Immigration Corner | Requirements for a standard visitor visa
Dear Mr Bassie,
I would like to know under what circumstances someone would make an application for a standard visitor visa.
Persons can go to the United Kingdom as a standard visitor:
• For tourism; for example, on a holiday or to see family and friends;
• For certain business activities; for example, attending a meeting;
• To do a short course of study;
• To take part in research or an exchange programme as an academic;
• For medical reasons; for example, to receive private medical treatment.
It should be noted that persons may not have to apply for a visa. What they may need to do will depend on their nationality and what they plan to do in the United Kingdom. Persons should check if they need to apply for a UK visa. Persons should be aware that their application may not be accepted ,and they will not get a refund if they have the right of abode in the UK (for example, if they are British citizens). Those persons will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement, instead.
WHAT PERSONS CAN OR CANNOT DO
Persons can visit the United Kingdom to do certain activities; for example, visiting friends and family, or attending a conference.
• Do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person;
• Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits;
• Claim public funds (benefits);
• Do a course of study that lasts longer than six months;
• Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. Those persons will need a marriage visitor visa instead.
Persons are advised to read the guidance online for more information about what they can and cannot do with a standard visitor visa.
Persons will need to prove that they meet the eligibility requirements; for example, that they will leave the UK at the end of their visit.
Persons can usually stay in the UK for up to six months and there is a £95 fee. Persons might be able to stay for longer, if:
• They are going to the UK for private medical treatment – up to 11 months (£190 fee);
• They are an academic and meet the eligibility requirements – the applicant, the spouse or partner and their children may be able to stay for up to 12 months (£190 fee).
If persons are staying in the UK for longer than six months, they must collect their biometric residence permit when they arrive. They may also have to take a tuberculosis test as part of their application, depending on where they come from.
Persons can apply for a long-term standard visitor visa that lasts two, five or 10 years if they need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period. Those persons can stay for a maximum of six months on each visit. If persons are under 18 years old when they apply, their long-term standard visitor visa will only be valid for up to six months after they turn 18 years old. Please note persons cannot get a refund on the fee.
WHEN TO APPLY AND HOW LONG IT TAKES
Those persons who need a visa must apply online before they go to the United Kingdom. As part of their application, they will need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to prove their identity and provide their documents. Persons should allow time to attend their appointment, as the visa application centre could be in another country.
The visa application centre may keep the applicant’s passport and documents while processing their application. Please note that the earliest a person can apply is three months before they travel.
Persons having applied online, proved their identity and provided their documents, will usually get a decision on their visa within three weeks. There are other ways to obtain a faster visa decision, but this will depend on what country the applicant is in. These ways are explained online.
A standard visitor visa costs £95 and the fee for a long-term standard visitor visa depends on its length:
• Two years – £361
• Five years – £655
• Ten years – £822
Persons should be aware that they cannot switch from a standard visitor visa to another type of visa. Persons can only extend their stay for specific reasons; for example, needing further private medical treatment.
Also, just for completeness, it should be noted that persons who want a visa to do something other than visiting; for example, work or longer-term study, will need to leave the United Kingdom and then make a new application.
All the best.
John S. Bassie
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, global vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org