UK Visa Guide: Requirements & Process 2024

uk visa


There are various different types of UK visa, depending on the purpose of your stay, from visiting the UK for a holiday to undertaking a course of study, starting a new job or business, or even starting a new life with loved ones.

The right visa not only grants you legal entry into the UK, it also determines the duration of your stay and the activities you’re permitted under your visa conditions, such as employment or education.

The main types of UK visa include:


a. Visit Visas: For tourists, people visiting family, or those attending short business appointments or events.

Read more about Visit Visas here >>


b. Work Visas: Catered to individuals who intend to engage in paid activities, these visas vary depending on the skill level, type of work, and the length of the contract.

Read more about Work Visas here >>


c. Study Visas: Designed for international students enrolling in UK educational institutions, from short courses to full university degrees.

Read more about Study Visas here >>


d. Family Visas: For those who want to join a family member who is a resident or citizen of the UK.

Read more about Family Visas here >>


e. EU, EEA, and Swiss Citizen Visas: Specific arrangements for citizens of these areas post-Brexit, ensuring they meet the new entry and residence requirements.

Read more about EU, EEA and Swiss Citizen Visas here >>


f. Ukrainian Visas: Special visas introduced in response to the humanitarian needs of Ukrainian nationals due to ongoing crises.

Read more about about Ukraine Visas here >>


g. Commonwealth Visas: Available to citizens from Commonwealth countries, often with certain privileges or routes based on historical ties and reciprocal agreements.

Read more about Commonwealth Visas here >>



Failure to secure the relevant permission can impact your ability to carry out your plans – with issues gaining entry at the UK border and potentially resulting in an adverse immigration record.

Taking professional advice on your circumstances will help ensure you consider all the available options to proceed with the best route for your circumstances, and ensure that you are working to the most up to date regulations.

Our UK immigration specialists provide expert support to UK visa applicants, including assessing the most appropriate route and providing guidance through the application process.

To assist with your research, in this guide, we have set out the primary UK visa types in the UK, along with the eligibility and application process requirements that must be met to be granted a UK visa.


Section A: Types of UK Visas


The UK offers a variety of visa categories.

For short-term visits such as tourism, business meetings, or family visits, Standard Visitor visas are available, while Marriage Visitor visas cater specifically to those intending to marry in the UK.

Work visas accommodate a range of employment scenarios, from skilled workers in high-demand sectors to creative and sporting professionals visiting for performances or competitions. There are also specialised visas for individuals transferring within multinational companies.

For those planning to study, the UK provides Student visas for full-time university students and Child Student visas for younger learners in independent schools. Family visas are designed to reunite families, allowing spouses, parents, and children to join relatives who are settled in the UK.

Post-Brexit arrangements include specific visas for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, adapting to the new regulatory environment. Special provisions such as the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme address humanitarian needs.

Commonwealth citizens may qualify for visas based on UK ancestry or through the Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows younger people to live and work in the UK temporarily. Each visa type is structured with clear guidelines on duration and activities permitted to ensure compliance and facilitate the management of incoming residents and visitors.

Each of these visas is designed to meet specific circumstances, ensuring that individuals coming to the UK can do so under clear legal parameters tailored to their purpose of stay.


1. UK Visit Visas


If you are a citizen of a country that does not qualify for visa-free travel to the UK, known as a visa national, you will need to obtain a visit visa to obtain entry clearance prior to arriving at a UK port-of-entry.

Read more generally about Visit Visas here >>


a. Standard Visitor Visa: For visa nationals to visit the UK for up to six months for tourism, business-related activities and other permissible activities such as medical treatment.


b. Marriage Visitor Visa: For those coming to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership within 6 months without the intention of settling after the ceremony.

Read more about the Marriage Visitor Visa here >>


c. Transit Visa: For certain travellers who do not intend to stay in the UK but need to pass through its borders.

Read more about the Transit Visa here >>


d. Electronic Travel Authorisation: For travellers from countries that previously did not require a visa for short stays or transits through the UK.

Read more about the Electronic Travel Authorisation here >>


e. ADS Agreement for Chinese Tour Groups: For Chinese citizens coming to the UK as part of a tourist group.


2. UK Work & Business Visas


When applying for a UK work visa, you will need to apply for the right type of visa based on your circumstances, meeting a number of various different route-specific requirements.

The main immigration routes when it comes to working in the UK include:


a. Skilled Worker visa: For individuals who have been offered a skilled job in the UK, valid up to 5 years before extension.

Read more about the Skilled Worker Visa here >>


b. Health and Care Worker visa: Designed for medical professionals coming to work in the UK health sector, valid up to 5 years.

Read more about the Health and Care Worker Visa here >>


c. High Potential Individual visa: For recent graduates of top global universities to come to the UK to work or look for work.

Read more about the High Potential Individual Visa here >>


d. Global Talent route: Temporary post-study work route for international graduates.

Read more about the Global Talent Visa here >>


e. Scale Up route: A hybrid route, allowing workers to come to the UK to work in an eligible job for a fast-growing UK sponsor.

Read more about the Scale Up Visa here >>


f. Global Business Mobility visas: For specific types of workers undertaking temporary work in the UK for overseas organisations.

Read more about the Global Business Mobility Visa here >>


g. Temporary Worker visas: The UK offers a number of immigration routes for workers looking to undertake short-term employment.


h. Innovator Founder visa: For those starting an innovative business in the UK.

Read more about the Innovator Founder Visa here >>


i. Self Sponsorship Route: An option for foreign nationals to run their own business in the UK, while being sponsored by their organisation.

Read more about the Self-sponsorship Visa here >>



3. Study Visas


To study in the UK, ensure you opt for the correct type of visa to allow you to participate in your chosen course of study.

Read more generally about Study Visas here >>


a. Student Visa: For those studying on a full-time degree course in the UK, sponsorship will be required by a qualifying educational institution.

Read more about the Student Visa here >>


b. Child Student Visa: For children aged between 4-17 years attending independent schools in the UK, valid for the duration of their study plus 4 months afterwards.

Read more about the Child Student Visa here >>


c. UK Short-Term Study Visa: For individuals undertaking a short English language course in the UK.


4. Family Visas


If you are coming to the UK to start a new life with a loved one who is already living in the UK, you will need to apply for a category of family visa. There are various different types of family visa, including for the spouse or partner of someone settled in the UK, for children joining a parent living in the UK or for parents of children living in the UK, as well as for adult dependant relatives in need of long-term care.

Read more generally aboput Family Visas here >>


a. Spouse or Partner Visa: For partners of UK residents to live in the UK, initially granted for 2.5 years and extendable.

Read more about the Spouse Visa here >>


b. Parent Visa: For parents to join their children who are in the UK, granted for 2.5 years and can be extended.


c. Child Visa: For children joining or accompanying their parents who are in the UK, the duration varies based on the parents’ visa status.


d. Applying as an Adult Coming to be Cared for by a Relative: Adults applying to come to the UK to be cared for by a relative in the UK.


e. Applying based on Your Private Life: For individuals with significant personal and long-standing ties to the UK.


f. Fiancé visa: Allows a British citizen or a person with UK settled status to bring their fiancé to join them in the UK with the intention of getting married within the six-month period of the visa.


5. EU, EEA, and Swiss Citizen Visas

Read more about EU, EEA and Swiss Citizen Visas here >>


a. EU Settlement Scheme: Allows EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens to continue living in the UK after Brexit, offering either settled or pre-settled status depending on the duration of their stay in the UK.


b. EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit: For non-UK family members of certain European nationals, including EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, to come to the UK.


c. Frontier Worker Permit: For EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals who work in the UK but reside in another country.


d. S2 Healthcare Visitor route: For EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals seeking pre-arranged medical treatment in the UK, covered by their home health insurance.


e. Long Residence: In certain circumstances, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens with 10 continuous, lawful years of residence may opt to formalise their UK status with an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).


6. Ukrainian Visas

Read more about Ukrainian Visas here >>


a. Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme: A sponsorship scheme allowing Ukrainians and their immediate family members to come to the UK with sponsors who can provide housing.


b. Ukraine Family Scheme: Allowed family members of British nationals, UK settled persons, and certain others to join them in the UK. This route closed on 19 February 2024.


c. Ukranian Permission Extension Scheme: Due to open in 2025 for Ukrainians already in the UK to apply to extend their stay for a further 18 months.


d. Ukranian Extension Scheme: Closes on 16 May 2024 to most applicants but will remain open for children born in the UK.


7. Commonwealth Visas

Read more about Commonwealth Visas here >>


a. UK Ancestry Visa: For Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK, valid for 5 years.


b. Right of Abode: Grants the freedom to live and work in the UK indefinitely to those who are eligible.


c. Youth Mobility Scheme: For young people from participating countries to live and work in the UK, for up to 2 years for most applicants.


d. BNO Visa: Allows Hong Kong’s British National (Overseas) citizens to live, work, and study in the UK, offering a pathway to citizenship.


Section B: UK Visa Eligibility Requirements


Eligibility criteria for UK visas vary widely depending on the type of visa applied for.

Generally, applicants must meet certain fundamental requirements such as proving their identity, demonstrating financial stability to support themselves during their stay, and showing intent to leave the UK upon visa expiry unless applying for a visa that leads to residency.

Specific visas may have additional criteria; for example, work visas typically require a job offer from a licensed sponsor and might necessitate meeting a certain salary threshold. Study visas require acceptance into a recognised educational institution and sufficient funds to cover course fees and living expenses.

Family visas require you to prove a genuine relationship with someone already settled in the UK, while ancestry visas require evidence of a familial connection to the UK.

Character and criminal record checks are standard across most visa categories, ensuring that applicants do not pose a security risk.

For nationals of non-English speaking countries, an English language proficiency test is often mandatory except for short tourist visits.


1. General Requirements For UK Visas


All applicants for UK visas must meet these foundational requirements:


a. Proof of Identity: Applicants must provide a valid passport or other valid travel identification.

b. Financial Stability: Evidence of sufficient financial means to support themselves during their stay without accessing public funds.

c. Leave Intention: Evidence that the applicant will leave the UK at the end of their visit unless they are applying for visas that may lead to longer stays or residency.

d. Lawfulness and Good Character: Applicants should not have a significant criminal history and should not have previously breached UK immigration laws.

e. Health Requirements: Depending on the country of origin and the duration of stay, applicants might need to undergo a medical examination or provide a TB test certificate.


2. Visa-Specific Requirements


Individual visa categories impose certain eligibility requirements, which must be evidenced through the application process.

Our UK immigration experts can provide guidance on the relevant criteria to determine your eligibility based on your circumstances.

Some of the key visa-specific criteria for the main UK visas include:


a. Standard Visitor Visa

As part of your visa application, you will need to demonstrate that your visit to the UK will last no more than six months and that you will be leaving the UK at the end of the visit. Academic visitors and parents of children at school in the UK are entitled to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 12 months.

To be eligible for a visit visa you must be able to support yourself and any dependants during your trip, and pay for your return or onward journey. You must also intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, where a visa must not be used to live in the UK for extended periods through either frequent or successive visits, or to make the UK your main home.


b. Skilled Worker Visa

This is a sponsored work visa requiring the offer of a job within an eligible skilled occupation from a UK-licensed sponsor that meets the applicable skill and salary threshold. You must also meet an English language and financial requirement.

If your application for a Skilled Worker visa is successful, you will be permitted to stay in the UK for up to 5 years. You can also extend your stay once you are in the UK as many times as you like, provided you continue to meet the relevant requirements, with the possibility of applying to permanently settle after meeting a 5-year continuous residence requirement.


c. Health and Care Worker Visa

The Health & Care Worker visa is open to individuals applying under the skilled worker route for entry clearance or leave to remain who and will be taking up a job offer in one of the occupations specified within a prescribed list of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, which currently include qualified doctors, nurses, health professionals and adult social care professionals, among other healthcare professions.

As well as the role coming under one of the above SOC categories, to qualify for the visa, an applicant must also have been offered employment from a licenced sponsor. The sponsoring organisation must also either be an NHS body or trust, a medical services provider to the NHS, an organisation providing adult social care, or one of several other medical and social care organisations listed in the official guidance.


d. High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual visa allows recent graduates of top global universities to come to the UK to work or look for work. This means that the high potential individual does not need the offer of a job before applying, with no need for a Home-Office approved sponsor in the UK.

High Potential Individual visa-holders are permitted to work full-time at any skill level and in any type of job. This includes self-employment and voluntary work, although work as either a professional sportsperson or sports coach will not be allowed.


e. Scale up visa

The Scale up visa is a hybrid route, allowing workers to come to the UK to do an eligible job for a fast-growing UK business, provided that role meets the minimum salary requirement. You must also meet an English language and financial requirement.

Your prospective employer must be an eligible scale-up business and licensed to sponsor this category of worker, although your sponsorship will only last for 6 months.

The Scale-up visa will run for a period of 2 years, enabling you to switch to an unsponsored role for someone else, although you must continue to meet the minimum earnings requirement.


f. Global Business Mobility (GBM) Routes

To be eligible under the GBM routes, the applicant must meet the requirements as a specific type of worker undertaking specific types of UK-based work or assignments:


1. Senior or Specialist Worker route for senior managers and specialist employees being assigned to a UK business that’s linked to their employer overseas and who wish to undertake a temporary assignment in the UK.

2. Graduate Trainee route for overseas workers on a graduate training course leading to either a senior management or specialist position and required by their employer to do a UK work placement.

3. UK Expansion Worker route for overseas workers looking to undertake temporary assignments in the UK, where the worker is either a senior manager or specialist employee being assigned to the UK to assist with the expansion of the business.

4. Service Supplier route is for contractual service suppliers employed by overseas service providers, or self-employed independent professionals based overseas, looking to undertake temporary assignments in the UK to provide services covered by a UK international trade agreement.

5. Secondment Worker route is for overseas workers looking to undertake temporary assignments in the UK, where the worker is being seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer.


g. UK Temporary Worker visas

The UK also offers a number of immigration routes for eligible workers looking to undertake short-term employment, as follows:


1. Creative Workers: overseas nationals who have been offered short-term work within the creative sector in the UK for up to 12 months, who can make a unique contribution to UK culture as either an entertainer, artist, or other type of Creative Worker.

2. Charity Workers: overseas nationals who want to undertake voluntary work for a recognised charitable organisation in the UK for a period of up to 12 months.

3. Government Authorised Exchange Workers: overseas nationals who want to come to the UK to take part in an approved internship, training, work experience or research programme for a period of up to 2 years.

4. International Agreement Workers: overseas nationals who want to provide a service in the UK covered under international law, such as employees of international organisations or private servants in diplomatic households, in most cases, for a period of up to 2 years.

5. Religious Workers: overseas nationals who want to support the activities of a UK religious institution by undertaking religious work, such as working in a religious order or doing non-pastoral work, for a period of up to 2 years.

6. Seasonal Workers: overseas nationals who want to come to the UK to do seasonal horticulture work with an approved scheme operator for a period of up to 6 months.


h. Family Visas

When applying for any one of the family visas, whether you are eligible is primarily about whether your UK sponsor falls into one of the accepted categories.

For example, the Partner visa is for the spouse or partner of either a British citizen or someone settled in the UK, or someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection.

As part of your visa application you will need to demonstrate your spouse is either present and settled in the United Kingdom, or will arrive with you to be admitted for settlement. There must be adequate accommodation for you and any dependants, and that you will be able to maintain yourselves and any dependents without the support of UK public funds. You must satisfy the English language requirements.


Section C: UK Visa Application Process


You can apply for and pay for most visas online. When making an online UK visa application, you will need to visit the GOV.UK website and select the correct visa type.

You will then need to complete your application and pay the fee. You will also need to prove your identity, provide documents to show your eligibility and enrol your biometric information. The way in which you do this will depend on your nationality and passport type.

You may have to attend an appointment at an overseas visa application centre (VAC) if you are applying from outside the UK, or at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point if you are applying from the UK. In some cases, you may be able to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app, where you will find out if you need to attend an appointment or use the smartphone app when you start your visa application.

If you need to attend a VAC or UKVCAS service point, as these are run by third-party providers, you will get a link to their website where you can schedule an appointment to provide your biometrics, i.e., your fingerprints and photograph. You can also use this appointment to provide your evidence in support of your visa application, unless you have already uploaded this online. For example, if you are applying for a Skilled Worker visa, in addition to having a valid CoS number as proof of a genuine job offer with a licensed UK sponsor, you may also need to provide evidence of your ability to speak English.

If, on the other hand, you are applying for a Partner visa, amongst other things, you may need to provide your marriage certificate or proof of your relationship with your UK sponsor.

You will then need to wait for your application to be processed. The time varies based on visa type and individual circumstances. During this period, you can usually track the status of your application online.

If your visa application is successful, your passport will contain a visa sticker. You will be notified when your passport is ready to be collected from the VAC. If denied, you will receive a letter explaining the reason.


Section D: Supporting Documents


When applying for a UK visa, applicants are required to submit supporting documents that verify their identity and prove that they meet the relevant requirements. These typically include a current and valid passport or travel document, which must have at least one blank page for the visa.

Applicants may also need to provide financial evidence, such as bank statements, to prove they meet any applicable financial thresholds or proof of maintenance funds for living expenses.

Those applying for work or study visas, documents confirming employment or university admission in the UK will also be necessary. Additional requirements might include proof of accommodation, a detailed travel itinerary, and depending on the visa type, an invitation letter from a host or sponsoring organisation in the UK.

For family visas, evidence of the relationship to the person who is settled in the UK or who is a British citizen will be needed.

Each document must be provided in the original language, accompanied by a certified translation if not in English.


1. General Checklist of Supporting Documents for UK Visa Applications


Use the following as a general checklist of documents when making a UK visa application:


a. Valid Passport: Must have at least one blank page and be valid for the duration of your stay in the UK.

b. Visa Application Form: Completed and signed, typically filled out online.

c. Biometric Information: Fingerprints and a photograph taken at a Visa Application Centre.

d. Proof of Financial Means: Bank statements, salary slips, or funding details to show you can support yourself and any dependents during your stay.

e. Accommodation Details: Confirmation of where you will stay during your visit (hotel bookings, rental agreements, or a letter from a host).

f. Travel Itinerary: Details of your travel plans within and outside the UK, if applicable.

g. Previous Travel History: Copies of previous visas and stamps to show your travel history.

h. Letter of Invitation: If visiting family, friends, or for business, a letter from your host explaining your relationship and the purpose of the visit.

i. Current Employment Status: Employment contract, leave approval letter from the employer, or proof of business ownership.

j. Travel Insurance: Appropriate coverage for the duration of your stay in the UK.


Applicants should check the latest requirements on the official UK government website or contact our immigration specialists for guidance on their application.


2. Special Documents Required for Specific Visas


In addition to providing identification and other general documents, depending on the visa category you are applying for, you may need to provide specific evidence to prove your eligibility. Taking advice on your specific application will help ensure you meet the evidential requirements. As an outline, the following is generally required for the main visa categories:


a. Student Visa:

1. CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies): Issued by the UK educational institution where you have been accepted.

2. Academic Qualifications: Diplomas, certificates, and transcripts as required by the educational institution.

3. Proof of English Language Proficiency: Test results from an approved testing body (like IELTS), unless exempt.

4. Financial Sponsorship Evidence: If your studies are funded by a scholarship or a third party, provide documentation confirming this arrangement.


b. Work Visa:

1. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): Issued by your UK employer, detailing the role and salary offered.

2. Job Description: Details about the position, including job duties and compliance with the visa category.

3. Current Employment Details: Proof of current employment and income if relevant to your visa application.

4. Professional Qualifications: Licenses, certificates, or professional membership documents required for the job.


c. Family Visa:

1. Proof of Relationship: Marriage certificates, birth certificates, or evidence of a genuine and subsisting relationship.

2. Financial Requirements: Documentation proving the UK sponsor meets the minimum income threshold or has enough savings.

3. Accommodation Details: Evidence of adequate living arrangements for all family members.


d. Health and Care Worker Visa:

1. Qualifying Job Offer: Job details from an NHS employer or an NHS contractor.

2. Professional Registration: If applicable, proof of the required UK professional registration.


Section E: UK Visa Fees


Most UK visa applications incur a fee for processing. Your application will not be processed until you have paid the relevant fee.


1. UK Visa Application Fees


The level of fee will depend on the category you’re applying for, whether you are either applying from overseas to extend your stay in the UK or to switch to another visa.

For example, for overseas applicants, the ETA application costs £10 per applicant, a Standard Visitor visa costs £115 while a Student visa costs £490.

If you have dependants who would like to come to the UK with you, each individual will need to apply and pay separately, where the fees are the same for each person.

Some visa categories have tiered fees application fees depending on how long the period of leave will be. For example, a Skilled Worker visa application for over 3 years will cost £1,420, while a period of leave under 3 years costs £551.

View our guide to the latest UK visa fee tables and detailed information here.

The fees and additional charges for UK visas are revised periodically, so it is crucial for applicants to consult the official UK government website for the most current information before making any payments.


2. Payment Methods and Additional Charges


Visa fees are usually paid online through the UK Visas and Immigration website during the application process. Accepted payment methods include credit or debit cards, and in some countries, other options like bank transfers or payments through designated local banks might be available.


3. Additional Visa Fees


As well as the visa application fee, you may also need to pay:


a. Immigration Healthcare Surcharge 

You may also each be liable to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge. This surcharge is to grant you access to the UK’s National Health Service and is currently set at £1,035 per year of stay. This must be paid upfront, although for students and children, the charge is reduced to £776 per year.

Read our guide to the UK Immigration Healthcare Surcharge here.


b. Priority Services 

Applicants needing faster processing may be able to pay an additional fee for priority services. Priority service costs £500 per application, and super priority service costs £1,000.

You will be advised when you apply if you can pay for priority processing.


c. Biometric Fee

When applicants submit their biometric information at a Visa Application Centre, a small fee is usually required.


Section F: UK Visa Application Processing Times


The length of time it takes to obtain a visa will depend on the visa type and whether you are applying from overseas or within the UK.

For example, a family visa application made overseas can take up to 24 weeks, compared with 8 weeks from within the UK. In contrast, a work visa will take 3 weeks when applying from overseas and 3 weeks from the UK.


1. Standard Application Processing Times


[insert tables for average Processing Times for Visa Approval]

Applicants should check the most current processing times provided by the UK government’s official immigration website and consider these factors when planning their applications.

It’s also generally advisable to apply as early as possible to mitigate any unforeseen delays.

In some cases, you may be able to pay for priority processing for a faster decision on your UK visa application depending on the type of visa sought, how you apply and where you apply from. However, this does not necessarily guarantee a faster decision on your visa if your application is not straightforward, nor does it guarantee that your application is more likely to be successful.

View our guide to the latest UK visa processing times here.


2. Factors Influencing Visa Application Processing Times


Visa application processing can be influenced both by external factors as well as the quality of the application.

The accuracy and completeness of your application are crucial; any errors or missing documents can cause delays as officials may request additional information or corrections.

The volume of applications can significantly impact processing times, especially during peak periods such as holidays or just before academic terms begin.

Security measures also play a role in processing times. Some applications are subject to more extensive security checks, which are influenced by factors such as the applicant’s country of origin, travel history, or any flags raised during screening processes. Occasionally, applicants may need to attend an interview, and the availability of appointment slots can further delay the processing.

External factors like political instability, public health crises and technical issues can also affect the operations at UKVI and visa processing centres, potentially leading to further delays.

Seeking expert advice before making a UK visa application can not only ensure that you select the right visa type, but that you meet the relevant requirements and provide the right documentation, so as to avoid delays and maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.


Section G: How to Prepare for a UK Visa Interview


You may be asked to attend an interview as part of your UK visa application. The caseworker will use this opportunity to verify if you meet the relevant visa and admissibility requirements.

It will be important to prepare well. Review all the documents you submitted with your application to familiarise yourself with the information so that you can discuss and clarify any details.

Bring all the required documents to the interview, including your passport, completed application form, appointment letter, and any other supporting documents. Arrive on time and dress neatly to create a good impression.

While the specific questions will depend on your circumstances and the type of visa you are applying for, commonly asked questions that you should prepare for include:


a. What is the purpose of your visit?

b. Who will you be visiting or staying within the UK? Explain who you

c. How long do you intend to stay in the UK?

d. What do you plan to do after your visit/stay in the UK?

e. Have you visited the UK before?

f. How will you fund your stay in the UK?

g. Where will you stay in the UK?

h. Do you have a job? If so, what do you do?

i. Do you have family or dependents staying behind?


Refer to your submitted documents to support your answers, and most importantly, answer honestly.


Section H: Summary


Applying for a UK visa involves selecting the correct visa type, ensuring you satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria, gathering necessary documents, completing the application form online, paying the relevant fees, and attending a biometric appointment.

Processing times and visa fees vary depending on the visa type and other factors such as application volume and individual circumstances.

Given the frequency of changes in the UK immigration rules and procedures, it’s advisable to regularly check the official UK government website for the most current visa information and updates, and for the best prospects of success, to seek professional support with your UK visa application.


Section I: Need assistance?


DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK immigration. We can help you understand your UK visa options and guide and support you through the Home Office application process.

You will need to ensure you are applying for the most appropriate category and that your application is complete with full supporting evidence of your eligibility. All Home Office applications are subject to general grounds for clearance such as the good character requirement. If you are concerned about a past criminal conviction or immigration period of overstay in the UK, take advice prior to making your application to ensure eligibility and that you are correctly representing your circumstances within the application.

We can also assist where you have had a visa application refused, assessing whether you have the right and grounds to challenge the decision, or whether a new application will be necessary.

Speak to one of our UK immigration specialists today.


Section J: UK Visa FAQs


How to apply online for a UK visa?
When applying online for a UK visa, you will need to visit the GOV.UK website and select the correct visa. You will need to complete your application, pay the fee, provide evidence of support, and submit your biometric information.


How long does it take to get a UK visa?
The processing times for UK visas vary depending on the visa type and where the application is made.


What are the requirements for UK visa application?
The requirements for UK visa applications vary, although how you apply not only depends on your visa type but whether you are overseas, or instead inside the UK and extending your current visa or switching from a different visa.


How early should I apply for a UK visa?
It’s recommended to apply at least 3 months before your intended travel date for most visas. This time frame allows for any unexpected delays in the processing of your application.


Can I extend my visa while in the UK?
Many visa types can be extended, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for extension and apply before your current visa expires. Contact us for advice on your circumstances or check the specific conditions for your visa type on the UK government’s official website.


What should I do if my visa application is denied?
If your application is denied, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the refusal. You can choose to reapply or, depending on the reason for refusal and the category of visa you have applied for, you may be permitted to appeal the decision. We can advise on your options if your application has been refused.


Do I need to take a health examination to apply for a UK visa?
Applicants from certain countries need to undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test if they are coming to the UK for more than 6 months. Check the UK visa and immigration website to see if this requirement applies to you.


Can I work in the UK with a visitor visa?
No, visitor visas do not allow you to take up employment in the UK. You must apply for an appropriate work visa if you intend to work.


How much money should I show for my visit visa application?
There is no set amount, but you need to show that you have enough funds to cover your entire stay in the UK, including accommodation, travel, and living expenses, without recourse to public funds.


What is the difference between indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and permanent residency?
ILR is a status that allows you to live and work in the UK without any time limit. Permanent residency usually refers to the right of EEA nationals prior to Brexit to stay indefinitely. The terms are often used interchangeably in the context of settling in the UK.


Can I bring dependents on a student visa?
You can only bring dependents on a Student visa if you are sponsored to study a postgraduate course at a higher education institution on a course that lasts 9 months or longer.


What is a biometric residence permit?
A biometric residence permit (BRP) holds your biographic details (name, date, and place of birth) and biometric information (fingerprint and facial image). It also shows your immigration status and entitlements while you remain in the UK. BRPs are being replaced by eVisas and from 1 January 2025 will no longer be valid.


Are visa fees refundable if my application is rejected?
No, visa fees are generally non-refundable if your application is rejected or if you decide to withdraw your application after you have submitted it.


Section K: Glossary of Terms for UK Visa Applications


Biometric Information: Unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and photographs, used to identify individuals. This information is collected during the visa application process.


Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): A card containing an individual’s biographic details and biometric information, which shows their immigration status and entitlements in the UK.


Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): A reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It’s issued by your sponsor in the UK to prove that you have a job offer.


Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS): A unique reference number issued by a UK educational institution to international students who have been offered a place on a course. This is required for the student visa application.


Dependent: A family member who relies on another person for financial support, such as a spouse, partner, or child. Dependents may be eligible to join or accompany visa holders to the UK on certain visa types.


Entry Clearance: A visa or entry permit that non-UK nationals must obtain before travelling to the UK, indicating that the holder is authorised to enter the country.


Home Office: The UK government department responsible for immigration, security, and law and order, which oversees the issuance of visas.


Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): Permission to stay in the UK without any time limit. It allows the holder to live, work, and study in the UK freely.


Leave to Enter: Permission granted at the UK border allowing an individual to enter the UK for a specific purpose and duration.


Leave to Remain: Permission granted to extend a stay in the UK under specific conditions, often as part of transitioning from one visa type to another or settling permanently.


National Health Service (NHS): The publicly funded healthcare system of the UK, which visa applicants may need to pay a health surcharge to access.


Priority Service: An optional service that expedites the processing of visa applications for an additional fee.


Settlement: Granting permission to stay in the UK indefinitely, allowing the person to reside, work, and study without restrictions.


Sponsorship: The act of supporting an individual’s visa application; this can be through a job offer, educational course placement, or by a family member.


Visa Application Centre (VAC): Officially designated centers where visa applicants can submit their applications and biometric data.



Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
Sign up to our award winning newsletters!
Find us on: