Applying for a Visitor Visa
How to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa- for you or your friends/family
You or your friends/family can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you/they want to visit the UK:
- for tourism, for example on a holiday or to see your family and friends or attend graduation
- for certain business activities, for example attending a meeting
- to take part in research or an exchange programme as an academic
- for medical reasons, for example to receive private medical treatment
- for short term study reasons (less than 6 months) for example:
• study a short course at an accredited institution (meaning one or more consecutive or concurrent programmes of study that will be completed within the validity period of the visitor permission)
• complete a period of research
• complete research tuition (for example, to learn about research)
• complete one or more elective courses linked to their overseas study, where they are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as their principal course of study equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK
• complete a study-abroad programme in the UK as part of an overseas course, where your programme is less than 6 months in length
• sit an entrance exam
• re-sit an examination or retake a module
• take an oral (viva) examination for part of a PhD qualification at a UK institution
Attending your graduation
If you have left the UK after the end of your course but you still have enough time remaining on the Student (or Tier 4) visa you had to study that course, you should now be able to use that visa to come back to attend your graduation ceremony. Just make sure that the visa covers you for the length of the whole visit and that you are carrying information about the graduation ceremony in your hand luggage. Generic graduation emails from the University should suffice in this case.
How long can you/they stay?
You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months on a Standard Visit visa.
What you can and can't do
You can visit the UK 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 6 months
- marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You’ll need a Marriage Visitor visa instead
You must always show that:
- you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
- you’ll not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home
- you’re able to support yourself and your dependants during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
- you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
- you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules
You have proof that you meet any further eligibility requirements depending on your reason for being in the UK.
Most countries will need to apply for this visa before you come to the UK but some countries (including EU/EEA) can apply once they arrive at the airport. To find out whether you must apply before you arrive check the Gov.uk website. If you can apply on arrival you still have the option of applying for your visa before leaving home and this removes the worry that you might be refused at the airport and makes your travelling less stressful!
Further comprehensive information about the Standard Visitor visa route can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa. Immigration rules do change frequently so you should always check you have the most up to date information before you make any visa application.
Standard visitor visa holders are not entitled to free health care during their time in the UK and will need to secure private medical insurance and/or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for the length of their stay.
Not having private medical insurance will not affect your immigration application, however if you become an NHS debtor by using the health service in the UK as a visitor, and not paying for the treatment, this will have an effect on any future visa applications made and could lead to future applications being refused. You should also expect that you may be refused all non emergency medical care without evidence of insurance or payment capability.
There are some companies that offer specific insurance plans for international students and families so it may be worth having a look at those. Two of these are Insure2Study Overseas or Endsleigh Insurance though you can use any provider you wish.
We recommend that all eligible EU/EEA/Swiss students get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if they can. Having that document may impact on your smoothly accessing UK healthcare, future eligibility under some UK immigration routes (e.g. Citizenship) and aiding eligibility for a refund of any Immigration Health Surcharge fees subsequently paid under the Student Route.
Unless you are from North Korea, you will need to submit your application online: - https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa/apply
Once your application has been submitted online, you will usually need to attend an appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre to submit your original documents and enrol your biometric information (fingerprints and photographs). It will then take approximately 2 to 8 weeks for your visa application to be processed. Current visa processing times for can be found on the Gov.UK website .
You should always carry the documents that you submitted with your visa application in your hand luggage when you travel to the UK. The Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive in the UK.
Please see our Suggested Documents section below to help you with your preparations.
We would always recommend that you apply for your visa before coming to the UK. However, if you have checked the Gov.uk website, are sure you can apply on entry and you decide to do so, the process is outlined below.
Applying for a Standard Visitor visa on arrival to the UK:
On arrival to the UK, you will need to present your passport and all the required documents to the UK Border Force Officer at the port of entry (airport). They may also expect to see proof of your finances, so we recommend that you carry a recent original bank statement or other proof of funding in your hand luggage. There are no set regulations around the amount of funds that you need to show but we would recommend that you use Student Route financial requirements as a guide. These are that you have £1023 for each month in the UK and this is to cover accommodation and living costs. If you will have accommodation provided in the UK, make sure you travel with evidence of that.
You should explain clearly to the Border Force Officer that you wish to enter as a Standard Visitor and your reasons e.g. in order to attend your Graduation or for study reasons.
Please see our Suggested Documents section below to help you with your preparations.
Please note that if you are asking for Entry Clearance at Port of Entry we would advise you not to use the E-Gate facility. Follow an admissions queue that enables you to speak to a member of the Border Force. This is because if you use the E-Gate you will not be stamped in as Visitor so will not have evidence of the date of entry to the UK. You may require evidence of this for future immigration applications so avoid the E-Gates and get a stamp!
The following list are suggested documents to include in all applications both outside the UK and at the Border (unless stated)
- Application form (for overseas applications)– Available to complete online: https://www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa
- Application Fee (for overseas applications): currently £95 for a 6 month visa. All current visa fees can be found on the Gov.UK website
- Passport(s): – Your passport should be valid for the length of your proposed study visit.
- Proof you or your friend/relative have somewhere to stay
- If you/friends/relatives are staying with friends (or you) this could include a tenancy agreement or letter from your landlord, or friend who is offering accommodation, confirming there is sufficient room and that s/he agrees to visitors staying there,
- if you/family/friends are staying in a hotel or hostel, include booking details
- if there are not yet firm accommodation plans, you/your family/friends will need to provide more evidence of funds to show they can afford to pay for any accommodation necessary
- Proof of finances: This can be in the form of bank statements or pay slips and should ideally cover 6 months transactions. There are no set regulations around the amount of funds that you need to show but we would recommend that you use Tier 4 financial requirements as a guide. These are that you have £1023 for each month in the UK and this is to cover accommodation and living costs (if you have already indicated accommodation will be covered then you may need to demonstrate less fund- though again, there are no set amounts given by the UKVI
If you are applying for a Visit visa for study, research or exchange purposes you will also need:
- University Standard Visit visa letter: For new taught students this letter will be available to you from the Admissions Department. For continuing students, this letter can be requested via MyUniHub. For exchange students
If you are applying for a Visit visa to attend your graduation, you will also need:
- Graduation visa support letter: this can be accessed from the Graduation team and information can be found at Prepare for Graduation. Please note that the letter is for you and they cannot include your family or friends names on it.
If your family member(s)/ friend(s) are visiting you while you are studying (or for your Graduation), as well as the documents listed for all applicants above, they will also need:-
- Original invitation letter (from you) – The University does not give a letter of invitation for your friends or family. As you are inviting your friend or family, you need to provide a letter confirming the relationship between you and your friend/family and the purpose of their visit. Here is an example of an Invitation letter: Sample invitation letter
- Original Student Statement from MyUniHub (you can download this yourself from your GradIntelligence account and then send this to them)
- Copy of your passport (data page)
- Copy of any previous and current UK visa including your biometric residence permit
- Important: Evidence of reasons for returning to their home country g. a letter from an employer confirming the length of their holiday, details of business or dependants left at home.
This list is for guidance only, for a full list of required documents please make sure you are also visiting the GOV.UK website