The IAS Visa Wizard is the easy way to find the correct visa for you
A non-European national can apply for a Visitors Visa under various categories including coming to the UK as a tourist, to visit family or on business, as an entertainer or sportsperson, or for special reasons like receiving private medical treatment or to get married. If you come to the UK as a visitor you are generally permitted to remain for up to six months. IAS are the UK’s leading experts in immigration law and we have an excellent record in assisting with Visitor Visa applications for all purposes.
Visitor Visas allow foreign nationals who are subject to immigration control to enter the UK for a short period of time. This period is usually a maximum of six months. This visa route is different from those under the Five-Tier Points-Based system, as it is usually easier to apply for and obtain. Visitor Visas also tend to grant you less UK rights (for example, you cannot bring dependants with you while on this visa cetegory).
Eligibility to apply for a Visitors Visa will depend on what you intend to do whilst you are in the UK. You must also have sufficient funds to support and accommodate yourself and to be able to meet the cost of your return or onward journey, so we recommend a consultation with one of our specialists prior to submitting your application to ensure success. One of our lawyers will take detailed instructions about your situation to assess your eligibility and find the right type of Visitor Visa for you. He/she will also prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This letter includes information about your case and its merits and it also links your case to other successful cases. Your lawyer will also complete your application to the highest standard in order to maximise your chances of success. Get in touch with us now to speak with one of our advisers.
Eligibility to apply for a General Visitor Visa will depend on what you intend to do whilst you are in the UK. You must also have sufficient funds to support and accommodate yourself and to be able to meet the cost of your return or onward journey.
If you want to come to the UK as a tourist or to visit friends you should apply as a general visitor (or child visitor if you are under 18). A General Visitor Visa is for those who want to enter the UK but are not engaged in any professional activity such as business, sport or entertaining.
You will need to obtain a General Visitor Visa if:
If you want to visit members of your family in the UK you can apply to come here under a Family Visitors Visa (or Child Visitors Visa if you are under 18) although you must be able to demonstrate that you are visiting a close relative or partner, otherwise you will need to apply as a general visitor.
If you want to come to the UK for work purposes, eg, an overseas meeting or UK site visit, you must apply for a Business Visitor Visa. This includes academic visitors, religious workers and doctors undertaking clinical attachments. You must be able to show that you are based and receive your salary from abroad.
You may also be eligible to apply for a permitted Paid-Engagement Visitors Visa.
If you want to come to the UK on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur Visa) and you need to spend time here first to have discussions and secure funding to meet the financial criteria under the points-based system, you can apply for a visa as a prospective entrepreneur.
If you want to come to the UK to participate in arts festivals, music competitions, charity events or to make a public appearance you need to apply as an entertainer visitor (or child visitor if you are under 18).
If you do not meet the requirements to be an Entertainment Visitor, you will need to apply under Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) of the points-based system. You may also be eligible for a Permitted Paid-Engagement Visitors Visa.
If you intend to take part in a sport-related activity, eg, a sporting event or making a personal appearance you can come to the UK on a Sportsperson Visitor Visa (or child visitor if you are under 18).
If you do not meet the requirements to be a sportsperson visitor, you will need to apply under Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) of the points-based system. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply under Permitted Paid-Engagement Visitors.
If you want to come to the UK as a visitor to do short-term, fee-paid activity (under a defined list of visitors invited to come to the UK because of particular skills and expertise) you can apply for a visa as a Permitted Paid-Engagement Visitor.
You may apply to come here for up to one month without the need to be sponsored under the points-based system but you must have a formal invitation to carry out the engagement.
If you want to study in the UK for up to six months (or 11 months for an English Language course), you can come here on a Student Visitor Visa.
If you want to come to the UK for up to 48 hours on your way to another country, you can come here as a visitor in transit.
If you have a specific reason for coming to the UK, eg, receiving private medical treatment or getting married/registering a civil partnership, you may be able to apply as a special visitor.
If you do not intend to leave soon after the ceremony and your prospective partner is a British Citizen or has settled status in the UK, you will need to apply as a Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner and after the ceremony switch onto the category of Spouse or Civil Partner.
If you are under 18 and want to come to the UK for less than six months, including to study, you must apply under the Child Visitor category.
As a general rule, you will not be able to extend your UK Visitor Visa in-country, unless you were granted a visit visa of less than six months. In which case you can extend your visit visa in the UK to reach the maximum six months.
Under a UK Visitor Visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for a maximum period of six months, although you may get a Visitor Visa that lasts for one, two, five or ten years if you need to make repeat visits to the UK. Even with one of the longer visas, each individual visit to the UK must not last longer than the maximum six month period.
Under a UK Visitor Visa, you will need to leave after six months and then re-apply in your country of origin if you need extra time for your visit. It is not possible to extend your visit visa whilst still in the UK.
If you are looking to remain in the UK for longer than six months, we would suggest that you speak to an immigration expert to discuss other visa options that may be more suitable for your trip or try using our Visa Wizard to assess your best options.
If your spouse is an EU national or a native of Switzerland, then you can apply to stay in the UK with your spouse/partner, although there are requirements that will need to be met in order for you to do so.
If your partner or spouse is from outside the EU or (Switzerland) then you will need to consult an immigration lawyer to properly discuss your options. For further information on the requirements needed to apply, or if your spouse/partner is living in the UK on a visa from outside of the EU, then speak to one of our immigration experts who will be able to advise you on the best option to suit your situation.
We understand that it can be difficult finding which type of Visitor Visa is best for you. If you are struggling, try using our Visa Wizard, which will help decipher the best visa option for you depending on your circumstances.
Applying for a Visitor Visa can often be complex, as you must demonstrate sufficient evidence to the Home Office of your reason for travelling to the UK. Our team of highly-qualified immigration lawyers can help guide you through the enquiry and application process for a Visitor Visa.
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