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Standard Visitor visa:

The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the far more disparate set of application routes that proceeded it. You can now visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for a range of purposes including tourism, visiting your family or friends, business, study and to carry out other ‘permitted activities’.

Before applying for a Standard Visitor visa, you need to:

  1. Check if you need a visa to visit the UK
  2. Check what you are allowed to do on your visit to the UK (‘permitted activities’)
  3. Check if you meet the eligibility requirements.
  4. Apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

Do I need a visa to visit the UK?

If you are a national or a citizen of one of the countries listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa National List[1], you will normally be required to apply for a visa to visit the UK.

However, if you are a national or a citizen of either an EEA country or any country not included in the Appendix, you will not be required a visa to visit. You must still meet the Standard Visitor eligibility requirements and may be asked questions about your eligibility and the purpose of your visit to the UK at the time of entering the UK border.

What are the permitted activities?

As a Standard Visitor, you are allowed to the following permitted activities:

  • Leisure and tourism
  • To see your family or friends
  • To volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
  • To pass through the UK to another country (in transit’)
  • To carry out permitted business activities
  • To take part in a school exchange programme
  • To do a recreational course of up to 30 days
  • To study, do a placement or take an exam
  • As an academic, senior doctor or dentist
  • For medical reasons

If your reasons for which you intend to visit the UK are different to these, or if you intend to carry out activities that do not fall under the above-mentioned activities, you might want to consider an alternative type of visa which will meet the needs of your reason to visit.

What are the non-permitted activities?

As a Standard Visitor, you are not allowed to:

  • Take part in paid or unpaid work for a UK employer or as a self-employed person
  • Claim any public funds such as benefits
  • Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits
  • Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership

If you are found taking part in any of the non-permitted activities during your stay, you will be found to be in breach of your visa terms and conditions.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for a Standard Visitor visa, you must have a passport or travel document to enter the UK. The passport or the travel document should be valid for the whole of your stay. There must be a blank page in your passport for the visa.

You must also be able to demonstrate that:

  • You will leave the UK at the end of your visit and before the expiry date of your visa.
  • You are able to financially support yourself and your dependants during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
  • You are able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey
  • You will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home

You will be required to meet additional eligibility requirements if you are visiting the for a purpose other than general leisure and tourism activities, visiting your family or friends, or to volunteer.

The eligibility requirements and what you will need to enter the UK may be different if you are travelling from Ireland, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.

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How to apply for a Standard Visitor visa?

Once you have decided that you need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa, you can apply for a Standard Visa online. The application for the Standard Visitor visa must be made from outside the UK.

It costs £95 and the earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

You will need to provide the following information in your online application:

  • The details of your visit to the UK including:
    • The dates you are planning to travel to the UK
    • Where you will be staying during your time in the country
    • The estimated costs of the trip
  • Your current home address and how long you have lived there
  • Personal information including
    • Your parents’ names and dates of birth
    • Your partner’s name, date of birth and passport number
  • Details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences you may have committed
  • Details of educational, employment or personal commitments in your home country to prove that you do not intend to stay in the UK beyond the expiry of the validity of your visa
    • For instance, your employer’s address and telephone number
  • Details of income or savings to prove you are able to support yourself financially

You might also need to provide the following information depending on your circumstances:

  • Details of your travel history for the past 10 years
  • The names and address of anyone who is funding your trip
  • The name, address and passport number of any family members you have in the UK
  • A certificate proving that you have had a tuberculosis (TB) test if you are visiting for more than 6 months

Once you have submitted the application form online, you will be required to book an appointment at a visa application centre. At your appointment, you will be required to:

  • Prove your identity with your passport or travel document
  • Have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken
  • Provide the required documents to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements

The documents provided in support of your application must be translated in English by a certified translation services providers if they are not already in English or Welsh. There may be further documentation that you will be required to submit depending on the specific circumstances of your purpose to visit.

If you are applying with family members, each person must submit an application for Standard Visitor visa in their own right and pay the fee. They will also need to attend their own appointment at a visa application centre. You can apply on behalf of your partner and child, if they cannot apply for themselves.

How long does it take for a decision to be made on the visa application?

Once all the steps are completed

The decision on your application takes up to 8 weeks if you apply by post. However, you can use the premium service to get a decision earlier. You may be required to attend an interview before a decision is made on your application. The Standard Visa is generally provided for a period of up to 6 months.

You’ll get an email or a letter containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

You can apply to extend your stay in the UK. You can also choose to apply for a long-term Standard Visitor Visa instead if you visit the UK regularly.

The time period for which you are granted the long-tern Standard Visitor visa can be from 2 year to up to 10 years. The eligibility criteria for long-tern Standard Visitor visa is different.

If you need to change or cancel your application

If you need to change something in your application after you’ve sent it, contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can ask to cancel your application. You’ll only get your fee refunded if the application has not been processed yet.

When can you extend your stay?

You may be able to extend your stay if you have permission to be in the UK for less than 6 months. You can extend your stay up to a total of 6 months.

You can only apply to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months if you’re:

  • a patient receiving medical treatment
  • an academic and you still meet the eligibility requirements
  • a graduate retaking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or doing a clinical attachment

You must apply to extend your stay while you are still in the UK and before the expiry of your current visa.

Get in touch with our expert Visit Visa UK Solicitors today.

How long does it take to get a decision on the application?

If you use the standard service, a decision will be made within 8 weeks of submitting your application, providing supporting documents and proving your identity.

If you use the super priority service a decision will be made:

  • by the end of the next working day after your UKVCAS appointment if your appointment is on a weekday
  • 2 working days after your UKVCAS appointment if your appointment is at the weekend

Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

You may be contacted if your application is complex and may take longer:

  • If you need to provide further supporting documents
  • If the provided supporting documents needs to be verified
  • If you need to attend an interview
  • Because of your personal circumstances e.g. criminal convictions

Once you have got your decision letter, your biometric residence permit will take up to 10 working days to arrive.