In this article, we are going to tell you what you need to know about long-term visitor visas.
This article will cover the following:
Part 1: General long-term visitor visa information
- What is a long-term UK visitor visa?
- Do you need to apply for a long-term UK visitor visa?
- What is the 2-year long term visitor visa fee?
- What is the 5-year long term visitor visa fee?
- What is the 10-year long term visitor visa fee?
- What is the long-term UK visitor visa processing time in 2019?
- Other long-term Uk visitor visa information
Part 2: Long term visitor visa requirements
- Requirement 1 – You must have a genuine, credible and ongoing reason to visit the UK
- Requirement 2 – ‘Accommodation and maintenance’
- Requirement 3 – Rules relating to third party sponsorship
- Requirement 4 – ‘Frequent’ and ‘successive’ visits
- Requirement 5 – The ‘suitability’ rules
Part 3: Preparing for the long-term UK visitor visa application
- What supporting documents should you submit?
- How should you write your long-term visitor visa supporting letter?
What is a long-term UK visitor visa?
A long-term visitor visa will allow you to visit the UK on a visa that is normally valid for 2, 5 or 10 years.
“What is the difference between a long-term visitor visa and a standard 6 month visitor visa?”
The only difference between the most commonly issued standard 6-month UK visitor visa and a long-term visitor visa is the duration of the visa.
It is important, however, to understand the ‘frequent and successive visit’ requirement, which we discuss in more detail below.
In short, despite the visa being valid for multiple years, it will not permit you to stay in the UK for a length of time that would in fact make the UK your main residence.
There are no set rules for this . For example, whilst many long-term visitor visa applicants stay in the UK for 6 months year after year, the Home Office have not said that 6 months will be the maximum limit that you can stay in the UK.
What is the 2-year long term visitor visa fee in 2019?
The 2-year long term UK visitor visa fee in 2019 is £361 (£95 for Chinese applicants who are applying in mainland China under the Chinese visa scheme). This is what it will cost for the Home Office to process your application. The latest Home Office fees list can be found here.
What is the 5-year long term visa fee in 2019?
The 5-year long term UK visitor visa fee in 2019 is £655.
What is the 10-year long term visitor visa fee in 2019?
The 10-year long term UK visitor visa fee in 2019 is £822.
What is the long-term visitor visa processing time in 2019?
The processing time for a long-term UK visitor in 2019 is, on average, 3 weeks. This is the visitor visa waiting time that you will have to wait for the Home Office to process your application. More information about the processing time for your particular country can be found here.
Do you need to apply for a long-term UK visitor visa?
First of all, you can choose not to apply for a long-term UK visitor visa and instead apply for a standard 6-month UK visitor visa.
Obviously, for many, it is preferable to have a visit visa that is valid for longer than 6 months, however.
In any event, you will need to apply for a UK visitor visa (either one that is valid for 6 months or for 2, 5 or 10 years) if you are deemed a ‘visa national’.
A visa national is someone from one of the countries listed below:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti, Dominican, Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (North), Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome e Principe Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan Uganda, Ukraine, United, Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
You can find this list in the Immigration Rules here.
You may not have to apply for a UK visitor visa, if you are a ‘non-visa national’.
If your country of origin in not in the countries listed above, then you are a non-visa national.
Non-visa nationals typically do not have to apply for a UK standard visitor visa.
Maria is from Brazil. As Brazil is not in the list of visa national countries, she does not strictly have to apply for a UK visitor visa.
However, in some cases it may be advisable or necessary for non-visa nationals to apply for a Uk visit visa (e.g. if you are a non-visa national and want less hassle at the airport or if the non-visa national has previously been refused UK visas).
Are some 6-month UK visitor visas automatically upgraded to a 2, 5 or 10 year long term visitor visas?
In some instances, yes.
Where the applicant has a good UK immigration history, some applicants are automatically ‘upgraded’ to a longer duration, even if they made an application for a standard 6-month visitor visa.
Is it more difficult to apply for a long term visitor visa than a 6 month visitor visa?
In most instances, yes.
The ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’ requirement for long-term UK visitor visas is going to be set a higher standard.
In some situations, where the applicants apply for a long-term visitor visa but do not meet this higher standard but are still relatively ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’, they will be issued a 6-month UK visitor visa.
When should you apply for a long-term visitor visa?
So you probably would prefer a visa that is valid for 2, 3 or 5 years rather than one that is valid for 6 months, right?
It is important to note that not everyone should apply for a long-term visitor visa.
If you have never been issued a UK visitor visa, the typical advice given to applicants is to apply for a 6-month UK visitor visa.
There are exceptions to this, however.
For example, those who can show an abundance of wealth and ties to their home country, depending on their particular circumstances, it may be good advice to apply for a long-term visitor visa straight away.
What is the biggest consideration when deciding who gets granted a long-term visitor visa?
Applicants who have previously been issued several UK visitor visas in the past and have complied with the terms of each visitor visa (e.g. did not overstay or do any prohibited activities) have a good chance of being granted a long-term visitor visa.
This is especially the case if there has not been any significant change of circumstances since the most recent UK visitor visa grant.
With this being said, this alone would not be enough to guarantee a successful long-term UK visitor visa application, as travel history cannot definitively predict your future compliance with UK immigration laws.
What can I do on a long-term UK visit visa?
There are lists of permitted and prohibited activities contained in Visitor Appendix 3, 4 and 5.
Prohibited and permitted activities on a UK standard visitor visa can be confusing.
This is especially so since the UK standard visitor visa now incorporates the Family Visitor visa, General Visitor visa, Child Visitor visa, Business Visitor visa, Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa & Approved Destination Status (ADS) visas.
- You are of course, permitted to visit the UK as a tourist and to visit friends and relatives over here. An itinerary is not a requirement; however, it would be wise to include it.
- You are permitted to volunteer for a registered charity for no more than 30 days, but only if that is not the main purpose of your stay in the UK
- You are permitted to attend to some general business activities, such as going to meetings, interviews, seminars and conferences. You may also negotiate contractual matters, deals or attend trade fairs for promoting business.
- You are permitted to engage in corporate activities such as consultation and training.
- You are permitted to come to the UK to discuss potential business with the UK government, UK companies or other companies based in the UK.
How do I apply for a long-term visitor visa?
You would apply for a long-term visitor visa in the same manner as a 6-month standard UK visitor visa – you should just choose the 2, 5 or 10 years options instead of the 6 months option.
Long term visitor visa requirements in 2019
In order to be granted a long term visitor visa, there are 5 UK visitor visa requirements in 2019 and 2020 that must be met.
You must have a ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’ on-going reason(s) to visit the UK
This is the requirement which usually needs to be addressed the most – which makes sense, as it is a long-term visitor visa you are applying for.
So you may be wondering, why do you have to be so detailed with your reasons for coming to the UK on a long-term visit visa?
Because your application will be decided by some very suspicious people!
When deciding whether your application is genuine and credible, the Home Office will consider your application in its entirety before deciding.
Due to this, there are several factors that they will consider.
By knowing what the Home Office caseworker’s main considerations are, you will be able to discuss these in your covering letter. This will increase your chances of a successful long-term visit visa application.
If you are interested, you can use our free sample letter for UK tourist visa applications as a template.
#1 Having a good immigration history in the past is very helpful to your chances of a long-term visitor visa being granted.
The Home Office caseworker will consider several issues.
Have you been granted UK visas in the past?
Practically speaking, only those who have had successful UK visa applications in the past will have a high chance of being granted a long-term visitor visa.
If you have been granted a UK visa in the past, and have abided by the conditions of the visas, then this should increase your chances of being granted a UK visa.
This will demonstrate to the Home Office caseworker that you have a good track record and accordingly there is a greater chance you will return to your country of origin before your visa expires.
If, however, you have previously breached a condition of stay (such as illegally worked or overstayed) then this will most likely decrease your chances of a visa being granted.
If this has happened, then it is highly recommended that you address this in your supporting letter to reassure the Home Office it won’t happen again.
Have you visited countries other than the UK?
If you can prove that you have stayed in other countries and have abided by the conditions set by that country, then this will be a positive contributing factor for your long-term UK visitor visa application.
In particular, if you have visited any Schengen countries, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, this will carry greater weight.
Do you have no immigration history?
If you have never travelled before, it’s likely that you should consider applying for a 6-month standard UK visitor visa rather than a long-term one.
With this being said, since every application is decided based on all of the circumstances, there may be some cases where an applicant with no immigration history still has a good chance of being granted a long-term UK visitor visa (i.e. if they are able to demonstrate an abundance of wealth or other strong ties to their home country).
#2 The country you reside in and the country you are a national of is important
It is unfair, I know, but Home Office caseworkers will be prejudiced against you if you come from a country where there is a high rate of non-compliance of nationals.
This was demonstrated in several articles in the main-steam news that caseworkers are using algorithms to decide which applicants are high or low risk, as well as the stories of the Home Office having a list of high-risk countries where it is presumed that applicants pose a greater risk of breaching conditions of their visa.
Accordingly, if you are applying from a country that the Home Office likely deems ‘high risk‘ (the Home Office has refused to publish the list but it would be reasonable to assume that Uganda, Nigeria, Bangladesh would be included on this list), then it may be a good idea to apply for a 6-month standard visitor visa instead, depending on your particular circumstances.
Whether you apply for a 6-month or for a longer term UK visitor visa, in such a case, it would be good advice to make the extra effort to put together a strong application.
#3 Your ties to your own country will be an integral part of the decision-making process
This is because, if the ties to your own country are strong, the Home Office caseworkers will think there is a higher chance of you returning and not overstaying on your UK visa.
The kinds of ties the Home Office will consider are as follows:
- Personal ties
- Economic and financial ties
- Family ties
If your personal ties to your home country are questionable, this means you are more likely to face refusal.
Younger people naturally have fewer ties to their home country.
They will be considered more mobile and adaptable with a greater risk of staying past their visa expiry date.
However, for younger applicants, this can be balanced against showing personal ties such as being enrolled in college or university which would suggest you would need to return to your country in order to obtain the qualification. Such a personal tie should be emphasised in the application.
Economic and Financial Ties
If you do not have any economic and financial ties to your country of nationality, then the Home Office will deem you as higher risk of absconding than someone who does have strong economic and financial ties to the UK.
Having higher than moderate income is not enough. Importantly, you need to be able to prove this with verifiable evidence.
If you can do this, then this will bode well for your application.
This is because the Home Office will consider it will be less likely for you to want to overstay in the UK as you have good reason to want to return to your country. It would also be unlikely for you to want to work in the UK illegally if you have a source of earning some good income at home.
If you own any properties or land in your own country, this is also certainly something that should be emphasised.
If you have family ties in your own country, such as a spouse, children or elderly parents, then that will be a positive influencing factor in deciding the outcome of your application.
i) Family ties in the UK
Having relatives in the UK can affect your application positively or negatively.
From one perspective, family in the UK provides you with a genuine reason for visiting the UK.
However, from another perspective, if your family in the UK have had previous brushes with breaking immigration rules/laws, they may discredit your application.
However, regardless of your situation – do not be tempted to deceive the Home Office. They have access to a staggering amount of information (which you can verify by making a subject access request!)
If you fail to mention any family members in the UK, this could be perceived as suspicious by the Home Office caseworker, which would likely result in them being mistrustful of you.
ii) Family ties in your home country
It is typically good for your application if you have family members in your country of nationality.
There is even more reason to mention them if they are your spouse and children who are emotionally, financially or even physically dependent upon you.
#4 Your reasons for visiting are important to analyse whether you are a ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’ visitor
Your reasons for visiting will be analysed by the Home Office caseworker in light of our answers in the online application form, your covering letter and the supporting documentation that you submit.
You should explain your reasons for visiting in your covering letter, as well as in person at the airport if required.
If any information contradicts another piece of information, then the Home Office caseworker can become dubious about your application.
i) Your reasons for visiting must be permitted
Actions which are permitted in the UK on a visit visa:
- Visiting relatives
- General tourist activities
Actions which are not permitted in the UK on a visit visa:
- Selling goods or services
- Getting married or giving notice to marry
- Managing a business
- Engaging in employment
ii) Your reasons for visiting must be transparent and marry with the facts
Your supporting evidence must corroborate with your reasons for visiting
If your supporting evidence does not corroborate with what you have said are your reasons for visiting, then this can cause some doubts in the minds of Home Office caseworkers.
You may face problems if you submit any documents which contradict your reasons for visiting.
Mali, an Indian national, would like to apply to visit the UK.
In her application, she has said that her reason for coming to the UK is to go shopping for her wedding in India that will take place later on in the year. There is a particular UK brand of wedding dresses that she would like to try on and purchase.
It would therefore be highly advisable for Mali to provide evidence of available funds for her shopping plans in the UK.
It would also probably be a good idea to provide evidence of the wedding plans in India.
Not only will this corroborate with her stated intentions, but this will show a tie to her home country.
The documents Mali submits should correspond to any checks that can potentially be made. They should also include details of the issuer of the documents (i.e. banks or employer(s)) so the Home Office can contact them to verify that the documents submitted are genuine.
iii) Any information submitted should not contradict the facts
If you provide information in your application and covering letter, but your documents contradict this – the Home Office may refuse your application on credibility grounds.
The same applies to if you and your sponsor provide contradictory information.
The adequate maintenance & accommodation requirement
You must also be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself adequately for the duration of your stay in the UK.
There are no fast rules provided by the Home Office in regard to this requirement, which adds a degree of uncertainty to many long-term visit visa applications.
The Home Office usually decide on visit visas based on all your circumstances.
The minimum that you must show
However, at the very least, you must provide evidence you can cover the cost of:
- Your journey to the UK and back,
- Any dependents travelling with you,
- Any activities in the UK (for e.g. shopping, medical treatment)
It goes without saying that you will need to show more funds for 2, 5 and 10 year long UK visitor visas then for standard 6 months visit visas.
Another element of funds that is perhaps more influential in long term UK visitor visas is how long the sources of income have been held, or how long the cash savings/assets has been held.
The caseworker will likely consider the factors below when considering your long term visitor visa application:
#1 The likely accumulative cost of your stays in the UK
If you intend to visit the UK for several months at a time over several years, then the Home Office caseworker will have to consider the total accumulative costs of these trips.
In particular, this likely accumulative cost is going to be considered in light of the evidence that you provide to show that you have the funds to cover such trips – obviously, the longer the visits, the higher the expected costs will be.
The likely accumulative cost of your stays in the UK is also considered in light of your stated intentions visiting the UK. i.e. Is your stated purpose just to keep in touch with family members in the UK every now and then or is your stated purpose just to enjoy frequent expensive shopping trips in the UK?
#2 Any income or savings
It would absolutely be helpful to your long term visitor visa application if you are able to show that you have a substantial amount of income and/or savings.
This income and/or savings must be enough to sufficiently cover the duration of the long term visitor visa that you are applying for, whether it is 2, 3 or 5 years.
If you can show that you have been receiving your income and have had hold of your savings for a long time, then this will be more favourable to your application.
If you can only evidence that you have been in receipt of your income for a short time or that you have held any savings for a short time, then the Home Office caseworker may have doubts about your ability to support yourself.
This is recognised by the official Home Office guidance, which suggests that any recently acquired savings or income should be checked to ‘establish the origin of this money’.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you must also prove that the income and savings being produced are yours. If you cannot do that, the Home Office will not take it in to account in their decision of whether you can fund your stay in the UK.
#3 Any income that will be ongoing during your stay in the UK
If you have a continual source of income (i.e. from renting out property that you own), then this source of income will carry greater weight than income that is dependant on you being physically present in your home country (e.g. non-salaried employment).
An ongoing source of income will be particularly helpful if you cannot provide proof of a substantial amount of cash savings.
On the other hand, if you have a substantial amount of cash savings that will likely cover several years, then a continual source of income is not something that will necessarily be required.
#4 Any ongoing financial commitments of yours or your sponsors
If you cannot prove you have substantial savings or income and have significant financial commitments, it is likely that your application for a long-term visitor will be refused.
Ongoing financial commitments can include payments such as rent, mortgage, costs of the up-keeping of dependants etc.
Again, there is no set formula for this and therefore a common-sense approach should be taken.
Third Party Sponsor Requirements
If you cannot meet the maintenance requirements, or are unsure whether the Home Office caseworker would determine that you cannot meet the maintenance requirement, you can choose to have a sponsor support you during your stay.
The sponsor does not necessarily require to be present in the UK when the application is submitted or when the applicant arrives in the UK.
There are a few rules in relation to having a sponsor for a long term visitor visa application.
#1 The sponsor must be declared in the application
You should declare your sponsor in your application form when applying for a long-term visit visa.
In addition to this, you should elaborate on the relationship between you and the sponsor in the supporting letter that you submit as supporting evidence. You can use our supporting letter free template provided in this article.
If the sponsor is not declared in the application, then his or her financial contribution to your trip to the UK cannot be considered.
#2 The sponsor must not be living in the UK in breach of immigration laws
If your sponsor is in the UK (they do not have to be), your sponsor cannot be in the UK in breach of UK immigration laws.
Your sponsor will likely be in breach of immigration laws if they are overstaying their current visa (if applicable) in the UK.
If your sponsor is in the UK and is in breach of UK immigration laws, then their financial support as a sponsor cannot be considered in the long term visitor visa application.
#3 The sponsor must have a genuine relationship with the applicant
The Home Office caseworker will consider whether you have a genuine relationship with your sponsor.
In doing so, they will look at several points:
- If your sponsor has sponsored visas for others in the past, and if this is the case, were there any problems with those applications?
- Any evidence you submit in relation to your relationship with your sponsor.
The Home Office caseworker may request further information about your relationship.
This is less likely to happen if you sufficiently discuss your relationship with the sponsor in the letter of support that you provide as part of the application.
The Home Office caseworker may wish to query when, where and how you first met and how you usually keep in touch with one another.
#4 The sponsor must be able to adequately support you during your UK visit
The sponsor must provide evidence if they are stating that they can support you. A statement to say this is not enough.
Not only must your sponsor be willing to provide financial documents such as wage slips and bank statements, such documents should be provided in a verifiable manner.
#5 The sponsor must declare their intention to support you
This is best demonstrated within a letter of support from the sponsor.
If there are any doubts that your sponsor can support your stay, then your application may be refused.
Your sponsor may also be asked to provide a written undertaking that they will be responsible for your maintenance and accommodation.
If they have been asked to provide this and fail to do so, then your application will be refused.
Frequent and Successive Visits Requirement
This is an important requirement for long term visitor visa applications.
Paragraph v4.2(b) of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules, clearly says that you cannot ‘live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home’.
This means that you cannot use a long-term visitor visa to live in the UK permanently.
If you have previously visited the UK often and for a long duration each time, this may raise alarm bells about your real intentions about coming to the UK.
In this case, you should expect to be interviewed every time you arrive in the UK and you should have, at the ready, evidence that proves you are settled outside of the UK (i.e. via employment documents and documents relating to dependant family members).
So how do trips become too often or too long?
The official guidance says:
“There is no specified maximum period which an individual can spend in the UK in any period such as 6 months in 12 months.”
Accordingly, the Home Office do not provide much clarity on this.
However, we are given some loose points to consider:
- The reason for your stay and the length of time you intend to be in the UK
- The number of times you have been to the UK over the past year
- The length of your visits to the UK in the past year
- Whether the time you have been in your own country is less than the time you have been in the UK in the last year
- The intention to return to your own country and whether it was done to facilitate your re-entry to the UK
- The links you have to your own country and if you are registered there for tax purposes
- Any evidence which points to you making the UK your main home, such as being registered with a GP or sending your dependants to schools in the UK.
The ‘Suitability Requirements’
The ‘suitability requirements’ are found in Part V3 of immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules and mentions situations where your UK visitor visa must (or may) be refused.
These are summarised below:
#1 Your application must be refused if the UK has ever excluded you from the UK or issued you with a deportation notice.
#2 You may be refused if you owe the NHS £500 or more.
#3 Your application may be refused if you have a criminal conviction for which you were sentenced to prison.
Your application must be refused if you were sentenced to prison for:
- 4 years or more; or
- Between 12 months and 4 years (unless it has been 10 years or over since the sentence ended); or
- Under 12 months (unless it has been 5 years or more since the sentence ended).
#4 You may be refused if a medical inspector declares it undesirable to grant you a visit visa for medical reasons (i.e. if you have a contagious disease)
#5 Your application must be refused if you have provided any deceptive information or documentation within your application.
Your application will be refused even if you provided by the paperwork or false information negligently – even if the documents were not very important.
#6 Your application will be rejected if you fail to reveal anything important in relation to your application.
#7 You must be refused if you fail to attend an interview when requested, provide information requested, undergo biometrics/medical examination/medical report when requested.
#8 You must be refused if you do not provide a valid passport or travel document
#9 Your application may be refused if you have ever breached any immigration laws. Breaching immigration laws is defined as:
- Staying in the UK past the expiry date on your visa (overstaying),
- Breaching any conditions attached to a UK visa in the past (except if the Home Office have issued you a visa after knowing about your previous breach)
- Entering the UK illegally (i.e. without a visa)
- Using deception with the Home Office in the past.
If you have breached UK immigration laws, you will most likely have been asked to leave the UK and forbidden to re-enter for a period.
#10 Your application may be rejected if you have had any brushes with the law.
#11 Your application must be refused if the UK government deems that your entering the UK is not in the public interest.
#12 You may be refused if you owe the Home Office litigation costs awarded to them by a court.
How to prepare for a long-term UK visitor visa
What are the documents required for a UK visitor visa?
An important part of your application is making sure that you submit not only the right type of documents but also that you submit them in accordance with specific document rules.
The documents required for a UK visitor visa is something that is quite specific to your personal circumstances. We have provided a general outline below.
Another important aspect is to ensure that you provide good supporting evidence (which includes a well written supporting letter) that not only backs up the reasons why you will not become an overstayer, but also evidence that addresses any potentially problematic areas of your application.
Before we discuss a range of documents that you can consider submitting, there are some important general rules about documents that you should know about.
General rules about documents
Rule 1 – Documents must be in English or Welsh, or else must be translated by a Home Office approved translator.
The translated documents must include:
- The date the document was translated
- The contact details of the translator
- The full name and signature of the translator
- Certification from the translator that the translation is a true and accurate translation of the original.
Rule 2 – The responsibility lies with you to ensure that you submit the correct documentation in the correct format
It is up to you to make sure that you have provided enough supporting evidence that you meet the Immigration Rules pertaining to your application.
It is not up to the Home Office to follow up on your application and to request further documents.
If you have not provided sufficient documentation, or if the documentation that you have provided is not in the correct format, the Home Office will more likely refuse your application as opposed to contacting you to request additional documentation.
Rule 3 – You should be able to verify any documents submitted
Documents should include include contact details of any organisation or person that issues them.
If such information is not provided, then that evidence is not something that is ‘verifiable’.
Because of this, if the document is not able to be substantiated as true by these organisations or people then the document may be deemed as inauthentic and therefore impermissible.
#1 A valid passport
You must submit a current and valid passport, which has at least one page free from stamps (on both sides of the page).
If you do not have a passport, then you should submit a travel document.
You should also submit copies of all pages of the passport.
Although these documents are classed as ‘optional’, it would be wise to submit them in order to prove the application is genuine and that you are a credible visitor.
The caseworkers will be suspicious of your application unless you provide them with documents to show otherwise.
#2 Old travel documents
The purpose of this is that it evidences any beneficial claims of your travel history.
If your travel history indicates you have never breached the terms of any of your previous visas, this will be helpful for your application.
#3 Evidence of legal residence
This will be required if you are applying from a country of which you are not a national. The Home Office will want to see you are eligible to stay in that country and not breaching their immigration rules.
If you have been breaching immigration rules in the country where you are living, then you may have a hard time of convincing the Home Office that you will not breach the immigration rules if issued a visa in the UK.
Your legal residence can be evidenced by your passport if you are a national of the country from which you are applying, and no further evidence is required.
#4 Evidence of being a student
Proof that you are a student is recommended. Usually, a letter from your educational establishment that has been signed by an official and affirms you have been enrolled and that you have permission to be absent during your travels.
The letter should be verifiable by the college or university and have the relevant contact details – it should be an original document, be on official paper and be signed.
If the document is not in English or Welsh, it requires to be translated.
#5 Evidence required if you are under 18
If you are under 18 years old, it makes sense that you would require to provide proof of consent from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) for the trip.
You should provide a letter from them detailing their consent and how you will be maintained and accommodated during the trip.
You should also provide a copy of your parent of legal guardian’s passport page.
#6 Evidence required if you are coming to the UK for business
You should be aware of what activities you may or may not partake in on a UK visitor visa.
If you are aware of this and have applied to come to the UK for business activities, you will require to provide the relevant documentation which pertains to your circumstances.
Usually, a letter from your employer would be submitted with the application if they have sanctioned the trip. The letter should explain in detail why you are visiting the UK and provide any other relevant details.
If you have been asked to come to the UK by an organisation, you should include evidence of this in your application.
#7 Evidence you can maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants in the UK
Again, financial documents are essential if you want to convince the Home Office that you can support yourself and any dependants whilst staying in the UK.
There is no hard and fast requirement, however it is recommended that the following are submitted:
#8 A letter of employment, if applicable
This should include details of your employment such as your income received, the date you began employment, your job role and details of your employers.
It should be on an official letter head, not be a copy and have the signature of an official.
If the letter is not in English or Welsh, it requires to be translated.
#9 Bank statements
This is probably one of the more important financial documents as it gives an accurate reflection of your financial circumstances over a significant period.
They should support that you can adequately finance yourself during your UK trip by showing either a regular income, savings or both.
It is advisable to submit 6 months to 1-year worth of statements.
Your sponsors bank statements should also be submitted if applicable.
As previously discussed, all documents should be verifiable. Due to this, bank statements require to be issued by the bank on either official paper, or printouts that have been stamped/certified on every page.
#10 Any other relevant financial evidence
Any financial paperwork will of course pertain to yours or your sponsors particular circumstances.
You may require to submit company accounts and business bank accounts if you or your sponsor own a company for example.
However, if you are self-employed, you may need to submit tax returns and evidence of trade instead.
#11 Airplane tickets
Despite the official Home Office guidance suggesting you do not include flight tickets; we would recommend including them.
We provide this advice based on years of expertise and first hand experience that the purchase of a return flight does increase the likelihood of a granted visa.
Write a UK visitor visa cover letter
It is important to include a well-rounded covering letter with your application.
This is due to the fact you will be able to explain:
- Your visit to the UK is genuine
- You are a credible applicant
- That any doubts that would usually apply to someone in your circumstances do not apply to you.
The supporting covering letter should be framed in a way which provides clarity to your circumstances and application.
The purpose of this letter is to persuade the Home Office caseworker that you will abide by the conditions of your visa and not stay past the visa’s expiry date.
The covering letter should address the following points:
#1 Your reasons for visiting the UK
The Home Office caseworker will want to know what your plans are in the UK and you plan to meet and stay with.
You should also make it crystal clear that you do not intend to partake in any prohibited activities in the UK.
Anything you do say, should be backed up by supporting evidence.
For instance, if you have stated that you are visiting the UK for a relatives graduation ceremony, then you should back this up with a letter from the University with the date of the graduation plus a letter from your relative confirming they would like you to attend.
#2 Your relationships in your home country
Your cover letter should also include details of any family in your home country and why your relationship means that you will return to them after your stay in the UK.
It would be especially important to include details of any dependent family members (such as children or elderly parents) who rely on your emotional, physical and financial support.
#3 Your impeccable immigration history, if applicable
You cannot presume that the Home Office caseworker has a full copy of your good immigration history – you need to reiterate this to them.
If you have visited the UK or other countries and complied with all their visa requirements in the past you should make this clear as it will suggest that you are likely to continue to comply with any immigration rules.
This is particularly the case if you have ever been granted visas for Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or any Schengen country.
#4 Your financial status in your home country
Having strong financial ties to your own country strongly suggests that you have good reason to return to your own country.
It would be a good idea to include details of the value of any assets and your monthly/yearly income. You should also say whether this income will continue whilst you are not in your country.
#5 Your problematic immigration history, if applicable
On the other hand, you should not presume that you have a bad immigration history, it may be missed by the Home Office caseworker if you fail to mention it.
It would stand you in much greater stead if you addressed this head on and explained reasons for any previous breaches and why it would not happen again.
This will not guarantee that your application will be granted, however it will increase the chances. If you fail to mention it, the Home Office caseworker will have even greater cause to doubt your intentions.
If you have previously been refused a UK visa, your application will face even greater scrutiny, so you should address any previous refusals in your letter and why they do not apply. You should include any copies of any previous refusals also.
#6 Your frequent visits and that the UK is not your main home
As mentioned above, you cannot use your UK visitor visa to make frequent visits to the UK to the extent it would make the UK your main home.
This is complicated as the Home Office do not actually limit the number of times, or the length of time you can remain in the UK without classing it your main home. However, you should explain clearly why the UK is not your main home.
#7 Your credibility
It is a shame that the Home Office are well known to have prejudices against certain countries resulting in applications from nationals of those countries being discriminated against from the start.
Certain countries are deemed ‘high risk’ by the Home Office, and if you think your country is one of them, you should try and address why the Home Office should not apply their prejudices to your application and why you will comply with any visitor visa rules.
Things to highlight can include your income or your assets.
#8 Your ability to adequately maintain and accommodate yourself during your stay
We have also mentioned above regarding the maintenance and accommodation requirements. You should explain in your covering letter clearly how you intend to support yourself in the UK.