Thu | Feb 22, 2018

Immigration Corner | Have the rules been changed?

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am being told that the general visitor visa that one would need to obtain to travel to the United Kingdom has been replaced. Is this true and if so, replaced by what?

- LS

Dear LS,

Persons can apply for a standard visitor visa if they want to visit the United Kingdom for leisure, for example, on holiday; or to see family and friends; for business; or to take part in sports or creative events; for another reason, for example, to receive private medical treatment. Persons should check to see if they need this visa if they are from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Persons' applications will not be accepted and a refund will not be given if they have the right of abode in the United Kingdom, for example, the individual is a British citizen. In such a case, a person would need to apply for a certificate of entitlement instead.

The standard visitor visa has replaced the family visitor visa, general visitor visa, and the child visitor visa. It has also replaced the business visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors, and dentists; the sports visitor visa; the entertainer visitor visa; the prospective entrepreneur visa; the private medical treatment visitor visa; and the approved destination status visa.

If persons want to visit the United Kingdom on business, they can apply for a standard visitor visa for business-related activities, for example, they are going there for a conference, meeting, or training; they would like to take part in a specific sports-related event; they are artistes, entertainers, or musicians and going to the United Kingdom to perform; they are academics and are doing research or are accompanying students on a study-abroad programme.

They may also apply if they are a doctor or dentist and are going there to take a clinical attachment or observer post; they want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination; they want to get funding to start, take over, join, or run a business over there.

It would be prudent to check the visitor rules online to find the full list of business-related activities persons can do with a standard visitor visa.

There are certain things that a person can do. For instance, persons can take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the visitor rules; study for up to 30 days as long as it's not the main reason for your visit; take part in an exchange programme or educational visit if they are under 18 years of age; and/or convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

It should be noted that the earliest that persons can apply is three months before travel, and a decision on the visa should be made within three weeks. This will vary, and persons are advised to check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country from which the application is made.

- 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).