Standard UK Visitor Visas allow people to come to the UK for tourism, business, study (for courses of up to 6 months), and other similar activities.
These visas are usually valid for up to 6 months, but it is sometimes possible to stay for longer in exceptional circumstances, for example if you need to receive medical treatment.
Not everybody needs a visa to come to the UK for tourism. This includes people from the EU, the United States, Canada, Australia, and many other countries. There is a full list of these countries on the gov.uk website.
It is possible to get a visitor visa for 2, 5, or 10 years, but these can generally only be obtained if you have been granted several 6-month visitor visas and have complied with their conditions. We will not be discussing these further here.
So how do you get a visitor visa and what are the kinds of things you will have to show and documents you will need to provide?
The first thing you need to do is fill in an online form before submitting supporting documents to an entry clearance officer in the country you live in. The form will ask you basic questions about yourself and your reasons for wanting to come to the UK. It will ask you about your immigration history and any family and friends you have in the UK and in your home country. You can also upload a cover letter explaining why you should be granted a visit visa.
There are several things that your supporting documents will need to show.
The Home Office are very anxious to know that you will not use the visit visa as an excuse to get into the UK and stay here long term. They will want to see proof that you will return to your country at the end of your proposed stay. Some types of evidence of this would be showing that you have a job, a mortgage or a tenancy agreement, and maybe statements from friends and family confirming that your life is properly set up in the country you live.
The Home Office want to know that you will be able to pay your way while you are in the UK without having to find a job. They will want to see from your bank statements that you can afford to travel and stay in the UK, and then get back to your country of origin. It is a good idea to also include proof of your return journey here. Sometimes people will have the cost of their trip covered by the person they are visiting. Confirmation of this and proof of you sponsor’s finances will also be needed.
You will have to be able to show that you are really related to the person you are visiting. For family members, this could be birth certificates. Something to keep in mind that if you are particularly close to the person you are visiting, perhaps if they are your partner, you will have to show even more proof than normal that you will go back to your home country afterwards.
These are broadly the things that you need to show to be granted a visit visa. Remember that any documents you use will have to be officially translated if they are not already in English.
It is an unfortunate reality that applying for a visitor visa is something that is best done with the assistance of a lawyer, particularly if you have lots of connections with the UK and not many connections with your home country, or if you have previously been refused a visitor visa.
Here at Imperium, we have helped hundreds of people get visit visas to the UK so that they can come and spend time with their family. We will help you with the application forms, we will take statements from you to flesh your application out. We have a dedicated team of barristers and support staff who will be able to help you at every step of the way.
By Kim Pullinger, Pupil Barrister