The UK visitor visa which is also known as the Standard Visitor Visa is a UK short stay visa that is established for nationals of countries out of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, that wish to travel to the United Kingdom for purposes of:
- To visit family members
- Medical treatment
- For professional reasons.
The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the following types of visas:
- Family Visitor visa
- General Visitor visa
- Child Visitor visa
- Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
- Sports Visitor visa
- Entertainer Visitor visa
- Prospective Entrepreneur visa
- Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
- Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa
Who Needs a UK Visitor Visa?
Nationals of countries out of the EEA or Switzerland, who want to travel for tourism to the UK, visit family members, or for medical treatment or for professional reasons can obtain the UK Visitor visa.
How to Apply for a UK Visitor visa?
The application for a UK visitor visa must be made from outside the UK, and not earlier than 3 months from the intended travel.
The earliest you can apply for this visa, is 30 days prior to your planned travel to the UK. This type of visa allows its holder to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. However, the embassy has the right to issue visas for a shorter period of time.
What can you do with a UK Visitor Visa?
With the UK tourist visa a holder must not use public medical services only private ones, must not use public funds, get married or enter a civil partnership and not announce any of them, and must not get a voluntary job.
Job-related activities allowed for a Standard Visitor Visa holder are:
- Participate in a conference, regular meeting, or a training, or in a sport-related event;
- As an artist to perform in an artistic, entertaining, or music activity;
- As an academic to do a research study;
- As an academic accompanying students who are about to enroll in Foreign Studies Programme;
- Engage in a clinical duty, or in a job as an observer, doctor or dentist;
- Undertake a test of the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB), or of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE);
- Undertake a test of the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB), or of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
UK Visitor Visa Eligibility Criteria
To get this visa, you will have to show proof and convince the consular officer that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit and that you are able to financially maintain yourself during your whole stay in the UK. The candidate for this visa should meet the following conditions:
- For anyone applying for a Standard visitor visa
- Must pass general grounds for refusal;
- Must be truthful about their reason for entering into the UK;
- Must exit the UK while having a valid visa;
- Has their own needed maintenance (money) for himself and a dependent, or someone else (a friend or relative) will support them and any dependent (s) financially during their visit to the UK – without them needing to work in the UK, or to use the UK public funds;
- Has the needed money for traveling costs (going and returning);
- Will only take a duty or a job described before in job-related aforesaid activities;
- Will only enroll in studies shorter than 30 days;
- Will only switch from a civil partnership into a marriage
- For a candidate traveling to take private medical treatment
- Must not suffer from an easily transmittable disease that can put in danger others’ lives;
- Must have arranged private medical care in the UK;
- Must be in true need for medical treatment or consultation, predicted costs and time of such treatment, and the place where the treatment or consultation;
- For a candidate traveling to donate an organ
- Must be a donor match to the organ recipient, or must still be tested as a potential organ donor to someone in need, with which the candidate has either genetic or personal affiliation with;
- The organ recipient must live in the UK or must be there for the transplantation
- For a visitor visa for a longer period (long-term visit visa)
- Must have a true need to travel regularly to the UK
- For a candidate traveling as an academic to the UK for 1 year
- Must be an eminent expert in a specific academic field;
- Must be an employed academic in an academic institution, or a foreign HEI;
- Must be an academic who is participating in an exchange programme with the UK colleagues (doctors also);
- Must be an academic who is doing research for their own needs during a vacation from work;
- Must be a well-recognized senior doctor or dentist who is doing a research, giving visitor lectures or clinical practice
UK Visitor Visa Requirements
Aside of the common UK visa requirements, there are some other specific requirements for this visa, based on the purpose of travel. Documents to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa:
- Recognized certificate of English language.
- Academic and professional certificates.
- Specifics about your traveling. It has to contain dates of your onward and backward travel.
- Specifics about your accommodation in the UK.
- Estimated costs of your visit.
- Specifics about your living address in the home country. Also, you’ve to show for how long you’ve been living there.
- The names and birthdates of your natural/adoptive parents. This has to be supported by information about the amount of their annual earnings.
- Travel history. This has to cover the period of the last 10 years. It can be proven through visas and entry/exit border stamps in current and older passports, or through separate residence titles.
- Contact and information of your existing employer.
- ID information and passport number of your partner.
- ID information and living address of a person covering your travel costs.
- ID information and passport number of any relative living here.
- Your criminal history.
If you’re an academic who’s expecting to complete an exchange or research project in the UK:
- Formal letter of home-country employer. It must show you’ve been given the authorization to leave the current job for an exchange or research project in the UK. It has to show dates of such approved leave.
- Formal letter of the host institution/organization in the UK. It must show in written they’ve made the needed arrangements for the specified exchange or research project.
If you’re expecting to take private medical treatment in the UK:
- Letter confirming your medical condition. Issued by a UK doctor/consultant, naming your disease and the need for the cure in the UK. It has to also show costs, place and the period of private cure.
- Proof of having paid the complete costs of medical care.
- Letter confirming you need further care. (If you’re applying for visa extension). Issued by a UK doctor/consultant confirming you need further treatment of the disease. It must be accompanied with documents showing you’ve the money to pay costs of such treatment.
If you’re expecting to give your organ to a person in need in the UK:
- Letter naming you as a donor match or the need for getting tested as a potential donor match. It must be issued by the main nurse/director of the UK’s NHS Trust’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Team, or a registered doctor as an NHS consultant. It has to show details of when and where the tests or transplant will take place.
- Proof of residence in the UK of the organ recipient. Your organ recipient’s photocopied British passport, or UK valid residence permit.
- Proof that the organ recipient will be in the UK before transplantation date. (If the organ recipient is out of the UK). Details of their travel to the UK, their name, nationality and their date of birth.
If you’re visiting with the intention to become a UK Entrepreneur in the Future:
- Support letter from a venture capital firms in the UK. The firm issuing it must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
- Letter of support from an endorsed UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions.
- Supportive letter from UK departments.
If you’re expecting to attend a Professional Training/Assessment:
- Confirmation letter for an arranged PLAB or OSCE test. (If you’re expecting to sit a PLAB/OSCE test). It must be issued by a General Medical Council & Nursing and Midwifery Council, confirming that the test has been arranged.
- Formal job offer as a clinician/dental observer. (If applicable). It must not be a gainful job and you must not have worked before in a same job position.
If you’re applying for a UK Long-Term Standard Visitor Visa:
- Evidence of regular temporary visits to the UK.
- Proof of intention to leave the UK at the end of the visa period.
- Confirmation that you won’t change the reason for which you’re requiring this visa.
How Long Does it Take for a UK Standard Visitor Visa Application to Process?
The decision on your UK visitor visa is taken in 8 weeks, if you apply by post. However, the decision is made on the day you apply if you use the premium service.
A longer period may apply for taking a decision if further documentation is required.
Standard Visitor Visa Extension
There are some exceptional circumstances upon which you may extend your Standard visitor visa. Typically the complete period of extension together with the visa period doesn’t exceed 6 months, except for the following cases:
- If you’re on a private medical treatment. You may get an additional 6 month period of visa extension to get medical care. You have to prove that you have paid your care costs, that you can pay additional costs and you haven’t broken immigration and visa rules.
- If you’re an academic completing a research project. The amount of extension and the initial visa period shouldn’t be more than 12 months.
- If you’re sitting the PLAB examination for the second time. You may get additional 6 months through extension.
- If you want to engage in a clinical duty after having passed PLAB examination. The period through extension doesn’t exceed a year and a half.
UK Tourist Visa Fees
It costs £89 to apply for a UK Tourist Visa. However for private medical treatment given for 6 up to 11 months and for an academic to do research for up to 1 year the fee is £179. While for a long-term visa for 2 years is £337, £612 for 5 years and £767 for 10 years.
To apply for a visa extension the candidate must pay £993 for an application through the post, and £1,583 for an application in person.
How Long Can I Stay in the UK With a Visitor Visa?
With a UK visitor visa you may stay in the UK for the following periods:
- At most 30 days. If you are a traveler under an ADS agreement.
- Up to 6 months. If you are travelling for family visit or tourism.
- Up to 11 months. If you are traveling for a private medical treatment.
- Up to 12 months. If you are an academic completing a research project in the UK.
What is the UK Long-Term Standard Visitor Visa?
This is a visitor visa with validity period 2, 5 up to 10 years, issued if you’re someone who needs to travel regularly to the UK for temporary visits.