UK Visitor Visa

If you need help getting a visa to visit the UK, our immigration lawyers can guide you through the process and provide legal guidance in complex cases, particularly where you have faced past refusals.

Who can visit the UK?

Typically, people plan to visit the UK for tourism, for example on a holiday or to see family or friends, people may wish to visit the UK for other reasons too. Anyone can apply to visit the UK, but some nationalities require prior entry clearance (a visitor visa) before travelling to the UK, even for a short period.

A visitor visa is required by a visa national who is wishing to visit the UK. The list of visa nationals can be found in paragraph VN.1 of the Immigration Rules. In contrast, a non-visa national, such as an EU national or US national, can arrive in the UK without a pre-approved visa and will be granted permission to enter as a visitor on arrival. Many UK airports have good e-gate facilities which speed up entry considerably, and are available to a wide range of nationalities including EU countries, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Singapore.

UK visitor visas are normally valid for six months and permit multiple entries into the country.

What are the requirements for a visitor visa?

In considering a visitor visa application, an Entry Clearance Officer on behalf of the Home Office will be assessing the application against the following requirements:

  • Whether the applicant is suitable for a grant of entry clearance – criminality or a poor immigration history can cause problems here
  • Whether the applicant (or their sponsor) has sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate themselves during the trip without working
  • Whether the applicant is a ‘genuine visitor’: i.e. the applicant must intend to leave at the end of their visit; plan to stay for no more than six months; be able to meet the cost of their return journey, and demonstrate that any planned activities fit within the visitor rules

What ‘permitted activities’ are allowed on a visitor visa?

Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities detail exactly what a visitor visa holder is allowed to do during their time in the UK.

You can visit the UK as a standard visitor for purposes including tourism, seeing family or friends, volunteering for up to 30 days with a registered charity, passing through the UK to another country ‘in transit’, studying in certain circumstances and undertaking certain business activities.

As a holder of a standard UK visitor visa, you cannot do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person, marry or register a civil partnership, or live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits.

The practicalities of visitor visa applications

Our visitor visa article highlights that in recent years, visitor visa applications from certain nationalities have become notorious for their high rates of refusal and explores what an applicant can do to ensure the best chance of success in a visitor visa application. We specifically see high numbers of refusals for visitor visa applications made by citizens of countries that produce substantial refugee flows and often find that visitor visa applications made by elderly applicants, or persons financially dependent on their UK-based family members, are extremely difficult. This is essential because the Home Office distrusts that such applicants are ‘genuine visitors’- instead, there is a preconception that these applicants may try to remain in the UK after their visitor visa expires.

To ensure the best chance of success in a visit visa application – especially for what may be termed problem countries – it is vital that strong evidence of the applicant’s circumstances in their home country is provided; applicants need to create a picture of what their life at home is like and highlight the reasons that they will return to that country. In this regard, applicants must submit proof of their employment, property owned and family members in their home country. A cover letter can also be very helpful to draw the decision maker’s attention to the evidence provided and how this meets the relevant immigration rules.

How we can help

Immigration law can be complex, which is why it is important to speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Latitude Law’s solicitors are experts in assisting you with your application to visit the UK.

We are often instructed by families who have faced numerous past refusals – legal advice and representation in such cases can certainly help. To avoid the risk of refusal as far as possible, we would recommend that legal advice is taken at the earliest opportunity – ideally, before your first attempt at a visit visa application to ensure the best chance of success, or at the latest, following a first refusal decision. Our experience in these applications allows us to consider your circumstances in detail and suggest evidence which can be provided that you may not have considered previously.

Our visitor visa services include:

  • optimising your chances of success where you have previously been refused a visit visa;
  • preparing for an application;
  • helping you compile the correct supporting documentation;
  • challenging refusals through judicial review.

We will be available to provide legal support and guidance at every stage of the application process, doing everything we can to give you the best possible chance of a successful application for temporary UK residence.

Why choose Latitude Law?

Our team of experienced solicitors, who have many years of experience in immigration law, will do all they can to help your visitor visa application be successful.

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019