If you are a green card holder of the United States of America, and wish to travel to the United Kingdom, you will probably have to obtain a visa first, in order to be eligible to enter the country. The UK government has established types of visas that fit every traveler based on their purpose of entry.
Each visa type has its own requirements, aside of the common requirements. The application process is pretty similar for most of the visas, but it still might differ from one category to the other.
This article explains clearly and in a detailed way the steps a US resident has to take in order to be able to obtain a UK visa.
Do US Citizens Need a Visa For UK?
US citizens do not need a UK visa if they travel for tourism or business purposes, for stays up to six months. However US citizens are required to apply for all other types of visas in order to travel or stay in the UK.
How to Apply for a UK Visa from USA?
Here are the four simple steps to apply for UK visa from USA:
- Find out if you need a visa for UK.
- Complete the Online Application form.
- Book an appointment for Biometrics.
- Attend the visa interview.
Find out if you need a visa for UK
Green Card holders or US residents may be required to obtain a visa for to travel to the UK depending on their country of citizenship and the purpose of travel. You can check out if you need a UK visa here.
Complete the Online Application form
To begin the application process for a UK visa you need to fill the online application form, by submitting correct and honest information and then pay the visa application fees. If the information in the application form doesn’t comply with the information in the other required documents, your application will be rejected.
Book an appointment for Biometrics
Then you will have to schedule an appointment at one of 130+ Application Support Centers (ASCs) throughout the United States for Biometric testing. At this appointment you will have your digital image taken and also a digital scan of all ten fingers. The earliest you can submit your visa application with all of the required documents is one or one and a half days after and the latest 2 weeks after biometric submission.
At the appointment you should have with you:
- your current passport.
- a print out of your application form.
- a copy of your biometric confirmation receipt.
Children under the age of 5 are exempt from having their fingerprints taken
Attend the visa interview at the UK Embassy/Consulate in the US
The UK embassy, or consulate where you will be applying for a UK visa in USA, can provide you with a list of UK visa requirements, based on the visa type you are applying for. Depending on that, aside of the commonly required documents that are listed below, you will also have to submit some extra documents that prove the purpose behind your planned travel to the UK from USA.
UK Visa Requirements for US Residents
Besides the main UK visa required documents, US green card holders must also provide the following:
- Proof of US status. Which might be either an Original Alien Registration Card (Green Card) or an Original US Visa
- Travel Itinerary. Proof that you have purchased round trip flight booking on your planned dates of travel from the US.
- Employment Letter. This is a confirmation that you are the employee of a company which has approved your dates of leave.
- Proof of Accomodation:
- Letter of Invitation – if you are planning to stay over at friends or family members, then your host must write you a letter which includes the length of your stay, the address and also the contact information of your host among others.
- Hotel Confirmation – if you plan to stay at a hotel instead, then a hotel booking confirmation must be submitted.
- Proof of means of subsistence. The applicant will have to submit proof that they are financially capable to maintain themselves during their whole stay in the UK. This includes bank statements not older than three days, pay slips, and other types of evidence for your income as rental income, etc. If you are coming to the UK under some program that will financially support you then you’ll have to submit evidence for that.
Where to Apply for a UK Visa in the US?
After gathering every required document, then you will have to send them to the British Consulate General in New York via mail or registered travel agent. Put your passport, application form, and the other documents in an envelope. Arrange them according to the checklist and do not staple any of them. Send your documents to one of the following addresses, according to the visa type you have applied for.
Non-settlement applications should be submitted to the British Consulate General in New York under the following address:
UK Visas and Immigration
British Consulate General
845 Third Avenue
Settlement applications are done within the UK and should be submitted here:
International Operations and Visas
Whether your application gets approved or not, you will however have to provide a fully addressed prepaid electronic shipping label inside the package with your documents. Keep a copy of the way-bill for your records.
UK Visa Types for US Green Card Holders
For Green Card holders the first step towards a successful visa application is to decide what kind of visa they need to enter the UK. Before scheduling an appointment and starting to gather the required documents, check out the list of UK visa types, and try to figure out which visa fits you.
A US applicant can enter the UK under one of the following visas:
UK Business visa from USA
The UK Business visa category has been established with the sole purpose of attracting successful business people to come and invest in the UK together with their families, ranging from investors, to entrepreneurs and more. To apply for these visas, the applicant must provide the following:
- Short CV.
- Letters of support from a UK based organization, institution or company.
- Letters of recommendation from recognized experts.
- Examples of recent significant media recognition.
- Proof of having won international awards for excellence.
- Proof of appearances, performances, publications or exhibitions in last 5 years.
- A UK-recognized bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD awarded before your date of endorsement.
UK Work visa from USA
The UK work visa is especially for high-end professionals from other countries who wish to work and live in the UK for shorter or longer periods. To apply for a UK work visa from USA you must have:
- A job offer in the UK that cannot be filled by the local or the EU workforce;
- A sponsorship letter (an employer, regional administrator, local authority who holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship License)
UK Visitor visa from USA
The UK visitor visa is a visa issued to US residents that wish to enter and stay in the UK for tourism or family visit for periods shorter than six months This visa is for travelers that are not citizens of a country that has a visa facilitation agreement with the UK. Visitors are prohibited from getting a job inside UK with this type of visa, just as with many other types.
UK Transit visa from USA
The UK transit visa is for foreigners who are not from the EEA or Switzerland, and are using the UK as a transit country to pass from another country to their destination. This visa offers the opportunity to apply for a long-term transit visa if the applicant has enough evidence that he needs to travel regularly through UK to arrive at their destination, but has no intention to stay or live there permanently. To apply for a UK transit visa in the US you must provide:
- Booked travel tickets confirmed.
- Confirmation from travel agent.
- Document to confirm being permitted to entry the other country.
- Visa for the other country (if required).
- Document to confirm being permitted to entry the other country.
- Documents to confirm the reason for traveling to the other country.
UK Family Visa from USA
The UK family visas type is for people who have family members working and living in the UK and want to join them for more than six months, as their dependents. The dependents can be husband or wife (spouse), partner, fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner, children, parents, other family members.
UK Student Visa from USA
The UK student visas are issued to prospective students that plan on enrolling in UK educational institutions, such as universities and schools. To apply for a student visa you must provide the following:
- Parents’ or legal guardian letters (if under 18)
- Criminal record certificate
- A valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Clearance Certificate issued by the Foreign and the Commonwealth Office, the Department of the Counter-Proliferation Department.
- Confirmation Letter From the Official Financial Sponsor
Temporary Visa for Refugees and Stateless persons in USA
Eligible for this visa are only the people who are about to enter in the UK and are at the borders because had to leave their country as their life was seriously threatened. The application for this visa is made from within the UK. To apply for such a visa, you must provide the following documents:
- Registration with the police – police registration certificate.
- Birth certificate.
- Marriage certificate.
- Education certificate.
- Medical documents – if suffering from any medical condition.
- Documents to confirm the home address in the UK.
Visas in the Points Based System
The Points Based System is the means of regulating immigration to the United Kingdom, which evaluates visa candidates based on the points they can gather by meeting visa requirements. Each visa requirement has its points, and there is an appointed number of points the candidate should gather in order to receive the visa.
There are 5 different of visas based in the Points-Based System:
- Tier 1 Visas – For highly-skilled professional foreigners.
- Tier 2 Visas – Skilled foreign workers with a job offer in a shortage area.
- Tier 3 Visas – For low-skilled foreign workers with a temporary job offer in a shortage area (This type of visa has never been implemented since it has been assessed that the UK has already enough low-skilled workers.)
- Tier 4 Visas – Foreign students and specialists.
- Tier 5 Visas – Youth mobility and temporary foreign workers.
These are optional visa services for which the applicant has to pay an extra fee in order to get an answer in their application within a shorter period of time.
These services can be used by applicants applying for one of the below listed visa types:
- Tourist and short stay (visitor) visas
- Points-based system Tier 2 and Tier 5 applicants with authority to be living in the United States
- Point-based system Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) if you are currently in the US for a similar purpose to take up in the United Kingdom
- Points-based system Tier 5 (Temporary worker – Creative and Sporting) if currently in the USA for a similar purpose to take up in the UK
- Points-based system Tier 4 student visas – for applicants who are resident in the USA and are subject to different document requirements under Tier 4 of the Points-based system