The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union but is not part of the Schengen area. It operates its own visa policy where certain nationalities have to apply for a visa before arriving in the UK. However, there are many nationalities that are permitted to enter and stay in the UK without obtaining a visa. In this article learn more about how to apply for UK Visa, UK visa application process and requirements, UK visa fees, UK visa types, UK standard tourist and visitor visa application.
Most visitors to the UK come from the following countries:
In the year, ending in March 2018, there were 3,061 visa applications for the UK, of which 340 were refused:
Who Needs to Apply for UK Visa
If you hold any of the following nationality statuses, you can enter the United Kingdom without a visa:
- British nationals who are EU citizens
- British citizens
- British Overseas Territories citizens (citizens of Gibraltar)
- British subjects (who have the right to live in the UK)
- Citizens of Commonwealth countries (who have the right to live in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971)
- Irish citizens (under the Common Travel Area – the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
- All European Union citizens
- Citizens of the EFTA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)
If you are a citizen of any of the following 56 countries and territories, you are permitted to enter the UK without a visa for stays of up to 6 months or 3 months if you enter the country from the Republic of Ireland:
In addition, if you are from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates you are eligible for an electronic visa waiver (EVW) for visit and study purposes for up to 6 months. Plus, if you are from China or India AND are in possession of an Irish visa which has been validated as BIVS (British Irish Visa Scheme), you can also enter the UK without obtaining a further entry visa.
If you are from any other country, you will need to apply for a visa to be able to enter and stay in the United Kingdom.
UK Visa Types
There are several different visas for the UK and the one you need to apply for will depend on the duration of your trip and your reason for traveling to the UK. Check GOV.UK’s website to learn about these visas.
- Standard Visitor visa
- Marriage Visitor visa
- Permitted Paid Engagement visa
- Parent of a Tier 4 child visa
- Visit the UK in a Chinese tour group
- Visa to pass through the UK in transit
Work and Business visas
- General work visa (Tier 2)
- Intra-company Transfer visa (Tier 2)
- Minister of Religion visa (Tier 2)
- Sportsperson visa (Tier 2)
- Temporary Worker – Charity Worker visa (Tier 5)
- Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (Tier 5)
- Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange visa (Tier 5)
- Temporary Worker – International Agreement visa (Tier 5)
- Temporary Worker – Religious Worker visa (Tier 5)
- Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker Visa (Tier 5)
- Youth Mobility Scheme visa (Tier 5)
Investor, business development and talent visas
- Innovator visa
- Start-up visa
- Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1)
- Exceptional Talent visa (Tier 1)
- Graduate Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1)
- Investor visa (Tier 1)
Other work visas and exemptions
- UK Ancestry visa
- Domestic Workers in a Private Household visa
- Representative of an Overseas Business visa
- Turkish Businessperson visa
- Turkish Worker visa
- Short-term study visa
- General student visa (Tier 4)
- Child student visa (Tier 4)
- Family visas: apply, extend or switch
- Apply for a permit to join your EU or EEA family member in the UK
When to Apply for Your UK Visa
Visa applications are processed within 3 weeks, so you should apply well in advance of your trip. You may submit your application up to 3 months ahead of your departure date.
Where to Apply for Your UK Visa
The British Embassies and Consulates located across the world do not issue visa applications. Instead, you will apply for your visa at one of the visa application centers located in your country:
- VFS Global
- TLS Contact
These companies deal with visa applications on behalf of the Visa and Immigration service in the UK. VFS Global and TLS Contact is not responsible for making a decision about your application. You will simply submit your application to them and they will then forward it to the British Embassy or Consulate for processing.
In order to find out which company you need to deal with and their location, go to GOV.UK’s website and click on: “Visas and immigration”:
On the next page, click on: “What you need to do” and then “Applying for a visa to come to the UK”:
Then, click on: “Find a visa application centre”:
You can scroll through the list and find your country:
You will then be directed to either VFS Global or TLS Contact where you can find out how to apply.
How to Apply for UK Visa
There is an overview on how to apply on VFS Global and TLS Contact’s websites, so you should take a look at those before you do anything else.
- Research your visa type
- Apply for your visa through GOV.UK
- Pay for your visa fees
- Choose your services
- Upload your supporting documents
- Visit the visa application center
- Track your application
- Pick up your documents
- Register on the GOV.UK website
- Choose any optional services and book an appointment
- Attend your appointment at TLS Contact
- Passport Return
- Register your application
- Complete the visa application form
- Pay the visa fee
- Book your appointment at either VFS Global or TLS Contact
Making appointments with the embassy or visa application center is generally free and can be done yourself. However, If you are running short of time or not sure which consulate to apply to or have no idea on how to get this done yourself then not to worry, we will make the appointment for you for a small service fee!
Booking a visa appointment using our services is pretty simple! All you have to do is follow the 3 simple steps below:
- Visit the link to schedule the visa appointment
- Submit the appointment details, visa you are applying for, consulate you need the appointment for, the country you need the appointment IN and make the payment
- Receive appointment confirmation in email
What Documents to Prepare for United Kingdom Visa
You need to prepare all the required documents for your visa application, so check what they are before you attend your appointment. If you submit an application with anything missing, it may be rejected.
- Visa application form
- Passport – valid for at least three months after the planned date of return, issued within the last 10 years with 2 free pages
- Previous travel history for the past 10 years
- Bank statements or proof of earnings such as a letter from employer confirming the start date of employment, salary, role, company contact details
- Proof of financial support from a business, a friend or a relative etc
- Proof legal residence
- An employer’s letter stating your role, salary and length of employment OR a letter from your education provider confirming enrollment and leave of absence. If self-employed – business registration
- Birth Certificate and proof of family ties and/or details of anyone accompanying you with a copy of your parent(s) passport (if you are under 18)
- Travel dates to the UK
- Details of accommodation while in the UK
- Declaration of how much you think your trip will cost
- Your current home address and how long you’ve lived there
- Your parents’ names and dates of birth
- Proof of salary
- Your employer’s address and telephone number
- Your partner’s name, date of birth, and passport number
- The name and address of anyone paying for your trip
- The name, address and passport number of any family members you have in the UK
- Details of any criminal, civil or immigration offenses you have committed
If you’re planning to obtain your flight reservation for visa without paying for the ticket, all you have to do is follow the 3 simple steps below:
- Visit the Visa Reservation website to choose the right package
- Submit the travel details and make the payment online
- Receive flight itinerary in email
The Visa Appointment Requirements
When you attend your appointment, you will submit your application and supporting documents to the visa officer who will examine them. If he/she needs to confirm any of the information you have provided, they will question you further in order to make a fair decision about your visa application.
If you have not already paid the fee, you will do so at your appointment. You can pay in cash, credit or debit card, but check with the visa application center which payment options there are. There may be additional service fees to pay as well. These fees are non-refundable.
You will also need to provide biometric data which is a scan of your fingerprints and a photograph.
UK Visa Fee
|Fees category||Fee with effect from 29 March 2019|
|Visit visa < 6 months||£95|
|Visit visa < 2 years||£361|
|Visit visa < 5 years||£655|
|Visit visa <10 years||£822|
|Visiting academic – more than 6 months but no more than 12 months||£190|
|Private medical treatment visa – more than 6 months but not more than 11 months||£190|
|Short term student visa (up to 6 months)||£97|
|Short term student studying English language for more than 6 months but not more than 11 months||£186|
|Settlement – other dependent relatives||£3,250|
|Settlement – refugee dependent relative||£388|
|Indefinite leave to enter the UK as the dependant of a member of the armed forces under Appendix Armed Forces to the Immigration Rules||£2,389|
|Certificate of entitlement – (right of abode)||£388|
|Transit visa (direct airside transit)||£35|
|Transit visit visa (landside transit)||£64|
|Visa for the purpose of joining a ship or aircraft as a member of the crew of that ship or aircraft||£64|
|Transfer of Conditions (Vignette transfer)||£154|
|Representative of an overseas business||£610|
|Call out/ out of hours fee (per hour/part hour)||£142|
|Single-entry visa to replace a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)||£154|
|Receiving, preparing and forwarding documents||£141|
|Electronic Visa Waiver||£30|
Visa Application Decision
You will be notified when there is a decision about your visa application and you can collect your passport from the visa office or have it mailed back to you. If your visa has been approved, you will find it inside your passport. If it has been rejected, it would have been for a reason such as:
- Missing documents
- Passport damaged/invalid
- Applying for the wrong type of visa
- Lack of funds
- Fake documents
It is very important for you to take your time when you apply for your visa and check the website (s) of the relevant visa offices for everything you need to do. If you fail to comply with what is required, this will lead to your application being rejected. However, if your application is rejected, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
How to Appeal the Decision
When a UK visa application is rejected, you will receive notification of the reason for the refusal. You can submit an appeal within 14 days of the notification to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). You have 2 options:
You can choose how a decision about your appeal will be made:
- Just on the information in your appeal form and any documents supplied to the tribunal. Fee: £80
- at a hearing that you or your representative can attend. Fee: £140
After this stage, the First-tier Tribunal will make a decision and you will be notified. If the visa rejection is not overturned, you are free to apply for a visa again, but make sure you avoid the same reason for it being rejected in the first place.
1) Do I need a visa for the UK?
If you are a citizen of a country that does not enjoy the visa-free status, then you will have to apply for a visa to be able to enter and stay in the UK (see above)
2) What type of visa do I need to apply for?
It really depends on the reason why you wish to go to the UK and the duration of your trip (see above visa types)
3) How do I know which visa application center I should use?
You can find this information on GOV.UK’s website as directed above. When you click on the country you are applying from, you will be directed to the correct visa application center where you will submit your application
4) I have missed my appointment, what can I do?
You will have to reschedule a new day and time at your local visa application center
5) What happens after I have submitted my application?
Your application will be processed by the relevant embassy or consulate and you will be notified when a decision has been reached. Then, you can collect your passport from the visa office or have it mailed back to you
6) I was previously refused entry to the UK, do I need to declare this?
Yes. Any past immigration issues must be declared. The authorities will find this out anyway, so it’s best to be open and honest
7) I am leaving for the UK in 2 weeks, will there be enough time to process my visa?
UK visa applications are processed within 3 weeks, so there may not be enough time for it to be processed. You may still submit your application, but there is no guarantee that you will receive a decision before you leave. If you do not have a valid UK visa, you will not be able to enter the country
If you need to apply for a UK visa, there are several things that you must do:
- Understand what type of visa you need to apply for
- Apply well in advance of your departure date
- Understand where you need to apply
- Prepare the required documents
- Attend the appointment to submit your application
- Receive your visa OR appeal the decision