There are a number of different reasons why a non-EEA national may apply for a UK Visitor Visa. These include sightseeing or visiting friends and family in the UK, attending business conferences and receiving medical treatment. Holders of the Standard Visitor Visa are permitted to remain in the UK for up to six months.
This visa category differs from others in that it is easier to apply for than those that adhere to the Points-Based System (PBS). However, holders are afforded less rights whilst in the UK. For example, a holder of this visa is not permitted to bring their dependants to the UK.
The visa category centres on the applicant’s reasons for travelling to the UK. Further to this, applicants must demonstrate that they have the necessary funds to support themselves.
What is a Visitor Visa?
The Standard Visitor Visa has replaced a number of different types of visitor visa and amalgamated them into one.
It enables its holders to come to the UK for a short amount of time. The reasons for travelling to the UK are of huge importance in this visa category.
An individual can only enter the UK on a Visitor Visa for a reason deemed permissible. Such reasons include:
- To take part in business-related activities or sporting/arts activities
- To take part in leisure activities such as tourism or visiting friends and family
- To receive private medical treatment
- To turn a civil partnership into a marriage
If the reasons for which you intend to come to the UK are different to these, it may be that this visa is not appropriate and that an alternative type of visa needs to be applied for.
A fitting example would be if a UK-based organisation was paying you to visit on account of your business expertise.
If this was the case, a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa would be appropriate, as any paid work is prohibited on a Standard Visitor Visa.
What documents will I need in order to successfully apply?
To apply for this form of leave to remain, you must be able to provide a number of documents to the Home Office.
Upon applying, you’ll need to provide a valid passport or other permissible travel identification. You will require a blank page within your passport for your visa. It is imperative that the passport you provide is valid for the duration of your stay in the UK. For documents that are not in either English or Welsh, you will need to provide a certified translation. This is the bare minimum you will need to apply. The exact documentation you require will depend on your specific circumstances. However, you will also be expected to provide:
- Your planned travel dates to the UK and the details of where you will be staying during your time in the country
- The estimated cost of the trip
- Your current home address and the length of time you’ve spent there
- Personal information such as the names and dates of birth of your parents
- Contact information of the people you will be visiting in the UK
- Proof that you have a genuine relationship with those you will be visiting
- Details of any previous criminal convictions
- Proof that you intend to leave the UK either before or once your allocated time comes to an end. This can take the form of proof of employment of educational commitments in your home country, or proof that you have a family.
- Proof that you are able to support yourself financially for the duration of your trip. This can take the form of payslips and recent bank statements.
How long will it take for my application to be processed?
The earliest you can apply for this visa is 3 months before you are due to travel to the UK.
You should receive a decision on your application within three weeks.
In some visa application centres, fast tracked processing is available, which aims to process your application within 5 working days.
However, there is a premium fee involved with this service.
How long will I be able to stay in the UK for?
Normally you will be able to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. There are some circumstances in which you may be able to stay longer:
- If you’re travelling to the UK for private medical treatment, you can stay for up to 11 months
- If you’re an academic travelling to the UK for research purposes, you and your partner may be able to stay for up to 12 months
There is an increased fee in both of these circumstances (£190). Additionally, you will need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit in these circumstances.
How much does it cost to get a Standard Visitor Visa?
As it stands, a UK Visitor Visa costs £95.
This is the price for a standard six-month version.
As mentioned, it is possible to apply for a long-term visitor visa, however there is a higher cost associated with these.
The prices for long-term visitor visas are as follows:
- £361 for a 2-year stay
- £655 for a 5-year stay
- £822 for a 10-year stay
Which visa types have been replaced by the Standard Visitor Visa?
As touched upon, a number of different Visitor Visa types have now been amalgamated into the Standard Visitor Visa. These are:
- Business (this includes visas for academics and medical professionals)
- Prospective Entrepreneur
- Private Medical Treatment
- Approved Destination Status (ADS)
Will I be eligible?
There are a number of requirements that must be satisfied in order to demonstrate eligibility.
- You must demonstrate that intend to leave the UK either prior to or on the expiry date of your visa.
- You must prove that you are able to support yourself (and any dependants you intend to bring with you) financially during your time in the UK.
- You must demonstrate that you are able to pay for your onward journey once your time in the UK comes to an end.
- You must have proof of the business activities or other activities you intend to participate in during your time in the UK.
It is hugely important that you understand which activities are permitted under the terms of the visa. Taking part in activities that are not permitted will mean that you are in breach of these terms.
Will I be able to apply for an extension?
The only circumstances in which you are able to apply for an extension is if the visa was initially granted for less than six months. If this is the case, you can apply to extend it to the full six months. In all other circumstances, you will not be able to apply for an extension in-country.
Six months is the maximum amount of time that a Visitor Visa enables you to stay in the UK for. Even though it is possible to obtain Visitor Visas that last for up to ten years- if your circumstances are such that you need to make repeat visits- each individual visit must not exceed the maximum six-month limit.
If you hold a standard visitor visa (as opposed to long-term) you will need to re-apply in your home country if you need to spend more time in the UK. There are no circumstances under which you will be permitted to extend your visa whilst in the UK. If you need to spend longer than six months in the UK, you will need to apply for a different type of visa that permits this.
Which activities does it permit?
The visa permits the following activities:
- Business-related activities such as those deemed appropriate under a Business Visitor Visa
- Studying, however this must not be the sole purpose of your visit and the amount of time spent studying must not exceed 30 days
- Converting a civil partnership into a marriage
- Travelling through the UK whilst in transit to a different destination
- Participating in an exchange programme of educational trip- this activity is only valid for those under the age of 18
Which activities are not permitted?
The following activities are prohibited for holders of the UK Standard Visitor Visa:
- Taking part in paid or unpaid work
- Receiving any form of public fund or benefit
- Becoming married or registered a civil partnership
- Residing in the UK in the form of frequent, prolonged visits
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Applying for a UK Visitor Visa is often a difficult and complex process if attempted alone. As a result, our team of expert immigration lawyers are here to guide you through each step, ensuring that every stage is as easy as possible. If you choose our lawyers, you will receive:
- A Letter of Representation that outlines the strengths of your case to the Home Office, drawing attention to any laws that substantiate your application
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- Continuous correspondence with the Home Office throughout the application process
If your circumstances mean that you will need to visit the UK regularly over a longer timeframe, you can apply for a long-term standard visitor visa. This can last 2, 5 or 10 years. Holders of this visa are permitted to stay in the country for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.
If you’re under the age of 18 when you apply for a long-term visitor visa, it will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18.
You are not permitted to bring your dependants/family members with you under the terms of this visa. If you need them to come to the UK with you, you would need to make a separate Visitor Visa application for them.
As it states above, there are number of documents that you will be required to submit as part of your visa application. Here are some you may also require:
- The address and contact number of your current employer
- The passport number, name and date of birth of your partner
- Details of your travel history from the last 10 years
- The names, addresses and passport numbers of any family members you have in the UK
Once all of the necessary documents have been provided, you will then need to provide biometric information such as your fingerprints and a digital photograph.