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Ultimate Guide – the UK Visit visa


The UK visit visa allows a visa national to enter the UK as a visitor for a specific purpose. Furthermore some non-visa nationals (eg a US or Australian national) may also need to apply for a visit visa if they wish to undertake certain activities such as perform as an entertainer or sports person for example.

In this guide we will explore the different variations of the UK visit visa and which one is right for you.

How long is the visa issued for?

Visit visas are generally issued in four different lengths;

  • Up to 6 months
  • Up to 2 years
  • Up to 5 years
  • Up to 10 years

How long can you stay on a visit visa?

Persons whom hold a visit visa can in most situations stay a maximum of 6 months in the last 12 month period. This does not mean that you can stay 6 months each time you enter the UK but rather that you have a total amount of 6 months that you can use for one or several trips during the length of the visa.

Some special visit visa categories such as Student Visitor and Private Medical Visitors can stay up to 11 months.

How log does it take to get Indefinite Leave to Remain?

It is not possible to obtain a Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) using just a visit visa. This is because visits visas generally only allow you to remain in the UK for a maximum period 6 months every 12 months.

However it is possible to use a period where you have held a visit visa to count towards an application for Long Residence ILR.

For example if you had a Student visa for 7 years and then left the UK, you re-entered the UK within 6 months as a visitor. You stay in the UK for a few months as a visitor then exit the UK to re-apply for another long term visa category (for example Tier 2) within 6 months then you can use the visit visa period to show that you have lived lawfully in the UK for 10 years.

When can you apply for British Nationality?

As mentioned above it is not possible to obtain ILR or British nationality by just using a visit visa. However most applicants qualify for British nationality one year after obtaining ILR, a such using the example above the route to nationality would take 11 years.

Which nationalities need to apply for a UK visit visa?

























Bosnia Herzegovina


Burkina Faso










Cape Verde


Central African Republic




People’s Republic of China – (Not including Hong Kong or Taiwan)









Sao Tome e Principe

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Saudi Arabia



Dominican Republic



Sierra Leone



Equatorial Guinea

South Africa


South Sudan


Sri Lanka













Guinea Bissau














Ivory Coast



United Arab Emirates







Korea (North)








Brining family with you

There are no restrictions on which family members can apply together for a visit visa. There is also no actual age limit.

It is noted that each person must fill in a separate application form and procedure, regardless of age. Family members whom are dependent on the main applicant should always demonstrate this in their application form and documentation.

What types of Visit visa’s are there?

The UK used to have several specific visa categories which made the application procedure quite confusing. As a result these categories were put in to four separate visa groups that migrants can apply for. These are:

  • The Standard Visitor visa
  • Permitted Paid engagement visa
  • Marriage Visitor Visa,
  • Transit visa

What can I do on each visa and which visa should I apply for?

Standard Visitor Visa

The standard visitor visa is the most common visit visa category and includes the following situations:

  • Tourism, leisure or to visit family
  • Volunteering for a maximum of 30 days for a registered UK charity– (as long as this is not the main purpose of your trip)
  • General business activities that does not amount to working. For example:
    • attending meetings or interviews
    • giving a talk as long as you are not being paid
    • signing and negotiating contracts or deals
    • attending trade shows as long as there is no selling
    • site visits
    • doing research for an overseas employer
    • meeting a UK based customer for work to be done outside the UK
  • Intra-Company activities for employees of a company based outside the UK, for example:
    • consulting, provide training and knowledge to companies within the same company group.
  • Perspective Start-Up or Innovators whom are meeting with an endorsing body
  • Manufacturers and suppliers may advise, repair, install for a UK based company.
  • Scientists and academics may take part in research, share knowledge or gather data for projects.
  • Attending a court hearing as a summoned or expert witness.
  • Religious workers may enter the UK to preach or provide other types of pastoral services
  • Entertainer, musicians and all forms of artists may undertake performances,undertake promotional activities or take part in specified festivals
  • all forms of film crew may take part in shoots filmed in a UK location, providing the film has been financed outside the UK
  • Taking part in Sports events, including tournaments, promotional activities, trials or to gain experience from a sports club
  • Jobs that require specific attendance in the UK, such as Translators, drivers, personal assistants, journalists, tour group leader, bodyguards, archaeologists and professors accompanying students as part of an exchange program
  • Graduates in Medical, dental or nursing may undertake work related training or exams providing they are not paid to do so.
  • Studying in the UK for a maximum of 30 days as long as the main reason for the visit is not to study (if so then you should apply for a Student Visitor Visa)
  • Medical treatment may be received as long as it is private, finite and the applicant has demonstrated that they are able to cover the cost of their treatment
  • Transit, holders of standard visitor visas may also transit in the UK

Marriage Visitor Visa

The Marriage visitor visa allows a person to enter the UK for the purpose of having a marriager ceremony and/or giving notice to undertake a marriage ceremony.

The visa should not be confused with the Fiancée visa which also allows a migrant to enter the UK for marriage to a British or settled person but also allows them to stay convert their visa to a spouse visa after they are married. As such the Marriage visitor requires the holder to leave the UK within the 6 months time limit of their visa. The marriage visitor can also be applied for as a couple, meaning two persons whom are not British or EU nationals can get married to each other inside the UK

Permitted Paid Engagement Visit

The permitted paid engagement visit visa (PPE) allows you to enter the UK for up to 1 month to conduct certain types of activities in return for payment. As such the PPE is the only way for a person to be able to “work” in the UK whilst I the UK as a visitor. To qualify for PPE you must have been invited by a UK based organisation for a specific activity which falls under one of the following activities:

  • Sporting events
  • Music, arts or entertainment
  • broadcasting
  • Fashion modelling
  • examining UK based pilots
  • give lectures at a University or collage
  • taking part in panels as a qualified academic within your specific role
  • student assessors and examiners

Transit Visit

This category is fairly obvious as it allows migrants whom require to go through the UK border control in order to wait for a connecting flight that is up to 48 hours after they arrive. Please note that you will not need a transit vista visa if you are not exciting the departure terminal

What can’t I do on visit visas?

  • Receive any public benefits
  • Do any type of work (even unpaid) unless you qualify under the Permitted Paid engagement visa
  • Switch to any other visa category
  • extend your visit visa unless it is on private medical grounds

give notice or marry unless you have obtained a marriage visitor visa

How can I extend my visit visa?

It is not possible to extend a visit visa for any reason apart from on Private medical grounds. This means that if you entered the UK as any time of visitor (not necessary under private medical grounds) then you can make an application to extend your visit if you are under the care of a private UK hospital and receiving medical care in the UK.

The visa can be extended up to 11 months each time.

How much does a visit visa cost?

At the time of writing the fees for a visit visa are as follows:

Visit visa of 6 months or less: £95
Visit visa of 2 years or less: £361
Visit visa of 5 years or less: £655
Visit visa of 10 years or less: £822

Visiting Academic – More than 6 but less than 12 months: £190
Private Medical visa More than 6 but less than 12 months: £190

Short term student visa (maximum of 6 months): £97
Sort term student for English language of more than 6 but less than 12 months: £186

Transit visa (Airside): £35
Transit visa (Landside): £64

Are there any other fees to pay for?

Visitors do not need to pay the Immigration health surcharge or any other additional visa fees. However some application centres will offer a Priority Visa service which will speed up the processing time of an application. This fee is currently £220.

How long does it take to get a visit visa?

Processing times will depend on the location where you apply, your immigration history and how busy the Home office may be. However decisions for visit visas tend to be made within 30 working days with 14 working days the most common processing time. Where priority processing is available the processing time takes around 5 working days.

How do you apply for a visit visa?

To apply for a UK visit visa you must first fill in an online application form, in this form you will need to provide details of your background, immigration history and purpose of your visit. Once completed you can submit your application online and book an in-person biometric appointment. You will then need to attend the appointment to give your biometric details and hand in your documentation. Once this process is complete you will need to wait for the decision.

What happens after my visa is granted?

Once a decision has been made you will be informed (typically via email) after which you can pick up your documentation and passport. Your visa will be in the form of a vignette inside of your passport. As soon as the validity date has passed then you are able to enter the UK.

What happens if my visa application is refused?

If your visit visa is refused you do not have the right to administrative review or appeal, however you may have a case to either re-apply or submit a pre-action letter before claim, which is a way of forcing the Home office to review your case and allow you to take them to court if they have been unreasonable

A Pre-action letter before claim is the first step of the Judicial review process, this is a process whereby the actions of the Home office can be challenged in a UK court. The deadline for submitting a Judicial review is 3 months from the date of the refusal, however you must have submitted a pre-action letter before you lodge your Judicial review claim.

If the Home office accept your claim at the point of Pre-action or at any time during the Judicial review process then they will review your case and make a fresh decision, meaning that you are most likely to be granted the visa and you may even have your costs covered to compensate you.

In order to know if you have a valid claim for judicial review it is important that you have a copy of your refusal letter and an indication of what you submitted with your visa application so we can review and advise you on the strengths of your appeal.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

Immigration Cases

UK Visit Visa Frequently Asked Questions

If your visit visa is refused then you should speak to an Immigration lawyer to see what your best options are, however in all cases you will be able to either re-apply or appeal the decision using a Judicial Review. Which option is best will depend on the reasons for refusal.
In the most basic form there are three things to show in a visit visa application; 1. The reason for your visit, and 2. that you can afford your travel, stay and return, and 3. That you have sufficient reasons to return to your country of residence after your trip.
Home office fees change regularly and can be found here: Currently the fees are; - Up to 6 months: £95 - Up to 2 years: £361 - Up to 5 years: £655 - Up to 10 years: £822. For the legal fees please contact us for a quotation.
Although it is not a legal requirement to use a lawyer for your visit visa application it is highly recommend to to so. Visit visas is one of the most frequently refused visa categorises because of lack of sufficient documentation and preparation by applicants from the perceived simplicity of the application by migrants.
The UK Government fee will depend on the length of visit visa you apply for. The Visa fees change on a yearly basis and can be found here Currently a 6 month visit visa costs £95. Legal fees will depend on a case-by-case basis so please contact us for a quotation.
UK Visit visas come in four visa lengths; - up to 6 months, - up to 2 years, - up to 5 years and - up to 10 years. For those applying for the first or persons whom do not have reasons to make frequent trips to the UK then it is recommend to apply for a 6 month visa.


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