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Standard Visitor Visa

A UK visit visa is for individuals who would like to come to the UK for a short period of time and are required to obtain a visa for the UK before travelling

Overview

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

  • for leisure, eg on holiday or to see your family and friends
  • for business, or to take part in sports or creative events
  • for another reason, eg to receive private medical treatment

Check if you need this visa if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Your application won’t be accepted and you won’t get a refund if you have the right of abode in the UK (eg you’re a British citizen). You need to apply for a certificate of entitlement instead.

 

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

 

If you visit the UK on business

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

  • 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

 

What you can and can’t do

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 it will take

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel and you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

Check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you’re applying from.

 

How long you can stay

You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

You might be able to stay for longer if:

  • you’re coming to the UK for private medical treatment - up to 11 months
  • you’re an academic on sabbatical and coming to the UK for research - you, 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.

You might be able to get a visit visa for up to 30 days if you’re a visitor under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement.

 

Long-term visit visas

If you can prove you need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period, you can apply for a 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 visit visa will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18.

 

Fees

A Standard Visitor visa costs £87.

The fee for a long-term visit visa depends on its length.

Eligibility

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, as allowed by the Visitor Rules

 

If you’re applying for a long-term visit visa

You must prove that:

  • you have a frequent and ongoing need to come to the UK
  • the reason why you need to come to the UK is unlikely to change while your visitor visa is valid
  • 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 don’t do this. You won’t 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 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 doesn’t involve filling a permanent teaching post

 

If you’re applying to visit for private medical treatment

You must prove that you:

  • have a medical condition that needs private consultation or treatment in the UK
  • 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’re suffering from an infectious disease, eg leprosy

 

If you’re applying as an organ donor

You can only visit the UK to donate organs to:

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

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

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