
- Prove you are enrolled in a university or college in the UK
- Have a clear criminal record
As you will be applying as a third-country national, what is critical is proving you will return to the UK after your trip. As such, a UK student visa with only a few weeks or months of validity left might be a red flag.
Travelling Outside the UK While Studying
As an international student in the UK on a Student Visa, it is important to understand the rules and limitations around travelling abroad during your studies. While occasional weekend or holiday trips are generally allowed, leaving the country for long periods of time during the academic term can negatively impact your visa status.
If you are uncertain about your travel plans outside the UK then reach out to an immigration expert. They can provide information on the maximum number of days you are allowed to be out of the country, as well as any paperwork you may need to submit before travelling or during your return.
Additionally, keep your passport and Biometric Residence Permit safe when travelling, and avoid going abroad while waiting for a Student Visa decision. Leaving the country can be seen as canceling your application and can jeopardise your visa status.
Types of Visas for Visiting the US
As a Student Visa holder, you might be eligible to apply for ESTA for visits up to 90 days. However, if you plan to stay in the US for longer, you’ll need to get a formal visa. There are two types of nonimmigrant visas that allow entry to the US for visitor purposes:
- B-1 Visa – for business
- B-2 Visa – for tourism and medical treatment
How To Apply for a Visitor Visa
Once you confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria for a visa, you can apply. To do this you will need to follow these steps:
- Fill out the DS-160 form online and print out the confirmation page
- Pay the MRV application fee
- Schedule your visa interview
- Gather the required documents for your visa file
- Attend the visa interview
You can apply for your visa at the US Embassy in London or the US Consulate in Belfast.
We know that applying for a visa can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, as seasoned experts we’ve helped thousands of applicants get their visas approved. Give us a call at 0333 4149244 or contact us online.
What Documents Do I Need for a US Visitor Visa?
To apply for the B-1/B-2 Visa as a UK Student Visa holder, you need to provide the following:
- Confirmation page of the DS-160 application form
- Passport photo (you don’t need an extra photo if you uploaded one to the DS-160 form)
- Valid passport with at least 6 more months remaining after your planned trip to the US and a blank page
- Evidence of your UK immigration status
- ACRO police certificate if you’ve ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted
- Appointment confirmation page
- Previous US visas if you’ve travelled to the US before with an old passport
- Invitation letter if applying for a B-2 tourist visa
- Documents if you’ve ever been denied entry or deported from the US before
Processing Time and Fees
For most visa applications from the UK, approval takes three to five work days. However, complicated cases can take up to 6 months or longer. For those who applied via the Interview Waiver Program, approval takes about three weeks.
The application fee for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa is $160 per applicant. This must be paid upfront before the visa interview and is usually non-refundable.
What To Do If My Visa Gets Denied?
If your visa application is denied, don’t panic. You still have options. Here’s what you can do:
- Correct any wrong information in your application for future submissions
- Provide additional documents like bank statements and employment verification
- Be honest and straightforward when answering interview questions
- Hire an immigration lawyer to review your case and see if you can appeal
How Can IAS Help?
Realising your dreams of visiting the US starts with the right legal support. You’ve worked hard to secure your UK Student Visa and now you want to visit the US but how do you navigate the complex application process?
Our attorneys at IAS helped thousands of students from the UK and Europe visit the US quickly and easily without jeopardising their visa status. We keep up-to-date with constantly changing rules and requirements. We’ll carefully review your case, clearly explain your options, and guide you through every step of the visa or EST application process.
Last modified on October 31st, 2023 at 12:25 pm
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The UK Student Visa allows you to study in the UK, but it does not grant you automatic entry to other European countries. You may need to apply for a Schengen visa or meet each country’s entry requirements.
With a UK Student Visa, you will be able to travel within England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Ireland is a separate country from the United Kingdom, and it has its own immigration policies. The UK Student Visa does not automatically grant you entry into Ireland.
If you’re a dependent spouse or have children under 21, they may be eligible for a visa tied to your main UK Student Visa. Or they can apply for their own B-2 visa.