Immigration Rules for Visitors to the UK
If you wish to travel to the UK for a temporary stay for a short period, usually up to 6 months you will need to apply for a visit visa for the UK. UK Government has announced new visitor visa rules in December 2020 which have relaxed rules regarding the permitted activities as a visitor to the UK.
You can travel to or enter the UK as a visitor for:
- holidays and tourism,
- visiting friends or family,
- carrying out a business activity, or
- undertaking a short course of study.
If you wish to participate in any of the permitted activities, you should declare this at the time of application. You must meet the UK visit visa requirements individually even if you are travelling as as member of entire family travelling or a tour party or on a study tour for a school or college.
If you are a non-visa national, you can get visa / entry on arrival in the UK for a short stay.
However, if you are a visa national, as defined in UK Immigration Rules, you must obtain entry clearance or visa as a visitor known as a visit visa before arrival in the UK.
There are 4 types of visitor visas:
Standard visitor Visa:
for those seeking to undertake the activities set out in Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities, for example tourism and visiting family, usually for up to 6 months.
Marriage and Civil Partnership visitor visa:
for those seeking to come to the UK to marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership.
Permitted Paid Engagement visitor visa:
for experts in their field coming to the UK to undertake specific paid engagements for up to one month.
Transit visitor visa:
for those who want to transit the UK on route to another country outside the Common Travel Area and who will enter the UK for up to 48 hours by crossing the UK border unless "Transit Without Visa Scheme" applies.
If you are in the UK on a visit visa as a temporary visitor, you cannot work in the UK unless this is expressly allowed under the permitted activities set out in the UK visa rules.
You may apply for a visit visa of 6 months or a longer validity of 2, 5 or 10 years. If you have a longer validity visa, it allows multiple visits to the UK within the period of validity but each stay in the UK must not exceed the permitted length of stay endorsed on the visit visa (usually 6 months). If the visit visa vignette is endorsed as single or dual-entry, you cannot have more entries to the UK during the visa period.
To visit the UK, you need to show that you're a genuine visitor.
You can do this by providing evidence that:
- you're coming to do a permitted activity - see details of Permitted Activities
- you'll leave the UK at the end of your visit
- you're able to support yourself and any dependants 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
All documents, including your passports and travel documents must be be originals, however due to Covid 19 pandemic scans or photocopies may be acceptable.
If you submit a document that is not in English or Welsh, it must be accompanied by a full translation that can be independently verified by the Home Office and must be done and certified by an approved translator.
Please contact us if you have questions about which category of visit visa is right for you and need any help with