The UK Standard Visitor Visa

The UK Standard Visitor Visa

If you wish to visit the UK for a short period of time (six months or less), you may be required to obtain a UK Standard Visitor visa. You can apply for this if your visit is:

  • For leisure, for example you’re here on holiday or to see your family and friends
  • For business or to take part in sports or creative events
  • For another reason, for example to receive private medical treatment

The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the:

  • Family Visitor visa
  • General Visitor visa
  • Child Visitor visa
  • Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
  • Sports Visitor visa
  • Entertainer Visitor visa
  • Prospective Entrepreneur visa
  • Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
  • Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa
Visiting the UK on business

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK for business-related activities, for example:

  • You’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training
  • You want to take part in a specific sports-related event
  • 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
  • You’re a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post
  • You want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
  • You want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK
How long the application takes

The earliest you can apply for your Visitor Visa is 3 months before you travel. For example:

  • You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June
  • You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK
How long you can stay

You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. However, there are some exceptions:

  • If you’re coming to the UK for private medical treatment, you can stay up to 11 months
  • If you’re an academic on sabbatical and coming to the UK for research, you and your spouse or civil partner may be able to stay for up to 12 months
  • If you’re staying in the UK as an academic or to receive private medical treatment for longer than 6 months, you must apply for a biometric residence permit
  • If you’re a Chinese citizen and wish to visit the UK as part of a group of tourists, then you can apply for a visa for up to 30 days under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement
If you need to visit the UK regularly

If you know that you’ll need to return to the UK multiple times within a certain time period, the long-term visitor visa is a great route to take. The rules for this visa are slightly different:

  • You can apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years
  • You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit
  • If you’re under 18 years old when you apply, your long-term Standard Visitor visa will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18.
UK Standard Visitor Visa
Visa eligibility

To have your visa approved, you need to show the Home Office 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, as allowed by the Visitor Rules
If you’re applying for a long-term Standard Visitor visa

You must be able to prove that:

  • You’ll only ever need to come to the UK to visit, for example to go on holiday, see family or attend a meeting
  • You plan to leave the UK at the end of each visit

You may be given a visa for a shorter period than requested if you do not do this. You will not get a refund of the application fee if you get a shorter visa or your application is refused. Your visa may be cancelled and you may get a long-term ban on visiting if your travel history shows you’re repeatedly living in the UK for extended periods.

If you’re applying as an academic

You can stay in the UK for 12 months if you’re applying as an academic. You must prove that you’re highly qualified within your field of expertise, on sabbatical leave from your home institution and visiting to either:

  • Take part in a formal exchange with a UK counterpart
  • Carry out your own research
  • Take part in someone else’s research, teaching or clinical practice – as long as this does not involve filling a permanent teaching post
If you’re applying to visit for private medical treatment

A Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa is a short-stay visa which allows those from outside the EEA to come to the UK for Private Medical Treatment for a period of either 6 or 11 months, depending on how long the treatment is expected to take. In order to apply for one, you need to prove that you:

  • Have made or paid for arrangements for consultations or treatment
  • Have enough money to pay for your treatment, support yourself without using public funds and pay for your return or onward journey
  • Will leave the UK once your treatment is completed, or when your visa expires
  • Are not a danger to public health if you have an infectious disease, such as leprosy
If you’re applying as an organ donor

To meet the requirements for an Organ Donor Visitor visa, you need to show that your primary reason for travelling to the UK is to donate organs to:

  • A family member who you’re genetically related to (for example your sibling or parent)
  • Someone you have a close personal relationship with (for example your spouse or friend)

You must also be able to prove that the person you’re donating an organ to is legally allowed to be in the UK.

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