Visitor Visa

A non-European national can apply for a visitors visa under various categories including coming to the UK as a tourist, to visit family or on business, as an entertainer or sportsperson, or for special reasons like receiving private medical treatment or to get married. If you come to the UK as a visitor you are generally permitted to remain for up to 6 months.

Eligibility to apply for a visitors visa will depend on what you intend to do whilst you are in the UK. You must also have sufficient funds to support and accommodate yourself and to be able to meet the cost of your return or onward journey.

GENERAL VISITOR VISAS & TOURIST VISAS

If you want to come to the UK as a tourist or to visit friends you should apply as a general visitor (or child visitor if you are under 18). A general visitors visa is for those who want to enter the UK but are not engaged in any professional activity such as business, sport or entertaining.

FAMILY VISITORS VISA

if you want to visit members of your family in the UK you can apply to come here under a family visitors visa (or child visitors visa if you are under 18) although you must be able to demonstrate that you are visiting a close relative or partner, otherwise you will need to apply as a general visitor.

BUSINESS VISITORS VISAS

if you want to come to the UK for work purposes, eg, an overseas meeting or UK site visit, you must apply for a business visitor visa (or child visitor if you are under 18). This includes academic visitors, religious workers and doctors undertaking clinical attachments. You must be able to show that you are based and receive your salary from abroad. You may also be eligible to apply under a permitted paid-engagement visitors visa.

PROSPECTIVE ENTREPRENEUR VISAS

if you want to come to the UK on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur Visa), and you need to spend time here first to have discussions and secure funding to meet the financial criteria under the points-based system, you can apply for a visa as a prospective entrepreneur.

ENTERTAINER VISITORS VISA

if you want to come to the UK to participate in arts festivals, music competitions, charity events or make a public appearance you need to apply as an entertainer visitor (or child visitor if you are under 18). If you do not meet the requirements to be an entertainment visitor, you will need to apply under Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) of the points-based system. You may also be eligible under a permitted paid-engagement visitors visa.

SPORTSPERSON VISITORS VISA

if you intend to take part in a sport-related activity, eg, a sporting event or making a personal appearance you can come to the UK on a sportsperson visitor visa (or child visitor if you are under 18). If you do not meet the requirements to be a sportsperson visitor, you will need to apply under Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) of the points-based system. Alternatively you may be eligible to apply under permitted paid-engagement visitors.

PERMITTED PAID-ENGAGEMENT VISITORS VISA

if you want to come to the UK as a visitor to do short-term, fee-paid activity (under a defined list of visitors invited to come to the UK because of particular skills and expertise) you can apply for a visa as a permitted paid-engagement visitor. You may apply to come here for up to 1 month without the need to be sponsored under the points-based system but you must have a formal invitation to carry out the engagement.

STUDENT VISITORS VISA

if you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months (11 months for an English language course), you can come here on a student visitor visa (or child visitor if you are under 18).

VISITORS IN TRANSIT VISA

if you want to come to the UK for up to 48 hours on your way to another country, you can come here as a visitor in transit.

SPECIAL VISITORS VISA

if you have a specific reason for coming to the UK, eg, receiving private medical treatment or getting married/registering a civil partnership here, you may be able to apply as a special visitor. If you do not intend to leave soon after the ceremony and your prospective partner is a British Citizen or has settled status in the UK, you will need to apply as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, and after the ceremony switch into the category of spouse or civil partner.

CHILD VISITORS VISA

f you are under 18 and want to come to the UK for less than 6 months, including to study, you must apply under the child visitor category.

Whilst visitors visas are only valid for a short period of time, applications can still be complex and using the services of an immigration expert is highly recommended.