The Standard Visitor Visa is a general visit visa that can be used for different purposes.
It has replaced the different categories of visit visa that existed previously (Family Visitor, General Visitor, Child Visitor, Business Visitor, visas for academics, doctors and dentists,
Sports Visitor, Entertainer Visitor, Prospective Entrepreneur, Private Medical Treatment Visitor, Approved Destination Status).
You can apply for a standard visitor visa if you plan to go to the UK for a period of maximum 6 months:
- for leisure, that is for tourism and holiday or to visit family and friends,
- for business or to take part in sports or creative events,
- for other reasons, such as for example to receive private medical treatment or to donate organs.
The application form for the Standard Visitor Visa is: FORM
With a Standard Visitor Visa you can:
- take part in any of the business-related activities related to your visit (e.g., you’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training; you want to take part in a specific sports-related event; you’re an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform; you’re an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme; you’re a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post; you come to negotiate and sign a contract; you want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK);
- study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit, otherwise you should apply for a Short Term Study Visa;
- take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18);
- convert your civil partnership into a marriage.
However, if you come to the UK with a Standard Visitor Visa you are not allowed to:
- do paid or unpaid work;
- live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits;
- get public funds;
- marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership;
- receive treatment on the National Health Service (NHS).
Once granted a visit visa, you will be normally allowed to stay for up to 6 months (in most cases). However, you might be granted a shorter time. The exact length of your permission to enter will be stamped in your passport.
Extension of a standard visit visa
The maximum time that you can spend in the UK at any one time as a visitor is 6 months, unless you are coming to the UK to receive private medical treatment, for which the maximum is 11 months, or an academic visitor, for which the maximum is 12 months.
Thus, you are entitled to request an extension of your visa if you want to stay longer in the UK, but, if approved, this will in any case be only up to the maximum total time provided for your category of visit visa.
Long term visit visa
If you need to visit the UK frequently, either on business or for leisure or family purposes, you can apply for a long-term, multiple entry visitor visa that is valid for 2, 5 or 10 years. However, if you are under 18 years old when you apply for a multiple-entry visa, after you turn 18 this will be valid only for the next 6 months.
Generally, there is no restriction on the number of visits you may make to the UK nor is there any requirement that a specified time must elapse between each visits.
However, Entry Clearance Officers may consider the stated purpose of the visit in the light of the length of time that has elapsed since previous visits. A visitor should not, for example, normally spend more than 6 out of any 12 months in the UK.
The long-term visit visa includes the following benefits:
- allows unlimited entries to the UK, for up to 6 months at any one time, for the validity of the visa;
- saves you time – you need to provide your biometric data only once during the whole validity of the visa;
- identifies the holder as a person known and trusted by the UK government
- helps to protect customers from identity theft;
- prevents mistaken identity (i.e. preventing confusing an individual with another person bearing the same or similar name)
- protects the holder against any future visa fee increases for the validity of the long-term visa.
You may apply for such visa online or ask details to your local visa application centre.
General eligibility requirements
To be granted leave to enter the UK as a visitor, the Entry Clearance Officer needs to be satisfied that:
you want to visit the UK for no more than 6 months; and
you have sufficient funds available to finance your stay (and that of any dependants) without help from public funds and you can cover the cost of your onward or return journey; or
another person or organization with whom you have a personal or professional relationship undertakes in writing to cover your travel, maintenance and accommodation costs for the whole period of your stay;
you do not intend to undertake any activity which is not allowed by the rules relating to visitors;
you have proof of any business or other activity you want to carry out in the UK, which is allowed by the rules relating to visitors; and
you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
Additional requirements when visiting for specific reasons
If you’re applying as an academic for a 12 months visa, you must also show that you’re highly qualified within your field of expertise, on sabbatical leave from your home institution and you plan to visit the UK to either:
- take part in a formal exchange with a UK academic;
- carry out your own research;
- participate in a joint research, teaching or clinical practice (but not filling a permanent teaching post).
If you’re applying to visit for private medical treatment, you must also demonstrate that:
- your medical condition requires private consultation or treatment in the UK;
- you have made arrangements or paid for consultations or treatment;
- have sufficient funds to pay for your treatment, finance your stay without using public funds and cover the costs for your return or onward journey,
- will leave the UK once your treatment is completed, or when your visa expires; and
- if you’re suffering from an infectious disease, are not a danger to public health.
If you’re applying as an organ donor, you can only visit the UK to donate organs to:
- a family member who you’re genetically related to (for example your sibling or parent);
- someone you have a close personal relationship with (for example your spouse or friend); and
- this person is legally present in the UK.
Standard Visitor Visa for Minors
In addition to meeting the general requirements, to be eligible for a standard visitor visa children (under 18 years old) must prove that:
- suitable arrangements were made for their travel and stay in the UK; and
- they have consent from parents or guardians to travel to the UK
If they are travelling alone without an adult, they must also provide:
- the contact details of parents or guardians;
- proof that they have somewhere suitable to live during their stay in the UK, including the name and date of birth of the person that they will be staying with and the address where they will be living;
- details of their relationship to the person who will be looking after them and their consent in writing to look after them during their stay in the UK.
If they are travelling with an adult, he or she will need to be identified in the visa application: their name will appear on the child’s visa, and the child will be refused entry to the UK if they arrive in the UK without them. Up to 2 adults can be identified in the visa application, and the visa will only be valid if the child travels with at least one of them. The adult can apply for a visa at the same time of the child, but they must complete separate applications.
If the person the child is travelling with is not the parent, they’ll also need to provide specific information about them in your application.
Applying for a visit visa may seem relatively straightforward, but the statistics on the number of visa refusals show otherwise. Please pay extra attention to the documents you attach to support your visa application.
To support your visit visa application and should you meet the eligibility requirements, you will need to provide the following documents:
- Valid travel document (national passport or other document that allows the holder to travel internationally) – your passport must have a blank page for your visa;
- Confirmation of legal residence, if you are not a national of the country in which you are applying or your right to reside there is not included in your passport.
- Financial documents showing that you have sufficient funds available to support yourself during your trip, such as:
- bank statements going back over a period of 3-6 months;
- evidence of your total monthly income from all sources of employment or occupation after tax (ideally last 3-6 months’ payslips);
- proof of earnings such as a letter from employer confirming employment details (start date of employment, salary, role, company contact details)
- proof of any income from other sources e.g. friends, family, savings, property etc…;
- where a third party (who is either in the UK or who will be legally in the UK at the time of your visit) is providing financial support to you (e.g. a business, a friend or a relative), documents to show they have sufficient resources to support you in addition to themselves and any dependant family should be provided
- Details of employment or studies if you have stated in your application that you are either employed or in full-time studies. This should include:
- a letter from your employer on company headed paper, detailing your role, salary and length of employment
- a letter from your education provider, on headed paper, confirming your enrolment and leave of absence
- Evidence of occupation/employment/studies/how you derive an income:
- if you are employed, a letter from your employer granting leave of absence from your job for a specified period – the letter should also say how long you have been employed by that employer, in what job(s), and when you are expected back at work confirming (“employment details”: start date of employment, salary, role, company contact details)
- if you are self-employed, evidence of your business activities and financial standing;
- if you are a student, a letter from your school or college stating the course you are on, its start and finish dates, and the dates of the holiday period when you intend to visit the United Kingdom;
- evidence of any family or social ties and responsibilities to return to (a table showing all relatives in your home country, including the names, their relationship to you and their address)
- evidence of your travel plans, such as: planned itinerary, details of any hotel/flight booking, if attending a weeding or event, an invitation or ticket.
- If your trip is being funded by a Sponsor, you will need to provide:
- an invitation letter from your Sponsor stating that s/he will undertake the cost of your flight, maintenance and accommodation during your stay in the UK
- your Sponsor’s most recent 3-6 month bank statements
- your Sponsor’s most recent 3-6 month wage slips/Accountant’s report
- a copy of your Sponsor’s employment contract
- Evidence of your Sponsor’s accommodation where you intend to stay: his most recent mortgage statement and photographs of the property
- If you are applying for a child, you will need to provide:
- a birth certificate or other legal document showing the relationship between the child and their parent or guardian
If travelling alone or with an adult that is not their parent or guardian, also:
- a letter signed from the parents or guardian, confirming the details of the adult who is accompanying the child and details of where they are staying in the UK;
- a copy of the parent’s or guardian’s passport.
(See more under: Standard Visitor Visas if you’re under 18
- If you are applying as an academic visitor for a 12 months visa, you should also provide:
- a letter from your current employer on official headed paper, describing the research to be undertaken or exchange;
- a letter from the UK hosting organization confirming the arrangements for your research or exchange.
- If you are applying for a Standard Visitor Visa to receive private medical treatment, you should also provide:
- a description of your health condition requiring treatment;
- information on the duration and cost of the treatment;
- details of where the treatment will take place
- If you are applying as an artist or performer to participate in an event, you must also provide:
- a letter of invitation from the organizers of the event, indicating the dates of the event and any payments you will receive.
Fees are regularly reviewed. The following fees for visit visa application are effective from 6 April 2017.
- Short term visit (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry): £89
- Longer term visit (up to 2 years): £337
- Longer term visit (up to 5 years): £612
- Longer term visit (up to 10 years): £767
Right of appeal for visitors
If your visitor’s application is refused, the Entry Clearance Officer will tell you the reasons why in a detailed, written refusal notice.
There is no full right of appeal against refusals of visit, nor a right to administrative review. Appeal rights are very limited and can be only brought under certain grounds such as under section 19B of the Race Relations Act 1976.
Sponsoring a visitor
To support the application of a visitor you are sponsoring to come to the UK, you will need to help them provide evidence that they meet the Eligibility criteria of the category they are applying for.
The documents you should provide will depend on the circumstances of the case.
- evidence of your own immigration status in the United Kingdom; and
- a letter of sponsorship explaining your relationship to the person who is applying, the purpose of the visit and where your general visitor will stay.
If you will provide financial support and accommodation for your general visitor and/or pay for their travel to the UK, you should provide as evidence that you are able to do so:
- copies of your bank or building society statements and payslips for the last six months; or
- a copy of your savings account book.
If you are sponsoring a person for the purposes of business, you should send a letter from your company outlining the links between your companies, and explain what your visitor will be doing and whether your company is paying for the trip.