Making a UK visa extension
Whether you are able to and how you can extend your visa will be dependent upon the type of visa you have and if you continue to meet the visa eligibility requirements.
For the majority of extension applications made within the UK, processing will be through the new UKVCAS. Applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with the new system and its impact on application processing.
In any event, you will need to ensure you make your application ahead of your current visa’s expiry to avoid overstaying, and that you pay all the fees that apply, such as the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Here are some key pointers for extending some of the more common UK visas:
Extending a Standard Visitor Visa
You may be able to extend your visitor visa provided the total time you spend in the UK is less than 6 months. If for example you hold a 3 month visa, you can apply to extend for a further 3 months.
As part of your application, you will need to prove your eligibility in respect of:
- Your intention to leave the UK at the end of your visit
- Financial means to fund your outbound travel from the UK
- Financial means to support yourself and any dependants for the duration of your trip
- Your planned activity during your stay in the UK, and specifically that this complies with the conditions of your visa e.g. you will not be carrying out gainful employment
Specific rules apply if you are visiting as an academic, organ donor or for private medical treatment. Take advice on your circumstances to ensure continued lawful leave to remain.
UK visa extension: Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
Applicants who have successfully applied for a visa after 6 November 2014 may extend their visa if they have at least £2 million under their control in the UK. Those funds must have been invested in UK government bonds, share or loan capital and again this must have been done within 3 months of your investor start date.
You must have invested the full amount and the funds must be made up of your own or your partner’s money.
If you are applying for your Tier 1 (investor) visa extension from inside the UK you may apply online or use the super premium service. You will need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
However if you are applying for your visa extension from outside the UK then you should apply online.
UK visa extension: Tier 2 (General) Visa
To extend your Tier 2 (general) visa, you will first need to be in the UK with valid leave to remain.
To be eligible for a visa extension you must have current permission to enter or stay on the Tier 2 (general) visa.
You should still be employed by the same sponsor that allocated your initial Certificate of Sponsorship, working in the same role and earning a salary level above the prevailing minimum threshold.
Note that changes in job role and employer will ordinarily require a new Tier 2 visa application at the time of the change in circumstances. Take advice if you are unsure about whether this applies to you.
You can extend your visa for up to 5 years but your total stay cannot exceed 6 years.
The processing time for a standard application is around 8 weeks unless you pay for priority processing.
You should include any dependants who were on your original visa application including children who have turned 18 during your stay, who will also have to submit a separate application in addition to your form. You may apply online as an individual or family using both standard and priority services.
UK visa extension: Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa & Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
You will need to evidence your continued eligibility under the visa category for an extension.
The eligibility requirements for entrepreneurs state that you must have invested in one or more UK businesses to the sum of £200,000 in cash or £50,000 in cash if your initial application was granted with funds from another approved funding source.
You will need to be registered as a director or self-employed within 6 months of being granted permission to stay in the UK on the visa. You will need to prove that you have been a member of a partnership or working as a director or have been self-employed 3 months before you apply for the visa extension. You will also need to have created at least 2 full time jobs for a minimum of 12 months prior to your extension application.
For investors, you may apply to extend your Tier 1 (Investor) visa for a further 2 years if you have at least £2,000,000 under your control in the UK, have invested those funds in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies and invested this sum within 3 months of your ‘investor start date’.
The extension application is often more complex and demanding than the initial visa application, as you will need to produce documents to verify your activity and continued eligibility throughout the visa period.
You may also need to attend an interview.
You will need to apply for a new Tier 1 visa online if you wish to extend your visa from outside the UK.
You will be required to stay in the UK while your application is being processed.
UK visa extension: Tier 4 Visa
You may be able to extend your Tier 4 visa to continue your studies, or start a new course, if you are in the UK, have a sponsor and meet the eligibility requirements of the visa.
Any dependents that were on your original visa application should be included on your extension application, including any children who turned 18 during your current stay.
You will need to apply within 6 months of receiving a conformation of acceptance for studies, (CAS), and before your current visa expires. You should not apply more than 3 months before the start date of your CAS course. However, you may remain in the UK until you are given a decision.
You must be inside the UK to apply for an extension to the Tier 4 visa. You apply online and can opt for either standard or one of the premium services.
UK visa extension: Tier 5 Visa
There are different categories of Tier 5 workers and different rules apply for extensions.
As a creative worker you may extend your visa for the shortest of either up to 12 months, the time on your current certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days or the time needed to extend your stay up to a maximum of 24 months. You can only extend your visa if you stay with the same sponsor.
A sports person may extend their visa for whichever is the shorter of, up to 12 months, or the time on their current certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days.
You must be present in the UK to apply to extend your Tier 5 visa.
Extension or Settlement?
Depending on your current visa and how long you have been in the UK, you may be eligible to apply to settle rather than making a further extension application.
With ILR you can stay in the UK without time restrictions, however, it is a highly involved process with strict criteria. If you have a criminal record or extensive absences from the UK for example, this may preclude you from being eligible. In these circumstances, taking advice before you proceed with an application can help ensure suitability of the route and your eligibility.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
You may apply for settlement which gives you Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK if you meet the criteria of your visa and have been in the UK for a period of 5 years.
However, some applicants may be able to apply for accelerated settlement if they meet the Home Office’s additional requirements. This would give you the opportunity to apply for ILR after your initial three years of the original visa.
To qualify for accelerated settlement you must be able to prove that your company or companies have reached a turnover of at least £5 million during the 3 years or that you have employed a minimum of 10 British citizens during those 3 years.
Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
Provided that you have met the visa requirements and made the £2 million investment, you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 5 years.
It is possible to accelerate your application and apply for ILR after 3 years if you have made an investment of £5 million in the UK. Should you have invested £10 million in the UK you will be eligible to apply for ILR after 2 years.
If your ultimate goal is to apply for British Citizenship, then it is worth noting that you may not spend more than 450 days outside of the UK in the 5 year qualifying period.
Tier 2 (General) visa
Provided that you can prove you have served a five year period of continuous employment prior to applying, you may be eligible to apply for ILR.
Tier 4 Visa
You may be able to apply to switch to a different visa category, such as Tier 1 or 2, once your Tier 4 visa expires, but you will not be eligible to immediately apply for settlement.
Tier 5 Visa
You cannot apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain on a Tier 5 visa. However, you may be able to apply to switch to another visa category.
Do you have a question about extending a UK visa?
Whether you are simply looking to extend your current visa or your ultimate aim is to settle in the UK, the Home Office process can be complex. The rules are strict and you must meet all the eligibility criteria for the entirety of your stay. Across all visa categories, failure to provide detailed supporting documentation with your application could result in your extension application being delayed or even rejected.
DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK immigration, working closely with individuals to provide guidance and support through Home Office applications including extension applications and settlement options. We can advise you on your best course of action, ensuring you have all the documents required and have met the criteria set out by the Home Office to avoid delays, expenses or rejection.
Contact us for advice on your UK visa application.