This article will talk about what you need to know about UK visitor visas in 2020.
We will discuss the following:
- What is a UK visitor visa in 2020?
- Do you need to apply for a UK visitor visa?
- How much does a UK visitor visa cost?
- What can I do on a UK visitor visa?
- Requirement 1 – ‘Genuine’ and ‘credible’ visitor
- Requirement 2 – ‘Maintenance’ and ‘accommodation’
- Requirement 3 – Third party sponsor rules
- Requirement 4 – ‘Frequent’ and ‘successive’ visits
- Requirement 5 – The ‘suitability’ rules
- Suggested documentation guidance
- Supporting letter guidance
- Visitor visa extensions
- Visitor visa Curtailment and cancellations
- UK visitor visa tips
- Frequently asked questions
General UK Visitor Visa Information
What is a UK visitor visa?
A UK visitor visa will allow a non-EEA country national to visit the UK.
UK visitor visas are otherwise known as a ‘UK tourist visa‘.
If granted, this visa is usually valid for 6 months, although in some cases it can be longer.
There are currently four types of visitor visas:
- Standard UK Visitor Visa
- Marriage/Civil Partnership Visitor Visa
- Transit Visitor Visa
- Permitted paid engagements visitor visa
This article will focus on standard UK visitor visas.
Do you need to apply for a UK visitor visa?
If you are a visa-national…
…you will have to apply for a UK visitor visa.
If you are a national of one of the following countries, you will be deemed a visa national:
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
The above was taken from the official Visa National list in the Immigration Rules.
If you are a non-visa-national…
…in most circumstances you will not be required to apply for a UK visitor visa, although in some cases it will be wise to apply.
You are a non-visa national if your home country is NOT in the above list.
Lucas is a Brazilian national.
Since Brazil is not in the above visa-national list, Lucas will not strictly need to apply for a UK visa.
However, non-visa nationals may decide to apply for a UK visitor visa for the following reasons:
- They have previously been refused UK visas
- The applicant (the person applying) wants better peace of mind and does not want to risk being refused when they arrive at a UK airport!
How long is a UK visitor visa usually valid for?
A standard UK visitor visa is usually issued for up to 6 months.
However, you might be able to secure a long-term multiple entry visit visa that is valid for 2, 5 or even 10 years – especially if you’ve got a good UK immigration history and have previously been granted UK visitor visas.
For more information on longer term visit visas, check out our long term visitor visa guidance.
How much does the UK visitor visa cost?
As we discuss in our UK visitor fee and costs in 2020 article, the cost will entirely depend on:
- the validity duration of UK visit visa that you apply for; and
- the type of UK visitor visa
A standard 6 month UK visitor visa costs £95.
On the other hand, a long-term standard visitor visa depends on its length and is priced accordingly:
- A 2 year visa is £361;
- A 5 year visa is £655; and
- A 10 year visas is £822.
What can I do on a UK Visit visa?
The Immigration Rules at Appendix 3, 4 and 5 here contain a list of both permitted and non-permitted activities.
Since the UK standard visitor visa recently compiled several old types of visas (including Family Visitor visa, General Visitor visa, Child Visitor visa, Business Visitor visa, Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa & Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa), this is a topic that can be confusing for some.
The following is a brief overview of what you are allowed to do on a UK visit visa:
#1 Be a tourist!
You will not be surprised to hear this as this is the UK visitor visa’s most common purpose.
It is absolutely fine to apply for a UK visitor visa visit friends and family and to visit all of the delights that the UK has to offer.
Volunteering is permitted, so long as it is for a registered charity.
It’s also important to know that you can only volunteer for up to 30 days in total – as long as volunteering is not the main purpose of your visit.
#3 Engage in business activities.
You are allowed to do some general business activities, such as attending meets, interviews, seminars and conferences.
In addition to this, you will be permitted to negotiate contracts, discuss deals or go to trade fairs for promotional activities.
#4 Engage in some corporate activities.
Corporate activities such as provide consultations and training are permitted.
#5 Have business-based discussions.
The requirements that you must meet
We will now discuss four main UK visitor visa requirements in 2020 that will need to be met.
You must be a ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’ visitor
This is the certainly the main requirement that deserves the most attention.
Because the Home Office caseworkers that decide visit visa applications are trained to be very suspicious people!
When determining whether they think that you are genuine and credible, the Home office caseworker will look at your application as a whole and make a judgment call.
Because of this, there are a wide variety of things that they will consider.
You should be aware of these things because this will allow you to address any potential concerns that they have – thereby increasing your chances of a successful UK visitor visa application.
#1 Your previous immigration history.
The Home Office caseworker will consider your immigration history in order to determine whether to grant you a UK visitor visa.
If you have previously been granted a UK visa…
If you have previously been issued UK visas and complied with the terms of the visas (for example, you returned to your home country before the expiration of the visa and did not do any activities that the visa does not allow), then this will positively affect your application.
This is because you have already shown that you acted in accordance with the terms of the visa and that you are therefore more likely to return to your home country before the expiration of subsequent visas.
On the other hand, if you were previously issued a UK visa but overstayed or breached the terms of your visa, then this is something that can certainly harm the chances of any subsequent applications.
In this case, you will want to discuss this when you write the UK visitor visa supporting letter.
If you have previously been granted visas to countries other than the UK…
If you are able to show that you have travelled to any other countries and have complied with the terms of that country’s visa, then this would also positively affect your application.
This is especially the case if you visited Schengen countries, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia or Ireland.
If you have no-immigration history…
If you have a non-existent immigration history (for instance, if you have never left your home country), then the extent that this will affect your application depends on your personal circumstances – including your nationality and country of residence.
#2 Your nationality and country of residence.
It is unfortunate that Home Office caseworkers will judge you based on your nationality and country of residence.
The Home Office caseworker will be influenced largely by the information relating to non-compliance by individuals who have applied for a visit visa from the same geographical region as you.
This is seen in the news reports that the Home Office are using an algorithm to categorise applicants into high or low-risk applicants.
The Home Office also have a ‘high-risk’ immigration blacklist of countries where applicants are deemed to post a greater risk than others.
Therefore, if you are applying in a country where you will likely be disadvantaged from the very start (such as Nigeria or Syria), you should really put a lot of effort in the supporting letter and the supporting documents that you submit.
#3 Your ties (links) to your home country will determine how strong your application is.
The reasoning behind this is that if you have strong ties to your home country, it will appear more likely that you will return and not overstay on your UK visa.
After all, you not returning to your home country is the Home Office caseworker’s biggest worry!
There are different kinds of ties that the Home Office will consider:
i) Personal ties
If you have little-to-no personal ties to your home country, your application is more likely to be unsuccessful.
This is because this suggests that you are more likely to overstay on your visa (if they issue it).
If you are young, it’s likely that you will not have as many personal ties to your home country (compared to if you were older).
Because of this, you will be perceived as more mobile and will therefore a greater threat of overstaying.
On the other hand, if you are able to show that you do have personal ties, such as on-going education, this is certainly something that will help your application and should therefore be focused on.
ii) Economic and financial ties
If you have little-to-no economic or financial ties to your home country, your application is more likely to be unsuccessful.
In the eyes of the UK government, the Home Office will think that you more likely to exceed the 6-month period and illegally reside (& work) in the UK.
I told you – the Home Office caseworkers are suspicious people!
However, if you are able to show that you have a level of income that is above average in your home country, this will certainly benefit your application.
Similarly, if you have your own successful business in your home country, this will be helpful and should be made clear.
The reasoning behind this is that it will be less tempting for you to overstay, as not only will you have a reason to return to your home country, but also it would be less appealing for you to illegally work in the UK since you can adequately financially provide for yourself in your home country.
If you own property or land, this should be emphasised in the application as this is an obvious display of wealth.
iii) Family ties
Familial ties in both the UK and in your home country is certainly something that will be considered.
If you have family ties in the UK…
On the one hand, having family members in the UK can positively affect your application, as it is of course an incredibly common (& genuine) reason why people apply for UK visitor visas in the first place.
On the other hand, you should explain why, unlike your family members, you do not want to settle in the UK.
It should also be noted that, if your family members in the UK have a bad UK immigration history, your application will be negatively affected it is very possible that the Home Office caseworker will judge your intentions based on how your family members have reacted.
With this being said, I feel that it is important to mention that you should not be tempted to lie.
The Home Office has a surprising amount of information.
If you don’t believe me, you can find out yourself by submitting a subject access request in order to obtain the records that the Home Office has on you.
If you do not mention that you have family members in the UK, this may be seen as suspicious, resulting in the Home Office caseworker questioning your credibility.
If you have family ties in your home country…
It is generally beneficial for your UK visitor visa to have family members in your home country.
This is especially the case if you have a spouse or family members who are dependent on you, either financially or emotionally.
Because if you have loved ones back home that depend on you, that is another indication that you will be more likely to return to your home country.
#4 Your stated intentions are relevant in determining whether you are a ‘genuine’ and ‘credible’ visitor.
The Home Office caseworker will also look at your stated purpose of visit (as specified in your application and supporting letter).
In your UK visitor visa application, you must be able to clearly explain the main reason for coming to the UK.
You must also be prepared to explain this when you arrive in the airport.
If you are unclear, or contradict yourself, then doubts may be raised about your credibility as a visitor visa applicant.
Your stated intentions must be to do only activities that are permitted.
Common activities that are permitted:
- Visiting family and/or friends
- Sightseeing/general tourism
Common activities that are not permitted:
- Running a business
- Providing goods and services
- Marrying or giving notice to marry
We discuss this in more detail below.
The information that you provide must not be contradictory.
If you say one thing in one part of the application but then say another (either in the application, or when being interviewed), then this may raise doubts as to your credibility as an UK visitor visa applicant.
Similarly, if you say one thing but your sponsor says another, this may be seen as questionable.
Your documents must support your stated intentions.
If the supporting documents that you submit as part of your application do not support what you say your intentions are, then this may cause suspicion.
This is especially the case if the documents that you submit contradict your stated intentions.
Munnawar, a Pakistani national, would like to visit the UK.
In the UK visitor visa application, he has stated that his main intention is to go shopping in the UK.
Munnawar would therefore be advised to evidence his wealth in the form of savings and/or income.
If neither are evidenced, or if documentation is shown that show no savings or no substantial income, then the Home Office caseworker may doubt Munnawar’s intentions as being genuine.
Your documents should be verifiable.
In other words, the Home Office caseworker should be able to look at the document and know how he/she can contact the issuer of the document in order to identify that the document is genuine.
Munnawar was advised to include a letter from his father in support of his UK visitor visa application. This is because it is his father that gave him the monies required in order for his shopping trip in the UK.
This letter should therefore include the contact details of Munnawar’s father.
Why? Because if it does not, then the document is not verifiable and therefore doubts may be raised about the legitimacy of the document.
The Adequate Maintenance & Accommodation Requirement
You will have to show that you have sufficient resources to maintain and accommodate yourself adequately for the whole of your planned visit to the UK.
If you are applying for a UK visitor visa with any dependants, you will also need to show that you can support them, too.
Whilst it would certainly make things easier, the Home Office do not provide fixed rules for this.
Instead, a decision is made in light of all of your circumstances.
The minimum that you must show
At the very minimum, you must show that you can cover the cost of:
- The return or onward journey
- If you are visiting the UK with dependent children, their costs
- Planned activities in the UK (such as private medical treatment)
The Home Office will consider:
The Home Office caseworker that is deciding your application will consider the following main considerations:
#1 The overall likely cost of your stay.
Obviously, shorter trips are going to cost less than longer trips.
Your stated intentions are also relevant here – if you intend to visit the UK in order to do some shopping, then the overall likely cost of stay is likely going to be higher than if your sole stated intention is to visit a family member in their home.
The location of where you will be staying will be a main consideration.
Obviously, the living costs in London are significantly higher than in many places.
Similarly, if you are not staying at a family or friend’s accommodation throughout the whole trip, then you will incur extra costs of hotels etc.
#2 Your income and/or cash savings.
Your income and/or savings must be sufficient to meet the expected costs associated with travelling to the UK.
This will be decided in light of your on-going financial commitments, which we discuss below.
It is preferable that you are able to evidence that you have had these savings or income for a long period of time.
If the documents submitted show that either the income or savings are relatively new, this may raise doubts regarding them.
In fact, where there has been a recent injection of income or savings, the Home Office guidance suggests that the Home Office caseworker “may want to make further checks to establish the origin of this money”.
You must also be able to show that these income or savings are legitimately yours.
If you are unable to do this, it will not be counted in the assessment of whether you can adequately maintain yourself during your UK trip.
#3 Sources of income that you will continue to receive whilst you are visiting the UK.
It is obviously preferable if your sources of income will continue to be received whilst you are visiting the UK.
With this being said, this is less relevant if you are able to evidence significant cash savings.
#4 You and your sponsor’s on-going financial commitments.
If you are unable to evidence significant savings or sources of income but have costly on-going financial commitments, then this may raise doubts as to whether you can adequately accommodate yourself during your trip to the UK.
Examples of on-going financial commitments here include:
- Rent or mortgage payments in your home country
- Costs associated with any dependants, such as children or elderly relatives (even if they are not travelling with you)
Third party Sponsor Requirements
If you think that you may not be able to sufficiently show that you can adequately provide for yourself during your stay, you may wish to have a sponsor.
Zee is a Chinese national and is wanting to visit the UK.
Since he just graduated from university, he has not yet built up a lot of savings, nor has he held a stable job.
Because of this, Zee should consider having a sponsor who can provide evidence of enough funds and/or income to fund his visit to the UK.
Since Zee’s mother is a wealthy Chinese business woman, she is in a good position to sponsor Zee.
As you can see from the above example, the sponsor does not strictly have to be in the UK when the application is made or when you arrive in the UK.
There are several requirements that you should be aware of regarding having a sponsor in order to support your application.
#1 The sponsor has to be declared by the applicant.
You should absolutely declare in the online visa application that you have a sponsor and provide all of the relevant information regarding the sponsor.
Whilst there is space to provide personal details in the UK visitor visa application form in 2020, the best place to elaborate on this information in detail is in supporting letters that you should include in the application.
If you do not declare that you have a sponsor in the application, then the sponsor’s assistance cannot be counted in the assessment of whether you can adequately maintain yourself in the UK.
#2 If the sponsor is in the UK, they must not be in breach of immigration laws.
Your sponsor will be in breach of immigration laws if they do not have a current valid UK visa (whilst being in the UK), which most often arises from overstaying in the UK.
#3 The relationship between the applicant and sponsor must be genuine.
When the Home Office caseworker assesses whether the relationship between you and your sponsor is genuine, they will consider a variety of factors, including:
- Whether your sponsor has a previous history of sponsoring others for UK visas. If they do, were they any issues with those applications?
- The evidence and information put forward in your application regarding you and your sponsor’s relationship.
In some instances, especially where a lack of evidence regarding the relationship has been submitted, the Home Office caseworker may ask either the applicant or sponsor for more information, such as where and how you first met, how often you meet and how do you normally communicate with each other.
The relationship between you and your sponsor can be either professional or personal.
#4 The sponsor must be able to have enough funds to support you in your visit to the UK.
Your sponsor simply stating that he or she has enough funds to cover your trip in the UK is not enough.
Rather, documentation should be included to show this, such as bank statements and evidence of assets and/or income.
#5 Your sponsor must intend to support you in your visit to the UK.
This requirement is best met by asking your sponsor to provide a letter of support.
Having a letter of support is the best way to provide evidence of a clear intention to sponsor you.
Where there are doubts about the intentions of your sponsor to provide their support, it is likely that your application will be refused, so this is an important requirement to consider!
Again, the sponsor’s previous history of ‘sponsoring’ visitors can be relevant here.
If they themselves have a bad history sponsoring applicants, then this can raise some doubts that may be difficult to overcome.
In some cases, your sponsor may be asked to provide a written undertaking in writing to be responsible for your maintenance and accommodation. If they do not provide this when asked to do so, your application will normally be refused.
Frequent & Successive Visits Requirement
As stated by paragraph v4.2(b) of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules, you cannot ‘live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home’.
In other words, since the UK visitor visa is for those who area just ‘visiting’ the UK, you cannot rely on this type of visa in order to live in the UK permanently.
Therefore, if in the past you have been making frequent and lengthy trips to the UK, this may raise doubts about your true intentions about your upcoming trip to the UK.
Because of this, you should prepare yourself for an interview each and every time you arrive in the UK at an airport (or seaport if you arrive by sea).
In such a case, you should be ready to provide evidence that shows that you are in fact settled outside of the UK and that the UK is not your main home.
So the question then becomes, when do trips become too frequent and lengthy?
As stated in the official guidance, “There is no specified maximum period which an individual can spend in the UK in any period such as ‘6 months in 12 months’.
Therefore, just like many other areas, the Home Office are not too clear on this!
They do, however, provide us with some factors that will be considered, which are:
- The purpose of your visit and how long you intend to stay in the UK;
- The amount of times you have visited the UK over the past 12 months;
- How long your previous visits to the UK were in the past 12 months and the time that elapsed between each visit
- Whether the time you spent in your home country is less than the time you have spent in the UK in the past 12 months;
- The reason why you returned to your home country and whether you only did so only so that you can re-enter the UK
- Your ties to your home country and where you are registered for tax purposes
- Evidence that suggests that you have made the UK your main place of residence (such as being registered with a general practitioner (GP) or send your children to UK schools
The ‘Suitability Requirements’
The ‘suitability requirements’ list situations in which your UK visitor visa will (or may) be refused and are found in PART V3 of Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules.
In summary, the suitability requirements for UK visitor visa applications that are being made from outside the UK are the following:
#1 The applicant will be refused if the UK government has excluded them from the UK or has provided them with a deportation order.
#2 The applicant will be refused if the Home Office thinks that allowing them to enter the UK will not be in the interests of the public.
#3 The applicant will be refused if you have been convicted of a criminal offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment.
In order for your application to be refused, your sentencing of imprisonment must have been:
- at least 4 years; or
- between 12 months and 4 years (unless at least 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence); or
- less than 12 months (unless at least 5 years has passed since the end of the sentence).
#4 The applicant application may be refused if they have had trouble with the law.
#5 The applicant will be refused if they have provided false information or documents in your application.
This is the case whether you intentionally provided false information or documents.
It also does not matter in the eyes of the Home Office if the information or documents were important to the application – the only thing that matters is that the false information or documentation was submitted.
#6 The applicant will be refused if they did not disclose important information relating to their application.
#7 The applicant may be refused if they have previously breached UK immigration laws.
You will have breached UK immigration laws if:
- You have previously overstayed a UK visa
- You have previous breached a condition attached to a UK visa that you were previously granted (unless you have been issued a visa after that breach despite the Home Office knowing about it)
- You have illegally entered the UK
- You have previously deceived the Home Office
If you have previously breached UK immigration laws, it is likely that you will have been banned from the UK for a certain period, depending on the particular circumstances.
The duration of re-entry bans are covered in V 3.10 of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules.
#8 The applicant will be refused if they fail to produce a valid passport or travel document.
#9 The applicant will be refused if they do not attend an interview, provide information, provide biometrics or undergo a medical examination or provide a medical report when asked to do so.
#10 The applicant will normally be refused if a medical inspector has said that it would be undesirable to grant them a UK visitor visa due to medical reasons.
#11 The applicant will normally be refused if they owe the NHS at least £500.
#12 The applicant will normally be refused if they have failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office.
Preparing for the UK Visitor Visa Application
What are the documents required for a UK Visitor Visa?
This part of this article will discuss the required documents for a UK visitor visa.
General rules about documents
Before we provide a general UK visitor visa document checklist, it is important to note two very important rules regarding all documentation.
Rule 1 – The documents that you submit must be originals and not photocopies.
Rule 2 – The documents that you submit have to be in English or Welsh.
If the documents are not in English or Welsh they should be translated by a translator whose credentials can be independently verified by the Home Office.
The translated documents must contain:
- The date of the translation
- The translator’s contact details
- The translator’s full name and signature
- Confirmation from the translator that the translation is an accurate translation of the original document.
Rule 3 – The documents that you submit should be verifiable
If an included document cannot be verified by another independent individual or organization, then doubts will be raised about the credibility and authenticity of the documents.
The best approach to take when deciding what documents to include is to assume that the Home Office caseworker will think that you are lying with regards to any documents that are submitted but not verifiable.
Rule 4 – It is your responsibility to make sure the best documents are submitted, not the Home Office’s responsibility
It is your responsibility to ensure you provide evidence satisfactory evidence that you meet the Immigration Rules.
Because of this, including the right type of evidence is critically important.
If you do not include enough relevant evidence, the Home Office caseworker is much more likely to refuse the application than contact you and ask you for more information.
Mandatory documents that you MUST submit
#1 You must submit a valid passport.
The passport that you include must be both current and valid.
It should also have at least one blank page that is free from stamps (on both sides of the page).
If you do not have a valid passport, you then must include a document that allows you to travel internationally.
We would also strongly recommend including copies of all pages of the passport.
OPTIONAL documents (that you probably should submit)
Whilst the below documents are categorized as ‘optional’, for many applicants, it is strongly recommended to submit much of the below documentation to show that they are a genuine and credible visitor.
Remember, the Home Office caseworkers that decide whether you are granted a UK visitor visa or not are suspicious individuals and that you should do anything that you can to allay their possible suspicions.
The following documents are optional but generally recommended.
#1 Previous travel documents.
These should be included to evidence your previous travel history.
Obviously, if you complied with the terms of your previous visas, then you will have a good UK immigration history which will in turn help your application.
Copies of these previous travel documents should also be included.
#2 Documents to confirm legal residence.
If you are in a country where you are not a national and are applying in that country, you should show that you are legally allowed to stay in that country.
Obviously, if you are not abiding by the rules when you are applying for a UK visa, then you will face a difficult task of convincing the Home Office caseworker that you will abide by the rules if issued a UK visa!
If you are a national of the country from which you are applying, then your legal residence is obviously confirmed by your passport.
#3 If you are a student…
…then evidence of your status as a student is absolutely recommended.
Most commonly, typical evidence is a signed letter from your college or university that confirms your enrollment and leave of absence.
This letter should have the contact details of the educational institution, be original and be printed on the educational institution’s official stationary/paper.
Like other documents, if this letter is not in English or Welsh, it should be translated.
#4 If you are under the age of 18…
…then you should include documentation that shows that you are travelling to the UK with the consent of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
Firstly, it is recommended to include a legal document that firstly established who your legal guardians are.
Secondly, it is recommended to include an original and signed letter from your legal guardian stating that they consent to your trip. This letter should also contain details of how you will be adequately maintained, both with regards to finances and to accommodation.
It is also generally recommended to include copies of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) main passport page.
#5 If you are coming to the UK for business related activities.
Firstly, I would like to remind you of the permitted and prohibited activities of a UK visitor visa.
Assuming that you are aware of this and are coming to the UK for business activities, the type of documentation will depend on your circumstances.
Typically, a letter from employer will be included if the reason for the trip is connected with them. If included, this letter should detail why you are visiting the UK as well as include other relevant information related to the trip.
If you have been invited to the UK by an organization, it would be a good idea to include a letter from them as evidence in your UK visitor visa application.
#6 Financial documents should be included to show that you can adequately maintain yourself and any dependents for the whole UK visit.
As we discussed, financial documents are exceptionally important when trying to convince the Home Office caseworker that you can support yourself financially.
There are no specific documents that you have to submit, but the following are the ones that are most typical:
i) A letter from your employer if you are employed.
This letter should state important employment details such as your salary, the date you started employment, your job role and company details.
This letter should be printed on company headed paper, be the original and be signed.
Like other documents, if it is not in English or Welsh, it should be translated.
ii) Personal bank statements
This is an incredibly important financial document as it provides the Home Office caseworker with a picture of your finances over a long period of time.
These bank statements should evidence how you can support yourself during your trip to the UK, whether it is by savings, by a steady income or a combination of both
6 months to 1 year’s worth of bank statements is recommended.
If you are being sponsored, then your sponsor’s bank statements should be included.
Remember, documents that you submit should be verifiable.
Because of this, bank statements should be either issued by the bank (printed on official bank paper) or alternatively it can be online printouts that have been stamped or certified by the bank on every single page.
iii) Other financial documents
Financial documents are of course specific to your circumstances (and your sponsor’s financial circumstances, if you have one).
If you or your sponsor have their own company, documents should be included to evidence this (such as company accounts & business bank account statements).
If, on the other hand, you or your sponsor is self-employed, documents that are typically include tax returns and evidence of trade.
#7 Flight tickets.
This is something that we would recommend including, even though the Home Office guidance suggests not to.
This is based on our many years experience and we are indeed confident that purchasing a return flight improves the likelihood of a successful visa.
Write a UK visitor visa cover letter
Writing a good supporting letter for a UK visitor visa is something that is incredibly important.
This is because it is here that you will be able to best convey:
- That you are a genuine visitor
- That you are a credible visitor
- That any pre-conceived doubts should not apply to you
This supporting letter should be written in a clear and logical way.
Feel free to use our professionally written sample letter for a UK tourist visa application as a template.
The goal of this letter really should be to convince the Home Office caseworker that you will not overstay your UK visa and will return to your home country before the visa expires.
The UK visitor visa supporting letter should clearly discuss the following:
#1 Your intentions as a visitor.
What do you plan to do in the UK? Who do you plan to meet and stay with?
It is also important to clearly say that the activities that you intent to do in the UK are permitted ones, and not ones that are prohibited.
What you include here regarding your intentions should be supported by other supporting documents.
For example, if you say that you intend to visit the UK for 3 weeks for your niece’s university graduation, you should support this statement with evidence regarding this (letter from the university, letter from your niece etc.)
#2 Your economic ties to your home country.
Having economic ties to your home country suggests to the Home Office caseworker that you are more likely to return to your home country.
You should discuss relevant aspects of these ties, such as the value of your assets and amount of income.
With regards to income, it will also be relevant to state whether this income is dependent on you being in your home country or whether it will continue during your trip to the UK.
#3 Your familial ties to your home country.
The letter of support is the perfect place where you can elaborate why your family members in your home country will mean that you will return prior to your UK visitor visa expiring.
In particular you should emphasize any dependencies (for instance, dependent children or elderly relatives) and why this means that you have to return to your home country.
#4 You should point out your good UK immigration history (if you have one).
Don’t assume that the Home Office caseworker would recognize that you have a good UK immigration history – make it clear!
If you have already visited the UK on previously issued UK visitor visas and complied with the terms of those visas, this should be made clear in the cover letter.
Similarly, if you were previously granted visas for other countries and complied with the terms of these visas, this is also relevant to the Home Office caseworker as it helps paint the picture that you will comply with the terms of your UK visitor visa.
In particular, if you were granted visas for Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries, this is especially helpful.
#5 You should discuss your bad UK immigration history (if you have one).
It is usually wrong to think that the best course of action would be to not mention situations in the past that have resulted in you having a bad UK immigration history, hoping that failing to mention it would mean that the Home Office caseworker would overlook it.
You want to address Home Office caseworker’s concerns head on. Because of this, it is important to recognize the potential doubts that the Home Office caseworker may have about you.
If, in the past, you overstayed a UK visitor visa, explain the reason why and why you will not overstay in the future.
If, on the other hand, you did activities that were prohibited whilst on a UK visitor visa (such as work), explain why you will not do such permitted activities again.
Previous UK visa refusals have detrimental effects on subsequent UK visas.
In fact, if you were once refused a UK visa (especially if it was the same type), then it is very likely that your application will face more scrutiny than if you have never been refused.
If you were previously refused a UK visitor visa, make this clear not only by discussing it, but by including a copy of the refusal letter, if you still have it at hand.
In your cover letter, address the reasons for refusal and state why they do not apply to you.
#6 Address any preconceived notions that the Home Office caseworker may possibly have.
It is unfortunate that the Home Office blacklist certain countries – resulting in applicants from those countries being disadvantaged at the very start.
If you think that there is a chance that your country has been deemed to be a ‘high risk’ one, it would certainly be a good idea to address what makes you different from the average UK visitor visa applicant from your home country.
For instance, if you earn significantly more than the average person in your country, highlight this.
If you have more assets than the average person in your country, highlight this.
#7 If you have previously visited the UK on a UK visitor visa, you should make it clear that you do not intend to make the UK your main home.
As we discussed above, you are not allowed to use UK visitor visas to make frequent trips to the UK so much so that it would in fact make the UK your main home.
Although there is no limitation on the number of times you can visit the UK, or even specified time that must pass between successive visits. You should explain why you will not live in the UK or make the UK your main home.
#8 Elaborate how you will maintain yourself (as well as any dependents) both financially and with regards to accommodation in the UK.
Other UK Visitor Visa Information
Extension of stay as a visitor
You may be wondering whether you can extend your UK visitor visa whilst you are already in the UK.
The answer is that it is possible to extend your UK visitor visa, but only in very limited circumstances.
You will be able to extend your stay as a UK visitor visa in the following circumstances:
#1 You have been issued a standard visitor visa for the purpose of receiving private medical treatment and seek to extend the visa for continued private medical treatment.
An extension in such a situation may be granted for a further period of 6 months.
#2 You have been issued a standard visitor visa and you are an academic who is on sabbatical leave and are undertaking your own research in the UK.
An extension in such a situation may be granted so that the total period that you can remain in the UK does not exceed 12 months (including both the original grant and the extension of stay).
#3 You have been issued either a standard visitor visa or a marriage visitor visa and were granted a visa that was valid for less than 6 months.
In such a situation, you may be granted an UK visitor visa extension so that the total amount of time that you can spend in the UK does not exceed 6 months (including both the original visa and the extension visa).
#4 You have been granted a standard visitor visa and want to extend your stay as a visitor in order to resit the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) Test.
In such a situation, you may be granted an extension of up to 6 months as long as you meet the requirements at Appendix 3, paragraph 22(b)(i) of the Immigration Rules.
#5 You have been granted a standard visitor visa and were successful in the PLAB Test but want to undertake a clinical attachment.
In such a situation, you may be granted an extension so that the total period that you can remain in the UK does not exceed 18 months (including both the original grant and the extension of stay) as long as the requirements of Appendix 3, paragraph 22(a) of the Immigration Rules is met.
If you fall within one of the above categories, then the next question to ask is if you meet the requirements for an extension.
UK visitor visa extension requirements
The following are the requirements that you must meet if you want to extend your UK visitor visa whilst already in the UK.
#1 You must submit an application for an extension of stay as a visitor.
#2 In this application, you must persuade the Home Office worker that you continue to meet all UK visitor visa requirements in 2020.
#3 You must be in the UK ‘in breach of immigration laws’, other than for a period of 28 days or less overstaying.
#4 If you are applying for an extension in order to receive private medical treatment, there is an additional requirement that you must:
- prove that you have met the costs of any medical treatments received so far; and
- submit a signed and original letter from a registered medical practitioner that details the medical condition that requires further treatment. This medical practitioner can either be from a private practice or an NHS hospital, as long as they hold an NHS consultant post or appear in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council.
UK Visitor Visa Curtailment & Cancellation
It is possible for your UK visitor visa to be cancelled before or on arrival at the border (airport) and for your leave to be ‘curtailed’.
Leave being ‘curtailed’ here basically means that the expiry date of your visa will be cut short (brought forward), effectively giving you a new visa end date.
The specific circumstances in which this will happen is listed in Part V9 of Appendix V (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor-rules).
The following are situations where your UK visitor visa may be cancelled before you arrive in the UK or when you arrive at the border (airport):
- Your intentions for your UK visit has changed since your UK visitor visa was granted.
For example, if in the application for a UK visitor visa, you stated that you wanted to visit the UK for 3 weeks in order to attend a nephew’s university graduation, but then when asked at the border, you say you want to visit the UK for private medical treatment, your intentions will have changed.
- You did not disclose important information during the UK visitor visa application
- You submitted false documentation or provided false information.
In such a situation, it does not matter if you knew that these were false. It also does not matter if the false documentation or information was important when deciding whether to grant the UK visitor visa or not.
- It has become clear that, due to medical reasons, it would be undesirable to allow you to enter the UK.
This is the case unless there are strong compassionate reasons that would justify you entering the UK.
- It has become clear that it would not be good for you to enter the UK in light of the public good criteria
- You are outside the UK and have not provided information, documents or medical reports when asked to do so
The following are situations where your UK visitor visa may be curtailed whilst you are in the UK:
- It has become clear that you no longer meet the visitor visa requirements
- It has become clear that you did not disclose important information or if you made false representations
- You do not comply with the conditions of our UK visitor visa
- Something happens such as trouble with the law that means that it would not be in the public interest for you to stay in the UK.
UK Visitor Visa Tips
#1 Spend a lot of time writing a thorough and detailed covering letter.
As discussed above, this covering letter’s main goal should be to persuade the Home Office caseworker that you will return to your home country before the UK visa expires.
It should also include the other aspects that we discussed.
#2 Attention to detail throughout the whole application is key.
As we discussed above, inconsistencies in information and documentation can result in doubts being raised, which in turn, will reduce the likelihood of the application being granted.
Because of this, we would recommend double and triple checking the contents of the UK visitor visa online application form & cover letter to ensure that all of the details matches up with the documentation that you submit.
#3 It is good to have comprehensive application.
Remember, the Home Office caseworkers can be suspicious individuals.
Much of this suspicion can be reduced when directly addressed in a clear and logical manner.
#4 Answer all of the questions in the online application form.
#5 Do not be tempted to withhold information.
Each of the application form questions should be answered truthfully.
If the Home Office, for any reason, think that you have deceived them, this can have a disastrous impact on your application and for subsequent applications after that.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to have a sponsor in order to obtain a UK visitor visa?
Applicants do not strictly require a sponsor in order to obtain a UK visitor visa.
If you can show that you can adequately provide for yourself regarding both finances and accommodation, then you can apply without a sponsor.
With this being said, if you are unsure whether you meet the loosely described ‘adequate maintenance’ UK visitor visa test, having a sponsor may help increase your chances of a successful application.
In this situation, you should evidence both your finances as well as your sponsor’s finances.
Does my sponsor have to be in the UK?
A sponsor for a UK visitor visa does not need to be in the UK.
They can in fact be outside the UK.
For sponsor’s that are outside the UK, the sponsor visitor visa requirements are:
i) The sponsor has to be declared by the applicant
ii) The relationship between the applicant and sponsor must be genuine
iii) The sponsor must be able to have enough funds to support you in your visit to the UK
iv) Your sponsor must intend to support you in your visit to the UK
How long can I spend in the UK using UK visitor visas?
There is no set maximum length that you can spend in the UK with a UK visitor visa, such as ‘6 months in 12 months’.
Firstly, you will be limited by the validity of the UK visitor visa.
Secondly, as discussed above, you must not visit the UK using a UK visitor visa so frequently that it essentially amounts to you making the UK your main place of residence.
Do I have to include an itinerary (strict plan of what I will do during my visit in the UK)?
No. If you are applying for a UK visitor visa, you do not have to provide an itinerary.
With this being said, you should be able to state what you intend to do during your trip to the UK and be able to elaborate if asked by a border guard at the airport.
As discussed above, we always recommend creating a thorough supporting letter and this letter should go into detail your general plans (& specific plans if you have any). The more detail the better here.
Will I be able to receive free National Health Service (NHS) treatment during my visit to the UK?
If you were issued a UK visitor visa, you will be billed for any NHS treatment received in the UK.
You will not be eligible for free treatment (unless there is an exemption that applies to you).
It is however important to note that there are several reciprocal healthcare agreements that the UK has with several countries. Many of these provide free healthcare to non-UK residents.
With this being said, these reciprocal agreements will likely not allow you to come to the UK specifically to seek healthcare from the NHS.
Will my visa be single entry or will it allow me to enter the UK multiple times during the visa’a validity?
This depends on your particular circumstances.
Multiple entry UK visit visas are most commonly issued.
Like the name suggests, this visa will allow you to enter the UK multiple times as long as the visa is valid.
In some instances, however, single entry visitor visas are issued. These visas will be valid for only one entry to the UK.
The following are situations in which single-entry visit visas will usually be issued for:
- Children’s applications that are sponsored by charities; and
- Applications where the applicant meets the required visitor visa rules, but the Home Office caseworker has a residual doubt and there is a clearly established, compelling and verifiable reason for the applicant to visit the UK.
Therefore, typical examples where single-entry visit visas are normally issued are:
- The applicant wants to attend a specific one-off event that the applicant has been invited to, such as the wedding of a close family member or a religious convention
- The applicant wants to visit a family member in the UK who is severely ill or pregnant
- The applicant is attending the UK in order to assist the police or another agency at the request of that agency
- The applicant is a non-expert, key witness at a court appearance
Can my child visit the UK on their own?
Yes. A child may travel to the UK with or without an accompanying adult.
With this being said, for children that are going to travel to the UK by themselves, the visa will only be granted if:
- The Home Office caseworker is satisfied that the child will be adequately accommodation and be persuaded that all duty of care obligations will be met.
- Care and reception arrangements for arrival and throughout their stay in the UK will be adequate. The identity and residence of the host must be established.
- Parental consent must be obtained.
In the event that some details regarding the three points above are missing, it is likely that further enquiries from the Home Office will be made.
If, in light of all the circumstances, the Home Office caseworker is unsure about the child’s likely welfare in the UK, the application will be refused.
Unsurprisingly, where a child is going to travel to the UK without an accompany adult, the application will face a lot of scrutiny about the welfare of the child. Like many UK visa applications, the child’s welfare is of high importance.
Is parental consent required for a child’s UK visit visa? If so, how is parental consent evidenced?
Yes. Parental consent is required for children’s UK visitor visas.
Where the visa application is made on behalf of the child, in most cases, this would satisfy the requirement for parental consent.
Where the child’s parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody or sole responsibility must provide consent.
In the event that the application is not made by the guardian or parent, a letter of consent from the guardian or parent that confirms the relationship with the child will normally be enough to satisfy the parental consent guidance.
With applications where the child will be accompanied with an adult who is not the legal guardian or parent of the child who holds legal custody, consent should be provided by both parents or legal guardians.
Can I volunteer on a UK visitor visa?
Yes. If you are in the UK on a standard UK visitor visa, as long as volunteering is not the main purpose of your visit, will amount to no longer than 30 days in total and is for a registered charity.
Can I study on a UK visitor visa?
Yes. If you are in the UK on a standard UK visitor visa, as long as the study is not the main purpose of your visit, you will be able to study for a maximum period of 30 days.
Can I marry in the UK whilst on a UK visitor visa?
If you are planning on marrying in the UK, or planning on giving notice of an intention to marry or form a civil partnership in the UK, this can only be done on a UK marriage visitor visa.
How much money do I need in the bank to apply for a UK visit visa?
You will need to prove to the Home Office caseworker that you have enough resources/income in order to maintain yourself both financially and with regards to accommodation for the duration of your trip (as well as any dependents that are applying with you).