This guidance relates to UK visa requirements and assessment under Appendix V for visitors of the Immigration Rules. And explains: how an applicant can meet the UK standard visitor visa requirements under paragraphs V4.2-V4.10 of Appendix V to get a tourist, family or business visit visa? In fact, the post also tries to explain: how to apply for UK visa online and meet the UK visitor visa application requirements.
- UK visit visa requirements and the application process: FAQs
- So, how to meet the UK visitor visa requirements?
- What is the most critical UK visitor visa requirement?
- Is getting a UK visit visa really difficult?
- How to apply for a UK visitor visa application?
- What are the UK visa requirements for non-visa nationals?
- What are the UK visa requirements for EU citizens after Brexit?
- Who needs to meet the visa requirement for travelling to the UK?
- How many people apply for the UK visit visa each year?
- What is the UK visitor visa refusal rate?
- What are the UK visitor visa requirements under Appendix V?
- What are the UK visitor visa application requirements?
- How the UK visitor visa requirements are assessed?
- What is the meaning of onus of proof?
- What is the meaning of balance of probabilities?
- What factors influence the decision?
- Do ECOs make inadvertent mistakes?
- Do ECOs really scrutinize the application?
- What are the possible outcomes?
- What is a borderline decision?
- How much time the assessment may take?
- When a UK standard visitor visa is refused?
- So, what to do after the refusal?
- What if an applicant gets a 10-year ban on general grounds?
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UK visit visa requirements and the application process: FAQs
Quite clearly, the UK visit visa requirements under the Immigration Rules means that an applicant clarifies the intentions and purpose of visiting the UK, provides verifiable proof of the ability to meet the trip cost without recourse to public funds and clarifies intentions to return home after the journey.
In a nutshell, the application process starts with a reason or need to visit the UK. Accordingly, an applicant needs to gather the supporting documents, fill the online application form, pay the fee, attend the appointment at a UKVAC for biometrics and submit the passport. Afterwards, ECO makes a decision and subsequently, the applicant collects the passport from the application centre.
Perhaps, most applicants think that UK visit visa requirements are nothing more than just filling an online application form, attaching the supporting documents, fee payment and going to an application centre for submitting documents and biometrics. However, in fact, these are merely procedural requirements. Accordingly, are only necessary conditions but not sufficient condition to get a UK tourist or family visit visa. Therefore, to get a UK visitor visa an applicant needs to not only follow the correct application procedure but also fulfils the eligibility requirements under Paragraph v4.2-v4.10 of Appendix V.
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So, how to meet the UK visitor visa requirements?
Perhaps, the first and foremost UK visa requirement is that the applicant clearly specifies the purpose of the visit. Moreover, an applicant needs to furnish supporting documents to substantiate the information provided in the application form. Accordingly, the aim of the supporting documents is to prove that the applicant:
- has ample funds to support the trip costs, without recourse to public funds
- intends to leave the UK at the end of the visit i.e. strong ties to the home country
- can meet the costs of an onward journey
Accordingly, an applicant needs to prove that he/she will travel to the UK and will return to the Home Country after performing the permitted activity. Moreover, each visitor needs to meet the UK visit visa requirements- even if he/she is travelling in a family group, tour group or a school party!
What is the most critical UK visitor visa requirement?
Perhaps, in terms with Paragraph V 4.2 (a) and (c) of Appendix V, the most critical requirement for UK tourist and family visit visa is to satisfy that the applicant will leave the United Kingdom at the end of the trip. And the applicant is only seeking entry for a permitted purpose. Accordingly, the refusal letter usually concludes by questioning the genuine intentions of an applicant to visit the United Kingdom.
Is getting a UK visit visa really difficult?
Perhaps, since the New Immigration Rules in April 2015, it has become slightly more difficult to get the UK visit visa. However, if an applicant clarifies the purpose and properly documents the application then chances of success are quite high.
How to apply for a UK visitor visa application?
Indeed, there is ONLY ONE METHOD of applying for UK tourist or family visit visa i.e. apply online at AccessUK. And afterwards, the applicant submits documents at the application centre. And undergoes the biometrics.
What are the UK visa requirements for non-visa nationals?
Certainly, non-visa nationals such as citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc may not need a visa for coming to the UK as a visitor.
However, in terms of paragraph V 1.3 of Appendix V, a non-visa national is required to apply for a visit visa if he/she is:
- coming to the UK to marry or to form a civil partnership, or to give notice of marriage or civil partnership in the UK, or
- intending to travel for more than 6 months for private medical treatment in the UK or as visiting academics
What are the UK visa requirements for EU citizens after Brexit?
Certainly, at present, EU citizens don’t require a visa to travel to the UK. However, after Brexit, with the end of the free movement, most of the EU citizens may be able to travel to the UK without a visa. Perhaps, similar to non-visa nationals such as American, Australian, Canadian citizens.
Who needs to meet the visa requirement for travelling to the UK?
Apparently, citizens of 111 visa national countries require to have a visa for travelling to the UK. However, nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE can get an electronic visa waiver (EVW) for travel to the UK. In fact, the EVW is only for visiting up to 6 months for meeting family, tourism, business, study and private medical treatment.
How many people apply for the UK visit visa each year?
According to official statistics, during 2018, a total of 3.29m applications made for a UK entry clearance visa. In fact, a total of 2.59m entry clearance applications were for UK visit and transit visas. Therefore, more than 79% of the total entry clearance applications in 2018 were for visiting the UK. Perhaps, it is not wrong to say that when people are talking about the UK visa they are in fact talking about the UK visit visa, and more specifically are unintentionally referring to the UK standard visitor visa!
What is the UK visitor visa refusal rate?
Evidently, the UK visa success and refusal rate vary over time and from region to region. And also from country to country. Accordingly, for some countries it is as low as 1-3%; however, for others it is more than 10-15%. Perhaps for some countries, the refusal rate is closer to 50%!
Moreover, there are no allocated quotas for any region or country. Accordingly, the decision relating to grant or refusal is purely a function of the assessment process. However, for some high-risk low-income countries, the interpretation of immigration rules is a bit more stringent. Perhaps, at times quite harsh indeed!
What are the UK visitor visa requirements under Appendix V?
In terms of Paragraph V4.1 of Appendix V, an applicant needs to meet the following UK visitor visa requirements under Paragraph v4.2-v4.10 of the Immigration Rules:
- Genuine Intentions to Visit (V 4.2) i.e. the visitor will travel to the UK and come back to the home country at his/her own cost without recourse to the public funds
- If necessary, a Third-Party (sponsor) (V 4.3 and 4.4) such as a genuine family member, friend, business partner etc can provide the funds, maintenance and accommodation during the visit
- the visitor has no intentions of doing work (V 4.5 and V 4.6) and indulges in any prohibited activities
- Payments (V 4.7): a visitor can only receive permitted payments
- The applicant has no intentions to study (V 4.8) except as permitted by paragraph 25 of Appendix 3
- No intentions to access medical treatment (V 4.9) other than private medical treatment or to donate an organ
- No intentions to marry or form a civil partnership, or to give notice of this (V 4.10) except for in case of marriage visit visa
Moreover, all travellers also need to fulfil the suitability requirements as per Part V3 (3.1 to 3.16) of Appendix V for the UK visit visa.
Why establishing genuine intentions is critical?
Perhaps, the UK visitor visa requirements relating to work, receipt of payment, study, medical treatment and marriage are futuristic in nature. Accordingly, UK tourist and family visit visa application requirements under Paragraph V 4.5 to 4.10 of Appendix V relates to the prohibited activities i.e. these will affect the eligibility of a visitor if he/she will breach the Condition of Stay. And may lead to the UK visit visa cancellation.
Moreover, the evidence relating to sponsor documents (V 4.3 and V 4.4) is supplementary in nature. Apparently, most of the visitors applying for UK tourist visa even don’t need to furnish any sponsor documents. Therefore, an applicant can only furnish evidence relating to genuine intentions to visit the UK as per Paragraph V 4.2 of Appendix V.
What is the meaning of genuine intentions under paragraph V4.2?
In terms of paragraph V 4.2 of Appendix V, an applicant needs to satisfy that he/she is a genuine visitor, which means that the applicant:
- will leave the UK at the end of their visit
- will not live for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK his/her main home
- is genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for a permitted activity. For details of permitted activities please refer Appendices 3, 4 and 5 of Appendix V
- will not undertake any prohibited activity set out in paragraph V 4.5 – V 4.10 of Appendix V
- have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs of the trip without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of the return or onward journey and costs relating to dependants. And also the cost of any planned activity such as private medical treatment
What are the UK visitor visa application requirements?
In fact, the UK standard visitor visa application requirements is quite upfront and involves the following steps:
Step # 1 Specify a Purpose and Create an Online Application
Yes, if an applicant intends to apply for UK standard visitor visa then the first step is to clearly specify the purpose of visiting the UK. In fact, the most common purposes are meeting family, relatives, friends and general tourism for leisure and sightseeing. And also purposes relating to business, attending meetings, job interviews etc. Moreover, the UK standard visitor visa 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
Therefore, after gathering the supporting document start filling the online application form.
Are there any additional requirements for some visitors?
Perhaps, there are additional requirements for:
- child visitors (V 4.11 – V 4.13)
- private medical treatment (V 4.14 – V 4.16)
- organ donors (V 4.17 – V 4.20)
- Chinese nationals under ADS agreement (V 4.21)
- academic seeking a 12-month visa (V 4.22)
Accordingly, these types of applicants can meet the UK visitor visa requirements by furnishing the relevant additional documentary evidence.
Step # 2 Review and Finalise the application
After completing the online application form an applicant needs to review the form and supporting documents. Perhaps, if necessary, an applicant may take a printout of the application form.
Please note: an applicant cannot make any changes in the UK tourist and family visit visa online application form after making the fee payment. Therefore, it is important to review the form 2-3 times before making the payment. Moreover, the print out of the application form before the payment will not have barcodes. However, the print out of the final 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.
Therefore, after reviewing the UK tourist or family visit visa online application form the applicant may proceed forward to select the relevant application centre in his/her country/city.
Step # 3 Select Service Type and Pay the Application Fee
- Choose the service type (standard, priority or super-priority) on the application form
- Proceed further to make an online payment
- Immediately afterwards, you will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with either of the following captioned subjects:
- UK visa application: payment refused [Applicant’s Name] or
- UK visa application: payment confirmation – what to do next [Applicant’s Name]
- If your payment is refused then try again using the same or different Credit/Debit card. Hopefully, after 2-3 failed attempts and talking to your bank you will finally be able to make the payment. However, in most of the cases, the payment process is quite hassle-free!
- Accordingly, after receiving the payment confirmation email, take a printout of the online application form and supporting documents checklist
Step #4 Prepare/upload the Final Documents’ Bunch
- Review the final application form for minor corrections and typing errors!
- Review the supporting documents in the light of the supporting documents checklist of UKVI
- Finalize the documents’ bunch i.e. take the printout of the final PDF of the UK tourist or family visit visa application form with barcodes plus the supporting documents. And if necessary then also a cover letter.
Step #5 Go to the UKVAC on Application Day
Go to the application centre at the appointment date- try to reach 15 mins prior to the appointment time. And wait for your turn. The staff of the application centre will cursorily review the documents. And then take the biometrics. And once the submission process is complete then give you a receipt. Please note: the staff of UKVACs is usually very polite.
Can a person submit an application for the family members?
Certainly, not. Palpably, an applicant needs to personally submit the application form, along with supporting documents, at the UK visa application centre (UKVAC). Moreover, every applicant needs to go through biometrics. Therefore, even a family member such as a spouse/father can’t submit the UK tourist or family visit visa application on behalf of spouse/children.
For instance, if a three-member family (i.e. husband, wife and a 12-year-old) is intending to visit the British Isles for holidays then all three applicants need to apply online. And pay the UK tourist visa application fee online. Moreover, on the appointment date, all three family members need to go to the application centre. The staff of the application centre will cursory review their application forms and supporting documents. Afterwards will take their PHOTO and biometrics. And will seal the passports in an envelope.
Step #6 Now wait for the UK visa decision
Certainly, most of the applicants quite anxiously await the outcome of the UK visa application decision. Therefore, in case of standard service, an applicant receives the much keenly awaited UK visa decision email after 10-15 working days. Perhaps, the UK visa decision email confirms that UKVI will not contact the applicant for interview or submission of any additional documents. Moreover, irrespective of the wordings of the UK visa decision email, the purpose is to intimate the applicant that the application has been concluded. And the UKVAC, which has taken the applicant’s biometrics, will contact the applicant when the passport is ready for collection.
How the UK visitor visa requirements are assessed?
The Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) assesses an application in the light of Immigration Rules. Perhaps, the assessment process evaluates an applicant’s genuine intentions to visit the UK on the principle of balance of probabilities. However, for proving genuine intentions the onus of proof is on the applicant. Therefore, the ECO evaluates an applicant’s eligibility and circumstances in the light of the application form and supporting documents. And accordingly, after going through the available information makes a decision in the light of Appendix V Immigration Rules for visitors!
What is the meaning of onus of proof?
An applicant needs to provide clear and conclusive evidence to establish personal circumstances and credibility. Certainly, a failure to do so is a common refusal reason. Accordingly, if an ECO is not satisfied that an applicant may be able to either maintain himself during the trip or return to the home country then the ECO is quite likely to conclude by raising questions about the credibility and genuine intentions of visiting the British Isles.
What is the meaning of balance of probabilities?
In the context of the UK visa assessment, the balance of probabilities means the overall credibility of the applicant and authenticity of the evidence. Please note: in the assessment process there is no room for benefit of doubt i.e. if the decision-maker has even an iota of doubt about the credibility then the likely outcome is a refusal.
What factors influence the decision?
Perhaps, a decision-maker usually evaluates whether an applicant is able to meet the following UK standard visitor visa requirements:
- Is the purpose of visiting credible?
- What are the financial and personal circumstances of an applicant? In fact, this means evaluating the ties of the applicant to the country of residence. Perhaps, in case of repeat visitors, the ECO considers any changes in the circumstances of an applicant
- What is immigration and travel history of the applicant? Perhaps, this means compliance with the UK Immigration Rules (for repeat visitors), travels and trips to other countries. And also the failure to comply with the Immigration Law of other countries
- The duration of foreign trips and time spent in the United Kingdom for repeat visitors
- Is an applicant making the UK his/her main home (for repeat visitors)?
- What is the duration and frequency of visits (for repeat visitors)?
- The risk perception of an applicant’s country of residence. Perhaps, this means the situation of an applicant’s country of residence. And the degree of non-compliance to Immigration Rules
- Other possible grounds for doubting the intentions such as the previous history of deception, discrepancies of statements, information not verifiable, information and reasons not credible, baggage search at the border (entry clearance) etc.
Do ECOs make inadvertent mistakes?
Yes, like any other human being ECOs are prone to make an inadvertent mistake. Perhaps, at times due to workload, they just skim through the application. Therefore, if an applicant thinks that the refusal letter does not justify the facts of the application then can file an immigration judicial review.
Do ECOs really scrutinize the application?
Yes, the entry clearance officer (ECO) has the requisite training and expertise to scrutinize the UK standard visitor visa applications. For instance, an ECO knows that a person with weak ties in the home country is likely to indulge in a prohibited activity such as:
- take full time or part-time employment
- do work for any organisation or business
- establish or operate a business as a self-employed person
- do an internship or work placement
- sell any goods or services directly to the general public
- provide any type of goods and services or elsewhere during the stay in the United Kingdom
Accordingly, if an ECO doubts the intentions of an applicant then refuses the UK tourist or family visit visa application. Therefore, it is very important to clarify the purpose of the visit. And also to provide necessary documents to establish strong ties with the home country. However, if an applicant fails to document the application properly then the ECO may not have any other option but to refuse the application.
What are the possible outcomes?
In fact, the UK visa assessment process concludes with the following four types of decisions:
- Grant of visa as per the request of the applicant. For instance, the grant of 6-months visa if an applicant has applied for a 6-months visa
- Borderline decisions: grants of a visa, which is less than the expectations of an applicant. For instance, the ECO grants a single entry visa for 30 days, instead of the 6-months multiple entry visa.
- If during the assessment process the ECO doubts the intentions of an applicant then instead of granting a visa, the passport is returned with a Refusal Letter, stating the refusal reasons.
- A refusal on the suitability grounds, which may also include a re-entry ban or 10-year deception ban.
What is a borderline decision?
At times, a borderline decision may yield a favourable outcome. However, the result may not commensurate with the expectations of an applicant. Perhaps, the most common example of a borderlines decision is the issuance of short term 6 months visa even if the applicant has paid the application fee for a long-term visa. For instance, an applicant, applying for a 2-year application for business purpose, may end up getting a 6-months visa if he/she fails to explain the need for recurring visits to the UK.
How much time the assessment may take?
Quite clearly, the UK standard visitor visa assessment process is not an open-ended process. Perhaps, in most of the instances, the ECO does not take much time to decide an application. Therefore, the assessment process (i.e. reviewing the GWF Application Form and the supporting documents) should not take more than a few hours- perhaps even less. Accordingly, the decision-maker forms an opinion about the overall credibility of the applicant. And makes a decision accordingly. However, in only a few instances, the ECO may like to verify the documents, request for additional documents or interview the applicant then it may delay the decision-making process. However, if any case, what is important is the outcome and not the time duration.
When a UK standard visitor visa is refused?
If an applicant is not able to establish bonafide in the application then instead of a visa, the passport is returned with a Refusal Letter. Accordingly, the refusal letter states the reasons for refusing the application.
Why UK visa refused due to income and bank statement?
Perhaps, in more than 80–90% of the cases, the common reasons relate to establishing income. This usually means origination of funds in the bank statement from employment or business. Accordingly, large deposits in the bank statements, which do not commensurate with the stated income of an applicant, is one of the most common UK visa rejection reason.
So, what to do after the refusal?
Perhaps, after receiving a simple refusal, it is quite possible to reapply. However, keeping in view the nature and details of the refusal, an applicant can decide whether to challenge a refusal or reapply after rejection. Moreover, an authorized immigration solicitor can either challenge a refusal decision on behalf of an applicant or represents a reapplication.
What if an applicant gets a 10-year ban on general grounds?
Perhaps, quite a few applications get a deception ban on General Grounds, mainly due to false documents or making false statements in the application or during the interview.
Please note: in case of a 10-year BAN, any future applications are automatically refused up-to 10 years. Therefore, if an applicant thinks that the BAN is not justified then he/she needs to the challenge the refusal through a Judicial Review, as there is No Right of Appeal even in case of a UK family visitor visa application since June 25, 2013.
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Moreover, to know the country-specific details of UK visa application requirements please refer to Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the USA.