UK Visitor Visa
Visitors from European Union countries do not need a UK tourist visa and are classed as non-visa nationals, however if you are a non-visa national, then you must obtain a visitor visa before coming to the UK, as this gives you permission to enter the UK as a visitor.
There are several different types of visitor visa and you are advised to speak with an experienced immigration solicitor, to ensure that you apply for the correct visa for your situation.
General Visitor visaYou should apply for a General Visitor visa if you wish to visit the UK for leisure, as a tourist on holiday for example.
Other times when you would apply for a general visitor visa are if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland or you are visiting friends or family who are not permanent residents in the UK.
You are able to apply for a visa up to three months before your travel date to the UK and you should have a decision on your visa within three weeks. Ask your solicitor how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from.
You are able to stay in the UK for up to six months with a General Visitor visa. You are also able to apply for a long-term visit visa if you are able to prove that you need to make repeat visits over a longer period. You can stay for a maximum of six months on each visit and your visa can last for one, two, five or ten years.
What you can and cannot do
You are allowed to study for up to 30 days, as long as it is not the main reason for your visit. However you are not allowed to take paid or unpaid work, live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits. You are not allowed to marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You are not allowed to get private medical treatment or get public funds.
Who can apply for a General Visit Visa?
You need to be 18 or over to apply for a general visitor visa and visiting the UK for leisure (not work or study)
You must be able to support yourself financially for the duration of your trip.
You should not be in transit to another country, except for Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands and you must be able to pay for your return or onward journey.
Who can apply for a long-term visitor visa?
If you are applying for a long term visit visa you must be able to prove that you have a frequent and ongoing need to come to the UK.
Also that the reason for your need to come to the UK is unlikely to change significantly while the visa is valid. You must show that you plan to leave the UK at the end of each visit. You may get a long term ban and have our visa taken away if it is found that you are repeatedly living in the UK for extended periods.
Child visitor visaIf applying for a Child Visitor visa you must be under 18 and want to come to the UK. You must be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
You need to show that you will be visiting the UK for no more than 6 months (or 12 months if you’re travelling with an academic visitor) that you have made suitable arrangements for your travel and your stay in the UK.
You will need to have consent from your parent or guardian for your trip to the UK and be able to pay for your return or onward journey.
You need to have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds, or have relatives and friends who can look after you while you are in the UK.
Family visitor visaA Family Visitor visa can be applied for if you are visiting a family member in the UK and you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
It usually takes less than three weeks to get a decision on your visa and you can apply for a visa up to three months before your date of travel to the UK.
You will be able to stay in the UK for 6 months on a Family Visitor visa and you can apply to extend your visa up to six months if it is for less than 6 months.
Marriage visitor visaYou can apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if you want to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK and you are not planning to stay or settle in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership.
The usual three week time period applies for the length of time it can take for your visa to come through. You are able to apply for your visa up to three months in advance of your travel date.
Parent of a child at school visaIf you are parents of a child who is attending an independent school in the UK then you will be able to apply for the Parent of a child at school visa.
You will apply for this visa if you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
You may apply for this visa up to three months before your travel date to the UK and it may take up to three weeks to get a decision on your visa.
Permitted Paid Engagement visa
You can apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you need to come to the UK to do specific paid work without having to be sponsored under the points-based visa system. You will be from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
A decision should be made on whether you will be able to get the permitted paid engagement visa within three weeks. You may apply for the visa up to three months before your travel date.
Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
You will need to apply for a Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa if you wish to come to the UK for private medical care and are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
You should apply for the visa at least three weeks before you travel as a decision on your visa may take that long, however you may not apply for the visa longer than three months before your travel date.
Prospective Entrepreneur visa
You can apply for a Prospective Entrepreneur visa if you already have secure funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK in place.
You are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Your proposed business funding must be at least £50,000 and you must be able to prove that your business is being considered for funding.
Sports Visitor visa
If you want to come to the UK to take part in a specific sports-related event or activity or are part of the support staff or an official working on a sporting event, then you would need to apply for a sports visitor visa.
This visa is for people who are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
You will only be able to accept payment in the form of prize money, accommodation and travel expenses. However, you should apply for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) visa if you’re doing other paid work.
Student Visitor visa
You will need to apply for a Student Visitor visa if you are planning to do a short course of study in the UK and you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, However, you will need a Business Visitor visa if you are an academic visitor.
What you can and cannot do
You can carry out a short study course in the UK on the student visa, such as an English language course or a training course.
You cannot study at a state school or work or carry out any business, marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or a civil partnership.
You cannot come to the UK specifically for private medical treatment or extend this visa or bring family members with you - they must apply separately.
How long you can stay
You can stay in the UK on a student visa for 6 months for any short course including English language courses or 11 months on an extended visa for English language courses only.
Visit the UK in a Chinese tour group
You are able to visit the UK for up to 30 days as part of a tour group through the approved destination status agreement (ADS) if you’re a Chinese citizen.
To must enter the country as part of your tour group (minimum 5 people) and stay with the group for the whole of your visit to qualify and your tour must be organized by an ADS licensed Chinese tour operator.
You must leave the UK when your ADS visa expires. You cannot extend this visa.