What type of visa do I need?
Many people require a UK visa in order to enter the UK. Whether you are coming to the UK as a visitor, to work, study, join a family member, or for another reason, you must apply for the correct UK visa for your situation.
There are different visas depending on the circumstances and reasons for entering the country. The official Gov.UK checklist is an up-to-date resource allowing you to check whether you need a UK visa.
The UK’s Home Office lists over 100 countries whose citizens are required to apply for UK visas if they wish to get entry clearance to enter the UK. Some countries have a visa waiver program and do not require a visa (visa-free); citizens from such countries may visit and stay in the UK for up to six months.
Since Britain left the EU, some EU citizens may now require UK visas to work in the UK. For holidays or short trips, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK. The exception to this is Irish citizens who can live and work in the UK without a visa.
People from outside the EU and EEA area must apply for a visa in order to visit, live, or work in the UK.
Below we have listed the primary visa categories: Family Visas, Points-Based Visas, Visitor Visas, and Post-Visa Options.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are ready to speak with you about your immigration case. Call 0191 303 8965 to discuss your case today. One of our expert Newcastle immigration solicitors is looking forward to advising and working with you.
Joining family in the UK
These are UK visas for people travelling to the UK to join a partner or family member. If you plan to stay for longer than a visit, you may need to apply for a Family Visa. This guide outlines the different Family Visas.
Family Visa overview
When applying for a Family Visa, you should consider the most appropriate visa for your individual circumstances.
Adult Visas: You may be eligible to apply for an Adult Visa if you are over 18 years old and meet the eligibility criteria. You should be able to demonstrate your relationship to a British citizen (or person with settled status). This relationship could be that of a sibling, parent, grandparent, or child
Child Visas: If a parent coming to the UK with a visa intends to bring a dependent child, this child must also hold a valid visa. Dependent children must be below a certain age to qualify.
Dependent Relative Visas: An adult in need of care may apply for the Dependent Relative Visa. They must be seeking care from a UK national or person with settled status in the UK. There are additional financial requirements in order to be granted this UK visa
Ancestry Visas: In some circumstances, eligible Commonwealth citizens or those with British ancestry may apply for an Ancestry Visa
It is also possible for family members to apply for the EEA Family Permit. This is an immigration permission that enables family members of an EU, EEA, Swiss, or Northern Irish person resident in the UK. The two permits: the EU Settlement Scheme family permit and the EEA family permit.
All UK visas are issued under strict conditions. The visa holder must meet eligibility criteria and abide by any restrictions outlined with the visa.
Further, visa applications can be costly and complex. We recommend engaging the services of a qualified immigration lawyer to maximise your chances of application success.
Partner or Spouse Visa
There are three main UK visas within the Partner and Spouse Visa categories: Spouse, Unmarried Partner and Fiancé(e).
If you wish to apply for a visa to come to the UK and live with your spouse or proposed civil partner, your partner must be a British citizen or have a recognised settled status. Both partners must intend to live permanently together in the UK in order to be eligible for these visa categories.
One of the following visa categories may apply to your situation:
Spouse Visa: If you are legally married to a British citizen and wish to join them in the UK
Unmarried Partner Visa: If you have a ‘de facto’ relationship with a British citizen and meet certain eligibility visa requirements and wish to join your partner in the UK
Fiancé(e) Visa: If you and your partner plan to be married or enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of coming to the UK
As with all visa categories, there are eligibility rules in place outlining who may apply for a Spouse or Partner Visa.
It is required that the visa applicants demonstrate that their relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting,’ that they have only one partner, that they intend to live together permanently in the United Kingdom, and that they can provide evidence of financial independence.
Applying for a Partner or Spouse Visa can be a lengthy visa process, requiring significant amounts of documentation to be provided. It is recommended that an experienced immigration lawyer assists with an immigration case and provide expert advice to increase the chances of a successful visa application.
Since January 2021, the UK government implemented a new points-based system for people seeking to come to the United Kingdom. EU and non-EU citizens (excluding Irish citizens) who wish to come to the UK for work purposes must apply for a visa in advance of entering the UK and fulfil the criteria for each category.
The business visas are for highly skilled or sought-after business leaders. Below are the business visa categories:
Start-Up/ Innovator route (formerly Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa)
This is suitable for entrepreneurs bringing a scalable business to the UK. Applicants with a first-time business idea should apply for the Start-Up visa. People with industry expertise, a solid business plan, and funding of £50,000 should apply for the Innovator route.
The Investor route is open to high-net-worth individuals who have the ability to invest a minimum of £2 million into the UK. There are eligibility requirements related to this visa. Eligible candidates may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after five years of residence (or sooner, depending on the value of their investment).
Global Talent route (formerly Tier 1 Exceptional Talent)
For EU and non-EU citizens, the Global Talent route was created to welcome recognised leaders in the fields of science, humanities, arts, engineering, and digital technology to the UK. Applicants should be endorsed by a UK industry representative body.
Long-term Work Visas
The UK work visas have been designed for people who are skilled workers seeking to work on a long-term basis in the UK.
Skilled worker route (formerly Tier 2 General)
The Skilled Worker route is open to EU or non-EU citizens. An applicant should have an official job offer from an approved sponsor. This organisation must hold a valid sponsor licence. The job should be at the appropriate skill level for the person’s expertise and background. They must have English language abilities of B1 level or higher. Under the points-based visa system, an applicant must obtain 70 points to be eligible.
Intra-Company Transfer route (formerly Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer)
The Intra-Company Transfer route has been designed for workers within multinational organisations seeking to transfer workers across subsidiary branches in the UK. The applicant should be employed by the business for a minimum of 12 months. For Intra-Company Graduate Trainees, they should be employed by the business for a minimum of three months before the intended transfer.
Minister of Religion Visa
The Minister of Religion route is available for eligible applicants who have been offered a position within a faith community and by a licensed sponsor within the UK.
A person may apply for a Sportsperson Visa if they are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach with a recognised level of achievement. As well as other eligibility criteria, applicants must show that the governing body of the sport endorses the application and the role will result in the development of the sport in the UK.
The Graduate route is suitable for international students who are in possession of a valid Student Visa or is a student who has completed an undergraduate degree or higher at a UK institution. The route was launched in the summer of 2021.
The study visas have been designed for people who wish to study in the UK. The main routes are for students over the age of 17 and a Child Student Visa for children aged between 4-17 years old.
Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 General)
The UK Student visa is a point-based route for eligible students. In order to be granted this status, applicants should provide evidence of acceptance on a valid course of study, minimum financial requirements and minimum English language level requirements.
A successful applicant to the Student Visa will need to submit the following:
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies document issued by the licensed sponsor (approved educational institute)
- Evidence of the ability to live independently without recourse to public funds
- Fees for the application and the immigration health surcharge
Child Student Visa
A child aged between 4-17 years who is from an EU, EEA or non-EEA country may apply for a Child Study Visa if they have been accepted to a full-time course of study at a valid independent school in the UK.
An application to the Child Student Visa should evidence the following:
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies document issued by an approved independent school
- Proof of parental consent
- Evidence of paid course fees and maintenance ability
Temporary Worker Visas
This visa type has been designed for temporary workers. There are a number of different temporary worker visas included in the Temporary Worker Visa category.
Temporary Worker – Charity Worker Visa
This UK visa type is for eligible applicants who want to do unpaid, voluntary work on behalf of a charity
Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa
If you have been offered employment as a sportsperson or creative worker and meet specific eligibility criteria, you may apply for this visa
Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange Visa
Applicants to this visa may apply if they wish to come to the United Kingdom on a temporary basis for work experience, training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research or an approved fellowship.
Temporary Worker – International Agreement Worker Visa
This visa category has been designed for eligible individuals coming to the UK to undertake work that is permitted under international law or treaty. This includes some work on behalf of a foreign government, a worker in a diplomatic household or a contracted service supplier.
Temporary Worker – Religious Worker Visa
If you wish to come to the UK to undertake religious work in a non-pastoral role or religious order. There are other eligibility requirements that you must meet.
Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker Visa
This category of visa is for those who wish to come to the UK for the purposes of farm work. An applicant is required to have an approved sponsor and meet all eligibility requirements.
Youth Mobility Scheme (formerly Tier 5 Youth Mobility)
The Youth Mobility Scheme is a temporary visa designed for young people (aged between 18-30) who live in an eligible exchange country. It has been designed to facilitate cultural exchange, as well as work and travel opportunities for up to two years.
Visiting the UK
It is important to apply for a UK Visitor Visa in advance of your trip. In general, most people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will need a Visitor Visa (with some exceptions).
UK Visitor Visas
The rules surrounding visitors to the UK are generally broad and allow for a number of permitted activities. In general, visitors are allowed to stay for up to six months and are allowed to leave and re-enter during that time.
Visitors are not permitted to work, access public funds, or study in the UK for more than 30 days. Any person may apply for a Visitor Visa. You should be able to evidence the following:
- Proof that you plan to leave the UK after your trip
- Enough money to support yourself financially during the trip
Standard Visitor Visa: You may apply for this visa if you plan to visit the UK for the purposes of tourism, some business activities, a short study course, a research or exchange programme, or for medical purposes.
Visitors in Transit Visa: If you plan to change flights in the United Kingdom while in transit to another country, you may need a Visitor in Transit Visa. If you need to pass through UK border control for a connecting flight or have a stopover of 48 hours, you may need to apply for this visa.
Permitted Paid Engagement Visa (PPE): This visa applies to people who have been invited to the UK by a UK-based organisation, meet specific eligibility requirements, or wish to come to the UK to do a specific form of paid work. PPE UK visas lasts for up to one month.
Further Visitor Visas
Depending on your individual circumstances, there are a number of other categories of Visitor Visa that may be applicable to your needs. Below are some other forms of Visitor Visas.
Business Visitor Visa: It is possible to enter the UK if you intend to undertake some business activities (for example, attending a meeting or signing a contract). Working or engaging in running a business while in the UK on this visa is not permitted.
Marriage Visitor Visa: Unlike the Spouse, Unmarried Partner or Fiancé(e) Visas, this visa is solely for the purposes of marrying your partner during your visit. You must provide evidence that you intend to leave the UK after your visit.
Short-Term Study Visa: This visa is intended for people who wish to come to the United Kingdom on a short-term English language course lasting between six and eleven months. There are course and eligibility requirements that must be met in order to successfully apply for this visa.
For people who wish to come to the UK on a longer-term basis, there are a number of options available. If you are looking for support with your visa application, our immigration lawyers can help you. Call 0191 303 8965 or contact us via the online form.
How to extend a UK Visa
For some people who successfully obtain a UK visa, they may wish to extend the length of their stay with a visa extension. There are requirements and eligibility criteria for who is allowed to extend their stay and it depends on a number of circumstances.
Family Visas: In most cases, if you hold a visa within the Family Visa category, you are likely to be able to extend it past its expiry date. The majority of Family Visas last for at least two and a half years.
Points-based Visas: Holders of a Skilled Worker Visa will need to submit a new application if they wish to continue working in the UK under the following circumstances:
- Change of employer
- Changing employment
- Extending their stay
Visitor Visas: It may be possible to extend your visit to the UK up to a maximum of six months in total. You should apply while still in the United Kingdom. If you entered the UK without the need for a Visitor Visa, you should apply for a visa in order to extend your stay.
Process of Settling in the UK
For most people who wish to live permanently in the UK, the route will be through the process of indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
This means that holders will be on the path towards settled status and potentially will be eligible for British citizenship. Also, they will not be subject to immigration restrictions; they can work and study in the UK, and travel abroad and re-enter the UK without the need to apply for a visa.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
In general, these are the requirements for indefinite leave to remain:
- Residence in the UK with no criminal record for the qualifying period
- No absences from the UK of over 180 days in the 12 months of the qualifying period
- Life in the UK test certification
- English language abilities of B1 level or higher
- Continuous residence in the UK for five years
If you are granted ILR, you will not need a specific visa in order to work, study, or launch a business. If you qualify, you can apply for British citizenship after one year of holding ILR. If approved, you will hold the same rights as British citizens.
British Citizenship Requirements
For most people, these will be the main criteria for applying for British citizenship:
- Aged over 18 years
- Held ILR for at least 12 months
- Life in the UK test certification
- Record of abiding by all UK immigration rules
- English language abilities of B1 level or higher
- Continuous residence in the UK for a minimum of five years, with no more than 450 days of absence in the qualifying period
- Holds good character
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In general, you can expect to wait between three weeks and six months for most visa applications.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) deal with millions of visa applications every year and waiting times for decisions on applications can vary. In most cases, you will receive an estimated waiting time once you have submitted your application.
If you are extending a visa, you should apply for the extension plenty of time in advance so that your visa does not expire while waiting. UKVI advises that you should not book any travel before a decision is made on your application.
In some instances, you may be able to pay to receive an earlier decision on your application..
Below is a list of some of the most popular visa types and the 2021 costs set by UKVI.
Applications made outside the UK
- Visit Visa (less than 6 months): £95
- Visit Visa (less than 2 years): £361
- Family Visa (joining a partner, parent or child): £1,523
- Innovator: £1,021
- Start-Up: £363
- Global Talent: £760
- Investor: £1,623
- Skilled Worker (with sponsorship for three years or less): £610
- Intra-Company Transfer, Sportsperson, or Minister of Religion (with sponsorship for three years or less): £610
- Temporary Worker: £244
- Student: £348
Applications made inside the UK
- Family Visa (joining a partner, parent or child): £1,033
- Innovator: £1,277
- Start-Up: £493
- Global Talent: £760
- Investor: £1,623
- Skilled Worker (with sponsorship for three years or less): £704
- Intra-Company Transfer, Sportsperson, or Minister of Religion (with sponsorship for three years or less): £704
- Temporary Worker: £244
- Student: £475
Other visa applications made inside the UK:
- Visitor Extension: £993
- Leave to Remain: £1,033
- Indefinite Leave to Remain: £2,389
There have been some changes to the UK visa application process since 1 January 2021 as a result of Britain leaving the EU.
There are a number of steps to follow to apply for a UK visa. First, check that you need a visa and if so, the correct category of visa for your circumstances.
You can start the visa process online using the Gov.uk website. Depending on your application, you are likely to need to submit a number of supporting documents to support your application.
You may need to attend a visa appointment with an immigration official. Following this meeting, you will be given an expected timeframe when you should expect your decision.
Visa fees may be refunded under certain circumstances. Refunds will generally be provided under some of the following circumstances:
- If there is no legal basis to keep the fee
- If there is a legal obligation to return it
- If the application is rejected because it is invalid (please note that an administrative cost will be deducted)
- If the applicant withdraws their application (before having submitted biometric information, or in the case of having attended an application centre, under some circumstances)
- If an incorrect fee has been charged and paid
Fees will not be refunded if an application is refused as a result of the applicant not meeting the requirements.
It can be a very frustrating process if a visa application is rejected. Under some circumstances, you can re-apply if you received a visa denial, or there may be a right of appeal to submit an application for administrative review or judicial review.
It is recommended to engage professional legal services to help prepare your appeal case for your visa denial. You may reapply following a visa refusal as soon as you have received notice. The appeals process can last between six and 12 months.
If your visa is due to expire, you should decide whether you wish to extend the visa or leave the UK. In most cases, after the expiration of your visa, you have up to 30 days during which time you are legally allowed to remain in the UK.
Within this time, it is essential that you apply for an extension or return home. You will risk overstaying your visa if you remain in the UK without taking action at the end of your legally allowed stay. Please note that overstaying your visa may result in future visa applications being rejected.
There are a number of routes to apply for a work visa or business immigration in the UK. For long-term working visa, the primary categories are the Skilled Worker Visa, Health and Care Worker Visa, Intra-Company Transfer Visa, Minister of Religion Visa, and the Sportsperson Visa.
For short-term visas, there a number of Temporary Worker Visas, including the Charity Worker, Creative and Sporting, Government Authorised Exchange, International Agreement Worker, Religious Worker, Seasonal Worker, and Youth Mobility Scheme Visas.
Within each category, there are eligibility criteria that must be met. These include points-based requirements, English language abilities, a valid certificate of sponsorship, and other criteria.
If you have applied for a UK visa, you may be waiting between 3 weeks and 6 months for a decision to be returned on your application.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to track the progress of your individual visa application. You may contact the relevant UKVI department responsible for your application by phone or email, however there is a charge for both of these visa services.
If your visa application is approved, UKVI will contact you with an official notice (letter or email) of their decision.
Depending on your circumstances, you may receive either a sticker (vignette) for your passport, or alternatively, you will be provided with access to your immigration status online.
The information with outline the type of approval, the dates of validity, and any conditions attached to your UK visa.