- Check if you need a UK Visa
- Visa application process
- Required supporting documents
- When to apply for your Visa
- Prepare for your Visa interview
- If your application is successful
- Collect your Biometric Residence Permit
- If your application is refused
- How to submit an immigration appeal
- Apply to extend your visa
- Super-Fast Application Service
- Track your Visa Application status
- How to submit an administrative review
- Frequently asked questions
- How can I get help from the IAS
Do I need to submit a UK Visa application?
Non-EEA citizens who wish to visit and/or stay in the UK, need to apply for a UK Visa.
The possession of a visa means that you have fulfilled the mandatory requirements and that you are entitled to spend a certain amount of time in the UK, and that your details have been collected by the national authorities.
To maximise your chances of success, you must ensure that you are applying for the correct visa type for your case. For this reason, you should ask for the help of an immigration lawyer.
Get in touch with IAS’ team of experienced immigration specialists to receive comprehensive guidance on your UK Visa application. You can call us on 0333 414 9244 or enquire online.
Preparing and Submitting your UK Visa Application
Before you start your application process, you must check if you need a UK visa and what is the relevant permission for your circumstances. Seeking professional advice can make this procedure less onerous and complicated.
Find out if you need a UK Visa
Not all travellers are required to apply for a visa to enter the UK. You may be exempt from immigration controls if you are an EEA, Swiss or Commonwealth citizen.
If you realise that you need a visa, you must choose the right type. UK immigration law offers a wide range of visa tiers, targeted at different kinds of applicants. This includes:
- UK Family and Partner Visas, for those who wish to live with their British partners or family members in the UK for more than six months
- UK Work and Entrepreneur Visa, for applicants who want to engage in paid activity in the UK
- Student Visas, for international pupils, either adults or children
- UK Visitor or Transit Visas, for those who wish to enter the UK shortly for leisure or business purposes, or who need to pass through the British borders while in transit to another country
- Settlement applications, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain, British citizenship and EU Settlement Scheme. These are reserved for applicants who have already spent a specific amount of time as lawful residents in the UK
UK Visa application process
Visa application processes vary based on the type of each permit category. However, there are some common steps for the majority of visa tiers.
Still, the following processing procedure may be different if you submit your forms from abroad.
- Complete your application form either online or by paper
- Pay your application fee and submit your paperwork (your form and supporting documents) to the UKVI
- During the initial check, the Home Office may contact you if further documents or details are needed
- You will receive notice of when you can book your appointment to have your biometrics collected. You may also need to attend an interview.
- The UKVI will perform an in-depth analysis of your case to check if you meet all the mandatory requirements, based on your documentation
- You will receive a letter with the UKVI’s decision
- If your application is approved, you will have your Biometric Residence Permit delivered within ten days
Required documents for a UK Visa application
Your application is completed and valid only if accompanied by a portfolio of records and evidence, which will prove your eligibility. Since each visa has different requirements, you must always check the Home Office’s guidelines and document checklist.
The following are the documents that you need to attach to your application:
- Your UK visa application form completed in each of its parts and with your signature
- Two photographs and your valid passport, which must have at least one blank page
- Proof you have adequate financial means to cover the living costs while in the UK
- Your biometric information that can be collected at your nearest application centre
- Proof you have paid your Visa fees
- Certified translation of any document that is not written in English or Welsh
Who can certify my visa eligibility documents?
To be valid and accepted as part of your supporting portfolio, your documents must be certified by a professional person of good standing, meaning that he or she must be someone well-respected in the community.
The following categories are authorised to sign and thus certify your documents:
- Ministers of religion
- Dentists and doctors
- Bank or building society officials
- Teachers or lecturers
- Chartered accountants
This person must not be:
- Related to you
- In a relationship with you
- Living at the same address
- Representing you in this specific application
Who can translate my UK Visa documents?
Any document that is not written in English or Welsh needs to be accompanied by a certified translation. This service can only be provided by authorised translation companies, that must confirm in writing that they have produced a “true and accurate translation of the original document”.
Any translation that is not carried out by a certified translator will not be accepted by the Home Office.
When to apply for your UK Visa
The earliest time you can submit your application is three months before the date you intend to travel to the UK.
However, settlement applications may take up to 6 months to be processed and approved. In the majority of cases, you will not be able to enter the UK until you receive official permission. For this reason, it is advisable to submit your application taking into consideration potential delays, especially during national holidays.
What is the tuberculosis test for UK Visa applicants?
Residents of certain countries need to have tuberculosis (TB) test from an approved clinic if they wish to stay in the UK for more than six months.
The following categories are exempt from the chest x-ray to test for TB:
- Children under the age of 11
- Children who have been advised against the test from an accredited paediatrician
- Pregnant women who choose to wait until after delivery to be tested
- Returning UK residents who have not been away for more than two years
- Applicants who have lived for at least six months in a country were TB screening is not required
Do I need to pay for healthcare as a part of my UK application?
As a part of your application, you will be asked to pay a healthcare surcharge. This must be paid when submitting your form, or when you book an appointment to have your biometrics collected. If you are applying by post, you need to include your HIS reference number on your form as proof of payment.
You only need to pay for healthcare if you are requesting to stay in the UK for more than six months, and you do not intend to apply to settle permanently in the UK.
Once you have paid your fees, and if your application is successful, you can start using the National Health Service (NHS). However, you may still need to pay for certain services, such as dental treatment, prescriptions and eye tests.
How do I prepare for my visa interview?
The aim of your visa interview is to determine whether you qualify to enter the UK. This is also an opportunity to provide additional documents and evidence to support your case.
When attending the interview, you must inform the immigration officer of any information which you think could be beneficial for your application. You should think in advance about your reasons to travel to the UK, especially if you intend to remain in the country for an extended period.
For example, international students may be asked to explain why they want to study in the UK, and what their plans are for the future.
Can I change or withdraw my application?
You can withdraw your application at any time.
If you applied from outside the UK, you would need to contact the UKVI to receive further instruction. You will only get a refund on your application fee if your case has not been processed yet.
If you submitted your request from within the UK, you can use the dedicated contact form to cancel your application. However, you will not be able to receive a refund in any situation.
If you withdraw your visa renewal request, you will lose your permission to remain in the UK when your current authorised stay expires.
UK Visa Application Advice
Applying for a UK Visa is never easy. It requires time, money, and knowledge of UK immigration law. To make this process less stressful, you can seek professional advice from our team. Get in touch today and book your first Advice sessions with our immigration lawyers.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to find out if you qualify for your desired visa.
UK Visa Application Assistance
Receiving the right help for your UK Visa application can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful application. When you hire one of our immigration lawyers, we will offer you our best guidance and support. We can also complete and submit your application on your behalf.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your journey towards entering the UK.
What happens after I submit my UK Visa Application?
Once your case is processed by the UKVI, you will receive a letter with the result of your application and further instruction on how to proceed. The waiting time will depend on the type of visa you applied for.
If your Visa application is successful
If the Home Office accepts your request, you will be given a relevant vignette, that is a sticker to be added to your passport. It shows the type of visa you have been granted, its validity and conditions.
In some instances, you may be asked to register your details with the UK police before being entitled to your vignette.
If you submitted your passport along with your supporting documents, it will be posted to you with the vignette already inside. Otherwise, you can collect your sticker at your visa application centre.
Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
If you have been granted the right to remain in the UK for more than six months, you will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This must be done before your vignette expires or within ten days of your arrival in the country.
You can choose from where to collect your BRP when filing your application form.
You must report any mistake in your BRP or vignette to the UKVI as soon as possible, and no later than three months of your entry date, otherwise your visa will be invalid.
If your Visa application is refused
If your application is rejected, you will get an additional letter explaining the reason for the refusal. This paper will also enumerate your options to either file an administrative review or submit an immigration appeal.
If you have been refused a PBS (Point-Based Visa) System, you must apply for an administrative review.
Appeals are intended for Family and Partner permits, as well as decisions related to human rights and immigration protection.
How to submit an immigration appeal
As a general rule, you have 28 days to appeal against the Home Office’s decision on your case if you believe it is unfair.
To submit your appeal, you can either apply online or send your form by post or fax. If necessary, the tribunal will summon you for a hearing that your legal representative can attend. Otherwise, the judge will decide your case based exclusively on your supporting evidence.
Get in touch with our lawyers to learn more about our UK Visa Appeal services.
Submitting a UK Visa extension application
The majority of UK Visas will expire after a set amount of time. However, if you continue to meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for an extension. The procedure to renew your permit varies depending on the visa tier you are applying for.
It is essential to apply for a UK Visa extension before your current permission ends. In this way, you will avoid overstaying, and thus being in immigration breach.
Depending on how long you have been in the UK, you may be able to apply to settle in the country rather than renew your current immigration status. For example, after 5 years of lawful residence, you can switch from your visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided that you meet all the mandatory requirements. Once you have held ILR for at least 12 months, you will be eligible to acquire British citizenship.
How to get your documents back
To apply for certain visas, you will need to submit your documents to show your eligibility. The Home Office will accept certified copies of your evidence only in some instances. Also, bear in mind that the visa application centre may need to keep your passport while your case is being processed.
However, you may be able to ask for your documents to be returned without the need to withdraw your application.
If you applied from outside the UK, you must contact the UKVI. For applications made from within the country, you can use the online return of documents form. Once the Home Office acknowledges your request, you should receive your documents back within 10 working days.
If you do not have permission to stay in the UK because your visa has expired, or because your application has been refused, you will need to contact the Voluntary Returns Service, to collect your documents back at the airport when you leave the country.
What is the Super-Fast Application Service?
If your application is time-sensitive, or if you need to receive a decision from the Home Office within a strict deadline, you can apply for the UKVI’s Priority or Super-Priority service.
It must be noted that this service requires an additional fee and that it does not influence the decision on the application. However, it allows you to have your case processed within five working days or even 24 hours.
If you wish to learn more about how you can benefit from the Priority Application services, you can get in touch with our team and enquire about our Fast-Track Application Package.
How can I track my UK Visa application status?
At the moment, it is not possible to track your UK Visas applications status online. You can check the progress of your case by either calling the Home Office or sending an email.
You will be charged for both ways of enquiring. Although phone communications are available 24 hours from Monday to Friday, it is advisable to send the UKVI an email. This will cost £5.48, but you will not be charged for any follow-up communication about the same enquiry.
To receive assistance on tracking your UK Visa status and to know how long you will need to wait before your case is solved, you can get in touch with our immigration lawyers.
How can I apply for a UK Visa administrative review?
Administrative reviews allow you to ask the Home Office to reconsider its decision on your case. You can submit your request either from abroad or from within the UK, and this must be done within 28 days of getting your refusal letter from the UKVI.
You can apply online, and you will receive the result of your application within 28 calendar days. If you receive a further rejection, you will not be able to request a second review.
If you apply for another visa while you wait for your answer from the Home Office, your administrative review request will be automatically be cancelled.
Can I transfer my visa to another passport?
Your visa is represented by a vignette on your passport. You can transfer or replace your sticker only if your previous identification document has expired, or if your personal details have changed.
In the case of an expired passport, you can still use it with your valid visa when travelling to and from the UK. If you are abroad, you can have your vignette transferred to a new passport by submitting an online request and paying a fee of £169.
If your name or personal details have changed, you must replace your visa or Biometric Residence Permit. You can do this through notifying the Home Office, and you must do this as soon as possible.
What happens if I overstay my Visa?
If your visa has expired, you have 30 days to leave the UK voluntarily. Otherwise, you will face severe consequences, including deportation.
The previous 28-day grace period has been replaced by the “14-day with good reason rule”. This means that you are allowed an overstaying period of 14 days provided you have evidence of your good reasons, such as having applied for a new visa.
When will I get my passport after my visa interview?
You can apply for a British passport only if you acquire UK nationality by birth or naturalisation.
Once you get your citizenship certificate, you can fill the online form or submit your paper application to request your passport. You can also request a British passport for your children once they acquire UK nationality.
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You are allowed to apply for someone else’s visa as long as you get permission from that person to file their forms. If the applicant is under the age of 18, you must receive written permission from his or her parents or guardian.
When applying for any UK Visas, you may be required to provide details of your travel itinerary. The Home Office will need proof of your round-trip flight reservation to check that you intend to leave the UK when your visa expires.
Only nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates can apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver instead of a visa. This permission costs £30 and lets you visit the UK for a short period of up to 6 months for leisure, business and medical treatment.
When applying, you must disclose the full details of your journey. You can submit your form between 3 months and 48 hours before you travel to the UK.