UK Visa - Types and Information

Information guide about UK visas, their types and details

//UK Visa
UK Visa

What is a UK Visa?

A UK visa is the authorizing document that gives worldwide citizens the right to enter, stay temporarily or live forever in the territory of the UK. A visa is usually either a stamp you receive in your passport or a document given by a UK consulate or embassy in your country of residence.

If you are issued a visa, it means that you are eligible to enter the UK and that you meet the requirements of the particular visa that you have been given. There are different reasons why people want to apply for a UK visa, such as:

  • To work and to do business
  • To study
  • For short stays and tourism
  • To join family members who are already in the UK
  • To transit through the UK to another country
  • To live permanently
  • As a refugee or as someone who needs humanitarian protection
  • As a stateless person
  • As someone who needs permission to stay

There are several types of visas (so called “leaves”) issued for almost any visa category in the UK:

  • Entry Clearance (visa to enter) – is given when the candidate is out of the UK and needs a visa to enter;
  • Leave to Enter (visa to enter) – is given when the candidate does not need qualify for an entry clearance, but has to get a visa to enter (this visa) at the borders of the UK;
  • Leave to Remain (visa to stay temporarily) – is given when the candidate has now a visa and wants to extend it (stay more in the UK with the same visa), or wants to switch to another visa category from the one holding at the moment;
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement permission or visa to stay permanently)is issued to candidates who lived for a specific continuous period in the UK with a valid visa without exiting borders of the UK for more than 180 days within a year and who now want to settle permanently or live in the UK indefinitely.

Who Needs a UK Visa?

Generally, citizens of the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Commonwealth countries are not required to apply a UK visa prior to entering the UK. For a complete list of countries whose citizens need a visa for UK visit this page.

What is the Points-Based System (PBS)?

The Points-Based System (PBS) of the United Kingdom Visa is a new version of the UK visa system, as a replacement of the old one who was much more complex and hard to be covered.

The UK Points-Based System covers visas for citizens coming from outside of European Union countries and of the European Economic Area willing to enter or live in the UK for work, training, or studying by using different routes.

This visa system does not support applications of the following situations:

  • Visa for foreigners who want to join their family members in the UK, or those who want to enter and live in the UK through a marriage;
  • Existing UK Ancestry and foreign nationals coming from the European Community Association Agreements;
  • Business visitors;
  • Foreigners who want to enter into the UK in particular ways, including international agreements (i.e. under contract to NATO)

In some cases the UK visa system in general does not cover countries with which the UK yet did not enjoy fruitful bilateral collaboration with.

Through a BPB system or Tier visas, the visa applications are evaluated based on the points a candidate can gather by meeting visa requirements.

Each visa requirement for any PBS visa has different available points that the candidate must score (either minimum or the entire points, depending on the requirement).

There are 5 different visa categories that are in the Points Based System:

  • Tier 1 Visas – For Highly-skilled Foreigners
  • Tier 2 Visas – For Skilled Foreign Workers With a Job Offer in a Shortage Area
  • Tier 3 Visas (never implemented) – For Low-skilled Foreign Workers With a Temporary Job Offer in a Shortage Area
  • Tier 4 Visas – For Foreign Students and Specialists
  • Tier 5 Visas – For Youth Mobility and Temporary Foreign Workers

UK Visa Types

UK visas are gathered into several categories, based on the reason for which they are issued:


These types of visas are issued to international students who want to study in the UK.



The UK Visitor Visas are issued for short stays, tourism visits and similar purposes.


  • Marriage Visitor Visa
  • Parent of a Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa
  • Short-term Study Visa
  • Standard Visitor Visa
  • Visa for a Chinese Tour Group


The UK Family Visa is issued to visit or join family such as spouse, parents, children in the UK.


  • Family visa for a wife, husband or partner
  • Family visa for a parent
  • Family visa for a child
  • Family visa for an adult who needs a long-run care by a relative
  • Family visa as a dependent of a dead partner
  • Visa as a separated or divorced dependent partner
  • Visa as a separated or divorced dependent partner because of a domestic violence


The Transit Visa is a visa to travel throughout the UK to another country This means that you are passing through the UK but your final destination is in another location.


  • Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)
  • Visitor in Transit Visa


Settlement visas are visas to stay permanently in the UK.


  • Returning Resident Visa
  • Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)
  • Visa to return home if in the UK illegally or if applied for asylum
  • Settlement visa as a Refugee or for Humanitarian Protection
  • Visa for Family Reunion

Residency Documents for EU and EEA citizens:

  • UK Residences for EU and EEA citizens
  • UK Registration Certificate – EEA (QP)
  • UK Permanent Residence Card – EEA (PR)
  • EEA Family Permit
  • EEA family permit related to the derivative right of residence
  • EEA family permit related to the Surinder Singh
  • EEA family permit related to retained rights of residence
  • Certificate of entitlement for right to abode in the UK

What a UK Visa holder must know

Despite the fact that a foreigner might be having a visa, they might be subject to Immigration Control (examination) anytime crossing the UK border. There can also be cases when the visa might be cancelled at the borders.

Any form of overstaying, or violating visa conditions, while being in the UK or out, is considered an act of offense.

Visas offer the needed answers on:

  • Who to admit to enter into the UK and why,
  • Who to allow living temporarily or permanently in the UK and why,
  • Who meets the criteria and who to stop from entering into the UK,
  • Who needs to exit the UK, when the visa expires or for other reasons

Visas sometimes can forbid the holder doing several activities such as:

  • Getting a job of other professional activity in the UK,
  • Using public funds;
  • Staying in the UK without registering with the police (without getting police registration certificate);
  • Study in the UK;
  • Commanding holder to report to the specific Medical Officer of Environmental Health

Such restrictions can be made known to the holder in the following ways: 

  • Attached in the passport/travel document;
  • In a written notification;
  • In the visa;
  • In the visa application form;

Which are public funds?

There are different available public funds given to qualifying persons, such as:

  • Allocation of local authority housing
  • Attendance allowance
  • Carer’s allowance
  • Child benefit
  • Child tax credit
  • Council tax benefit
  • Council tax reduction
  • Disability living allowance
  • Domestic rate relief (Northern Ireland)
  • Housing benefit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Local authority homelessness assistance
  • Personal independent allowance
  • Severe disablement allowance
  • Social fund payment
  • State pension credit
  • Universal credit
  • Working tax credit

Public funds, though, do not include benefits based on National Insurance contributions, as they are paid same as income tax and is based on incomes.

Benefits of national insurance contributions contain:

  • Contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Guardian’s allowance
  • Incapacity benefit
  • Retirement pension
  • Statutory maternity pay
  • Widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit