Visitor Visas – General

Visitor Visas – General

The visitor visa is the most popular single route for individuals coming to the UK for tourism, visiting family as well as business visits.
In line with the recent review of the UK immigration system by the government, new rules have been implemented from 27 November 2008 to reform specific categories of the “visitor” visa.
The idea behind this reform is to ensure that visitors are clear on the activities they are allowed to do whilst in the UK on a visitor visa and do not breach conditions of their stay for the duration of their time in the UK.

Reasons why you may wish to visit the UK
There are numerous reasons why an individual may wish to come to the UK for a short period. In addition to visiting family, sightseeing or visiting on business, people may wish to visit the UK to get married, arrange plans for studying in the UK, undertake a short course, attend important events, visit the UK as a representative of a company or conduct research or sit a test in the UK.

General requirements for coming to the UK as a visitor
Individuals intending to visit the UK must be able to demonstrate that they wish to visit the UK for no more than six months and that they will be leaving the UK at the end of the visit. In addition, individuals must be able to show that they have sufficient finds to maintain and accommodate themselves (and any dependants) without assistance from UK public funds.

The exceptions to this general rule are for ‘academic visitors and ‘parents of children at school in the UK” who are entitled to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 12 months.

Categories of the “Visitor Visa”
It is important that if you intend to visit the UK that you apply for the correct category of visitor visa before entering the country as you are required to comply with the conditions on your visa. Any breach of visa conditions during your stay in the UK may result in adverse consequences; and it is therefore recommended that you ensure that your intentions for coming to the UK are adequately reflected in the type of visitor visa you apply for.

The different categories of “Visitor Visa” are as follows:

  • Visiting Family
  • Visiting Friends
  • Tourism
  • Academic visitors
  • Advisers, consultants, trainers, trouble shooters who are employed abroad by the same company which has the UK branch
  • Individuals undertaking specific, one –off training in techniques and UK work practices
  • Visitors for private medical treatment in the UK
  • Visitors intending to marry in the UK
  • Parents of a child at school in the UK

Each category of visitor visa will be explained individually.

General Visitors

If you wish to visit the UK to see family/ friends, or simply visit for tourism and sightseeing purposes; you will need to apply as a general visitor.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period – no more than 6 months.

2. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey

3. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a general visitor visa

  • You must not intend to study in the UK
  • You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
  • You must not intend to undertake business, sport or entertainer visitor activities
  • You must intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK
  • You must not intend to receive private medical treatment during your visit to the UK
  • You must not be a transit passenger to a country outside the Common Travel Area

C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a general visitor, you should ensure that you have basic documentation as follows:

  • If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
  • If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
  • If studying: Letter from institution confirming details of your course, start-finish date, dates of holiday period and the dates you intend to visit the UK
  • Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities
  • Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
  • Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
  • Evidence of additional savings

D. Extension

The maximum you can stay in the UK is six months as a general visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can often be refused a visa to enter the UK as a general visitor and will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

Only applicants who are visiting close family members are able to appeal against a refusal decision. All other applicants who are visiting the UK for other reasons are not entitled to appeal against a refusal decision.

We therefore advise that applicants seek legal advice on the procedure for appealing.

F. Our Services

  • We can advise on the procedure of making a ‘general visitor’ application and discuss the merits of your application.
  • We can advise on the procedure involved for applying for visit visas for members of your family.
  • We can advise on the evidence required for the entry clearance application.
  • We can advise on the merits of an appeal should your application be refused and attract a right of appeal.

Whatever the case, we are here to help, assist, advise and represent our clients in relation to any aspect of your immigration matter.

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