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How to Visit the UK

This information was last updated: 5 January 2016

  1. Appendix V of the Immigration Rules set out specific requirements that need to be met by visitors to the UK.
  2. If you are a visa national, you will need, to satisfy an entry clearance officer abroad that you meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules. You are required to obtain entry clearance in advance of travelling to the UK.
  3. If you are a non visa national you can travel to the UK and apply to an Immigration Officer to enter the UK as a visitor and you will have to meet the requirements for entry as a visitor.
  4. The onus is on the visitor to prove that he meets the requirements of the Immigration Rules.
  5. The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.

What do the Rules require?

  1. You need to establish that you are a genuine visitor, planning a visit for no more than the period that you state.  The visa application form will ask you how long you are proposing to visit the UK. This is also a basic question that any immigration officer will ask. It is very important that you are consistent with the stated proposed length of holiday and that the holiday makes sense in terms of your own personal circumstances. The maximum amount of time that you are able to visit the UK is 6 months.
  2. The rule of thumb is that the immigration authorities expect you to be outside the UK for as long as you are in the UK for a particular holiday.
  3. You must prove you intend to leave the UK at the end of your proposed visit. To meet this requirement of the Rule you need, at a minimum, to show a return ticket and give a consistent date on which you plan to leave the UK. It is also helpful if you give an explanation as to your future plans such as returning to your employment or continuing your studies in your own country.

What restrictions are placed on visitors?

  1.  You are not allowed to:
    • Work
    •  Trade
    • Study
    • Get married
    • Claim benefits
    • Have treatment under the NHS (unless there is an emergency)
  2. You are not allowed to live in the UK through successive repeat visits.
  3. You must have sufficient funds to be maintained and accommodated without recourse to public funds.

The letter of invitation

If you are being invited to the UK by a friend or relative your sponsor may well be providing accommodation and sometimes spending money. It is important that your sponsor provides evidence of his financial circumstances in the form of payslips, bank statements covering a 3 month period and the evidence of ownership of property and that he demonstrates that there are sufficient resources to accommodate and maintain you during your visit.

 Common Pitfalls

  1. Equally, you may be financing your own visit and paying for your own accommodation.  You need to establish that you have sufficient funds to cover these costs.  A common ground for refusal is that the proposed expenditure on the holiday is an excessive proportion of your annual salary. In order to address that area of difficulty you need to have a clear budget for the holiday and a clear explanation as to how it is being financed and why the holiday is important.
  2. There is nothing wrong with receiving finances for the holiday from family, but it is important to document where those funds are coming from and to explain their purpose.
  3. A common mistake that is made is that an applicant for entry clearance receives a lump sum of money (e.g. £700.00) and this is paid into his bank account a week before applying for a visa. That sum of money is intended to cover the flight ticket but no explanation is provided. The entry clearance officer is liable to refuse the visa application because he doubts the applicant’s financial circumstances because there is an “unexplained deposit of £700.00 into the applicant’s account which is inconsistent with his monthly salary”.

Visa Application Process

  1. If you are a visa national you will need to obtain a visa in advance. If you are a non visa national then you can obtain a visa in advance as a matter of choice, but it is not mandatory.
    • In most countries the visa application is submitted on-line.
    •  The online application form can be found at Visa4UK. The application form consists of 140 questions.
    • At the conclusion of the questionnaire, you are required to print out the questionnaire and then submit it on-line, in most countries you are required to pay on-line and the current fee is £85 for a 6 month visa.  Payment is made in the local currency.
    • Once the on-line application has been submitted you are required to make an appointment at a visa processing centre and make a personal attendance to submit the signed copy of the on-line application form, your passport and supporting documentation such as copies of flight tickets, bank statements, payslips and other documentation.
    • You are required to give your biometric details at the visa processing centre.
    • You are able to track your visa application on-line.
    • Generally, decisions on the visitor applications are prompt but there is some variation from country to country. The UKVI publishes specific processing times for each entry clearance post and the statistics are available on the Home Office website.

Practical Advice on your Documentation.

  1. If you are being sponsored to come to the UK it is important that your sponsor writes a personal letter and attaches to that personal letter with his British passport, payslips, bank statements and evidence of ownership of property.
  2. It is not necessary for sponsors to make statutory declarations and there are no requirements in the Rules for a statutory declaration.
  3. If your sponsor has successfully invited other family members in the past the letter should specifically confirm that and provide details of the previous visitor’s names, Home Office reference numbers and the dates of travel to and from the UK.
  4. It is important to stress the ties that you have in your country of nationality and letters from your employer or university confirming the specific holiday arrangements can be helpful in supporting the visa application.
  5. Bear in mind that you have to convince the entry clearance officer that you intend to leave the UK at the end of the stated visit.
  6. It is very unlikely that you will be interviewed in connection with the visitor application although the visa officer will refer any suspicious documentation for verification.

Rights of Appeal

  1. There are only limited rights of appeal, in the event of an adverse decision for visiting specific relatives.
  2. From 25th June 2013 the right of appeal on the merits of the immigration decision has been abolished.
  3. You will only have a right of appeal in the immigration courts on human rights or race discrimination grounds.
  4. If the decision to refuse your application for a visitor visa is so unreasonable so as to be perverse or if the visa officer has failed to take into account relevant information then you may be able to challenge the adverse decision by way of Judicial Review in the Upper Tribunal.

2nd Application

If your application has been refused you are entitled to make a further application  and try to address the visa officers concerns by providing better evidence of your circumstances  and a more detailed explanation of your plans for the visit

Can we help?

  1.  If you run into difficulties with the process we are more than happy to provide assistance. 
  2. If you have previously been refused a visitor visa, we would strongly advise you take legal advice.
  3. If you would like to arrange a consultation please telephone 0208 885 7979.


The information provided in this How To: is general advice and information and Wilsons Solicitors LLP accepts no liability for its applicability to the facts of your individual circumstances.

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