Standard Visitor Visa UK FAQs and guidance for online application

How to Apply for Standard Visitor Visa UK Online?This relates to Standard Visitor Visa UK Guidance to apply for UK short-stay visa professionally like an immigration expert. According to Appendix V of the Immigration Rules, a visitor is a person who is coming to the UK for a temporary purpose to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity or for tourism. The post provides details of the common purposes of applying for UK standard visitor visa. And also explains the importance of meeting the standard visitor visa UK requirements for a successful outcome. Moreover, the post highlights a few details and tips relating to online UK visa application form.

Apply Standard Visitor Visa UK for Visiting Family and Tourism

Certainly, the standard visitor visa UK is the most popular type of UK Visitor Visa. Accordingly, as per immigration statistics, approximately more than 70% entry clearance applications relate to UK visitor visa. The standard visa covers the short stay visitor visa for tourism, meeting family, business and medical treatment. The other less frequent types of UK Visitor Visa are Permitted Paid Engagement, Parent of a Tier 4 Child and Marriage Visitor Visa. And also a short-term study visa, previously known as a student visitor visa.

A person on Standard Visitor Visa cannot do paid or unpaid work, live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits, get public funds, marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. A visitor is allowed to conduct any type of business-related activities mentioned in the UK Visitor Rules, study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for visiting the UK, take part in an exchange program or educational visit (if the applicant is under 18) and convert civil partnership into a marriage.

Why Proper Documentation is Critical for Success?

Perhaps, applying for a UK visa successfully greatly depends on the presentation of the personal circumstances in the application– i.e. online application form and supporting documents.

What is the Most Critical Factor for Success?

A travel document, usually a national passport, is the most critical supporting document as it provides the details of the immigration history of an applicant. Most noteworthy: ceteris paribus, applicants with frequent international travels have a much better chance of getting a standard visitor visa for tourism and meeting family in the UK. Certainly, frequent international travels for a short stay abroad provides a strong signal regarding an applicant’s financial ability and intentions to return home.

However, at times, applicants with above-average travel history encounter UK visit visa refusal due to their inability to explain their circumstances in a befitting manner. Therefore, it is very important to fill in the online application form carefully and correctly and furnish relevant supporting documents.

Importance of Purpose to apply for UK Visitor Visa Successfully?

If an applicant intends to apply for standard visitor visa UK then the first step is to clearly specify the purpose of visiting the UK. The Standard Visitor Visa UK covers a wide range of purposes for visiting the UK. However, most common purposes of standard visitor visa are meeting family, relatives, friends and general tourism for leisure and sightseeing. And also purposes relating to business, including prospective entrepreneur and private medical treatment. Moreover, the standard visitor visa UK also covers the following less frequent purposes of visiting the UK:

  • Academics doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme.
  • Clinical Attachment for a Doctor or dentist coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post.
  • Applicants visiting the UK for a Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
  • To take part in sports and creative events.

Why Information Relating to Purpose of Visiting the UK Important?

The entry clearance officer (ECO) have expertise in scrutinizing information mention in the application form relating to the purpose and proposed activities in the UK. It is the job of an ECO to scrutinize a visa application for prohibited work under V4.5- unless these activities are allowed under the permitted activities in Appendices 3, 4 or 5 of the Immigration Rules. However, permitted activities under Appendix 3 should not amount to employment or filling a role even on a temporary basis.

Accordingly, before granting a standard visitor visa, an ECO ensures that the applicant will not: 

  • take full time or part-time employment in the UK
  • do work for any organisation or business in the UK
  • establish or operate a business in the UK as a self-employed person
  • do an internship or work placement in the UK
  • sell any goods or services directly to the general public in the UK
  • provide any type of goods and services in the UK or elsewhere during the stay in the UK on a standard visitor visa

If at the border, it may transpire that a tourist intends to undertake prohibited work under Para V4.5 of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules then his/her entry is refused.

Main Reason for Visiting the UK

Please note that a visitor can enter, or extend his/her visit, to do different permitted activities but his/her main reason(s) for travelling to the UK must be visiting. For instance, visiting the UK for meeting family, sight-seeing, attending a business conference, medical treatment, attending work-related training, etc.. Accordingly, the applicant must furnish the requisite details to justify his/her intentions. Therefore, if an applicant has not been able to give a clear reason for visiting the UK, then the application is likely to be refused.

UK Long Term Visit Visa Rules

When a visitor holds a long-term, multiple-entry visitor visa valid for 2, 5 or 10 years, it is quite natural and likely that the reason for visiting may differ over time. This is permissible, provided the applicant continue to intend to undertake one or more permitted visitor activity.

Intentions of Family Members to Live in the UK

For family members, there is no provision to live (permanently) with individuals for either the duration of the stay in the UK or for an extended period of time. If a family member- spouse, parents or child under 18- intends to live in the UK then needs to apply through the dependant routes such as the spouse visa or fiance visa. And also as a dependant of an academic visitor for more than six (6) months. Moreover, family members should not be either making frequent or successive visits to the UK or residing in the United Kingdom for extended periods.

Child Care is a Permitted Activity for a Genuine Visitor/Relative

Where a family member is coming to look after a child in the UK, this is a permitted actively provided it is for a short duration and the relative should not be intending to employed as child-minder. The applicant is required to satisfy the ECO that the visit is for a short period and the applicant is a genuine visitor/relative.

Volunteering for a Registered Charity is a Permitted Activity

Appendix 3 of the Immigration Rules allows a visitor to undertake volunteering (not voluntary work); however, volunteering must not be the main purpose of the visit. Volunteering should only be for a registered charity and cumulatively during the stay period must not be longer than 30 days. Applications of those applicants/visitors are refused who are visiting the UK only for volunteering. It is pertinent to note that if an applicant is visiting the UK for either volunteering or voluntary work, then the applicant should apply through the Tier 5 Charity worker route of the Points Based System (PBS).

What are the Standard Visitor Visa UK Requirements?

After specifying the purpose of visiting the UK, an applicant needs to gather the supporting documents to meet the standard visitor visa UK requirements. To apply for UK standard visitor visa successfully an applicant needs to demonstrate ample funds, the clear intention of leaving the UK at the end of the visit and meeting the costs of the onward journey.

Why meeting standard visitor visa UK requirements important?

It is quite critical to meet the standard visitor visa UK requirements. If an applicant is unable to fulfil the standard visitor visa UK requirements then it is quite certain that the application is likely to be refused. Accordingly, instead of a visa vignette, the passport is returned with a refusal letter explaining the UK visit visa refusal reasons. Perhaps, depending on the rejection reasons, an applicant may reapply or file an immigration judicial review against the UK visitor visa refusal.

How to Apply for Standard Visitor Visa UK Online?

An applicant can apply for 6 months, 2, 5 and 10 years Standard Visitor Visa online at AccessUK. The online application form is fairly simple. If an applicant has done homework then it may not take more than 1-2 hours to fill and finalize the online application form. Therefore, it is important to gather and finalize supporting documents before completing the online application form.

What Information Applicants Need to Provide in the Online Form?

Certainly, an applicant needs to provide the information relating to the purpose of visiting the UK, travel dates, UK address to stay during the visit, an estimate of the trip cost and that of personal circumstances in the home country.

For standard tourist visa applications, the applicants are not required to provide a detailed and paid trip itinerary. Perhaps, an applicant may provide details of UK address in the application form. Moreover, at the border, the immigration officer usually asks about the purpose of visiting the UK. And also, if necessary, may raise a few questions about the planned activities in the UK.

Standard visitor visa applicants also need to provide the details of the residential address in the home country, parents and verifiable monthly or annual income and savings in the online application form.

Moreover, if an applicant has travelled outside the home country during the last 10 years then needs to provide the past 10 years history as per the current and past passport.

Applicants also need to provide their employer’s address and telephone number. Furthermore, a married applicant needs to furnish the details of a spouse such as the name of the partner, date of birth, and passport number.

Details of UK Standard Visitor Visa Sponsor

If an applicant is applying for the standard family visitor visa then needs to furnish information relating to the UK sponsor and family members in the UK. This includes the and address of the sponsor and family members.

Third-Party Funding the UK Standard Visitor Visa Trip Cost

However, if someone else anyone paying for the proposed trip then an applicant needs to provide the name, address, passport number and reason why the third party is bearing the trip cost.

Moreover, applicants need to provide the details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences. And also, if applicable, the details of visa and immigration application refusals.

How to Pay for UK Standard Visitor Visa Application Fee?

Once an applicant finalizes the application form then can proceed to pay the UK standard visitor visa fee online. However, an applicant cannot make any changes in the application form after making the fee payment. Therefore, applicants may review the form 2-3 times before making the payment. And also can take a print out, which will not have barcodes. However, the print out of the final UK standard visitor visa application form after the fee payment will have barcodes on the top right side of every page- with GWF number at the bottom of the barcodes.

Where to Submit Standard Visitor Visa UK Application Form?

If there are more than one UKVACs in a country then the online UK visa application enumerates a list of all available UK visa application centres. For instance, in Lebanon there is only one UKVAC; whereas, in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China there are several UKVACs. Moreover, it also indicates whether priority and super priority visa service are available in a particular UKVAC.

SERVICE OPTION: Standard or Priority Service

If an applicant intends to opt for fast-tracking UK visa then it is better to opt for priority or super-priority service before paying the application fee. If an applicant opts for priority or super-priority service then the final application form will highlight SERVICE OPTION: Priority service. And the total fee appears in the application form will be inclusive of the priority or super-priority service charges.

The total fee for a 2-year visit visa UK with priority service

For example, if an applicant intends to submit a 2 years standard visitor visa UK application at UKVAC Chennai, India, then the final application will show SERVICE OPTION: Standard service and TOTAL FEE: INR 35,230.00. However, if he opts for priority service then the final application form will show SERVICE OPTION: Priority service and TOTAL FEE: INR 56,569.00. Similarly, a 2-year standard visitor visa with super-priority service at UKVAC Chennai will show a TOTAL FEE: INR 131,458.

Standard Visitor Visa UK Fee in GBP

From April 6, 2018, the cost of Standard Visitor Visa UK Application is are as under:

  • Cost of UK 6 month visitor visa fees, single or multiple entry is £93;
  • 2 years visit visa UK fees is £350 Note 1- Application fee of £93 where the applicant is a Chinese national applying in mainland China under the Chinese visa scheme;
  • 5 years visit visa UK fees is £636;
  • Longer-term (valid for up to 10 years) £798;
  • Visiting academic – more than 6 months but less than 12 months £186;
  • Private medical treatment visa – more than 6 months but less than 11 months £186.

The UK visa fees from outside the UK are usually payable in US$. However, in some countries such as India, Singapore, Pakistan etc. the fee is payable in local currencies.

How can I get a GWF number?

A GWF number is an automatically generated number by the UK visa and immigration online application system once an applicant initiates an online application. However, if an applicant fails to finalize the application within 30 days, the application automatically lapses.

A GWF number with barcodes is machine-readable, which is automatically generated once an application is and finalized. Therefore, the only method of getting a GWF number with barcodes is to complete the online application form and pay the application fee.

The final PDF form, with GWF and Barcodes, is generated automatically by the UKVI online system. Usually, it may take a few seconds or minutes before the final PDF form becomes available for printing and download. However, at times due to workload, it may take a few hours before the final form is available for printing and download.

Standard UK Visit Visa Processing Time and Fast Track

The UKVI’s Service Standard is to process 90% of Standard Visitor Visa Applications within 15 working days or 3 weeks. If a person has purchased the priority service (costs £212 from April 6, 2018) then the priority visa processing time is 5 working days or 1 week. The super-priority service (costs £956 in addition to visa application fee), which is available in a few countries and select UKVACs, enables processing of a Standard Visitor Visa within 24 hours.

The Purpose of Priority and Super Priority Service

Here it is important to note that purchase of either priority or super-priority neither guarantees a favourable outcome nor processing within the requisite time, especially if the application is not straightforward due to adverse travel history and complex personal and professional circumstance, which necessitates additional checks and verifications.

UK Visa Application Status Enquiry Using GWF Number

During the processing time, an applicant can take an update on the application by either writing an email or calling the UKVI’s International Contact Centre. The cost of  Email Service (per query) is £5.48 and that of Telephone Helpline £1.37 per minute.

Can I Study in the UK on a Visitor Visa?

A person on a standard visitor visa can study in the UK. Accordingly, this section relates to permitted Study for Visitors and covers the following topics:

  • Study Should Not be the Main Purpose or for more than thirty (30) Days
  • Allowed Exceptions for Long-term Visit Visa Holders
  • Permitted Activities for Educational Exchange Visits
  • State Education – dependant children of the Visiting Academics in the UK for 12 months

Study Should Not be the Main Purpose of Visiting the UK

As per the Immigration Rules visitors can study for a maximum period of thirty (30) days; however, the study should not be their main purpose of visiting the UK. For instance, if a visitor is coming to the UK for holidays and for a max period of thirty (30) days can undertake an English language course. The permitted thirty (30) days may either be in one time period or multiple periods totalling not more than 30 days, for instance, a study on 30 separate days. However, there are some exceptions for Long-Term Visit Visa.

Visitors Not Allowed Frequent Visits to the UK for Study

The applicants are not allowed to make frequent or repeat visits to pursue a longer study course – especially for such a study course which does not meet the requirements of the relevant student route.

If an applicant is intending to visit the UK for undertaking a study course for more than permitted thirty (30) day period or study is the main purpose in coming to the UK then the visitor should apply under the short-term study route.

Recreational and Non-Recreational Short Courses

A bona fide Institute in the UK can offer recreational courses, for instance, horse riding or a dancing course. Courses that could lead to a formal qualification are not generally considered recreational. Requirements for this purpose do not include attendance certificates.

Can I Study English with a Tourist Visa UK?

Non-recreational short courses, such as English language courses or study that is a part of a course of study overseas, are only allowed if the provider meets the criteria of Appendix 3 of the visitor rules.

Allowed exceptions for long-term visit visa holders

A holder of a long-term visitor visa may occasionally wish to visit the UK entirely to study for a short period up to thirty (30) days. This could include – but is not limited to – persons who are undertaking a course of study overseas (inclusive of a UK course by distance learning) and may also require to study in the United Kingdom as part of the course.

Studying a recreational course up to 30 days in the UK

Since a person cannot hold two (2) types of leave at the same time i.e. a long-term visit visa; and leave as a short-term student. Therefore, short-term visitor visa as a short-term student cannot be simultaneously granted without cancelling the long-term visit visa, if the validity of a long-term visit visa and that of a short-term study leave are concurrent. Therefore, a long-term visit visa holder might be allowed to enter to take a course or period of study longer than 30 days. However, the course or period of study should meet the requirements of paragraph 25 of Appendix V of Immigration Rules. Therefore, the course should not exceed 30 days at a stretch, unless it is a recreational course, conducted at an accredited institution.

Moreover, the main purpose of holding a long-term visitor visa should continue to be to undertake permitted activities as a visitor. And visiting the UK should mainly be for permitted activities other than study i.e. time spent studying in the United Kingdom must not exceed the time spent carrying out other permitted activities. In case if the visits are not mainly for permitted visitor activities, the visitor visa could be cancelled, and entry clearance is likely to be refused.

Repeat visits for studying in the UK

If a visitor is making repeated visits to complete a longer course of study and there is a confirmation of acceptance for such a course, then it is quite apparent that the visitor’s main purpose in visiting the UK is to study. Such study should be carried out under either the short-term student route or Tier 4 of the points-based system (PBS) as a short-term student should not intend to study in the UK for extended duration through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student.

The exception does not apply to holders of single entry visitor visas and to non-visa nationals, who are applying for leave to enter as a visitor at the border. For such visitors, the study must not be the main or sole purpose of the visit.

Educational exchange visits on a standard visitor visa

The children should be full-time students in their home country and adults accompanying the group – either their teachers or other adults – should be employed overseas.

Student Exchange Programmes and Educational Visits are generally aimed at broadening horizons and deepening intercultural understanding. Although, these visits are not limited to thirty (30) days; however, the nature of the visit for longer duration visits is scrutinised so as to assess that the proposed exchange programme does not amount to a course of study, which should be carried out under the study routes. Moreover, schools are allowed to decide the precise nature of the visit; however, evidence of a programme of cultural visits or other activities is required to be provided for assessment at the application stage.

State Education for dependant children of visiting academics

The requirement that a visitor should not intend to study at a maintained school might be waived for a dependant of a visitor that has entered the United Kingdom for the purpose of accompanying his/her parent, who is a visiting academic on sabbatical leave and undertaking research for up to twelve (12) months in the UK.

Admission to maintained schools is not an immigration matter. The Department of Education has policy responsibility for admissions to schools in England. Admissions policy elsewhere in the United Kingdom is a question for the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Therefore, the responsibility for deciding whether or not to admit a child to an individual maintained school lies with the school’s admission authority i.e. a local authority in case of a community or voluntary controlled school and school’s governing body in the event of foundation school or voluntary aided school.

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