Which UK Visa do you need?
The UK has several different types of visa that can either allow you to travel, work or live in the UK. The UK visa you need will depend on what your intentions are once you enter the UK. Your UK visa options may also be determined by your nationality, the duration of your stay and your reasons for travelling.
At IAS, our UK visa experts are on hand to advise, assist and represent you in all immigration, nationality and asylum matters. Whether you are applying from outside of the country or you are already here looking to switch or renew your UK visa, our lawyers are available to help you with your application.
Five Tier points-based system
The Immigration Advice Service can help with applications for all UK visas. We can assist with all applications under the Five Tier Points-Based System (Tier 1 Visas to Tier 5). This point-based system is the standard route of entry for workers and student UK Visas, the tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1 is for high-value migrants
- Tier 2 for skilled workers
- Tier 3 for temporary unskilled workers
- Tier 4 for students
- Tier 5 for temporary skilled or youth mobility workers
Below you’ll find more information for the most commonly requested UK visas by non-EEA nationals as well as immigration options for EU nationals looking to enter the UK.
If you’re a non-European national, you can apply for a Visitor Visa to enter the UK as a tourist. This visa is only granted to those wishing to come to the UK for a short stay for up to 6 months. This may be for a number of reasons, including:
- To visit friends and family
- For business
- If you’re an entertainer
- If you’re a sportsperson
- To receive special medical treatment
Those travelling to the UK for business can stay for business-related activities on a visitor visa. However, if it is for paid work, then you will require a work UK visa.
It’s also important to note that if you plan on getting married in the UK, then you will need to apply for a Marriage Visitor UK Visa. You do not need a Marriage Visa if you want to convert your civil partnership into a marriage, you simply need to apply for a standard visitor UK visa.
As part of the application process, you will need to demonstrate that your visit will last no longer than 6 months and that you have no intention of staying in the UK. You must also have sufficient funds to support yourself whilst you are in the UK, and you must be able to meet the cost of your return or onward journey. Visitor visas also tend to grant you less rights, for example, you cannot bring dependants with you while on this UK visa.
As a child dependent or adult dependent relative of a British citizen or person with settled status, refugee leave or humanitarian protection, you may be able to come to the UK on a family visa. The term ‘settled status’ means that your relative will have been given permission to settle in the UK permanently. This is also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
You will be able to join them in the UK without work restrictions, providing your sponsor can show that they have sufficient funds and willingness to support you. To qualify as a child dependent, the Home Office must be satisfied that the child is:
- Under the age of 18
- Not married or in a civil partnership
- Not leading an independent life
- Has not formed an independent family unit
You may also be able to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa if your grandparent was born in the UK.
If you are a sibling, parent or grandparent of a British citizen or person with settled status in the UK, then you can apply for a UK visa as an adult dependent. This is typically only granted in exceptional circumstances, for example, if you need specialist care that your UK visa sponsor can provide.
Fiancé & Spouse Visa
A Spouse Visa allows non-EEA nationals to enter or remain in the UK where they are married to either a British citizen or person with settled status. It allows you to live in the UK for up to 30 months, and after this period it may be extended for another 30 months. This UK visa can then lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and eventually British Citizenship. The main requirements of a spouse visa are:
- Proof you are in a genuine relationship
- The UK visa sponsor earns a minimum of £18,600 per year
- Proof of English Language ability
- Evidence of adequate accommodation
Similarly, a Fiancé UK Visa allows you to join a British citizen or person with settled status in the UK when you have the intention of getting married within the 6 month period of the visa.
You will need to apply for a work visa if you are a non-EEA or Swiss national and you are interested in working in the UK. The government grants UK visas for work based on a five-tier points-based system. Below is a breakdown of what each UK visa entails.
Tier 2 (General) Work Permit
As a skilled worker, you can apply for a Tier 2 UK Visa. This will allow you to work in any role where there is a current ‘skills shortage’ in the UK. To successfully obtain a Tier 2 Visa, you must score a minimum of 70 points and meet other criteria, including being at least 16 years old at the time of your visa application.
This UK Visa is usually for skilled workers who earn a minimum salary of £30,000 a year as an ‘experienced’ worker, or £20,800 a year for those who are ‘new entrants’ for junior level or graduate positions.
To obtain a Tier 2 UK Visa, you’ll need to be sponsored by an employer with a valid Tier 2 Sponsor License. This ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ will relate to the position you’re being offered. To apply for your UK visa, you will need to submit your application using the unique CoS number that is provided in the certificate of sponsorship.
Tier 5 Visa
If you’re seeking temporary work in sectors such as the arts, charity and sports in the UK, you may be eligible for a Tier 5 Visa. This will permit you to work in the UK for up to 12 months. Much like the Tier 2 Visa, in order to be granted this visa you will usually be required to have a job offer from a licensed Tier 5 UK visa sponsor. To apply for this UK visa, you must fall into one of the following categories:
- Charity Worker
- Creative Person and Sports Person
- Religious Worker
You can also apply through the Youth Mobility Scheme where you can gain UK entry clearance without a job offer. This allows young people to work and experience life in the UK for up to 2 years.
If you are a non-EEA national and you are looking to study in the UK, then a Tier 4 Student Visa will allow you to do this. This UK visa is for adult students who wish to study long-term in the country. This differs from a student visitor visa as it isn’t designed for short-term studying.
To be eligible for a Tier 4 UK Visa, you must:
- Be 16 or over
- Have 40 points on the points-based system
- Have been offered full-time education from an eligible UK educational institution
- Demonstrate your ability to support yourself financially
- Prove you intend to return to your home country once your course has finished
To make up the 40 points you need to apply, 30 points will come from providing a confirmation of acceptance from an approved education provider. And a further 10 points will be from providing proof of maintenance funds.
Once you have been accepted for a UK Visa, how long you are allowed to stay in the UK depends on the nature of your course and any degree you have already completed.
If you want to settle in the UK, then you need to apply for a Settlement Visa, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This UK visa gives you the opportunity to stay with fewer restrictions.
Eligibility for this UK visa is typically based on how long you have already been in the UK. For example, a Tier 2 Visa worker will usually become eligible for ILR after 5 continuous years in the UK. Those between the ages of 18-64 are required to take a Knowledge of Life in the UK Test as part of their application. They will also need to demonstrate their English language ability.
How can IAS help you apply for a UK visa?
Our highly-experienced lawyers have helped many foreign nationals gain a UK visa prior to entry. The UK visa process starts when you meet with one of our immigration lawyers. This bespoke service allows us to understand your situation, helping us to become better informed as to which UK visa option would be best for you.
Once you are confirmed as being eligible to apply for a UK visa, your lawyer will advise you on what documents will be required in order to push forward with your application. This will help to form your application portfolio, which will be presented to the Home Office along with your Letter of Representation. This letter accompanies your application and explains your case and its qualities. It also references relevant UK immigration laws which might support your application.
IAS can manage your application from start to finish, giving you the best possible chance of securing a UK visa. For more information on how our lawyers can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0333 363 8577 today. Alternatively, you can contact us through our online contact form.
See our FAQs below for more information on the different types of visa UK.