Immigration Corner: Which visa do I need?
Dear Mr Bassie,
I plan to attend a short course in England and also to look at possible business opportunities while I am there. Should I apply for a business or a general visa?
Any advice would be appreciated.
It is not necessary to apply for a business or general visa. A person should apply for a Standard Visitor visa if he/she would like to visit the United Kingdom if that person plans to go there for leisure, for example, on holiday or to see family and friends; for business, or to take part in sports or creative events; or for another reason, such as, to receive private medical treatment.
However, generally speaking, it is prudent for a person to check if he/she needs a Standard Visitor visa if that person is visiting from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the 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; and Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa.
If a person plans to visit the United Kingdom on business, he/she should apply for a Standard Visitor Visa if visiting for business-related activities, for example: a person going there for a conference, meeting or training; or a person who would like to take part in a specific sports-related event; an artist, entertainer or musician going to the United Kingdom to perform.
Also, the Standard Visa may be used if a person is an academic and is doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad program; if the person is a doctor or dentist who is going to the United Kingdom to take a clinical attachment or observer post; or the person would like to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE); or a person may be travelling there to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business already in the United Kingdom.
A person who would like to go there for specific business-related activities should check the published visitor rules that will provide the full list of business-related activities that someone can do with a Standard Visitor visa.
It should be noted that a person can take part in any of the business-related activities that is permitted in the visitor?s rules; study for up to 30 days, as long as it is not the main reason for the visit; take part in an exchange program or educational visit, if the person is under 18 years of age.
A person with a Standard Visa cannot do paid or unpaid work; live in the United Kingdom for long periods of time through frequent visits; marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership; or have recourse to public funds.
It is possible to apply for a visa up to 3 months before the proposed date of travel to the United Kingdom and a decision on the visa application should be received within 3 weeks; this will vary depending on which country the person is applying from.
The successful applicant can usually stay in the United Kingdom for up to 6 months and might be able to stay for up to 11 months if he/she is going to the United Kingdom for private medical treatment. Also, an applicant and his/her spouse or civil partner and children might be able to stay for up to 12 months if that person is an academic on sabbatical and going to the United Kingdom for research.
If the applicant is staying in the United Kingdom as an academic or to receive private medical treatment for longer than 6 months, he/she must apply for a biometric residence permit
It should be noted that a person can also apply for a long-term visit visa if he/she can prove that he/she needs to visit the United Kingdom regularly over a longer period. The applicant can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit and his/her visa can last for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.
With respect to fees the applicant must pay PS85 to apply, plus an extra fee depending on the length of the long term-visit visa: for 1 year - PS324; 2 years - PS324; 5 years - PS588; and 10 years - PS737.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org