Applying for a UK Visa

Applying for a UK Visa

Are you desirous of travelling to UK for studies, business trip, visitation, you need to applying for a UK Visa before travelling to UK.

Choose a visa

You may need a visa to go to the UK to study, work, visit or join family.

There are different visas depending on:

  • where you come from
  • why you want to go to the UK
  • how long you want to stay for
  • your personal circumstances and skills

Before you apply, you must check if you need a visa and what type you need. Depending on your nationality, you might not need a visa to visit or transit through the UK.

Your application must be approved before you travel. You do not need to apply for a visa if you’re an Irish citizen.


If you want to visit the UK

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa to visit the UK for up to 6 months. For example:

  • for a holiday or to see family and friends
  • a business trip or meeting
  • to do a short course of study

You must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.

If you have a visitor visa you cannot take a job in the UK.


If you’re travelling through the UK

You might need a visa if you’re travelling through the UK on your way to another country, for example if you have a layover between flights.


If you want to study in the UK

Your course length, type and place of study affect which visa to apply for.

A Standard Visitor visa lets you do a short course of study that lasts no longer than 6 months.

A Short-term study visa lets you go to the UK to study an English language course that is over 6 months and up to 11 months.

A Student visa is usually for a longer course. You must be sponsored by a licensed college or university and have a confirmed place. You may be able to do some work on this visa.

A Child Student visa is for 4 to 17 year old who want to study at an independent school. If you’re 16 or over, you can do some work on this visa.


If you want to work in the UK

You can work in the UK on a short or long-term basis with a work visa. There are many types of work visa.

The visa you need depends upon:

  • your skills and qualifications
  • if you have a job offer and sponsorship
  • if you want to bring your family with you
  • what you’ll be doing – for example sporting, charitable or religious work

You can set up a business with a Start-up visa or an Innovator visa.


If you want to join family in the UK

If you’re a spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or settlement in the UK, you can apply for a family visa to join them. They may need to show that they can support you financially.

You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after a set amount of time living in the UK.


If your family member is in the UK on a visa

You may be able to apply for a visa to join a family member who’s in the UK on a visa. They must be either:

  • your spouse or partner
  • your parent if you’re 18 or under

Family reunion visas for refugees

If you were separated from your partner or child when you were forced to leave your country, they can apply to join you in the UK.

Your family members can apply if you have been given asylum or 5 years’ humanitarian protection, and not have British citizenship.


Other ways to get permission to live in the UK

Commonwealth citizens

You can apply for an Ancestry visa to work in the UK if you have a British grandparent and meet other eligibility criteria.

You may have right of abode to live in the UK.

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen and cannot prove your right to be in the UK, read about the Windrush scheme.


Returning residents

If you had indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and left the UK for more than 2 years you’ll need to apply for a Returning Resident visa to come back.


Prepare your application

You can apply and pay for most visas online.

If you have dependents who want to come to the UK with you, each person will need to apply and pay separately.


When to apply

The earliest you can apply is usually:

  • 3 months before your planned travel date for visit visas
  • 3 months before your employment start date for most work visas
  • 6 months before your course start date for Student and Child Student visas

It’s currently taking 6 weeks on average to get a decision on Standard Visitor visas.

Settlement applications take up to 6 months and must be approved before you come to the UK. If you’re given permission to settle in the UK, you must travel before your permission ends.


Getting a faster decision

You may be able to pay for a faster decision on your visa application depending on:

  • the type of visa you apply for
  • how you apply
  • where you apply from


There is a fee for each visa. The fee depends on which visa you apply for.

The fees are the same for each family member who applies to come to the UK with you.


Pay for healthcare

You’ll need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application, if you’re:

  • applying for a visa to work, study or join your family
  • applying to stay for more than 6 months
  • not applying to live permanently in the UK

Applying for someone else

You can apply for a visa for someone else. For example, a relative overseas who does not have access to a computer or your child, if they cannot apply for themselves.

You must get permission from the person you’re applying for, or written permission from their parent or guardian if the applicant is under 18.

Enter the applicant’s details into the form, not your own.


Proving you do not have tuberculosis (TB)

If you’re going to the UK for more than 6 months you might need to have a TB test for your visa application.

If you do, you must provide a certificate showing you do not have TB with your visa application.


Change or cancel your application

If you want to change something in your application after you’ve sent it contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can ask to cancel your application. Your fee will only be refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.


Prove your identity

When you apply, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide documents to show your eligibility.

How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

  • go to an appointment at a visa application centre
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app

You’ll find out if you need to go to an appointment or use the smartphone app when you start your application.


If you need to go to an appointment at a visa application centre

You’ll be asked to make an appointment at a visa application centre to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photograph).

At the appointment, you’ll need to submit documents that show your eligibility. The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide.

Some visa application centres may need to keep your passport and documents while they process your application.

You may have to travel to get to your nearest visa application centre (this could be in another country).


If you applied for someone else

The applicant will need to attend the appointment at the visa application centre to provide their biometric information and documents.

They’ll also need to sign a copy of their application form, to confirm that the information is correct.


If you need to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app

You’ll be asked to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document and submit a digital photo of your face.

You will need to scan and upload documents that show your eligibility as part of your online application. The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide.

If you applied for someone else

The applicant will need to prove their identity using the app.


Getting a decision on your application

You’ll get a letter or an email with the result of your application. It will explain what you need to do next.


If your application is successful

You’ll be given either:

  • a sticker (called a vignette) that goes in your passport – if you gave your biometric information at a visa application centre
  • access to view your immigration status information online – if you used the smartphone app to prove your identity

The vignette or online immigration status information will show:

  • what you’ve been granted (for example, a Student visa)
  • the dates your visa is valid (start date and end date)
  • the conditions of your visa

Your visa conditions

The conditions say what you can and cannot do in the UK. For example, they might say:

  • ‘No access to public funds’ – you cannot claim benefits
  • ‘No work’ – you cannot take paid or unpaid work in the UK
  • ‘Restricted work’ – you can only work for your sponsor

You’ll also be told if you need to register your personal details with the UK police.

Getting your vignette

If the visa application centre kept your passport, they’ll either:

  • send it to you with the vignette inside – if you paid for this service when you applied
  • ask you to collect the passport and vignette

You’ll need to take your passport to the visa application centre to collect your vignette.

If you’re a national of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates and you applied for an electronic visa waiver this permission is sent to you electronically (you do not receive a vignette).

If there’s an error in your vignette

Where you notice an error in your vignette, you should contact your visa application centre immediately to correct it before you come to the UK.

If you notice the error after you’ve arrived in the UK, you must report it to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) within 3 months of arriving or you’ll need to make a new application.

Getting a biometric residence permit

If you get a vignette and you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months then you have to collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) after you arrive.

You must do this before the vignette sticker expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

You choose where to collect your BRP from during your application.

When you get your BRP, check the details are correct. If your name is long it may appear ‘cut off’. This is not a mistake – it is because there is limited space on the BRP card. However, if there’s a spelling mistake, you must report it.

You need to report any errors in your BRP within 10 days of collecting it.

If you get access to your immigration status information online

You’ll be able to view your immigration status information online. You can also use the online service to share your immigration status information with others, for example employers or universities.

Some government organisations and public authorities will be able to access your immigration status information, for example when you travel through the UK border.

You will not get a vignette or a BRP.

If your application is refused

You’ll get a letter or an email explaining why your application was refused.

Your passport will be returned, if it was kept as part of your application.

Your refusal letter will explain if you have the right to either an:

  • administrative review
  • immigration decision appeal

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