Perhaps, most applicants think that UK standard visitor visa application requirements are nothing more than just filling an online 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 standard tourist, family or business visitor visa. Therefore, in order to 100% get a UK standard visitor visa, an applicant needs to not only follow the correct application procedure but also needs to fulfil the eligibility requirements under Paragraph v4.2-v4.10 of Appendix V. Accordingly, in order to enable the applicants to 100% get the visit visa, this guidance explains: how to apply for UK standard visitor visa and meet requirements?
Please note, each applicant needs to meet the UK standard visitor visa requirements, even if travelling in a school party, family or tour group!
UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirements under the Immigration Rules
Quite clearly, the UK standard visitor 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. Therefore, in terms of Paragraph V4.1 of Appendix V, an applicant needs to meet the following UK standard visitor visa requirements under 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 indulging in any prohibited activities
- a visitor can only receive permitted payments (V 4.7)
- The applicant has no intentions to study (V 4.8) except as permitted in 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 pass the suitability requirements under Part V3 (3.1-3.16) of Appendix V.
A Review of UK Visitor Visa Requirements under V4.2-4.10
Perhaps, the UK standard visitor visa requirements under Paragraph V4.2-4.10 relating to work, receipt of payment, study, medical treatment and marriage are futuristic in nature. Accordingly, UK standard visitor visa requirements under Paragraph V 4.5 to 4.10 of Appendix V relates to the prohibited activities i.e. these will only affect the eligibility of a visitor if he/she will breach the Condition of Stay, which may lead to 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 a tourist visa even don’t really need to furnish any sponsor documents. Therefore, fulfilling the UK standard visitor visa requirements under Paragraph V4.2 relating to Genuine Intentions is critical for a successful outcome. According, an applicant needs to satisfy that he/she:
- will leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit
- will not stay in the United Kingdom for extended periods through frequent and successive visits
- is genuinely seeking entry as a visitor only for a permitted activity
- will not make the United Kingdom his/her main home
- will not undertake any prohibited activity set out in paragraph V 4.5 – V 4.10 of Appendix V
- has sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs of the trip without working and public funds. Please note, sufficient funds includes the expenses relating to:
- return or onward journey
- dependant family members such as spouse and accompanied children
- any planned activity such as tourism, sightseeing, private medical treatment etc.
The Critical UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirement
Perhaps, in terms with Paragraph V 4.2 (a) and (c) of Appendix V, the most critical UK standard visitor visa requirement 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.
UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirements for Non-visa Nationals
Apparently, citizens of 111 visa national countries require to have a visa for travelling to the UK. And, 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. However, 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 intending to:
- marry or to form a civil partnership, or to give notice of marriage or civil partnership, or
- travel for more than 6 months for private medical treatment or visiting academics
UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirements for EU citizens after Brexit
Certainly, at present, EU citizens don’t require a visa to travel to Britain. However, after Brexit, with the end of the free movement, most of the EU citizens may be able to travel to Britain without a visa. Perhaps, similar to non-visa nationals such as American, Australian, Canadian citizens.
Is getting a UK visitor visa really difficult?
Perhaps, since the New Immigration Rules in April 2015, it has become slightly more difficult to get the UK standard visitor visa. However, if an applicant clarifies the purpose and properly documents the application then chances of success are quite high. Please note, in 2019, the UK visitor visa success rate 2019 was 87.46%.
How to apply for UK standard visitor visa and meet requirements?
Apparently, an applicant needs to follow the following steps to meet the UK standard visitor visa requirements:
- Specify the Purpose of Visiting the UK
- Gather Supporting Documents
- Create an Online Application Form
- Review and Finalise the Application
- Select Service Type and Pay the Application Fee
- Prepare/upload the Final Documents’ Bunch
- Go to the UKVAC on Application Day
- Wait for the Decision
Therefore, in a nutshell, the standard visitor visa application process starts with a reason or need of visiting the UK. Perhaps, the first and foremost UK standard visitor visa requirement is to clearly specifies the purpose of the visit. Afterwards, an applicant needs to gather the supporting documents and start filling the online application form. Once an applicant is able to gather the requisite documents and fill the online form then needs to review these before making the payment. Moreover, on the appointment day at a UKVAC, the applicant will go through the biometrics. And accordingly, submits the application. Thereafter, the UKVAC will forward the application to British High Commision (BHC). And an Entry Clearance Office (ECO) will assess the application. Once the decision is made then the BHC will inform the applicant to wait for further information from the UKVAC for passport collections.
Specify the Purpose of Visiting the UK
Apparently, 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. Perhaps, the most common purposes of applying for UK standard visitor visa are:
- meeting family, relatives or friends in the UK
- general tourism for leisure and sightseeing
- business relating purposes such as attending meetings, job interviews etc.
What is a UK tourist and family visitor visa?
When an applicant applies the UK standard visitor visa for the purpose of tourism then it is commonly known as a tourist visa application. And when an applicant applies standard visa for meeting a family member in the UK then it is commonly known as a family visitor visa application.
Other purposes of applying for UK standard visitor visa
In fact, the UK standard visitor visa also covers the following less frequent purposes of visiting the UK such as:
- 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
Gather Supporting Documents for UK Standard Visitor Visa
In fact, an applicant needs to furnish supporting documents to substantiate the information provided in the application form. Therefore, proper supporting documents plays a critical role in proving that the applicant is a genuine visitor. 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
Therefore, the supporting documents help in substantiating an applicant’s claim that he/she will travel to the UK and will return to the Home Country after performing the permitted activity.
UK Visit Visa Bank Statement Requirement
As a matter of fact, a bank statement is an easily verifiable document. And indeed plays a critical role in establishing the overall intentions and credibility of an applicant. Accordingly, bank statement helps in establishing the income and savings to bear the trip cost without recourse to public funds. Please note, the credit transactions in the bank statement also reflects the source of income from business or employment. Thus, a personal or business bank statement can be helpful in establishing ties to the country of residence. Therefore, an active last 6-months bank statement of a current or savings account with a minimum average balance of more than US$2-3K can be helpful in getting a UK visit visa. However, as such there is no min or max balance requirements in the bank statement to apply for UK visit visa application.
Additional Supporting Documents
Perhaps, there are additional supporting documents are required 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 standard visitor visa requirements by furnishing the relevant additional documentary evidence.
Trip itinerary (tour details) for the UK tourist visa
Perhaps if an applicant is applying for UK tourist visa then it is expedient to provide a trip itinerary. However, there is no need for providing tour details for a UK family visitor visa application. Apparently, a 15-day trip itinerary for UK tourist visa application may include the following activities:
Day 1, 2, 3, 4- Glimpses of London
Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross Station)
Westminster- Church, Parliament Buildings and Big Ben
London Eye (Ride)
Boat ride on the Thames
Tower of London (Inside)
Day 5, 6, 7, 8- Museum Days
Natural History Museum
Science Museum (South Kensington Station)
Victoria and Albert Museum
Leicester Square/Oxford Circus
Day 9, 10, 11- Gardens Days
Kew Gardens (whole day)
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Hyde Park (Walk)
Day 12 and 13 – Shopping and Glimpses of London
Is proper documentation critical for success?
Yes, perhaps, the UK visit visa application outcome greatly depends on the presentation of the personal circumstances in the application– i.e. how accurately an applicant fills the online application form. And how accurate are the supporting documents to justify the purpose and explaining the personal circumstances of an applicant?
Accordingly, to substantiate the personal credentials, ability to maintain during the visit and bearing the cost of a return journey, an applicant needs to submit evidence such as marriage or civil partnership certificate, family form, bank statements, income and tax certificates and returns. However, there is no need for submitting meaningless supporting documents such as credit card statements.
Why passport is important?
Perhaps, a travel document, usually a national passport, is the most critical and mandatory 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 UK standard visitor visa. Certainly, frequent short travel international travels provide a strong signal regarding an applicant’s financial ability and intentions to return home.
But then why frequent travellers get a refusal?
Perhaps, at times, a UK visitor visa application of an applicant with above-average travel history gets refused due to the inability of an applicant to explain circumstances in a befitting manner. Therefore, it is very important to fill the UK standard visitor visa online application form carefully and correctly. And also to furnish relevant supporting documents.
Is an invitation letter necessary for UK tourist visa?
No, a sponsor letter is not a mandatory UK standard visitor visa requirement. Therefore, for a UK tourist visa application, it is expedient that an applicant furnishes a trip itinerary to justify the purpose of visiting the UK. Certainly, it is crucial for the UK tourist visa applicant to establish genuine intentions of returning to the home country. And also to provide evidence of maintenance funds for the trip.
Can a third party sponsor the trip cost?
Yes, in case of family or business visits, a third party can sponsor the applicant. If a third party is sponsoring the trip costs than an applicant needs to provide the name, address and copy of the British passport (or residence permit), bank statements, accommodation details of the sponsor. And importantly the reason why the third party is bearing the trip cost.
Is the cover letter really necessary?
Well, it is optional. Perhaps, a cover letter is only recommended for complex applications, which are not straightforward.
Do applicants need a passport-size photo for UK tourist visa?
Certainly not! For the last 3–4 years there is NO NEED of TAKING a Passport Size Photo with the application at the UKVAC. Certainly, the staff of the application centre takes an electronic photo of the applicant, in tandem with the biometrics i.e. scanning of fingers + thumbs. In case of a successful assessment/decision, the British HC or Embassy use the electronic photo for visa vignette.
Can an applicant use an immigration consultant or a lawyer?
Yes, the consultant or the lawyer can help prepare the application. However, can’t submit an application at the application centre on behalf of an applicant.
What are the chances of getting a UK standard visitor visa?
The decision is an outcome of the assessment process, which evaluates the overall credibility of an applicant. Perhaps, establishing this overall credibility determines the chances of getting a UK standard visitor visa!
Is it possible to book a flight without paying first?
Yes, it is quite possible. Perhaps, an applicant can ask a travel agent to book a return ticket or can also book a flight directly from any suitable online website. Usually, quite a few airlines provide for online ticket booking without payment for a certain duration. However, there is no need for purchasing the ticket as it would not increase the balance of probability of granting a UK tourist visa. Please note: it is quite a normal practice to provide the booking of the flights. Therefore, any travel agent can provide a travel booking without payment. However, once an applicant gets the UK tourist visa then may proceed to shop around for purchasing a return ticket!
Create UK Standard Visitor Visa Online Application
After gathering the supporting document, an applicant can start filling the online application form. Please note, there is ONLY ONE METHOD of applying for UK standard visitor visa i.e. apply online at AccessUK. Moreover, the online form is fairly simple. Perhaps, if an applicant has done homework then it may not take more than 1-2 hours to fill and finalize the form. Therefore, it is important to gather and finalize supporting documents before completing the online application form.
Please note, the finally filled UK standard visitor visa online application form (PDF) usually has the following sections:
- Summary information
- Travel information
- Personal information
- Passport details
- Spouse/partner details
- Dependant details
- Parent details
- Employment, Income and expenditure sections
- Accommodation details in the UK
- Travel history (UK)
- Travel history (other countries)
- Other history
- Convictions and other penalties
- Medical treatment
- Extra information
- English language
How to get UK standard visitor visa application GWF number?
In fact, a GWF number is an automatically generated number by the UK visa and immigration (UKVI) 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.
When an applicant gets the GWF number with barcodes?
A GWF number with barcode is machine-readable, which is automatically generated once an application is 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 UK standard visitor visa application PDF form, with GWF number 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 downloading. However, at times due to workload, it may take a few hours before the final form is available for printing and downloading.
When applying for a long term visa is a better choice?
Perhaps, if a person has good travel history and personal credentials then instead of applying for 6-months visitor visa, he/she may opt to apply for a long term 2, 5 or 10-year multiple entry visa as such applicants may be able to justify the visiting the UK as tourists on frequent basis.
Review the UK Standard Visitor Visa 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 standard visitor 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 standard visitor visa online application form the applicant may proceed forward to select the relevant application centre in his/her country/city.
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
How to select UK visa application centre on online form?
If there are more than one application centres in a country then the UK tourist and family visitor visa online application form enumerates a list of all available application centres. For instance, in Lebanon, there is only one application centre. However, in Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China there are several application centres. Moreover, it also indicates whether priority and super priority visa service are available at a particular application centre.
Can an applicant fact track the UK visitor visa application?
Yes, an applicant can fast-track UK standard visitor visa application by paying for priority or super-priority service. 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 online form that will be inclusive of the priority or super-priority service charges.
Example of UK 2-year visa fee with and without priority service
For instance, if an applicant intends to submit a 2-year UK standard visitor visa application at UKVAC Chennai, India, then the final application will show SERVICE OPTION: Standard service and TOTAL FEE: INR 35,230.00. However, if the applicant opts for priority service then the final UK standard visitor visa application form will show SERVICE OPTION: Priority service and TOTAL FEE: INR 56,569.00. Similarly, a 2-year application with super-priority service at UKVAC Chennai will show a TOTAL FEE: INR 131,458.
What is the purpose of the priority and super-priority service?
Here it is important to note that purchase of priority or super-priority does not guarantee a favourable outcome or processing of an application within the requisite time, especially if the application is non straightforward due to adverse travel history and complex personal and professional circumstance, which necessitates additional checks and verifications.
Do applicants use the priority service?
Yes, they do, if they can afford. Apparently, the actual UK visa processing times indicate that 15-40% of the standard visitor visa applications are decided within 3-5 working days.
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 standard visitor visa application form with barcodes plus the supporting documents. And if necessary then also a cover letter.
The Final UK Standard Visitor Visa Supporting Documents Checklist
Moreover, once an applicant finalizes the online application form and pays the fee the system automatically provides for the checklist of supporting documents. Therefore, if some documents are missing then an applicant has an opportunity to add the remaining documents.
Submit UK Standard Visitor Visa Application at the UKVAC
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 standard visitor 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.
How long it takes to get the UK visitor visa decision?
The UKVI’s Service Standard is to process 90% of UK tourist visa applications within 15 working days or 3 weeks. If a person has purchased the priority service (costs £220 from March 29, 2019) then the priority tourist visa processing time is 5 working days or 1 week. The super-priority service (costs £956 in addition to visa application fee) is also available in a few countries. And select centres enable processing of applications within 24 hours.
How to know the UK visitor visa application status?
In fact, an applicant can take an update on the UK tourist application status by either writing an email or calling the UKVI International Contact Centre. The cost of Email Service (per query) is £5.48 and that of Telephone Helpline is £1.37 per minute.
Wait for the 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.
What if the 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.
UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirements and the Assessment Process
Perhaps, most the applicants don’t know about the UK visitor visa application process. And since they don’t know about the process, they don’t have confidence in the assessment procedure. In fact, the assessment process is quite elaborate and an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) does not come up with the UK visitor visa refusal reason in isolation.
Accordingly, an ECO is duty bound to assess an application in the light of Appendix V, Immigration Rules. And evaluates an applicant’s intentions on the principle of balance of probabilities. However, for proving genuine intentions the onus of proof is on the applicant. Accordingly, an applicant needs to provide clear and conclusive evidence to establish personal circumstances and credibility. Certainly, a failure to do so is one of the common UK general visitor visa refusal reasons. 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.
UK Visitor Visa Requirements and the Balance of Probabilities
In the context of the assessment process, 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. Moreover, the principle of balance of probabilities is not applicable if the UK visa refusal reasons relates to suitability grounds under Part V 3 paragraphs V 3.2-11 of Appendix V for visitors. In fact, even if an applicant meets all the eligibility requirements.
Do ECOs really scrutinize the UK Visitor Visa Application?
Yes, the entry clearance officer (ECO) has the requisite training and expertise to scrutinize the UK standard visitor visa applications. 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.
The Possible Outcomes of UK Visitor Visa Application
In fact, the 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. For instance, issuance of 6 months visa even if the applicant has paid fee for a long-term visa.
The UK Visitor Visa Visa Assessment Timelines
Quite clearly, the 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. If the ECO verifies the documents, requests for documents or interview then this may delay the processing time. However, if any case, what is important is the outcome and not the time duration.
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. If the UK visa refusal letter does not justify the facts then an applicant can file an immigration judicial review.
ECOs don’t use discretion very often!
Here it is important to mention that it is not possible for the evaluating officer to grant a UK visitor visa on an application which does not fulfil the requirements. Although the ECOs have discretionary powers but they only use discretion in exceptional and compelling circumstances.