This article will discuss:
- General UK visitor visa document rules
- Mandatory documents that you must submit
- Optional (but recommended) documents that you can submit
- Visa-specific documents
General visitor visa document requirements
Before we can give you an idea of what a typical visitor visa document checklist looks like, it would be sensible to remind ourselves of three very important rules that applies all documentation:
All documents must be in English or Welsh. If not, you must provide a translation by a translator who can be verified by the Home Office.
The translated documents must include:
- The date the document was translated
- The contact details of the translator
- The correct name and signature of the translator
- A declaration from the translator that the translation is correct and an accurate depiction of the original document.
All documents included must be verifiable.
If a document submitted cannot be substantiated by an independent person or organisations, then your application and your credibility may be doubted.
The most sensible view to take when considering which documents to submit is to presume that Home Office caseworker will be suspicious of any documents included which are not verifiable.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you provide the right documentation
It is your job to make sure you submit supporting evidence that meets the criteria. It is not the Home Office’s job or responsibility.
One thing to bear in mind is that the Home Office caseworker is more likely to refuse you to contact you in order to ask for the missing information.
Mandatory documents that you MUST submit
#1 A valid passport
You require to submit a passport which is not expired and is valid.
The passport should have at least one blank page that does not have any stamps or vignettes on either side.
You should also submit copies of all pages in the passport.
If you do not have a passport, then you must another type of acceptable travel document that you can submit.
Optional documents that you should probably submit
Whilst they are officially classed as ‘optional’ documents, many of the below documents really are a must if you want to prove you are a genuine and credible visitor.
Home Office caseworkers are generally suspicious creatures – you should do everything possible to allay their fears!
So, although the following documents are optional, they are highly recommended.
#2 Previous passport/travel document
The purpose of these is to evidence your past travels, both to the UK and elsewhere.
If you have not breached the terms of any previous visas, then this is one factor that will suggest that you have a good immigration history (which is certainly helpful!).
You should also include copies of your previous passport or travel document(s).
#3 Evidence of legal residence
If you are applying from a country of which you are a resident, (but not a not a national of that country), then you are required to provide evidence that you are residing there legally (i.e. a visa of some sort).
Of course, if you have breached the immigration rules of the country you are applying from, then the Home Office caseworker will have good reason to believe you would not abide by the immigration rules in the UK.
The implication of this is that your UK visitor visa application is more likely to be refused.
#4 Evidence as a student
If you are a student, then you should provide the supporting documentation to prove this.
This is because being a student in your country would be beneficial to your application as it shows a link to your country.
As we discussed in our helpful UK visitor visa guide, showing links or ties to your home country is incredibly important as it suggests that you are less likely to overstay your UK visa.
The type of evidence most regularly submitted to prove this would be a signed letter from your educational institution that:
i) confirms you attend that educational institution; and
ii) you are authorised to be absent.
The letter should be an original document on official paper and contain contact details of the educational institution.
If the letter is not in English or Welsh, it should be translated.
#5 Evidence required if the applicant is a child
If you are travelling without an adult, then you should provide evidence that evidences the consent of the parents or guardians.
This should be in the form of:
i) Evidence to establish who the parents or legal guardians are (such as a birth certificate);
ii) Evidence from the parents or legal guardians in the form of an original and signed letter detailing how you will be maintained and accommodated during your stay in the UK; and
iii) Copies of the parents or legal guardian’s bio page from their passport (or other national ID documents).
#6 Evidence of any business-related activities in the UK
This would be a good time to mention that there are permitted and forbidden activities when someone comes to the UK on a UK visitor visa.
You should absolutely be aware of these when coming to the UK for business activities.
The type of evidence you will need to produce will depend on the business reason you are in the UK.
Generally, a letter from your employer explaining why you are visiting the UK or any other reason you are making the trip is one commonly submitted document that is relevant.
On the other hand, if an invitation has been extended to you by an organisation in the UK, then you should include this letter.
#7 Evidence of maintenance and accommodation
This will certainly be one the most crucial pieces of evidence that you should submit to the Home Office.
There is not a list of specific documents which must be submitted, but in general you should consider submitting the documents listed below.
#8 A letter of employment (if applicable)
If you are in employment then you should submit a letter from your employer with:
i) details of your earnings;
ii) how long you have been employed; and
iii) your role in the company.
The letter should be on official company paper, not be a copy and be signed.
It should also be either in English or Welsh. If it is not, it should be translated.
#9 Bank statements
These are one the most important documents you will submit in relation to your finances, as they can show the Home Office caseworker a history of your finances over a substantial period.
These bank statements should prove that you can finance and accommodate yourself during your trip to the UK.
You should provide 6 – 12 month’s worth of statements in order to show an accurate overview of your finances.
If someone is sponsoring you, then you should also include their bank statements.
Bank statements, similar to if you were applying for a UK spouse visa, should be issued by the bank on official paper (or alternatively they can be online printouts which have been stamped by the bank on every single page).
#10 Any other relevant financial documentation
You should also provide other documents which are relevant to your specific financial circumstances (and your sponsor’s, if you have one).
For instance, if you or your sponsor own a limited company, you should provide proof of this by way of company accounts and business bank statements.
On the other hand, if you or your sponsor are self-employed, then documents such as tax returns or any other evidence that you are trading should be provided.
#11 Evidence of purchased flight tickets
Including evidence of purchasing a return flight greatly increases your chances of a successful visa.
We would recommend this even though the Home Office guidance recommends against this.
#12 An explanatory covering letter
Providing a strong covering letter for a visit visa is highly recommended. It is in the supporting letter that you will be able to explain:
- You are a genuine visitor
- You are a truthful visitor
- That your intentions fall within the permitted activities in the UK (e.g. tourism)
As we discussed in our sample letter for a UK tourist visa application article (where we provide a free template that you can use), the main goal of this letter is to persuade the Home Office that you will not illegally overstay your UK visitor visa.
Your letter should discuss:
i) What your intentions are for visiting the UK
What are your plans in the UK? With whom do you intend to meet and who do you intend to stay with?
You should also be clear about the activities you have planned and reiterate that they are not prohibited activities.
You should provide supporting evidence for anything you say about your reasons for being in the UK. For instance, if you state that you wish to visit the UK to attend a relative’s university graduation – you should provide a letter from your relative and a letter from the university with the date of the graduation.
ii) The financial ties you have to your own country
The reason why this should be mentioned in your covering letter is because if the Home Office caseworker believes that you have financial ties to your own country, it would suggest to him or her that you are more likely to return there.
You should mention the significance of these ties, such as the monetary value of any assets you own and how much income you receive. You should also state if the income would still be available to you in the UK, or if it requires your presence in your own home country.
iii) The family ties you have to your own country
Family ties should also be mentioned in your covering letter, particularly if you have close family members or those that rely on your presence in your own country for financial, emotional and physical reasons.
You should explain how these family members are dependent on you (if they are) and why such familial obligations would require you to return to your own country.
iv) Your good immigration history (if applicable)
If you have a good immigration history, this should most certainly be mentioned in your covering letter and brought to the caseworker’s attention.
You should not assume that the Home Office will have access to your immigration history and that they will check it – make sure you mention it.
If you have previously been issued a visit visa to the UK and have complied with all the terms of that visa, again this should be made clear on the letter.
Also, if you have ever been issued visas from other countries and you have complied with these, then you should also mention this on the letter.
The Home Office is particularly interested if you have complied with visas from Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries.
v) Your bad immigration history (if applicable)
You could be forgiven if you thought it is best not to mention any bad immigration history. But believe me, you are much better off mentioning this in your cover letter to address any reasons why you may have broken any rules.
If you do not mention such weaknesses in your application, it may just confirm any doubts the Home Office caseworker may have about your genuineness as a visitor.
If you have ever overstayed on a visa in the UK, you should explain why it happened and why it would not happen again.
If you ever breached any immigration rules, such as working whilst on a visit visa, you should explain why history will not repeat itself.
If you have previously been refused a visit visa to the UK, then this may affect your application and result in more examination of your application.
You should include a copy of the reasons for refusal and discuss why the concerns outlined in this letter do not apply to you.
vi) Any other doubts the Home Office caseworker may have
It is a well known and unfortunate fact that the Home Office blacklist some countries, which means that some applicants start at a disadvantage.
If you think you are from a country which is classed as a ‘high risk’ country, then it would be wise to address what makes you different from the average UK visitor visa applicant from your country.
For example, if you earn a substantially higher amount than the typical wage in your country or have more assets than a typical person, then you should emphasise this.
vii) Your previous visits to the UK
As mentioned above, you should not use UK visit visas as a means of living in the UK and making it your main home. This should be explained within your covering letter.
There is no limit on the times you can visit the UK, or even a specific time that must pass between visits – however, you should always explain why you will not live in the UK or make it your main home.
viii) How you intend to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents in the UK
It should also be mentioned in your letter how you intend to maintain and accommodate yourself in the UK.
In this part of the article, we are going to discuss documents that should also be submitted if you are visiting the UK for a particular purpose as listed below.
#1 Prospective Entrepreneur
In these circumstances, you would typically be issued a 6 months standard UK visit visa.
As well as all the general documents required for a UK visit visa, you should also provide a letter of support from:
- A registered venture capitalist firm regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or more than one.
- An endorsed UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition, or more than one
- A UK government department, or more than one.
#2 Marriage/Civil Partnership (or giving notice of such)
If you intend to visit the UK and marry or give notice to marry, then you will have to apply for a marriage visitor visa, which is different to a standard UK visitor visa. This visa will usually be issued for up to 6 months.
In addition to the documents above, you should also submit:
- A divorce certificate, if applicable
- Proof that you intend to marry or form a civil partnership, such as a letter from the registry office.
#3 Private Medical Treatment
A visitor will normally be given a standard UK visitor visa that is valid for up to 11 months, if they satisfy the medical inspector that they are not a danger to public health if they suffer from a communicable disease.
In order to qualify as a visitor for private medical treatment, you must provide a letter from a medical professional in the UK, which states:
- The condition for which you require medical treatment in the UK,
- The approximate cost and length of treatment in the UK, and
- The place your medical treatment will take place.
If you are the national of a country listed in Paragraph 39 of Part 1 of the Immigration Rules, and you are applying for an 11 month visa, you need to provide a valid medical certificate issued by a medical professional listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules.
If you require to apply for an extension of stay to your 11 months as a visitor for private medical, then you need to provide:
- A letter from a registered medical professional, who holds an NHS consultant post or whose name is in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council, describing the medical treatment required and confirming you have met the costs of any treatment already received.
#4 Organ Donation
A visitor who intends to come to the UK as an organ donor will usually be given a 6 month standard UK visitor visa as long as they genuinely intend to donate an organ or be assessed as a donor to an identified recipient here to whom they have a genetic or close personal relationship.
Organ donors also need to provide a letter detailing:
- That there is a genuine intention to donate an organ to a named person to whom you have a familial or personal connection with, and that it has been confirmed you are either a match to the recipient or are having tests to confirm it, and
- The time and place of the planned transplant.
The letter must be provided by:
- The lead nurse/coordinator of an NHS Trust’s living kidney donor transplant team, or
- A registered medical professional who is an NHS consultant, or who is in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council (GMC).
Organ donors also require evidence proving that the potential recipient is a legal resident in the UK, such as a British passport or residence permit. If they are applying for a visa at the same time, you should provide their name, nationality and date of birth.
#5 Visitor in Transit
In addition to the above documents, you should submit the following:
- Proof that your next journey from the UK has been booked, and that you are leaving within 24 hours of arrival in the UK for Direct Airside Transit or leaving within 48 hours of arrival in the UK for Visitor in Transit. Proof can include:
- Email or ticket copy for travel booking confirmation,
- Confirmation from your travel agent.
- Proof that your entry into the next country has been accepted. Proof can include:
- An approved and up to date visa,
- A residence permit,
- A ‘green card.
- Proof of your reason for travelling, if you are not a national or resident in the country you wish to travel to. Proof can include:
- Confirmation of holiday accommodation.
#6 Performer at a Permit-Free Festival
In addition to the standard documentation listed above, a visitor who intends to perform at a permit-free festival should also include a letter of invitation from the organisers of each event, setting out dates required and details of any payments that they will receive for taking part.
#7 Academic (for research purposes)
An academic coming to undertake research will usually be granted a 12-month standard UK visitor visa, if:
- The academic is highly qualified within their own field of expertise
- The academic is currently working in that field at an academic institution or institution of higher education overseas
- Satisfy the Tuberculosis (TB) screening requirement
Academics coming to undertake research should also include the following documents:
- An official letter from your employer on headed paper, describing the length of your sabbatical, exchange or detailing the research to be done in the UK,
- An official letter from a UK organisation hosting you, which confirms the arrangements for your research or exchange.
If you are the national of a country listed in Paragraph 39 of Part 1 of the Immigration Rules, you need to provide a valid medical certificate issued by a medical professional listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules.
#8 Permitted Paid Engagements
A visitor who is visiting the UK in order to undertake permitted paid engagement will normally be issued a one-month visitor visa.
In addition to the documents listed above, they should also include an invitation letter from a relevant UK-based organisation, such as:
- A Higher Education establishment,
- A creative arts or entertainment company,
- A sports company,
- A research company,
- An aviation training company regulated by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority
They must also provide evidence of professional status in their home country, depending on the engagement they are participating in.
You should also include:
- Any articles published in your specific field of expertise,
- Any evidence of lectures given in the past in your specific field of expertise,
- An employer’s letter stating your place of work and your field of expertise.
#10 Entertainers/artists/sports people
You should also or include:
- Any advertising material for performances, concerts, talks, readings and exhibitions,
- Any proof of awards/qualifications
- Any media articles
- Any evidence of recent performances
#11 Air pilot examiners
You should also include:
- Any evidence to show membership of your own country’s national aviation authority.
You should also include:
- A practicing certificate or certificate of being a fit person (or its equivalent)