Visiting the UK

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK for leisure, to visit your family and friends, for business, to take part in sports or creative events or for another reason, for example to receive private medical treatment or as a parent of a child at school in the UK.

Not everyone who is coming for a short holiday or to visit friends or family requires a visa; whether or not you do will depend upon your country of origin. EU nationals and their family members currently benefit from different arrangements, and those nationals from countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA similarly do not require a visa when visiting for 6 months or less. If you are unsure whether you require a visa to visit the UK, our Immigration team are here to assist you.

The Standard Visitor visa introduced in April 2015 replaced the previous range of visas:

  • Family Visitor visa
  • General Visitor visa
  • Child Visitor visa
  • Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
  • Sports Visitor visa
  • Entertainer Visitor visa
  • Prospective Entrepreneur visa
  • Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
  • Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa

In order to obtain a visit visa an applicant will need to show they are a genuine visitor.


What are the main requirements for a Visit Visa?

In order to be eligible to qualify for a Visit visa to come to the UK, prospective applicants must be able to show evidence that:

  • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • you’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip
  • you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
  • you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules

If you wish to apply for a long term Standard Visitor Visa (for those who may need to visit regularly over a long period) you must prove that:

  • you’ll only ever need to come to the UK to visit, for example to go on holiday, see family or attend a meeting
  • you plan to leave the UK at the end of each visit

You may be given a visa for a shorter period than requested if you don’t do this. You won’t get a refund of the application fee if you get a shorter visa or your application is refused.

When can I apply for this visa?

The earliest prospective applicants may apply for a Visit Visa to the UK is 3 months prior to the date of travel.

What am I permitted to do under this visa?

Those who obtain a Visit visa to come to the UK can:

  • Take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules
  • Study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit
  • Take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18)
  • Convert your civil partnership into a marriage
  • Pass through the UK in transit (on your way to another country)
  • Those who obtain a Visit Visa to come to the UK cannot:
  • 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

How long can I say in the UK under a Visit visa?

Successful applicants can normally stay under this visa in the UK for up to 6 months. In some circumstances longer stays are permitted, for example for those coming to the UK for private medical treatment or as an academic to conduct research.

For further expert and professional advice and assistance in relation to Visitor Visa applications, including with regards to fees and charges, application methods and possibilities to extend, processing times and permitted activities whilst visiting the UK, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team who are ready and able to help you.

Please be advised that Immigration Rules are always changing. Contact us for the latest help, advice and information with regards to your query.

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