Date updated: Thursday 30th November 2023

We are aware that independent schools often receive enquiries from prospective overseas students seeking to study at their schools on a short-term basis under the Visitor visa route. In some instances, this may be possible provided the visit falls within the strict parameters of the Visitor visa route – i.e. it meets the requirements of either an educational exchange or a course of study that lasts less than six months.

However, independent schools that accept students on Visitor visas should be aware that there are some activities that visitors are permitted to undertake while in the UK and some activities that are not permitted.
This is especially the case for independent schools that hold sponsor licences. Student and Child Student sponsor licence holders are under a duty to ensure that all students within their school have the right to study in the UK and are complying with the terms of their leave. As such, should the UKVI consider that a student on a Visitor visa is not undertaking a permitted activity at an independent school, there is a risk that this could be considered a breach of the sponsorship duties. Failure to comply with the requirements and conditions of the Visitor visa route can also result in the student visitor being penalised by the UKVI.

To assist independent schools with this careful assessment of the immigration rules, Stone King has developed a comprehensive guidance note, which can be found here.

This guidance document outlines the activities that child visitors are permitted to undertake while in the UK, as well as activities that are not permitted. It also includes worked examples for an independent school to follow when considering if the Visitor visa rules are satisfied, as well as a template letter to a prospective student outlining the legal requirements (which can also be presented to an entry clearance officer if requested).

Please do contact our Head of Immigration, Julie Moktadir (, should you have any queries in relation to this training package or on independent schools accepting students on Visitor visas more generally.