The UK is a popular destination for tourists from around the world. In fact, over 31 million people travelled to the UK in 2022 alone. While residents of some countries can visit the UK visa-free, many will have to secure a UK visit visa before they arrive. This includes countries like India, Pakistan, Turkey and South Africa.
The UK Visit Visa will grant you leave to enter the UK, but it is not a guarantee that you will be allowed to enter once you arrive. On arrival, you may need to satisfy Border Control agents that your visit is genuine and that you will stay within the confines of your visa category.
Since the UK Visit Visa is one of the easiest to secure, it is commonly abused by criminals and those looking to get around visa restrictions. So while you might have no problems securing the visa, you will need to be prepared to have your plans picked apart by border agents when you arrive.
If you’re ready to apply for your UK visit visa, we’ve compiled this simple guide to help you navigate the process. We’ll explain what you can do with this visa category, how much it will cost you and the four main requirements to secure this visa. We’re also sharing our top tip for getting the most value from your UK Visit Visa, so make sure you keep reading to the end.
The Standard UK Visitor Visa is recommended for tourism, business, academics and medical visits. There are restrictions for each category, but in a nutshell, this is a short-term visitor visa that will allow you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time.
Top tip: Medical visits may be extended to 12 months and academics may stay for up to 11 months.
The purpose of this visa is to allow individuals to visit the UK for permitted activities. The overarching rule is that you cannot work (either paid or unpaid) or study for long periods while on this visa. Importantly, you cannot get married on a UK Visit Visa, you will need to apply for a Fiance/Fiancee Visa or a Marriage Visit Visa.
The cheapest UK visit visa is £115 and this will allow you one visit for up to 6 months. Multiple visit visas are available for an additional cost and will be valid for a specific period.
|Length of Stay
|Standard Visitor Visa
|Standard Visitor Visa (Medical)
|Standard Visitor Visa (Academics)
|2 year Long Term Standard Visitor Visa
|5 year Long Term Standard Visitor Visa
|10 year Long Term Standard Visitor Visa
The fee is payable when you submit your application and will not be refunded if your application is rejected.
A rejected application can derail your travel plans and cost you thousands to re-book and re-arrange travel, so you naturally want to avoid this outcome. A thorough understanding of the application process and the requirements for the visa will help to avoid this fate.
The most important thing to remember is that you should always apply for the correct visa for your requirements. So, if you plan to work or study, apply for the appropriate visa for your trip. If you are caught carrying out activities that are not permitted by your visa category, this can lead to your visa being cancelled and you could even face a ban from returning to the UK.
The Standard UK Visit Visa is valid for a stay of up to 6 months. If you arrive on a one-way ticket, don’t be surprised to be grilled about your intentions.
Likewise, if you only have a budget airline ticket booked to a nearby destination that isn’t your home, with no evidence of onward travel plans, you can expect your application to be more closely scrutinised.
To demonstrate that you understand the limitations of your visa and that you plan to leave at the end of your trip, you should have onward travel booked before your arrival.
You can show evidence that you have continued links to your home country, such as an ongoing tenancy agreement or evidence that you own a home. You could also use a letter from your employer stating that they intend for you to return to work after your trip. If you are in full-time education, you could also provide evidence of your enrollment on a course.
Anything that you can provide that will show you have ties to your country of residence will help to satisfy this visa condition. In some circumstances, it might be difficult to show your intention to leave.
An example of this would be retired parents visiting their adult children in the UK. In this instance, you might show that you have pets in a boarding kennel or staying with a friend as evidence you plan to return. You might also be part of an organised social club that could confirm your intentions to return.
If you are struggling to find evidence of your intention to return, get in touch with our team. We can help to find a suitable piece of evidence that will prove your intention to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
The UK is an expensive destination to visit and costs are on the rise. A recent study found that the average cost of a hotel room per night in the UK is currently £120. You’ll need to show that you have the funds to cover the duration of your trip or provide evidence that someone else will be paying for you.
If you plan to stay with friends or family members, you will need to share their contact details and the Border Control agents may want to confirm your plans. If their version of events doesn’t match what you have put in your application, your visa could be cancelled.
It’s not uncommon for individuals to arrive for an extended trip and plan to travel on to another destination that isn’t necessarily their home country. If this is your intention, you simply need to show that you have the funds for your onward travel.
This could be in the form of savings or funding through a friend or family member. If you state that someone else is paying for your onward travel, be prepared to share contact details. Border Agents may want to confirm that your stories match up.
A UK visitor visa should never be used to live in the UK. Some people will attempt to apply for a long-term visa and then simply leave the country and return every 6 months to keep their visa valid.
Put simply, you can assume you will get caught if you attempt this. If you are visiting the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa, you need to clearly show that you are only visiting. If you would like to settle in the UK, we can advise on the visa category that would be most beneficial to you.
If you plan to visit the UK frequently over a fixed period, you can save a significant amount of money by choosing a Long-Term visa. Consider that a single 6-month visitor visa costs £115. If you were to visit the UK twice a year, this could cost £2,300 over a 10-year period.
Instead, we recommend choosing the 10-year Long Term Standard Visitor Visa, which costs just £993. While this might be a big investment upfront, you could save money in the long term. Assuming you visit twice a year for 10 years, this is just £49.65 per trip. If you have family members settled in the UK and you intend to visit regularly, this offers significant savings.
Our calculations are based on the visa price staying the same over this 10-year timeframe. If recent visa hikes are any indication, we could see the cost of the UK Standard Visitor Visa rise in the future. By choosing a long-term visitor visa, you can lock in your savings and protect yourself against any future price increases.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with Standard UK Visitor Visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!