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UK Visitor visas

At a first glance applying for a UK visitor visa is a simple process. However, it can be a headache because we all have different situations in life.

We can save your time and sometimes even money because a visa fee is non-refundable, in case your application is rejected.

Imperial & Legal services

  • Preparing and submitting visa applications, advising on the application process and required documents;
  • Providing support in extending visa, e.g. to receive private medical treatment;
  • Preparing and submitting appeals.

In 2015, the UK Home Office has reduced the number of visitor visa routes to four.

  1. Visit (standard): this consolidates 11 existing visitor routes including general and child visitors, as well as Chinese visitors entering with a tour group.
  2. Marriage Visit (to hold their marriage or civil partnership in the UK). Please refer to the Family visas section for more details.
  3. Visit to undertaking permitted paid engagements, such as performers or sports people.
  4. Transit visit to the UK.

UK Standard Visitor visa

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK

  • for leisure, for example on holiday or to see your family and friends
  • for business:
    • meetings, conferences and seminars;
    • you want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK;
    • sports-related events;
    • you’re an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform;
    • you’re an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme;
    • for another reason, for example to receive private medical treatment.


You must always show that:

  • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit;
  • you’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip;
  • you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit;
  • you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK.

Each visa application is individual. Please contact us for a complete list of required documents.

You can:

  • take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules;
  • study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit;
  • take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18);
  • convert your civil partnership into a marriage.

You can’t:

  • do paid or unpaid work;
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits;
  • get public funds;
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership.

How long you can stay

  • up to 6 months for general purposes;
  • up to 11 months if you’re coming to the UK for private medical treatment (biometric residence permit is required as well);
  • up to 12 months for scientific research (for you and your spouse) (biometric residence permit is required as well);
  • 2.5 or 10 years, if you can prove you need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.

Permitted Paid Engagement Visit visa

You may be able to get a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you’ve been invited to the UK as an expert in your profession.

You can apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa if you:

  • are invited by a UK-based organisation or client;
  • want to come to the UK to do specific paid work without having to be sponsored under the points-based visa system;
  • have enough money without help from public funds to support and house yourself;
  • can pay for your return or onward journey.

What you can do

You can be invited by a UK-based organisation or client to:

  •  be a student examiner or assessor;
  • take part in selection panels as a highly qualified academic if you’re invited by an education, arts or research organisation;
  • give lectures at a higher education institution, as long as it’s not a part-time or full-time role;
  • examine UK-based pilots so they meet the standards of the country you come from;
  • provide advocacy in a particular area of law;
  • take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities including broadcasting;
  • take part in fashion modelling assignments.

You can stay in the UK for up to 1 month.

 Transit visa

There are two types of a transit visa based on what you intend to do in the UK:

  • Direct Airside Transit visa (DATV) if you’ll be changing flights in the UK and won’t be going through UK border control. It lasts for up to 24 hours;
  • Visitor in Transit visa if you’ll be going through UK border control but leaving the UK within 48 hours. It can be short- or long-term.

 Short-term study visa

You can apply for a Short-term study visa if:

  • you’re doing a short course of study in the UK,
  • do a short period of research as part of a degree course if you are studying abroad (if you’re over 18).


You must prove that you:

  • have been offered a place on a course in the UK at an accepted place of study,
  • have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds (which is not allowed on this visa), or that relatives and friends can support and house you,
  • can pay for your return or onward journey,

If you’re under 18 you must also:

  •  have made arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK,
  • have permission from your parent or guardian to study in the UK,

If you’re at least 18 years old and studying at an overseas higher education institution and part of your course is in the UK. Your institution must:

  • hold its own national accreditation,
  • offer only part of its educational programme in the UK,
  • offer programmes that are equivalent to a UK degree,

If you’re at least 18 years old and already enrolled on an overseas degree course and come to do research in the UK for a short time. To be eligible:

  • your course must be equivalent to a UK degree,
  • you must be carrying out the research at a UK recognised body, or a body that receives public funding as a higher education institution.

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for:

  • 6 months – for any short course (including English language courses), or short period of research if you’re 18 or over;
  • 11 months – if you’re 18 or over and taking an English language course.

 Documents you must provide

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification with 2 blank pages,
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months,
  • details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans – you shouldn’t pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa,
  • your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test,
  • contact details for at least one parent or guardian in your home country (if you’re under 18 years old),
  • You must provide proof of the course you’re studying, for example a letter of acceptance from the educational institution – on official headed paper, stating the course’s name, duration and cost (including accommodation).

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances, such as evidence of your:

  • previous study, for example academic certificates, references or transcripts,
  • English language qualifications, for example certificates or awards,
  • financial sponsor’s occupation, income, savings or funds that will support your studies,

If you’re under 18 and travelling on your own, you need to provide additional documents:

  • written consent from your parent or guardian and their full contact details,
  • the name and date of birth of the person that you will be staying with,
  • an address where you will be living,
  • details of your relationship to the person who’ll be looking after you,
  • consent in writing so they can look after you during your stay in the UK,
  • You must provide a letter from the school confirming it has notified the local authority of your visit and the details of who’ll be caring for you if you’re under 16 (or under 18 if you have a disability), and you’ll be looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not a close relative (called ‘private foster care’). You must include the reply from the local authority if the school has received one.

If you’re under 18 and travelling with an adult, you need to provide additional documents:

  • An adult must get their own visa, after wich you need to identify them in your visa application. You can identify up to 2 adults in your visa application and travel with either or both of them.

You need to provide the original documents.

You also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh

You can’t:

  • study at a state school
  • work (including on a work placement or work experience) or carry out any business
  • extend this visa
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you – they must apply separately
  • get public funds

To discuss your requirements, please contact our specialists or call us on +44 (0)203 490 41 21.

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