A person who wants to visit the UK for a short time period is classified as a visitor. The purpose of the visit could be anything from holidays, to visiting family and friends, to conducting or carrying out some business activities, to have a private medical treatment, or to getting married etc.
For a non-visa national (please refer to chapter 1) such as citizens of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Ghana etc., they are required to obtain an entry clearance visa from their home country for a visit of up to six months. The citizens of visa nationals (please refer to chapter 1) such as citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada etc. do not require an entry clearance from their home country.
Entry to Leave
However, upon arrival in the UK, all visitors have to satisfy the immigration officer that they are genuine visitors, have the means to financially support themselves while they are in the UK. Every visitor has to obtain an entry to leave.
Visitors are not allowed to work as employed or self-employed. A visitor is also not allowed to claim any benefits or recourse to public funds.
Maximum Time for Stay
A visitor can stay for up to a maximum of 6 months out of any 12 months in the United Kingdom
A general visitor is a person who is a national of another country and wishes to visit the UK as a tourist.
Requirements for General Visitor
- Genuinely seeking entry as a tourist for a time period which is not more than six months
- Intends to leave the UK at the end of his/her visit
- The visitor does not intend to work in the UK as an employee or self-employed person
- The visitor does not intend to produce goods or provide services to the members of the public
- The visitor does not intend to undertake a course of study unless he is allowed to do so
- Will maintain and accommodate himself and any dependent family members
- The visitor does not intend to marry or form a civil partnership
- The visitor does not seek private medical treatment
- The visitor is also not in transit to a country outside the common travel area
- A visit visa is normally granted for 6 months, in certain cases, it may also be for 12 months, 2 years, 5 years or even for 10 years.
- A person can visit as many time as he likes within the duration of his visa
Meera was issued with a general visa for 6 months, she travelled to the UK in the first month and came back to her home country in the same month. She then decided to visit again while she still had a valid visa and three months were left. She can do so. There is no bar on how many times she can travel
However, the visitors stay should not exceed 6 months in the last 12 months
A visitor is allowed to undertake up to 30 days of recreational, English language or academic studies in the UK provided this is not the main reason or purpose of the visit. By recreational it means leisure and holiday type courses such as pottery or horse riding.
Parent of a child at School in the UK
Under this category, the parents of a child who is under 12 years of age and is studying at a school in the UK, are allowed to visit and stay with him/her. Parents of such a child may be allowed to stay in the UK for a time period which does not exceed 12 months. The parents have to meet the requirements of general visitors along with the following requirements
- The child is a Tier 4 student
- The child is under the age of 12
- The parents can financially accommodate and maintain a second home in the UK
- The parents are not seeking to make the UK their main home
- The parent(s) was not last admitted to the UK under the Approved Destination Status Agreement with China
A student can only re-sit an examination or repeat a module once. Where a student has to re-sit the exam again or repeat the module a second time, he/she is expected to leave the UK and revise in his own country and the student then applies as a student visitor to take the examination. As a student visitor a student is allowed
- To enter the UK as a visitor, but also undertake a short period of study. The studies must be completed within 6 months
- To enter as a student to study a course of six months duration or less. However, the student is not allowed to undertake any employment or work as self-employed.
A person is a business visitor provided he fulfils the following criteria
- The visitor’s business is not in the United Kingdom and he does not intend to transfer or move his business to the United Kingdom, even on a temporary basis
- The visitor will not receive any salary or wages from a UK source
- The visitor will not be involved in selling goods or services directly to members of the public
Requirements for Business Visitor Visa
Once the above conditions are fulfilled, then the business visitor has to fulfil the following criteria
- Must fulfil all the conditions set out for a general visitor
- The person has to prove that he is genuinely seeking entry as a business visitor for a limited time period
- The time period should not be more than 6 months, or
- In case of an Academic Visitor should not be more than 12 months
- The business visitor intends to carry out one or more of following activities
- To carry out permissible activity
- To take part in a location shoot as a member of a film crew
- To represent overseas news media
- To act as an academic advisor
- To be a secondee to a UK company
- To undertake some preaching or pastoral work as a religious worker provided his base is abroad and he is not taking up the post, an office or appointment
- To act as an advisor, consultant, trainer, internal auditor or troubleshooter to the UK branch of the same group of companies as the visitor’s overseas company
- To receive specific one-off training on techniques and work practice used in the UK
- To share knowledge, or experience relevant to, or advise on, an international project that is being led from the UK as an overseas scientist or researcher
- To advise a UK client on litigation and /or international transaction as an employee of an international law firm which has offices in the UK
Academic Advisor and Visiting Professor
An academic advisor is a person from an overseas academic institution, or who is highly qualified within his own field of expertise. Such a person can visit the UK to carry out research and associated activities for his own research.
A visiting professor is a person who is seeking to leave or to enter the United Kingdom as an academic professor to “Accompany Students” who are studying here on study abroad programmes.
Marriage and Civil Partnership Visits
This route is used by the person who wishes to enter the United Kingdom to marry or enter into a civil partnership relationship and the important condition is that the couple does not intend to live or stay in the UK.
If the couple would like to settle down in the UK the person who is seeking entry into the UK must apply as a fiancé or proposed civil partner. The person has to fulfil the general conditions of a general visitor visa and show the intention to marry or enter into civil relationship and produce satisfactory evidence of his intention
Private Medical Visitor
A person can also visit for private medical treatment. Such person has to satisfy that he does not intend to seek free treatment under the National Health Service. He does not represent a danger to public health. The treatment has to be for a specific time period and he holds sufficient funds to pay for his medical treatment and other related expenses
This category allows a sports person to visit the UK for a one-off event or for a series of linked events. By Sports person, it means amateurs and professionals who intend to participate in a specific tournament, charity or for personal appearance and promotions. officials, members of technical or support staff of such amateur and professional person.
A Sportsman who would like to setup a base for themselves in the United Kingdom or who would like to work should apply through Tier 2 and Tier 5 respectively and this is not a suitable category for them
Entertainers and their entourages, who would like to perform a one off or a series of events are allowed to enter the UK as an entertainment visitor, provided such person can prove that he is genuinely seeking entry as an entertainment visitor for a short time period which does not exceed 6 months. Such a person has to meet the conditions of a general visitor and must take part as a professional entertainer in one or more music competitions or fulfil and participate in other related activities.
Visitor in Transit
A passenger will be considered as a visitor in transit where his sole purpose is to pass through the UK within 48 hours and has either
- Arrived at one airport or port and requires to travel to another airport or port in order to continue his journey; or
- Wishes to spend the time in-between his connecting flights outside the airport
Such a person is allowed to leave the airport or other ports provide he can fulfil the following requirements
- The visitor must be in transit to a country which is outside the common travel area
- The visitor must have means to accommodate himself sufficiently
- Must have an intention of proceeding at once to another country
- Must be assured of entry into such country
- Must intend and leave the UK within 48 hours
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.