When filing an application for a visitor visa with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), there are numerous documents that you will need to submit to evidence your eligibility. Failure to provide adequate or required documentation risks your application being delayed or refused. The following guide for visa applicants examines the eligibility criteria and the documents required for your UK visitor visa application.
What is the UK visitor visa?
If you are national of a non-European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and you would like to visit the UK for the purposes of business or pleasure you will probably need to apply for a standard visitor visa.
In particular, you will need to apply for a standard visitor visa if you would like to visit the UK for the following reasons:
- For leisure purposes, such as going on holiday or visiting family
- For a business trip, such as attending various meetings
- To take part in a sporting or creative event
- To undergo private medical treatment
If you are granted a UK visitor visa you will usually be permitted to stay in the UK for a period of up to 6 months. However, in the event that you intend to visit the UK regularly over a longer period, you can apply for what’s known as a long-term visitor visa that lasts for either 2, 5 or 10 years. Under a long-term visa you can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.
That said, even where you are granted a long-term visitor visa, you will not be permitted to undertake paid employment in the UK or enrol on a full-time course of study. Further, under any type of standard visitor visa, you must not intend to access medical treatment other than private medical treatment, or to marry or form a civil partnership, or to give notice of this in the UK.
What are the eligibility criteria?
The rules relating to the UK visitor visa are set out under Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. These rules set out, amongst other things, the standard eligibility criteria for all non-EEA visitors.
To be eligible for a visitor visa you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You will leave the UK by the end of your permitted stay
- You have enough money without recourse to public UK funds to support and provide accommodation for yourself
- You can pay for your return or onward journey
You will also need to provide proof of the purpose for your visit, for example, the nature of any business or tourist activities, not least because you will need to satisfy UKVI that you are genuinely seeking entry to the UK for a purpose permitted under the visitor route.
Where you are applying for a long-term visitor visa, you will also need to demonstrate that you will not reside in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive stays, or try to make the UK your main home.
Which documents are required for the UK visitor visa?
First and foremost, when submitting an application for a UK visitor visa, you will need to provide UKVI with a current passport or other valid travel document. This is a mandatory requirement. You will need a blank page in your passport for your visitor visa, and your passport should remain valid for the entire period of your stay in the UK, ie; for up to six months.
You may also want to provide any expired passports or travel documents to evidence your previous travel history, especially where you are applying for a long-term visitor visa and don’t want to risk being perceived as an applicant who is likely to use a visitor visa in an attempt to set up home in the UK.
You will also need to provide documentary evidence in support of the purpose for your visit, as well as each of the eligibility criteria, namely that you will leave at the end of your visit and you have enough money to support yourself during your stay in the UK, as well as for your return or onward journey.
Purpose of your visit
The nature of your visit to the UK will determine the nature and extent of the documentation that you will need to provide here. As a starting point, you should provide a detailed travel itinerary.
If you are coming to the UK for the purpose of undertaking business activities, you will need to provide documentary evidence of your employment or occupation outside the UK, for example, a letter from your employer that specifies the business reason for your visit. You should also provide any letters from inviting organisations, and so on, to evidence your attendance at any meetings or conferences, etc.
By way of further example, if you are coming to the UK to undergo private medical treatment, you will need to prove that you suffer from a medical condition that requires private consultation or treatment in the UK and that you have made or paid for arrangements for a consultation or treatment.
As such, you will need to provide a letter from your doctor or consultant in the UK that includes details of the condition requiring treatment or consultation, the estimated cost and duration of treatment and details of where that treatment or consultation will take place.
You will also need to demonstrate that you have enough money to pay for all of this, in addition to supporting yourself during your stay in the UK, and for your return or onward journey (see below).
Intention to leave
As part of the criteria for any temporary visa, you must show an intention to leave the UK at the end of your visit. As such, you will need to provide documentation of any personal, professional and economic ties outside the UK, including confirmation of your legal residence, as well as details of any employment or studies where you have stated in your application that you are either employed or in full-time education.
This could include an official letter from your employer, printed on company headed paper, detailing your role, salary and length of employment or a letter from your education provider confirming your enrolment and leave of absence.
In respect of proving that you have sufficient funds to support and accommodate yourself while in the UK, you will need to provide proof of earnings or savings by way of wage slips and/or bank statements etc.
You may also rely on evidence that the necessary financial support will be provided by a third party. You can prove this with a written undertaking from your ‘sponsor’ ie relative, friend, business associate. There must however be a genuine personal or professional relationship and the financial support has to be available to you for the duration of your planned stay in the UK.
There is no set threshold or level of funds required to prove you have enough money to live on during your stay in the UK, but it is sensible to calculate and be able to show that the funds you are relying on, such as income and/savings, are sufficient to cover your existing financial commitments as well as the likely costs you will incur while in the UK without undertaking paid employment or accessing public funds.
The evidence of funds must also include the cost of your return or onward travel arrangements and any costs relating to dependants who will be travelling with you to the UK.
All documents submitted in support of an application for a UK visitor visa must be originals rather than photocopies. They must also be in English. If any documentation is not in English, you must provide the original and a full translation that has been independently verified.
Each translated document must contain the following:
- confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document
- the date of the translation
- the translator’s full name and signature
- their contact details
It is also important to remember that even where documentation is submitted in the correct format, this does not necessarily guarantee your application for a UK visitor visa will be successful. Much will still depend on whether UKVI is satisfied that you have met all of the eligibility criteria and that the stated purpose for your visit to the UK is legitimate.
UKVI will assess your credibility and intentions to visit the UK based on the information contained within your application and the documentation submitted in support. Needless to say, UKVI must be satisfied that you are a genuine visitor based on all of this evidence in its totality.
If you refuse to give biometric information, your immigration application will be rejected and it could lead to your deportation from the UK.
How to submit the documents required for a UK visitor visa
Having submitted your online application for a visitor visa from outside the UK, you will be given instructions on how to file your documentation in support. Typically, you will be required to make an appointment at a visa application centre in your country of residence to provide your biometric information, ie; a scan of your fingerprints and digital photograph of your face.
At the appointment, you will also need to submit the necessary documents. The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide.
In the event that you fail to provide one of the recommended documents, this is not, of itself, an automatic ground for refusal, but any failure to provide sufficient evidence in support of your application may lead to a finding that you have not met all of the eligibility criteria.
Please note, some visa application centres may need to keep your passport and other documentation while they process your application.
Refused visitor visa application?
In the event that you fail to submit the necessary documentation in support of your application for a UK visitor visa, or the documents that you submit are not in the correct format, you run the risk of your application being delayed or refused by UKVI and your application fee being non-refundable.
Needless to say, in the event that an applicant for a UK visitor visa is caught submitting falsified documents, or you have otherwise provided false or incomplete information to UKVI, this will constitute a ground for refusal.
If the application is refused, there is no right of appeal against a refusal of a visit visa. The notification letter will detail the grounds for refusal. It is possible to make a new application for a visit visa, but applicants should ensure their new submission addresses the reasons for refusal through, for example, additional information, documentation and evidence.
Documents to travel with?
Even if you are successfully granted a UK visitor visa, this does not necessarily guarantee that you will be allowed into the UK. You may still be refused entry by border officials in the event that they are not satisfied that the reason for your visit is genuine, or that you plan to engage in activities that are prohibited under this route.
As such, in addition to the documentation submitted in support of your application for a UK visitor visa, you should always carry with you some documentary proof of the purpose for your trip.
By way of example, a tourist should have proof of where they are staying, with whom and any travel itinerary, whereas a business visitor should provide proof of any meetings or other business-related activities that they plan to undertake.
It is also sensible to carry some documentary evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the UK and that you intend to return to your country of residence. Again this should include proof of your earnings and any savings, as well as evidence of any personal, professional and economic ties to your country of residence.
DavidsonMorris are experienced UK immigration specialists offering guidance and support to individuals in relation to their UK immigration status and making Home Office applications. We can advise on the eligibility criteria you will need to evidence and the process you will need to follow for your application. We can also help where you have dependants applying for permission to join you in the UK.
For specialist UK immigration advice, contact us.
Last updated: 20 August 2020