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UK Visitor Visas

The visitor visa is the most popular single route for individuals coming to the UK for tourism, visiting family as well as business visits.
In line with the recent review of the UK immigration system by the government, new rules have been implemented from 27 November 2008 to reform specific categories of the “visitor” visa.
The idea behind this reform is to ensure that visitors are clear on the activities they are allowed to do whilst in the UK on a visitor visa and do not breach conditions of their stay for the duration of their time in the UK.

Reasons why you may wish to visit the UK
There are numerous reasons why an individual may wish to come to the UK for a short period. In addition to visiting family, sightseeing or visiting on business, people may wish to visit the UK to get married, arrange plans for studying in the UK, undertake a short course, attend important events, visit the UK as a representative of a company or conduct research or sit a test in the UK.

General requirements for coming to the UK as a visitor
Individuals intending to visit the UK must be able to demonstrate that they wish to visit the UK for no more than six months and that they will be leaving the UK at the end of the visit. In addition, individuals must be able to show that they have sufficient finds to maintain and accommodate themselves (and any dependants) without assistance from UK public funds.

The exceptions to this general rule are for ‘academic visitors and ‘parents of children at school in the UK” who are entitled to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 12 months.

Categories of the “Visitor Visa”
It is important that if you intend to visit the UK that you apply for the correct category of visitor visa before entering the country as you are required to comply with the conditions on your visa. Any breach of visa conditions during your stay in the UK may result in adverse consequences; and it is therefore recommended that you ensure that your intentions for coming to the UK are adequately reflected in the type of visitor visa you apply for.

The different categories of “Visitor Visa” are as follows:

General Visitors

Visiting Family
Visiting Friends
Tourism
Business Visitors

Academic visitors
Advisers, consultants, trainers, trouble shooters who are employed abroad by the same company which has the UK branch
Individuals undertaking specific, one –off training in techniques and UK work practices
Sports Visitors

Entertainer Visitors

Special Visitors

Visitors for private medical treatment in the UK
Visitors intending to marry in the UK
Parents of a child at school in the UK
Visitors under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement

Each category of visitor visa will be explained individually.

 

General Visitors

If you wish to visit the UK to see family/ friends, or simply visit for tourism and sightseeing purposes; you will need to apply as a general visitor.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period – no more than 6 months.

2. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey

3. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a general visitor visa

You must not intend to study in the UK
You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must not intend to undertake business, sport or entertainer visitor activities
You must not intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK
You must not intend to receive private medical treatment during your visit to the UK
You must not be a transit passenger to a country outside the Common Travel Area
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a general visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
If studying: Letter from institution confirming details of your course, start-finish date, dates of holiday period and the dates you intend to visit the UK
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension

The maximum you can stay in the UK is six months as a general visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a general visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.

We therefore advise that applicants seek legal advice on the procedure for appealing

Business Visitors

If you wish to visit the UK on business e.g. attend interviews or conferences, conduct site visits, arrange deals or sign contracts or deliver international goods and/or passengers from abroad, you will need to apply as a business visitor.

Other categories of individuals who must also apply as a business visitor are:

Academic visitors
Doctors taking the PLAB test
Doctors on clinical attachments
Dentists on observation
Visiting professors accompanying students on study abroad programmes
Film crews on location shoots (as long as they are paid or employed overseas)
Representatives of overseas new media (as long as they are paid or employed overseas)
Secondees from overseas companies
Religious workers (as long as they are based overseas and do not wish to take a position in the UK)
Interpreters and translators accompanying business visitors(as long as they are employed by an overseas company)
Advisers, consultants, trainers, trouble shooters who are employed abroad by the same company which has the UK branch
Individuals undertaking specific, one –off training in techniques and UK work practices
It is advised that you seek legal advice if you are uncertain whether your purpose for coming to the UK is covered by a “business visitor” category.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period – no more than 6 months.

2. You must demonstrate that you intend to visit the UK for a genuine business activity. (There are a wide range of activities permitted under this visa category and it is advised that you obtain advice from us at Law Firm Ltd. to ensure that your proposed activity falls under a ‘permissible activity’ as outlined by the UK Border Agency).

3. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey

4. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or the company will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a business visitor visa

You must not intend to study in the UK
You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
You must receive your salary/remuneration from overseas
You must not intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK

You must not intend to receive private medical treatment during your visit to the UK
You must not be a transit passenger to a country outside the Common Travel Area
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a business visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

Invitation letter from the UK company/business/establishment
Confirmation and details regarding the purpose you are visiting the UK
If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension

The maximum you can stay in the UK, at any single time is six months as a business visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

NB. There is an exception if you are an ‘Academic Visitor’ as you are entitled to stay in the UK for a maximum of 12 months.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a business visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.

We therefore advise that if applicants have been refused a business visitor visa, please seek legal advice on the procedure for submitting a fresh application.
Sports Visitors

If you are a professional or amateur sportsperson and you wish to visit the UK to participate in a sporting event (or series of events), a tournament; or you are a member of the team or support staff of a sportsperson attending a sports event in the UK, you will need to apply as a sports visitor.

It is advised that you seek legal advice if you are uncertain whether your purpose for coming to the UK or proposed activity is covered by the “sports visitor” category.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period – no more than 6 months.

2. You must demonstrate that you intend to visit the UK for a genuine sporting activity. (There are a wide range of activities permitted under this visa category and it is advised that you obtain advice from us at Law Firm Ltd. to ensure that your proposed activity falls under a ‘permissible activity’ as outlined by the UK Border Agency).

3. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey

4. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or an organisation will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a sports visitor visa

You must not intend to study in the UK
You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
You must receive your salary/remuneration from overseas
You must not intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a sports visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

Confirmation and details of the sporting event/purpose you are visiting the UK
If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension & Switching

The maximum you can stay in the UK, at any single time is six months as a sports visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

You are not permitted to change into another visa category however, if you have already obtained a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) of the points based system and this was issued to you before you entered the UK, you can switch to the points based system to complete the job specified on the certificate of sponsorship.

You may also undertake activities permitted under the business visitor or entertainer visitor categories.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a sports visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.

Entertainer Visitors

If you are a professional or amateur entertainer and you wish to visit the UK to participate in a entertainment event (or series of events), a music or arts/cultural competition or engagement, an audition; or you are a member of the team or support staff of an entertainer attending am engagement in the UK, you will need to apply as an entertainer visitor.

It is advised that you seek legal advice if you are uncertain whether your purpose for coming to the UK or proposed activity is covered by the “entertainer visitor” category.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period – no more than 6 months.

2. You must demonstrate that you intend to visit the UK for a genuine “entertainer” activity. For instance, you must provide evidence that you intend to take part in particular events. (There are a wide range of activities permitted under this visa category and it is advised that you obtain advice from us at Law Firm Ltd. to ensure that your proposed activity falls under a ‘permissible activity’ as outlined by the UK Border Agency).

3. If you are an amateur entertainer, you must not receive fees and/or sponsorship but you may receive cash prizes as well as board lodging and living expenses.

4. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey.

5. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or an organisation/body will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on an entertainer visitor visa

You must not intend to study in the UK
You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
You must receive any salary/remuneration from overseas
You must not intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as an entertainer visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

Confirmation and details of the particular event/purpose you are visiting the UK.
Evidence of why you are required to attend this event.
If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension & Switching

The maximum you can stay in the UK, at any single time is six months as an entertainer visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

You are not permitted to change into another visa category however, if you have already obtained a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) of the points based system and this was issued to you before you entered the UK, you can switch to the points based system to complete the job specified on the certificate of sponsorship.

You may also undertake activities permitted under the business visitor or sports visitor categories.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as an entertainer visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.

 

Special Visitors

If you wish to enter the UK during transit or you wish to come to the UK for marriage, private medical treatment, to undertake a short course of study (or arrange a proposed course of study), or if you are the parent of a child at school in the UK, you will need to apply as a special visitor.

It is advised that you seek legal advice if you are uncertain whether your purpose for coming to the UK or proposed activity is covered by the “special visitors” category.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period (no more than 6 months), unless you are the parent of a child at school in the UK

2. You must demonstrate that you intend to visit the UK for the relevant category of ‘special visitor’. Each category has different requirements which are detailed individually on our website and you are required to provide evidence of your purpose for entering the UK. (It is advised that you obtain advice from us at Law Firm Ltd. to ensure that your proposed category is covered under ‘Special Visitors’ as outlined by the UK Border Agency and that you are able to provide the necessary documents to support your application).

3. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey.

4. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or an organisation/body will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a special visitors visa

You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
You must receive any salary/remuneration from overseas
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a special visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

Confirmation and details of the purpose you are visiting the UK.
Evidence of why you are required to come to the UK.
If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension & Switching

The maximum you can stay in the UK, at any single time is six months a special visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

You are not permitted to change into another visa category.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a special visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.


Visitors under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement

If you are a national of the People’s Republic of China and you simply wish to enter the UK for a short visit, you may apply as a visitor under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you are a national of the People’s Republic of China.

2. You will be required to demonstrate that you only wish to enter the UK for a short time, not exceeding 30 days.

3. You must be able to show that you intend to enter the UK, travel within the UK and exit the UK only as a member of a tourist group of 5 people or more under the ADS Memorandum of Understanding.

4. You must be able to show that you have no intention of working or studying or conducting business in the UK.

5. You must be able to show that you intend to leave the UK after your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey.

6. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or an organisation/body will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement visa

You must not take employment in the UK
You must not study in the UK
You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
You must not receive a salary/remuneration from the UK
C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a visitor under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

Confirmation that you are a national of the People’s Republic of China
Confirmation and details of the purpose you are visiting the UK.
Evidence of why you are required to come to the UK.
If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
Evidence of additional savings
D. Extension & Switching

The maximum you can stay in the UK, at any single time is nor more than 30 days under this category of visa. You can be granted leave to enter the UK under this category subject to a condition prohibiting employment and provided you hold an ADS Agreement visit visa.

You are not permitted to change into another visa category.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a special visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are applying to visit close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.