- UK Visitor Visa Overview
- Documentation Required For Your Application
- Tourist Visa Application Process
- Staying In The UK For More Than Six Months
- Visitor Visa UK Application Fees
- Appealing UK Visitor Visa refusal
- Immigration Status Covered By A Visitor Visa
- IAS’ UK Visitor Visa Services
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can I Get Help From The IAS
Visitor Visa UK
If you’re looking to make a short term stay in the UK, then the standard visitor visa (UK) is likely the visa you’ll need to apply for. Visitor visas in the UK allow you to travel for short term stays of up to six months and can be used for leisure and business, among other reasons.
The visitor visa can act as a short term business visa, a tourist visa for UK holidays, an academic visit visa, a marriage visitor visa to get married or enter into civil partnership, and much more. If you’re coming to the UK for travel, tourism, leisure, short term business needs, or private medical treatment, then the standard visit visa (UK) will give you permission to come to the UK to do so.
What Is The UK Standard Visitor Visa And Who Is It For?
- Leisure – Are you a non-EEA national looking for a holiday visa? UK visas for international travellers can sometimes become confusing, but the standard visiting visa to UK territories will cover you for up to six months for any leisure purposes. Whether coming for a family visit, sightseeing, or general travel, your needs fall under the standard visa because it functions as a UK general visitor visa and UK tourist visa. To UK holidayers from non-EEA regions, the standard visitor visa is the path to take.
- Business – If you need to enter the UK for short term business requirements such as conferences, events or business appointments, then the general visitor visa UK will allow you to travel to the UK to conduct your business here for a period of up to six months.
- Other reason – The standard visitor visa can also allow you to travel to the UK if you are receiving private medical treatment, for instance.
If you’re not a citizen of either an EEA country or Switzerland, you may well need to go through the online application form process on the gov.uk website in order to get a standard visa. UK visa eligibility can be confusing , however, and there are exceptions.
What Documentation Do I Need To Prove My Eligibility For The Visitor Visa?
To prove your eligibility for the UK visitor visa, it’s important to provide the Home Office with evidence of the general requirements for eligibility as part of your UK visit visa requirements and application. As a non-EEA visa national, you’ll need to prove that:
- You have full intention to leave the UK at the end of your visit and do not plan to stay for longer than six months.
- You have evidence of any activities you intend to perform while in the UK, including business and other activities.
- You can afford your inward and outward journey including flights.
- You have access to sufficient funds in order to support and house yourself and any dependents throughout your stay without accessing public funds.
It’s one thing knowing what you need to prove, but it’s another thing understanding how to do so. Immigration rules are strict and the Home Office refuses a lot of visas on the basis of a lack of supporting evidence. Here at IAS, it’s our job to support you in understanding what you need to do to submit a successful application and how to go about it. Visit visa requirements for UK travel can be confusing, but we’re always on hand to provide guidance and assistance when you need it.
To have your visa approved, you’ll need to give details about your current and previous passport numbers or an alternative valid travel identification. Remember, however, that any documentation needs to be accompanied with a certified translation if it isn’t in English or Welsh. Additional documents you might need to provide includes:
- Travel documents that detail the dates on which you plan to travel.
- An immigration record and history of international travel. Visa UK laws require a lot of information to be provided.
- An estimate for the cost of your visit as well proof of sufficient funds such as bank statements.
- Your overseas contact details and address.
- Details of any overseas employer company for which you are travelling to the UK.
The list continues, and the truth is that there’s no limit to the amount of supporting evidence that can help prove your eligibility and support your case. If you feel a little overwhelmed and want some support in putting your application together, get in touch with the team here at IAS. Our immigration lawyers are well-experienced and fully-qualified – no one is better placed to help guide you to visa approval.
How Long Should I Expect The Visa Processing Time To Take?
When planning a trip, it’s important to know what kind of timeframe you can work from. Whether you’re travelling to the UK for business or tourism from somewhere like North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East or Africa, you want to know that your plans aren’t going to be held up while you wait for permission to travel.
You can submit your visa application to the Home Office between three months and 48 hours before you plan to travel.
However, the visa processing time can take often take up to three weeks for applicants outside the EEA and Switzerland. You can take steps to track the application processing period and view your UK visa processing status as it changes. It can be a huge relief to be able to frequently check your visa status. UK processing times are generally quick, but it’s good to keep on top of the ways things progress.
Whether you’re applying from a local visa centre or embassy, or applying via the online forms, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to have your visa approved as soon as possible.
If you’re travelling to the UK for an urgent appointment that you can’t afford to miss, you might want to choose one of the Home Office’s priority services: the Priority Service and the Super Priority Service. These ensure that your application is processed within five working days and 24 hours respectively.
These services come at an extra cost but are fantastic for making sure you get your visa decision delivered within a shorter timeframe. Not all countries offer these services, however, so it’s worth checking at a local visa application centre first.
If you need to visit the UK for business or tourism as soon as possible and you’re struggling to put together your business or tourist visa UK application, the team here at IAS are on to help out.
Our qualified immigration lawyers can offer you a fantastic fast track application package with which they will make sure that your application gets submitted and processed as soon as possible with the best chance of success. This includes booking a Home Office Same-Day Premium slot for you, checking your required documentation, writing a Letter of Representation to the Home Office, and more. Just get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help.
Can I Stay In The UK For Longer Than Six Months?
As a general rule, all Standard UK visitor visas are short term visas limiting the holder to a maximum stay of six months. Immigration rules also prevent you from bypassing this restriction by using the visitor visa or frequent or successive visits, but you are free to enter and leave the UK at will during the time that your visa is valid.
For visitors from the United States, China, Pakistan, India, and other non-EEA countries can, however, apply for a long-term visit visa for UK travel. These are available at an extra cost and can be held for a duration of two years, five years or ten years.
Beware that these visas still restrict you to a maximum single visit of six months or less. However, you can enter and leave the UK multiple times within the allotted time period. A long term visitor visa UK is a great route to take if you know that you’ll need to return to the UK multiple times within a certain period of time.
Non-EEA academic visitors and those receiving private medical treatment in the UK do have access to another solution for a longer-term stay. This is called the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This will mean having to submit biometric information about yourself such as your personal details, fingerprints, a photo, your immigration status and more, but will allow you to stay in the UK for longer than six months. This process is known as biometric enrolment and still requires you to prove evidence of sufficient financial support for your stay.
How Much Does A Visitors Visa UK Cost?
Before beginning a visa application, you want to know how much it’s going to cost for your visitor visa. To UK travellers from non-EEA countries, visa fees can vary. But the standard UK visitor visa costs are the same – £100. However, if you’re planning on staying for longer than 6 months, it might be that you’re applying for a long-term standard visa, in which case there are different costs involved:
- 2-Year Visa – £376
- 5-Year Visa – £670
- 10-Year Visa – £837
International travelling can be costly as it is – you don’t want to overlook planning for the correct visa fees and finding yourself caught out when it comes time to submit your application.
Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we often see applicants frustrated by visa costs – if you’re visiting the UK for a family wedding, holiday, or other short term stays, then costs can begin to pile up.
The gov.uk website has a fantastic tool with which you can check the correct visa fees for your journey before applying, and we always recommend that applicants make use of this.
Appealing UK Visitor Visa refusal
There are a number of available options when it comes to a Visitor Visa refusal. These options are outlined in detail below:
- Re-apply for your visa with a new application
- Submit a request for an appeal (only possible on human rights grounds)
- Apply for a judicial review
The advantages of each option is explained in this table:
|Type of remedy||Advantage||Disadvantage|
|Re-apply||A fresh application gives the opportunity for correcting reasons for error, e.g., documents not submitted||Additional cost of having to pay for a new application|
|Appeal on human rights grounds||Not expensive, not likely to have to pay legal costs of the other party, can be a quicker option, sometimes can submit new evidence||The judge makes factual findings and makes a decision about the case|
|Judicial review||Can be expensive, risk of having to pay legal fees of the other party, entire process can be lengthy||No new evidence can be submitted, costs of the other party can be recovered if successful, other party may reverse their decision|
Every immigration case is different, and it is recommended that you work with an immigration adviser to ensure that your case is given the appropriate attention, and all your circumstances considered.
For expert support and advice with your UK Visitor Visa refusal case, contact our specialist advisers today.
The Standard Visitor Visa Category Covers A Range Of Other Visas
The visitor visa allows foreign nationals subject to UK immigration laws to enter the country for a short period for a range of different reasons. This is because the standard UK visit visa covers a range of other types of visas for UK travel and various sub-categories of visas, including:
- Family Visit Visa – For non-EEA nationals wanting to travel to the UK for a family visit, it’s necessary to apply for the UK family visitor visa category. As standard, this visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months to see family. When visiting the UK under the family visit visa, you aren’t permitted to work or claim public funds while here. You also can’t bring dependents with you, meaning that if you’re planning on travelling with other family members, you’ll need to make sure that each travelling family member has a valid family visit visa UK.
It’s also the case that UK family visit visas are difficult to obtain compared to other types of UK visa. For foreign nationals subject to UK immigration laws, family visas have very strict requirements and a challenging application process. You’ll need to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself throughout the duration of your stay, as well as provide proof that you fully intend on returning home at the end of your maximum six months stay. The family visitor visa (UK) requirements are difficult to meet, but our OISC-regulated immigration lawyers can help you to make sense of the process.
- Child Visitor Visa – Any non-EEA national under the age of 18 needs to apply for a child visitor visa before travelling to the UK. This is another visa that falls under the standard visitor visa category and is required for any under-18 with UK travel plans. Whether travelling to visit family or friends, as part of an exchange programme, or for education, the child visitor visa covers you for up to six months of UK travel. Visa applications for child visas need to be thorough.
Whether the application is being made by the child or the parent, it’s necessary to prove that the under-18 will have the necessary suitable accommodation and care during their stay. This might include proving they have sufficient funds and travel plans as part of the application. You also need to prove that the minor has a recognised parent or guardian who is responsible for their care in their home country.
- Business Visitor Visa – It’s important not to confuse the business visitor visa with other UK work and business visas such as the investor visa, the skilled worker visa, or the tier 1 entrepreneur visa, for instance. If you don’t understand the differences between these visas, you could find yourself caught out with a valid visa that doesn’t actually allow you to do what you want when travelling to the UK. Visa visitors can often find themselves applying for the wrong visa. For example, the business visitor visa is quite limiting in that it only allows you to visit the UK on a short term basis – up to six months – and there’s a limited list of specific business activities you can perform while here.
For example, with a business visitor visa, you can attend conferences and training, complete academic work, participate in some sporting events, negotiate and sign deals and contracts, and carry out inspections, among other functions. However, you can’t do any paid work or access public funds while in the UK. You’re eligible for the business visitor visa regardless of whether you are working for an employer or self-employed.
- Student Visitor Visa – If you’re a visiting UK visa national hoping to study on a short term basis, you’ll need to apply for the student visitor visa. Also known as the short-term study visa, this is a type of UK visa that allows you to travel to the UK to study for no longer than six months.
This isn’t to be confused with the student visa, which allows foreign nationals to study in the UK for periods of more than six months but is instead measured on a points-based system.
Essentially, if you or the applicant plans to travel and study at a UK institution for an undergraduate degree or other long term course, the student visitor visa won’t cover your needs.
If, however, you’re an international student planning on studying for a maximum period of six months for a short term qualification, then this is the visa you need to apply for.
- Visitor In Transit Visa – If you’re travelling to the UK as part of a ‘stopover flight’, we recommend checking your visa requirements by visiting the website of the UK Home Office. Visitor visas for travellers in transit work a little differently.
If you’re stopping off in the UK and plan to leave the airport while waiting for your next flight, there’s a good chance that you’ll need a visitor in transit visa.
If you’re stopping in the UK for up to 48 hours before flying somewhere else, you’ll need to prove to immigration authorities both your right to stay in the UK for this time and your intention to leave. For this type of visa, UK immigration laws require you to provide travel documents and proof of your journey plans.
This kind of travel is known as ‘transiting land-side’, and falls under the UK transit visa category of the standard visitor visa. You’ll need this visa if you’re planning on passing through immigration control before leaving the UK within 48 hours.
When it comes to transit visas, UK immigration laws take into account a range of different factors.
Depending on your nationality, your airline, and the nature of your stay (whether airside or landside transit), your UK visa requirements can vary.
If you arrive in the UK for transit without permission, you risk being denied entry by an immigration officer.
Our UK Visitor Visa Services
Need some help to decide how to proceed with your visa application? UK’s immigration control is strict, and understanding which visa is right for you and how to apply can be a confusing process. Here at Immigration Advice Service, our qualified and experienced immigration lawyers can provide you with the information and advice you need to add clarity to your decision. We’ll support you in making an informed decision about your visa and help you to better understand your immigration status.
When you choose our advice package, you’ll be invited for a one-on-one Advice Session. This can take place either via Skype, phone or in person – we have immigration law offices across the nation. Our immigration lawyers are fully qualified and OISC-regulated, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands when you choose IAS. During your Advice Session, your assigned immigration lawyer will listen in detail to all the different aspects of your situation. They’ll ask plenty of questions until they have a comprehensive picture of your immigration matter. Then, they’ll be in a position to offer you the advice you need.
Our immigration lawyers will help you to understand the various specific visa categories and can provide you with a path of further steps to take in your visa application. It may be that for your UK visitor visa application to be successful, you need to provide supporting documents such as travel documents, birth certificates, employment contracts, and even bank statements. Applications are often about being able to prove your intent and ability to abide by UK immigration laws. Our lawyers will advise you on which additional documents can help increase your application’s chances of success.
You’ll benefit from an untimed Advice Session that addresses all of your visa needs. Want a chance to talk in detail about your case and receive detailed information in return about how to proceed? Our advice package is the service for you:
- Discuss your case in detail with a qualified professional who will explore the different paths and opportunities to fulfil your visa requirements.
- Get a clear picture of which specific visa categories are applicable to you, your eligibility requirements, and what requirements you need to meet for a successful visitor visa application.
- Receive comprehensive advice about the right supplementary evidence and other supporting documents you’ll need to give your application an improved chance of approval.
- Find out what kind of time frame you can expect moving forward.
- Benefit from support that lasts beyond the session itself. For a week after your consultation, your immigration lawyer will be free to answer any follow-up questions you might have. We’re here to support you – that’s why we offer this at no extra cost to you.
Having a visa successfully approved is rarely as easy as just filling in a short online application form or even visiting a local visa application centre. Applying to the UK Home Office can be a long and complicated process. You don’t want to spend a lot of time putting together an application, only to find that you’ve been unsuccessful – especially if it could have been easily avoided. That’s why so many people end up having to seek professional advice and help when attempting to travel to the UK from a non-EEA nation.
If you want to relieve some of the burden of the extensive process that a UK visitor visa application entails, we offer a package that’s specially tailored to offer you the assistance you need. We can help you to complete and strengthen your application by making sure that you’ve got all the supporting documents and evidence that you might need. For foreign nationality citizens travelling to the UK for tourism and business, it can be easy to overlook something and find yourself refused entry.
When you choose our application package, you’ll benefit from comprehensive assistance in completing your visitor visa application. We’ll assign you a dedicated caseworker for advice and assistance throughout the process.
You’ll benefit from a thorough consultation and further guidance regarding visa application fees, eligibility requirements, evidence collation, and more. Your caseworker will then assist you in preparing and submitting your application. They’ll support you throughout the entire process, monitoring and keeping you informed as things progress.
Our expert immigration lawyers will help to:
- Evaluate your individual case and eligibility before proceeding with the visa application. There are a lot of categories of the standard visitor visa – you don’t want to waste your time applying for a visa that doesn’t apply to you.
- Put together a plan of action for a successful application. Our immigration lawyers are fully-qualified and experienced professionals – no-one is better placed to accurately identify everything you’ll need to qualify for your visa.
- Assist you in compiling a comprehensive portfolio of supporting documents and evidence that proves your intent and eligibility. The vast majority of unsuccessful visa applications are at fault for a lack of evidence. We’ll make your case as watertight as possible.
- Support your application with a Letter of Representation to the Home Office. Your dedicated caseworker will write a thorough letter that emphasises your eligibility and strengthens your application
- Complete the paperwork. Visa applications can be complicated to put together. Fortunately, your dedicated caseworker has done all this before. They know exactly what needs to be done and will help you finish and submit all the necessary forms to the Home Office.
Fast Track Package
You might be applying for a UK visitor visa for a number of different reasons. You may be travelling to the UK to attend a family wedding, a graduation ceremony, an important business conference, a private medical appointment, or something else that you can’t afford to miss. The fact is that visa applications can sometimes take a long time to put together and submit, only for you to have to wait even longer for a decision after the visa processing time. Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we understand that you might not have that time to spare.
That’s why our immigration lawyers are here to help you get your application submitted and approved as quickly as possible. If you can’t afford to spend months waiting for your visa because of a deadline or important fixed appointment in the UK, you might be understandably anxious about getting things done as quickly as possible. That’s what our premium fast track application package service is for – we’ll work tirelessly to make sure urgent applications get over the line so that you can have one less thing to worry about. We’re here to help you meet your deadline.
Using our fast track application package means you can rest easy knowing that your visa application is at the top of our immigration lawyers’ priorities. We have a fantastic track record of processing and pushing through applications – sometimes in as little as 24 hours when people use the service. Visa processing time can be lengthy, but we’ll make sure that you get fast and effective service. We’ll get any general visitor visa UK applications submitted in as few working days as possible.
When you choose our fast track package, we’ll work to get things moving for you as quickly as possible. One of our expert immigration lawyers will get in touch and arrange a one-on-one untimed advice session as soon as is convenient to you. We’ll also help to:
- Put together your application as fast as possible. We’ll make sure that your application is as thorough and complete as it can be before being submitted. All of your supporting documents will be checked and compiled quickly and efficiently.
- Book one of the Home Office’s Same-Day Premium Service slots. Our fast track package means that we’ll go above and beyond to get your application submitted and checked. Booking a Same-Day Premium slot with the Home Office ensures that you’ll get a decision on your visa in fewer working days than normal.
- Assist you in the completion of your visa application. Doing things quickly doesn’t mean we’re going to compromise on quality. The fact is that it doesn’t matter how fast you put together and submit your UK visitor visa application if it’s not going to get approved. If you’re applying for a UK visitor visa because you need to travel to the UK from a non-EEA country for something important and time-sensitive, the last thing you need is for your visa to be denied. We’ll make sure your application meets the highest standards.
- Write a Letter of Representation to support your case and boost your application’s chances of success. Our immigration lawyers are experts with plenty of experience under their belt. They know exactly how to write a supporting letter that emphasises the merits of urgent applications to the Home Office.
As frustrating as it may be, the fact is that rejections for UK general visitor visas are very common. UK immigration laws are strict and getting stricter, and the Home Office will often deny travel to the UK for weak applications that lack the right supporting documents and evidence. UK visitor visa applications require a lot of evidence, and it’s easy to slip up and leave important information either absent or incorrect. However, if you’re intending on travelling to the UK either for business, leisure, or anything else, the Immigration Advice Service team can help you to appeal a visa rejection.
The key to successfully appealing a denied visitor visa application is to act quickly. When the Home Office sends you your refusal letter, it will state your eligibility for appeal and advise you on the required timeframe. If you subsequently choose to appeal and want the best chance of success possible, you’ll need to work in this timeframe and be able to comprehensively amend your application to meet the standards necessary. Fortunately, our immigration lawyers are well experienced in dealing with appeals.
When you choose to appeal your rejected visa application with the Immigration Advice Service, our dedicated experts can draw from a wealth of experience, insight, and knowledge to assess what may have been the reason for your denial of an entry visa. Then, they’ll set about resolving any issues, help you to strengthen your case and assist with your appeal. Our appeal package allows you to benefit from the support of our experts in UK immigration laws. There’s the possibility that may have to go to a hearing or tribunal – we know that this can be intimidating and overwhelming, which is why our lawyers will offer to represent you and your case if necessary.
Receiving a visa refusal letter from the Home Office doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your hopes for travel to the UK. Visa appeals are commonplace and our immigration lawyers have a fantastic track record of successfully reversing visa decisions – they’ll offer you thorough guidance throughout the appeal process. With our appeal package, we’ll help to:
- Investigate and assess your visit UK visa refusal. In most cases, visa applications for short term stay in the UK are denied because of a lack of supporting documents or mistakes in the paperwork. Our immigration lawyers will go through the reasons for your refusal and evaluate the potential for appeal.
- Support and improve your case. When going to appeal, it’s important that you’ve got all possible supporting evidence ready and available alongside you. We can help boost your chances of appeal success by assisting you in putting together a supporting portfolio.
- Complete your appeal application. When going for a visa rejection appeal, you need to make sure that you avoid any careless mistakes. The IAS lawyers have a lot of experience with appeals and they’ll help you to put together everything you need to submit your appeal.
- Maintain communication with the Home Office. Visa appeals need to run to a strict time frame so it’s important to keep on top of things. We’ll liaise with the Home Office from the moment your appeal begins until it ends. No stone will be left unturned and no opportunities will be missed.
- Represent you in person whenever necessary. Sometimes, visa appeals can go the distance. If you need to attend a hearing or a tribunal over your appeal, our expert immigration lawyers will be there to represent you should you wish it. We understand that these events can be a lot to take on – that’s why we’re happy to take on this burden for you.
Last modified on August 11th, 2023 at 10:14 am
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The Advice Package
With our Advice Package, you can book a one-to-one session with one of our legal team and receive bespoke advice tailored for your situation. We will review your case and give you expert advice on how best to proceed with your immigration matter. Reach out to a member of our team and book your session today.
The Application Package
Our Application Package is designed to help relieve the stress of immigration applications. One of our legal caseworkers will help you throughout the entire process, including establishing your eligibility for your chosen route, completing your application form to the highest standards and organising your documents. We will then submit it and monitor its status on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our premium Fast Track Package is ideal if you need to submit an application quickly, such as if you need to meet a tight deadline. Our lawyers will work closely with you to see that your application is completed to the highest standards and ensure you get your application in on time, helping to take the stress and pressure off you.
The Appeal Package
Visa appeals can be a stressful process, especially if you’re relying on a specific visa to be approved. Our legal team can help you navigate the whole process and maximise your chances of a successful appeal, working alongside you to reach a favourable result. We can also represent you in immigration-related hearings and tribunals.
For international students choosing to study abroad in the UK, the question of who can travel under a visit visa to UK areas often comes up. Whether it’s for parents attending a graduation, friends and family members visiting for a short holiday, or something else, it’s important to understand who can visit you and which visa rules apply.
Study visa rules can vary so it’s a good idea to get a handle on how your own current visa affects the situation. If you’ve travelled from outside the European Union and the EEA, there’s a good chance that your visitor will have to apply for the standard UK visitor visa. International students from the United States, South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and other non-EEA regions may have individual circumstances when trying to set up visiting arrangements, so we always recommend using professional advice if you’re unsure about the application. However, there are a few important distinctions you can make straight away:
If You’re: Travelling On A Student Visitor Visa
If you have chosen to study abroad in the UK on a student visa, falling under the standard visitor visa category, you may be wondering who can and cannot visit you while you’re studying for the six-month period of your stay. Both family and friends can, in fact, visit you during your undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification. However, they are likely to require a visa and will need to submit a visa application.
If You’re: Travelling On A Student Visa
If you’re studying abroad in the UK on a student visa for a period over six months, you’re able to bring a partner or child with you to the UK during your stay. This visa allows you to stay for the duration of your degree or qualification, and this extends to your child or partner. However, other family and friends will still have to apply for a UK visitor visa to travel to the UK.
If you are an international student in the UK and you’re not sure whether your family and friends will need a visa to visit you, the gov.uk website has an interactive tool that you can use to check eligibility.
If one of your visitors is under the age of 18, you will need to submit a more specific visa application. The child visitor visa is needed for any under-18 non-EEA national visiting the UK.
Your visitor will essentially be applying for a UK tourism visa and will, therefore, need to be able to prove several things in order to qualify for the visitor visa while you’re studying in the UK:
- Your visitor will need to prove that they intend to return to their home country.
- Your visitor will need to prove that they won’t stay in the UK for longer than 6 months.
- They can’t have obtained a visitor visa in the last 12 months.
- They have to prove adequate funds for living expenses and living costs during their stay.
- They aren’t allowed to work, conduct any business, or study during their stay in the UK.
When putting together a visa application for a visitor, you’ll need to supply several letters with your application. It’s important for the applicant to provide as much information as possible, part of which includes:
- A letter from you – In order for someone to visit you in the UK while studying abroad, they need to be able to show that you have officially invited them. An invitation letter from you provides proof of the reason for their visit and will make you their official ‘sponsor’ throughout their stay. An invitation to visit UK-based students is important in proving eligibility in your application for a sponsored visitor visa.
- A letter from the applicant – The letter from your visitor needs to be comprehensive, detailing and explaining as much as possible. It should cover who they are, the reason for their visit, what their relationship to you is, your current UK status, what they’ll be doing while in the UK, and more.
- A status letter from your university – You’ll also need to acquire an enrolment status letter to add to your visitor’s visa application. This letter will be provided by your university and will confirm your education status and the details of your course and study.
If you’re planning on travelling to the UK and you aren’t a British citizen or an EU or EEA citizen, the likelihood is that you will need a visitor visa. UK law means that you’ll need to acquire one before travelling here, and immigration laws are quite tough in the UK so it’s important to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary travel documents. Otherwise, you might be denied entry by the immigration authorities when you get here. We always recommend using the Home Office website to check whether you need a visa to visit the UK.
The gov.uk website has a fantastic online interactive tool that you can use to check your visa requirements before travelling. The tool asks you a number of questions, including where you’re travelling from, and then offers a number of potential solutions.
European Single Market Visitors
Members of the European single market do not currently require permission to enter the UK for tourism, work or travel. This includes the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), and additional European Economic Area (EEA) members such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Switzerland, while neither an EU or EEA member, is still part of the European single market and therefore benefits from the same right to live and work in the UK as other single market members.
Foreign nationals from EU nations, EEA nationals and Switzerland can visit the UK for a short term stay such as holidays and business events without needing to apply for the UK visitor visa.
The Visa Waiver Programme
Most foreign nationals visiting the UK from a non-EEA country will need to apply for a visa before travelling, but there are exceptions to this. One of these is the visa waiver scheme. Rather than apply for permission to enter the UK, nationals from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait can instead opt to get an electronic visa waiver (EVW), which allows you a short term stay in the UK (no longer than six months) so long as you are travelling for tourism, business, medical reasons or for study.
The visa waiver programme allows nationals from these four countries to opt-out of visa applications in favour of paying a premium and receiving permission to enter the UK. To apply, you’ll need:
- Your current passport number and details.
- Information about your resident status in the UK, including details such as the UK address and postal code you’ll be staying at and contact details while you’re here.
- Detailed travel plans and travel documents such as flight information, including departure and arrival dates and times.