If you are likely to need a visa, there are several entrance requirements you need to consider before you travel to the UK. It is important to have satisfied these requirements before making travel arrangements as it is not possible to apply for many visas inside the UK.

Entry Clearance

Whether you are coming to the UK for pleasure, business or with a partner, if you intend to stay for more than 6 months you will need to ensure you have Leave to Enter which is granted from a successful Entry Clearance application. Your Leave to Enter will be inspected when you initially present your passport at a UK point of entry.

Leave to Enter grants you permission to enter the UK in a specific capacity. You can initially enter for 30 days in order to collect your Biometric Residence Permit which is another requirement for those wishing to stay in the UK. Leave to Enter takes the form of a sticker known as a ‘vignette’ which is inserted into your passport. A vignette grants you a status issued by a British Mission such as a British Embassy, High Commission or British Consulate. A vignette cannot be issued from within the UK so must be applied for and issued before you finalise your travel arrangements. Don’t get caught out, international travel can be expensive and tickets cannot always be rescheduled or refunded if vignettes are not granted in time.

There are various categories in which a person may apply for Entry Clearance:

  • UK Ancestry
  • Spouse
  • Un-Married Partner
  • EEA Family Member
  • Dependent
  • Dependent Relative
  • Visitor Visa
  • Worker or Student (Points Based System Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5)

If you intend to travel to the UK for a holiday of up to six months you do not need Leave to Enter unless you are a citizen of a country that has travel restrictions known as a Visa National. In this instants you may travel on a Visit Visa, please see below ‘Tourist and Short Stay Visas’ or talk to one of our UK Immigration Consultants

Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP)

As of 6th April 2015 all applicants who are applying from overseas for a UK Visa valid for over six months are required to register their biometrics at the Visa application centre in the country from which they are applying.

Once your Entry Clearance has been approved you will receive a multiple entry 30 day vignette in your passport/ travel document in order to enter the United Kingdom. Once you have entered the UK you must collect your Biometric Residency Permit from your nominated Post Office in the UK.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

All persons who are applying for a Visa from outside the UK for more than 6 months are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge. If you are applying for any Visa for any length of time inside the UK, but you are not applying for Indefinite stay you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. The only Nationals exempted from the IHS are Australia and New Zealand.

English Language Requirement

If you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and you are the main visa applicant, unless you are otherwise exempt (English is your first language or you have completed an English taught degree) you are required to pass a recognised English language examination at Level A1 prior to your entry.

As of the 5th of November 2015, unless you are exempt from an English Language test, the Home Office will only accept qualifications from a recognised English test provider highlighted on the UK Government lists of approved tests and providers.

Visa categories where you are not required to show evidence of your English proficiency:

  • applying under the Tier 1 (Investor) category
  • making an initial application under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent)
  • applying under Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)
  • applying under Tier 5
  • Exempted by categories listed below

You do not need to meet the English requirements if you can demonstrate you fall into a following category:

  • National of a majority English speaking country
  • Hold a degree taught in English

Tuberculosis Testing

You must pass a Tuberculosis test if you are applying for a visa for more than 6 months and are a national from one of the countries currently listed on the Home Office website.

For more information or help on your initial Entry Clearance application, speak to one of our UK Immigration Consultants on 0141 429 2390 or drop us an email on