If you have friends or family members planning to visit you in the UK, they will need to apply for a standard visitor visa before they travel.
Visitor visa applicants are required to complete an online form and submit supporting documentation to evidence their eligibility to come to the UK as a tourist. In addition, it is generally advisable for visitor visa applicants to also submit a visa sponsorship letter in support of their application.
Who can write a visa sponsorship letter?
For visa sponsorship letter to be considered by the consular officer in support of the application, it should be written by a UK citizen or a UK lawful permanent resident. The individual should also have a relationship with the visa applicant, such as being a relative, friend or partner.
The individual should also have a registered place of residence in the UK and have enough room to accommodate the visitor for the entire period of their visit to the UK, unless either they or the applicant can provide clear evidence of alternative accommodation.
What to include in the visa sponsorship letter
While there is no specific, prescribed format for a visa invitation letter, the ‘sponsor’ should consider including the following information in their letter:
- Sponsor’s full name and date of birth
- Sponsor’s full contact details and address of their UK residence
- Sponsor’s occupation
- Sponsor’s own UK immigration status
- Visa applicant’s full name and date of birth
- Visa applicant’s full contact details and address
- Specify the relationship between the sponsor and the visa applicant eg family member
- Reason for the applicant’s visit to the UK, eg to attend a graduation ceremony or a wedding as a guest
- Details of the applicant’s visit plans, including their intended length of stay, accommodation contact details and how they intend to financially support themselves during their stay
While it is not mandatory for a visitor visa sponsor to provide financial support or accommodation for the applicant, if the sponsor is providing such support, the sponsor should make reference to this in the letter. This will require you to detail your occupation and income, as well as the extent of support you will be providing to the applicant during their visit. For example, how much financial support will you be giving, and will you be providing accommodation.
How to write a letter of invitation for a UK visitor visa
As discussed, there is no right or wrong format for a sponsorship invitation letter for a UK visa. That said, the following practical tips will help you to structure and write a letter that will have more impact in supporting a successful outcome for the visa application:
- Ensure the letter is signed by you (the sponsor) and dated.
- Ensure the letter includes up-to-date contact details so that you can be contacted by the UK consular officer in the event clarification is requested.
- Always provide documentation in support, referencing these documents within the contents of the letter. Avoid giving information that you cannot support with documents.
- Be clear and concise in what you need to say, avoiding any unnecessary information that is not relevant.
- Note that the sponsor letter does not need to be legally certified to be valid.
Having drafted your invitation letter, you should send this, together with any supporting documents, to the applicant so that they can include this within their visa application. Do not send your sponsor letter directly to the Embassy.
Documents to accompany the visa sponsorship letter
There are no rules stating what documents you should provide when sponsoring someone to come to the UK, although these could include any of the following:
- A scanned copy of your passport or ID to confirm your identification
- Evidence of your immigration status in the UK, such as a visa
- Proof of your residence in the UK, such as a mortgage statement or tenancy agreement
- Proof of funds where you undertake to financially support the applicant during their stay in the UK, such as bank statements or pay slips
- If you are arranging accommodation for the applicant, you will need to provide evidence of this in the form of a letter from the landlord/agent, or confirmation of a bed and breakfast/hotel booking
- If the visit is for a special family occasion, for example, celebrating a wedding, birth or important anniversary, consider including an invitation giving details of the event, as well as when and where it is to take place
- Any other document that you believe will help the applicant in getting their visa, for example, a short travel itinerary of the places you plan to visit together in the UK.
What other supporting documents should the applicant provide?
In addition to a visa sponsorship letter, the applicant will also need to submit documents evidencing their eligibility for a UK visitor visa. This will require them to provide proof of their:
- Ability to maintain themselves during their stay. This will include proof of accommodation and funds for the duration of their visit. For example, hotel booking confirmation and evidence of savings.
- Intention to leave the UK before their leave expires. For example, return or onward travel tickets or evidence to show sufficient funds to cover the cost of the return (or onward) flight, proof of employment, property ownership and car ownership in their home country, evidence of caring responsibilities at home. Evidence of studies if the applicant is a student, with confirmation of the date the student is expected to return.
- Reasons for the trip. The documentation should allay any concerns that the visitor may seek to stay on longer than the visa period.
Applicants are advised to remember that applications are more likely to be refused on the grounds of a lack of evidence, making it important to focus on building up supporting documentation to evidence their intention of returning to their home country.
Note also that if the application is refused, there is no right of appeal for a visit visa. While it is possible to make a new visitor visa application after a refusal, applicants should ensure they address the reasons for refusal, as detailed in the notification letter, in their new application.
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.
Whether you are applying for a UK visa or settlement, or if you have ILR and are looking to apply for a biometric residence permit as proof of your settlement, we can help.
For specialist UK immigration advice, contact us.
Last updated: 20 August 2020