UK Visitor Visa application requirements, guidance and faqs 2019!

UK visit visa requirements under Appendix V for visitors!In the light of Appendix V Immigration Rules, this relates to UK standard visitor visa application 2019 requirements, guidance, details of the assessment process and faqs, especially for tourist and family visits. Perhaps, the UK visa application process starts with a reason or need of visiting the UK. And culminates when an ECO makes a decision and subsequently the applicant collects the passport from the application centre. Certainly, the decision is an outcome of the assessment process, which evaluates the overall credibility of the applicant for visiting the UK. Indeed, the post highlights the critical importance of UK visa requirements under paragraph v4.2-v4.10 Appendix V for a successful decision. Accordingly, the post covers the following topics:

    1. Overview of the UK visitor visa requirements and faqs 2019
    2. How to apply for the UK visa application online?
    3. What are UK visa requirements under paragraph V4.2-V4.10 of Appendix V for visitors?
    4. How the UK visa assessment process works?
    5. What factors affect the UK visitor visa decision?
    6. Do I need a visa to travel to the UK?
    7. Can a visitor study on the UK visitor visa?

A) Overview of the UK visitor visa requirements and faqs 2019

Quite certainly, the aim of this guidance is to enable applicants to apply the UK standard visitor visa online application successfully! Therefore, before explaining the UK visitor visa requirements under paragraphs V4.2-V4.10 Appendix V, it is expedient to provide answers to faqs. Perhaps, this will enable the applicants to understand the context and implications of the online application form (PART B) and UK visa requirements (PART C). And that of UK visit visa assessment (PART D) and the factors affecting UK visa decision (PART E) in a better manner.

FAQ 1: What are the common UK visitor visa types?

According to Appendix V Immigration Rules, at present, there are only 4 types of UK visas for visiting the United Kingdom i.e.

  1. UK standard visitor visa
  2. UK Marriage visitor visa
  3. Permitted paid engagement (PPE) visa
  4. Transit visa

Please note: ADS, medical and academic visit visas are a part of the UK standard visitor visa. Similarly, the tourist, family and business visit visas are in fact standard visas. Moreover, it is a prerequisite for marriage, PPE and transit visitors to meet the UK standard visitor visa requirements. However, marriage, academic, PPE and transit visitors also need to meet some additional requirements. Accordingly, the UK visa requirements explained in this post are applicable to all types of UK visitor visa applications!

Who is a visitor under the UK immigration rules?

Appendix V of the Immigration Rules provides the definition of a visitor in the UK. Evidently, a visitor is a person who is visiting the UK for a temporary purpose to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity or for tourism.

Check if you need a visa to travel to the UK!

Indeed, nationals of certain countries don’t require a visa for travelling to the UK. Please check PART F of this post whether you need a visa to travel to the UK.

How many people apply for the UK visit visa?

According to official statistics, during 2018, a total of 3.29m applications made for a UK entry clearance visa. Apparently, out of the total 3.29m applications, 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 during 2018 were for visiting the UK. Accordingly, 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 a UK tourist and family visitor visa?

When an applicant applies for UK standard visitor visa for the purpose of tourism then it is commonly known as UK tourist visa. And when an applicant applies standard visa for meeting a family member in the UK then it is commonly known as UK family visitor visa.

How to apply for a UK tourist and family visitor visa?

Indeed, there is ONLY ONE METHOD of applying for UK tourist or family visitor visa i.e. apply online at AccessUK. And afterwards, the applicant submits documents at the application centre. And undergoes the biometrics.

What are the common UK visa types for visiting?

FAQ 2: What is the max duration of stay in the UK for a visitor?

Apparently, for visitors, the permitted duration of stay in the UK depends on the type of UK visitor visa. Perhaps, the duration of stay varies from a few hours (transit) to a maximum of 12 months (academic visits). Moreover, in most of the cases, the allowed maximum duration of stay in the UK for visitors is up to 180 days per visit. However, the actual duration of stay on a UK standard visitor visa is usually 1-3 weeks. Quite indeed, most of the travellers are quite busy people in their home countries. Therefore, inevitably return to their country of residence after a short stay in the UK due to pressing business, professional and personal reasons.

Max duration of stay under paragraph V1.5 Appendix V

Palpably, in the light of paragraph V1.5 Appendix V of Immigration Rules, the maximum length of stay in the UK for:

  1. standard visitors is up to 180 days per visit for meeting family, business, tourism etc.
  2. medical visitors is up to 11 months for private medical treatment
  3. an academic visitor is up to 12 months. Moreover, dependant family members of an academic visitor can also stay in the UK for up to 12 months
  4. visitors under Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) is up to 30 days. Please note this route is only available to Chinese nationals to visit the UK in tour groups through authorized agents
  5. marriage or proposed civil partner is up to 180 days
  6. permitted paid engagement (PPE) is up to 30 days
  7. transit visitors is usually up to 48 hours. However, for transit under the Transit Without Visa Scheme is until 23:59 hours on the next day after the day the applicant arrived in the UK

Can I extend my stay in the UK?

Yes, you can apply for the UK visit visa extension from inside the UK. However, there must be some very pressing reason for extending the visit visa from inside the UK.

FAQ 3: What I can’t do on a UK standard visitor visa?

Certainly, a visitor on a standard 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. For further details on prohibited activities please refer to paragraphs V4.5-V4.10 Appendix V of Immigration Rules.

Can a visitor live with family in the UK?

No, apparently, a visitor can only STAY in the UK with a family member for a short duration. Certainly, there is no provision to LIVE with family members on any type of UK visitor visa. Therefore, if a person intends to live in the UK with a family member then needs to apply for entry clearance under the family routes such as spouse, parent, adult dependent relative etc.

FAQ 4: So, what can I do on a UK standard visitor visa?

Perhaps, apart from the aforesaid prohibited activities, the standard visa allows a visitor to undertake a wide range of permitted activities. Evidently, Appendix 3 of Appendix V for visitors, provides the details of permitted activities for all types of visitors relating to:

  1. Tourism and leisure
  2. Volunteering
  3. Private medical treatment
  4. Transit
  5. Business
  6. Conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage
  7. Study up to 30 days
  8. Participate in an exchange program
  9. Educational visit

What are the permitted business activities?

Certainly, a visitor on a UK standard visa can undertake a host of business-related activities permitted in Appendix 3 of Appendix V for visitors such as.

  1. General business activities relating to attending meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews, negotiating contracts, signing deals, attending trade fairs, undertaking site visits and inspection etc. Moreover, a visitor can also deliver non-commercial talks and speeches
  2. Business corporate activities relating to the prospective entrepreneur for startup and innovator visa under Appendix W, manufacturing and supply of goods, clients of UK export companies etc.
  3. Sector-specific permitted business activities for science, research, academia, legal, religion, creative and sport
  4. Business – overseas roles requiring specific activities in the UK
  5. Work-related training

Can an artist perform in a permit-free festival?

Yes, an artist, entertainer or musician visiting the UK can perform at one or more of the permit-free festivals listed in Appendix 5 of Appendix V for visitors. Moreover, the visiting artist can also receive payment for performance at the permit-free festival.

Can I look after a child in the UK on a visit visa?

Yes, perhaps a visiting family member can look after a child only for a short duration in the UK. However, the visiting family member should not be intending to get employed as a childminder– i.e. a person who looks after children in their own home for payment.

Can I undertake “volunteering”?

Yes, Appendix 3 of the Immigration Rules allows a traveller to undertake “volunteering” with a registered charity. However, Appendix V does not allow travellers to undertake voluntary work. Moreover, volunteering must not be the main purpose of visiting the UK. And cumulatively not for more than 30 days. Certainly, UK standard visitor visa applications solely for the purpose of volunteering are likely to get rejected. Perhaps, if an applicant is wishing to travel to the UK for either volunteering or voluntary work then should apply for PBS Tier 5 Charity worker visa.

Is a clear purpose of visiting the UK important?

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. However, most common purposes are meeting family, relatives, friends and general tourism for leisure and sightseeing. And also purposes relating to business, including prospective entrepreneur, 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

Can I change my reason for visiting the UK?

Yes, a visitor can enter, or extend his/her visit, to do different permitted activities. However, the main reason(s) for travelling to the UK must be visiting. Accordingly, when a visitor holds a long-term visa then 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 activity.

FAQ 5: How to meet the UK visitor visa requirements?

Perhaps, the first and foremost UK visitor 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:

  1. has ample funds to support the trip costs, without recourse to public funds in the UK
  2. intends to leave the UK at the end of the visit i.e. strong ties to the home country
  3. 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 in the UK. 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!

Is proper documentation critical for success?

Yes, perhaps, applying for a UK visa successfully 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.

What is the single most critical supporting document?

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 for tourism and meeting family. Certainly, frequent international travels for a short stay abroad provides 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 visit 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 online application form carefully and correctly. And also to furnish relevant supporting documents.

Can a third party sponsor a UK visa for visiting?

Yes, perhaps in case of family or business visits, a third party can sponsor the application. However, if someone else is paying for the proposed trip then 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 an invitation letter necessary for UK tourist visa?

No, a sponsor letter is not a prerequisite for UK tourist visa application. And certainly, it is not mandatory. However, 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.

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!

Can I reapply for a UK tourist visa a month after leaving?

Well, there is no hard and fast rule for reapplying the UK tourist visa. Apparently, the immigration rules for visitors does not specify any time limit/period before reapplying for UK tourist or family visit visa. Therefore, yes, one can reapply for UK tourist visa either within or after a month leaving the UK. However, one needs to justify the purpose of reapplying for the UK tourist visa.

It is important to justify the frequency of visits

Perhaps, it is not normal to visit the UK for tourism on a very frequent basis and staying in the UK for a long duration. Certainly, this indicates that a person has not much to do in his/her home country. And also may indicate weak ties to the home country. Therefore, it is not expedient to reapply within a short span of time. For instance, if one has visited the UK during the summer holidays in August then can apply in November for Christmas and new year. However, immediately applying for a UK tourist visa in September to visit as a tourist in October may not reflect positively on the overall credentials and intentions of an applicant.

Perhaps, if a person has a good travel history and personal credentials, then applying for long term 2, 5 or 10 years multiple entry visa is a more logical choice as such applicants can justify the purpose of frequently visiting the UK for tourism.

So, how to apply for a UK visitor visa for frequent visits?

If an applicant has applied a 2, 5 or 10 years application then the purpose of frequently visiting needs to be clearly defined such as:

  • visiting a family member on a regular basis (once or twice a year)
  • attending regular business meetings
  • travelling to the UK for tourism because of strong affinity to the sounds and sights of the UK

How long can I stay in the UK?

Certainly, an applicant cannot remain in the UK for more than 180 days per visit. For instance, if a holder of 10-years visit visa enters on Jan 1 then needs to leave the UK on or before June 29. Usually, a long-term visit visa issued to those applicants who have a good immigration history. And also have a credible purpose of frequently visiting the UK.

Can I use a 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. 

FAQ 6: Is UK visit visa difficult to get since April 2015?

Since the New Immigration Rules in April 2015, it has become slightly more difficult to get the UK visitor visa. However, if an applicant clarifies the purpose and properly documents the application then chances of success are quite high.

Is the UK visit visa online application form difficult?

No, apparently, 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.

How to pay the application fee?

Perhaps, once an applicant finalizes the application form then can proceed to pay the 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 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.

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.

How can I get a GWF number?

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 I get the GWF number with barcodes?

GWF number with barcodes 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 visit 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.

Do I need to take a passport-sized photo for my UK 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.

Where to submit the application form?

If there are more than one application centres in a country then the online UK visitor visa 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 StatesSaudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China there are several application centres. Moreover, it also indicates whether priority and super priority visa service are available in a particular centre.

Can I submit an application for my 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 UK for holidays then all three applicants need to apply online. And pay the UK visitor 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.

Can I fact track my UK visit visa application?

Yes, if an applicant can fast-track UK 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 application form 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 years 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 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 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.

How long does it take to get the visa?

The UKVI’s Service Standard is to process 90% of the non-settlement 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 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.

Do applicants use the priority service?

Yes, they do, if they can afford. Apparently, the actual processing times indicate that 15-40% of the UK visitor visa applications process within 3-5 working days.

Can I get a UK visa decision in about 2 to 3 days?

You may get a decision within 5 working days if you opt for priority service. Therefore, there is only a remote possibility of getting a decision within 2–3 days with priority service. However, if super-priority service is available in your country then you may get a decision with 24 hours!

FAQ 7: What is the UK visa assessment process?

Quite certainly, the UK standard visitor visa applications are assessed on the principle of Balance of Probability. And the onus of proof is on the applicant. Accordingly, UKVI decides UK visit visa applications on the information provided by the applicant. And also any other relevant circumstances of the applicant available at the date of the decision.

Accordingly, an applicant needs to furnish supporting documents for establishing personal credibility and ability to meet trip costs. And also family, employment, professional, business and social ties to the Home Country. If an applicant fulfils the UK visit visa requirements then gets an entry clearance as a visitor.

Does the ECO 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 in the UK such as:

  • take full time or part-time employment
  • do work for any organisation or business
  • establish or operate a business in the UK 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 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.

Does ECO 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.

How can I know the UK visa application status?

During the UK visa assessment process, an applicant can take an update on the application status 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 is £1.37 per minute.

What is the purpose of the UK visa decision email?

Certainly, most of the applicants quite anxiously await the outcome of the UK visa assessment process. Therefore, in case of standard service, an applicant receives the much keenly awaited the UK visa decision email after 5-15 working days. Quite importantly, the UK visa decision email also confirms that UKVI will not contact the applicant for interview or submission of any additional documents. Perhaps, 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 UK visa application centre (UKVAC) will contact the applicant when the documents are ready for collection.

So, what to do after receiving the UK visa email notification?

Perhaps, most of the applicant feel quite anxious after receiving the UK visa decision email. And try to read between the lines. And also try to do the guesswork to know the outcome. However, instead of getting anxious about the outcome, the applicant should patiently await the call, text message or email from the application centre for the collection of the passport.

How to know if the UK visa is approved 2019

Perhaps, usually, an applicant only knows about the approval or refusal of UK visitor visa only after collecting the passport from the application centre. Apparently, the staff of the application centre opens the sealed envelope, which contains the passport. And also a refusal letter in case of a rejection/ban decision. Therefore, if there is no refusal letter in the envelope then this definitely means that the UK visa is approved. Accordingly, the applicant may flip through his/her passport to see the affixed/approved UK visit visa vignette!

How long do I have to leave the UK before I can return?

How soon can I re-enter the UK? Apparently, the immigration rules don’t specify any particular time duration for re-entering the UK. Perhaps, one can re-enter even within 24 hours. This is possible if a person intends to visit Ireland or any Schengen countries for a very short visit. What’s important are the purpose and genuine intentions. Accordingly, for tourist visitors, to spend a week in the UK and then move ahead to any of the Schengen Countries for 3-4 days. Subsequently, coming back to spend some more time in the UK before returning home. However, if either the purpose or intentions are doubtful then the immigration officer can interrogate.

Is re-entering the UK possible after the visa expires?

Certainly, one can only re-enter the UK after the expiry of the visa if one applies again and gets the visa. The relevant question is: when to re-apply after the visa expires? The simple answer is: one can re-apply any time after the expiry of the tourist visa.

FAQ 8: 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.

Refusal 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 I have a 10-year ban on general grounds?

Moreover, quite a few applications are refused/banned on General Grounds due to past adverse immigration history- over-stayers, deportation, removals- or submitting 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 for the family visitors since June 25, 2013.

What is the UK visa refusal rate?

Evidently, the UK Visa Refusal Rate varies over time and from region to region. And also from country to country. Accordingly, for some countries like Saudi Arabia, Russian and China, it is as low as 1-3%. However, for countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Philippines and India it is easily more than 10-15%- perhaps in some instances closer to 50%! For details please refer to UK Visa Refusal Rate by Country 2017 and UK Visa Success Rate 2018.

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 UK visa 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!

Why UK visa refusal rate higher in some countries?

Perhaps, the disparity in the UK Visa Refusal Rates is due to the Security Risk perception of the respective countries.

On an individual level, it is the level of documentation that matters. Perhaps, this means if an individual is earning but there is no proper documentary proof. Accordingly, in such cases, there is no plausible evidence available for establishing the earnings/income of the applicant. Moreover, the level of economic development has a correlation with the UK Visa Refusal Rate. Accordingly, applying for the UK visit visa from a politically stable and economically developed country such as Singapore is much easier and usually successful. An applicant due to a well documented economic system can readily fulfil UK visitor visa requirements. Accordingly, establishing income and employment through bank statements, income tax returns, suppliers’ contracts, rental agreements, salary slips etc are robust and authentic. Moreover, nationals of politically stable high-income countries are certainly not likely to live illegally in the UK.

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B) How to apply for the UK visitor visa application online?

Well, the UK visa application process is neither difficult nor cumbersome. And usually involves the following steps:

  1. Specify the purpose of visiting the UK
  2. Gather supporting documents
  3. Fill online UK visitor visa application form
  4. Review the online application form and supporting documents- if necessary take a printout of the application form
  5. If satisfied then proceed forward (online application form) to select the relevant application centre in your country/city
  6. Choose the service type (standard, priority or super-priority) on the application form
  7. Proceed further to make an online payment for UK visa application
  8. Immediately afterwards, you will receive an email from noreply@visas-immigration.service.gov.uk 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]
  9. 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 hassle-free!
  10. Accordingly, after receiving the payment confirmation email, take a printout of the online application form and supporting documents checklist
  11. Review the final application form for minor corrections and typing errors!
  12. Review the supporting documents in the light of the supporting documents checklist of UKVI
  13. Finalize the documents’ bunch i.e. Printout of the final PDF of the UK visitor visa application form with barcodes plus the supporting documents. And if necessary then also a cover letter.

Is the cover letter really required?

Well, it is optional. Perhaps, a cover letter is only recommended for complex applications, which are not straightforward. Therefore, if you think that your application is straightforward then there is no need for a cover letter.

The application submission day!

  1. Go the application centre at the appointment date- try to reach 15 mins prior to the appointment time
  2. Wait for your turn
  3. The staff of the application centre will cursorily review the documents. And then take your biometrics.
  4. And once the submission process is complete then give you a receipt

Now wait for the intimation from UKVI/UKVAC

Accordingly, depending on the service, once the assessment process is concluded, you will receive intimation from UKVI/UKVAC to collect your passport. Once receive the intimation go to the application centre and collect the passport!

How to apply for UK visa application online?

The filled UK visit visa application form of Arun Kumar

In order to explain how to meet the UK standard visitor visa application requirements, we take an example of Mr Arun Kumar. Arun intends to apply for a UK tourist visa from New Delhi, India. Moreover, Arun is a self-employed agriculturist. And is applying for UK visitor visa with his family members viz.:

  1. Kiran Kumar (spouse)
  2. 12-year-old dependant child Amit Kumar
  3. 9-year-old dependant child Madhuri
  4. 2-year-old infant Rekha Kumar

How Arun met the UK tourist visa requirements?

Arun met the UK visitor visa requirements by carefully filling the application form. And also gathered relevant documents to explain and support his online application form. Accordingly, Arun has managed to clearly explain he is well settled in India. Therefore, he and his family have no intentions of not returning to India after the proposed trip. Moreover, have ample funds to meet the trip costs!

Evidently, the finally filled UK standard visitor visa online application form (PDF) of Arun Kumar consists of the following sections:

  1. Summary information
  2. Travel information
  3. Personal information
  4. Passport details
  5. Spouse/partner details
  6. Dependant details
  7. Parent details
  8. Employment, Income and expenditure sections
  9. Accommodation details in the UK
  10. Travel history (UK)
  11. Travel history (other countries)
  12. Other history
  13. Convictions and other penalties
  14. Medical treatment
  15. Extra information
  16. English language
  17. Documents
  18. Payment
  19. Declaration

i. Summary information

Apparently, this section of the filled UK visitor visa application PDF form is based on the options and information provided by the applicant. In the case of ARUN KUMAR, the final online application form provides the following details:

Filled UK standard visitor visa application form – PDF sample
Summary information
APPLICANT NAME Arun Kumar
GWF NUMBER: GWF041163715
PASSPORT NUMBER HF51441XY
COUNTRY OF NATIONALITY India
DATE OF BIRTH 29 February 1976
GENDER Male
DATE OF APPLICATION: 29 July 2019 09:23 British Summer Time (BST)
TYPE OF VISA / APPLICATION: Visitor visa
SERVICE OPTION: Priority service
DURATION OF VISA: 6 months
TOTAL FEE: 29,808.00 INR
SUBMISSION METHOD: Online
ISSUING OFFICE: New Delhi
PAYMENT REFERENCE: 3030003150731
CONTACT EMAIL arunkumarexample@gmail.com
CONTACT LANGUAGE Hindi

ii. Travel information

Arun has firmed up a 13 days trip itinerary and has also booked tickets. Therefore, for meeting the requirements of this section, he needed the following supporting documents:

  • Trip itinerary to explain the purpose and activities during the planned vacations
  • Ticket booking to explain the exact dates of the arrival and departure from the UK
UK visitor visa application filled form PDF sample
Travel information
Date you will arrive in the UK 18 August 2018
Date you will leave the UK 31 August 2018
Calculated duration of visit 13 days
What is the main reason for your visit to the UK? Tourism, including visiting family and friends
Will you be travelling to the UK as part of an organised group? No
Will you be travelling to the UK with someone who is not your partner, spouse, or dependant? No
What is the main reason for your holiday visit to the UK? Tourist
Give details of the main purpose of your visit and anything else you plan to do on your trip. See tourist and short stays for more information. For holidays and sightseeing with family – trip itinerary attached

Trip itinerary for Arun Kumar’s UK tourist visa

  1. Day 1, 2, 3, 4- Glimpses of London
    • Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross Station)
    • James’ Gardens
    • Buckingham Palace
    • Westminster- Church, Parliament Buildings and Big Ben
    • London Eye (Ride)
    • Boat ride on the Thames
    • Downing Street
    • Tower of London (Inside)
  2. Day 5, 6, 7, 8- Museum Days
    • Natural History Museum
    • Science Museum (South Kensington Station)
    • Victoria and Albert Museum
    • British Museum
    • Tate Gallery
    • Leicester Square/Oxford Circus
  3. Day 9, 10, 11- Gardens Days
    • Kew Gardens (whole day)
    • Sherlock Holmes Museum
    • Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
    • Planetarium
    • Hyde Park (Walk)
  4. Day 12 and 13 – Shopping and Glimpses of London

What if Arun was applying for UK family visitor visa?

If instead of the tourist visa, Arun was applying for UK family visitor visa then for completing this section, he would only be required to have a ticket booking.

iii. Personal Information

To meet the requirements of the Personal Information section of the UK standard visitor visa online form, Arun needed to have the following supporting documents:

  • Residential property documents
  • National ID card
  • Marriage certificate
  • a telephone number
UK visitor visa application filled form PDF sample
Personal information
Family name Kumar
Given names Arun
Are you now or have you ever been known by another name? No
Residential address House # 20XYZ,
Street 25C,
Greater Kailash II
New Delhi
110048
India
Telephone number +01145557907
How many days, weeks, months or years have you lived at this address? 17 Years
What is the ownership status of your home? I own it
What is your gender, as shown in your passport or travel document? Male
What is your relationship status? Married or a civil partner
Country of nationality India
Date of birth 16 February 1976
Place of birth Mumbai
Country of birth India
Do you have a national identity card? Yes
National identity card number 1111-0000-1111

iv. Passport details

To meet the requirements of the Passport section of the UK standard visitor visa application form, Arun needed the following supporting documents:

  • Current passport of Arun Kumar
  • Previous passport of Arun Kumar
UK visit visa application filled form PDF sample
Passport details
Passport number or travel document reference number JXXXXXX2
Place of issue New Delhi
Issue date 23 May 2013
Expiry date 22 May 2023
Do you have another passport or travel document? Yes
Passport number or travel document reference number JXXXXXX1
Place of issue New Delhi
Issue date 9 May 2008
Expiry date 8 May 2013

v. Spouse / partner details

Apparently, for meeting the requirements of the Spouse/Partner section of the UK standard visitor visa application form, Arun needed the following supporting documents:

  • Current passport of the wife viz. Kiran Kumar
UK visit visa application filled form PDF sample
Spouse/partner details
Given names Kiran
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 9 December 1986
Nationality India
Do they currently live with you? Yes
Will they be travelling with you to the UK? Yes
Their passport number J1234567

vi. Dependant details

Moreover, for completing the Dependant section of the UK standard visitor visa application form, Arun required the following supporting documents:

  • Current passport of the children viz. Amit Kumar, Madhuri Kumar and Rekha Kumar
UK visa application filled form PDF sample
Dependant details
Does anyone rely on you for financial support? Include both those travelling with you and those who are not.
Given names Amit
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 26 February 2007
Does this person currently live with you? Yes
Is this person travelling with you to the UK? Yes
Country of nationality India
Passport number J7654321
Given names Madhuri
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 31 January 2009
Does this person currently live with you? Yes
Is this person travelling with you to the UK? Yes
Country of nationality India
Passport number J6543217
Given names Rekha
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 17 March 2016
Does this person currently live with you? Yes
Is this person travelling with you to the UK? Yes
Country of nationality India
Passport number J6543277

vii. Parent details

Perhaps, for completing the Parent section of the UK tourist visa application form, Arun required the following supporting documents:

  • either national ID cards or passports of his parents viz. Kishore Kumar (father) and Lakshmi Kumar (Mother)
UK tourist visa application filled form PDF sample
Parent details
What is this person’s relationship to you? Father
Given names Kishore
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 1 January 1940
Country of nationality India
Have they always had the same nationality? Yes
What is this person’s relationship to you? Mother
Given names Lakshmi
Family name Kumar
Date of birth 1 January 1946
Country of nationality India
Have they always had the same nationality? Yes

viii. Employment, Income and expenditure

Indeed, for meeting the requirements of the Employment, Income and expenditure section of the UK tourist visa application form, Arun needed the following supporting documents:

  • Business or Tax Registration Certificate
  • Annual Tax Returns for the last 3 years – to compute the average annual income and monthly expenditure
  • Bank Account Maintenance Certificate
  • Bank Account Statement for the last 6 months
  • Agricultural land ownership documents
  • Lease agreement for the cultivation of agricultural produce
  • Agreement for the purchase of agricultural produce with wholesalers and mills
UK tourist visa application filled form PDF sample
Employment, Income and expenditure details
What is your employment status? Self-employed
What is your job? Landlord- decision making and managerial
How much do you earn from this job in a year? 53886.00 GBP
Do you have another income or any savings? Savings
How much money do you have in savings (in GBP)? 61348.00 GBP
How much money are you planning to spend on your visit to the UK? 12500.00 GBP
What is the total amount of money you spend each month? 3718.00 GBP
Will anyone be paying towards the cost of your visit? No

ix. Accommodation details

For completing the Accommodation details in the UK, Arun required the following supporting documents:

  • Hotel Booking for 2 adults and 3 children

Please note: Arun has no close relatives or friends living in the UK, so he is staying at a hotel. However, if Arun was applying for a family visitor visa UK, then instead of the hotel booking would be furnishing the accommodation details of the sponsor.

UK tourist visa application filled form PDF sample
Accommodation details
Do you have any family in the UK? No
Do you have an address for where you are going to stay in the UK? Yes
Where are you planning to stay in the UK? Stylotel
Enter the address for where you are staying 160 Sussex Gardens Paddington Westminster Borough London
When will you arrive there? 18 August 2018
When will you leave there? 31 August 2018

x. Travel history (UK)

For completing the Travel history (UK) section of the tourist visa application form, Arun required the following supporting documents:

  • his passports
  • refusal letter

Please note: an applicant needs to provide the travel history for the past 10 years. Moreover, also needs to disclose past refusals.

UK tourist visa application filled form PDF sample
Travel history (UK)
Have you applied for leave to remain in the UK in the past 10 years? No
How many times have you been to the UK in the last 10 years? 2 to 5 times
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit December 2016
Number of days, weeks, months or years 9 days
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit June 2016
Number of days, weeks, months or years 7 days
Have you ever been:

  • refused a visa for the UK
  • deported from the UK
  • removed from the UK
  • required to leave the UK
  • refused entry at the UK border
Yes
Give details of what happened An application for a visa was refused
Date October 2014
Give more details of what happened Post Reference 1234567 dated Oct 16, 2014. The issue was addressed in the subsequent UK Standard Visitor Visa Application in July 2015 and visit visa granted on which all my family members visited the UK for tourism and sightseeing in July-Aug 2015

xi. Travel history (other)

For completing the Travel history (other) section of the tourist visa application form, Arun required his passports. And also his refusal letter Germany

UK tourist visa application form excerpts
Travel history (other countries) for UK visa application
How many times have you visited the following places in the past 10 years?

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • USA
  • Schengen area
2 to 5 times
Which country did you visit? Schengen Area
Which country in the Schengen area? Germany
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit August 2017
Number of days, weeks, months or years 17 Days
Which country did you visit? Schengen Area
Which country in the Schengen area? Italy
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit August 2016
Number of days, weeks, months or years 10 Days

Have you visited any other countries in the past 10 years?

Yes

Which country did you visit? Turkey
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit June 2016
Length of visit 2 days
Which country did you visit? Turkey
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit July 2015
Length of visit 4 days
Which country did you visit? Singapore
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit January 2015
Length of visit 2 days
Which country did you visit? Malaysia
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit January 2015
Length of visit 8 days
Which country did you visit? United Arab Emirates
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit December 2012
Length of visit 9 days
Which country did you visit? Malaysia
What was the reason for your visit? Tourism
Date of visit February 2011
Length of visit 5 days

Have you ever been:

  • refused a visa for any country other than the UK
  • deported from any country other than the UK
  • removed from any country other than the UK
  • required to leave any country other than the UK
  • refused entry at the border of any country other than the UK

Yes

Give details of what happened An application for a visa was refused
Country Germany
Date May 2015
Give more details of what happened In the summer of 2015, I intended to travel to Turkey, Germany and other European Countries. Accordingly, after getting the Turkish Visit Visa, applied for Schengen Visa through Germany. However, due to the failure of the travel agent to make accommodation bookings as per the satisfaction of the Embassy, I was unable to get the visa. However, since then I have travelled twice to the Schengen Countries in Aug 2016 and 2017.

xii. Other history

Arun did not require any document to complete this section.

UK tourist visa PDF application form excerpts
Other history
In either peace or wartime have you ever been involved in, or suspected of involvement in, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide? No
Have you ever been involved in, supported or encouraged terrorist activities in any country? No
Have you ever been a member of, or given support to, an organisation which has been concerned in terrorism? No
Have you, by any means or medium, expressed views that justify or glorify terrorist violence or that may encourage others to commit terrorist or other serious criminal acts? No
Tell us about work for the following types of organisation
-Armed Forces (including compulsory national or military service)
– Government (including Public or Civil Administration and compulsory national service)
– Media organisations
– Security organisations (including police and private security companies)
– Judiciary (including work as a judge or magistrate)
I have not worked in any of the jobs listed

xiii. Convictions and other penalties

Arun did not require any document to complete this section.

UK tourist visa application form excerpts
Convictions and other penalties
At any time have you ever had any of the following, in the UK or in another country?

  • A criminal conviction
  • A penalty for a driving offence, for example, disqualification for speeding or no motor insurance
  • An arrest or charge for which you are currently on, or awaiting trial
  • A caution, warning, reprimand or other penalty
  • A civil court judgment against you, for example for non-payment of debt, bankruptcy proceedings or anti-social behaviour
  • A civil penalty issued under UK immigration law
No, I have never had any of these

xiv. Medical treatment

Arun did not require any document to complete this section.

UK standard tourist visa application form excerpts
Medical treatment
Have you ever been given medical treatment in the UK? No

xv. Extra information

Apparently, Arun previously applied for the UK tourist visa without family in 2016. Therefore, explained the reason for applying with family in 2018.

UK standard tourist visa application filled form PDF sample
Extra information for UK tourist visa application
If you needed to add more information about your application but were not able to, you can write it here.
If there is no further information you want to add, click the ‘Save and continue’ button.
Add further details:
Perhaps, visiting the UK for the very first time with my family during July 2015 was very fulfilling indeed. After the first trip, we were intending to revisit the UK during the Christmas holidays in Dec 2015. However, my wife got pregnant with our 3rd child in Aug-Sept 2015. And we were not able to revisit the UK during Dec 2015. The child Rekha Kumar was born in March 2016. And despite my intentions to apply along with my other family members, I was only able to apply singly for the UK visit visa.

xvi. English language

Arun is educated but is not very fluent in English. So, he opted for the Hindi language for any expected interview for the UK tourist visa application.

UK tourist visa application form excerpts
English language requirement for UK visa interview
We may have to talk to you about your application. Which language would you prefer to use? Other
Which language would you prefer to use? Hindi

xvii. Documents

Evidently, the online application form mentions that an applicant’s passport is a mandatory document. However, an applicant also needs to submit other supporting documents with the application.

Final UK tourist visa PDF form excerpts
Documents
Mandatory documents The passport or travel document for ARUN KUMAR from India

Documents required for UK visitor visa

So, Arun Kumar submitted the following documents with his and his family members application:

  1. Current and previous passports of:
    • Arun Kumar
    • Kiran Kumar
    • Amit Kumar
    • Madhuri Kumar
    • Rekha Kumar
  2. Printout of the 5 final application forms
  3. National Identity cards
  4. 13 days trip itinerary
  5. Ticket and hotel bookings
  6. Family form
  7. Marriage certificate
  8. Birth certificates of the children
  9. School certificates
  10. Residential property documents
  11. Agricultural property documents
  12. Business or Tax Registration Certificate
  13. Annual Tax Returns for the last 3 years – to compute the average annual income and monthly expenditure
  14. Bank Account Maintenance Certificate
  15. Bank Account Statement for the last 6 months
  16. Agricultural land ownership documents
  17. Lease agreement for the cultivation of agricultural produce
  18. Agreement for the purchase of agricultural produce with wholesalers and mills

xviii. Payment

Apparently, this is a system-generated section, which confirms the receipt of payment for the UK visit visa application. Importantly, also state the type of SERVICE i.e. Standard or Priority that an applicant will get!

UK tourist visa application excerpts
Payment
Length of your visit visa 6 months
Service Priority service
ARUN KUMAR’s application for UK Visitor visa 29,808.00 INR
Total 29,808.00 INR

xix. Declaration

Certainly, this declaration is very important. Therefore, applicants should read it carefully- and try to abide by the declaration in letter and spirit!

UK visitor visa form excerpts
Declaration
By sending this application, you confirm that to the best of your knowledge and belief the following is correct:

  • the information relating to your application
  • your supporting documents

Also, the application will be processed according to the privacy policy and terms and conditions.

If false information is given, your application will be refused and you may be banned from the UK and prosecuted.

I confirm that I understand and agree with the above declarations.

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C) What are UK visa requirements under paragraph V4.2-V4.10?

This section explains the UK visa requirements in light of paragraph v4.2-v4.10 of Appendix V for visitors. Accordingly, in a nutshell, fulfilling UK standard visitor visa application requirements mean that an applicant clarifies the purpose of visiting. And also provide verifiable proof of the ability to meet the trip cost without recourse to public funds and establishes clear intentions to return home after the journey.

The meaning of UK visa requirements under the immigration rules!

Apparently, there has been a general misconception about the UK standard visitor visa application requirements. Most of the applicants think that information relating to the procedural requirements such as filing an online application form, attaching the supporting documents, fee payment and going to an application centre for submitting documents and biometrics are sufficient to meet UK visitor visa requirements. However, in reality, meeting the procedural requirements is only a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for the meeting the UK visitor visa requirements. Certainly, meeting the eligibility under Paragraph v4.2-v4.10 of Appendix V is a sufficient condition for the grant of a UK visit visa.

UK visitor visa requirements under paragraph v4.2-v4.10

In terms of Paragraph V4.1 of Appendix V, an applicant needs to meet the following UK visitor visa requirements:

  1. Genuine Intentions to Visit (V 4.2): will visit the UK and come back at own cost without recourse to the public funds.
  2. Third-Party (sponsor(V 4.3 and 4.4): providing the funds, maintenance and accommodation provided by a third party
  3. No intentions of doing work in the UK (V 4.5 and V 4.6): prohibited activities and restrictions on permitted activities
  4. Payments (V 4.7): a visitor can only receive permitted payments in the UK
  5. The applicant has no intentions to study except as permitted by paragraph 25 of Appendix 3 (V 4.8)
  6. No intentions to access medical treatment other than private medical treatment or to donate an organ (V 4.9)
  7. No intentions to marry or form a civil partnership, or to give notice of this, in the UK (V 4.10) except for in case of marriage visit visa

Additional requirements for a child, medical and academic visitor

Moreover, there are additional UK visitor visa 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)

Suitability requirements for the UK 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.

The limitations of the eligibility requirements

Perhaps, requirements relating to work, receipt of payment, study, medical treatment and marriage are futuristic in nature. Accordingly, UK visitor visa requirements under Paragraph V 4.5 to 4.10 of Appendix V relates to the prohibited activities in the UK i.e. these will affect the eligibility of a visitor if a visitor will breach the Condition of Stay in the UK.

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 a genuine intention to visit 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:

(a) will leave the UK at the end of their visit
(b) will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK his/her main home
(c) 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
(d) will not undertake any prohibited activity set out in paragraph V 4.5 – V 4.10 of Appendix V
(e) 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.

Intentions of an applicant to leave the UK

Perhaps, in terms with Paragraph V 4.2 (a) and (c) of Appendix V, the most critical UK 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.

Conditions of stay and eligibility requirements

If an applicant is able to fulfil all the eligibility requirements then the caseworker grants a UK visit visa with the conditions of:

  1. no recourse to public funds
  2. no study, except as permitted by paragraph 25 of Appendix 3
  3. and no work (which does not prohibit the permitted activities in Appendix 3, 4 or 5 as set out in V1.5)

However, the visa vignette usually states a summary of the conditions as No work or recourse to public funds.

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D) How the UK visa assessment process works?

The Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) assesses an application in the light of Immigration Rules. Perhaps, in terms of paragraph V 4.2 of the Immigration Rules, 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 submitted by the applicant. And accordingly, after going through available information makes a decision in the light of Appendix V Immigration Rules for visitors!

How to pass the assessment process?

For passing the assessment process, an applicant needs to meet the UK visitor visa requirements, which in a nutshell means that the applicant:

  • has sufficient funds for the trip
  • intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit and
  • can meet the costs of return or onward journey

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.

How much time the assessment process may take?

The UK standard visitor visa assessment process is not an open-ended process. Usually, the ECO does not take much time to decide an application. Therefore, in most of the cases, 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 credibility of the applicant and decides 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.

What are the possible outcomes?

Usually, the assessment process concludes with the following four types of decisions:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. If during the UK visa 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. Please note: there is no right of appeal against UK visit visa refusal. However, an applicant can either reapply or challenge refusal through immigration judicial review.
  4. refusal on the suitability grounds, which may also include a re-entry ban or 10-year deception ban.

A few words about the implications of Borderline Decisions

As explained above, 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.

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E) What factors affect the UK visit visa decision?

Perhaps, during the UK standard visitor visa assessment process, the decision-maker usually takes into account the following aspects:

  1. The purpose of visiting the UK
    • What could be a credible reason for a UK visit visa?
  2. Financial and personal circumstances of an applicant
    • Ties to the country of residence
    • Changes in the circumstances (for repeat visitors)
  3. Immigration and travel History of the applicant
    • Compliance with the UK Immigration Rules (for repeat visitors)
    • Travels and trips to other countries
    • Failure to comply with the Immigration Law of other countries
  4. Duration of foreign trips
    • Period of time spent in the UK
  5. Is an applicant making the UK his/her main home (for repeat visitors)
    • Assessment of the duration and frequency of visits
  6. The risk perception of an applicant’s country of residence
    • The situation of an applicant’s country of residence
    • The degree of non-compliance to Immigration Rules
  7. Other possible grounds for doubting the intentions
    • Previous history of deception
    • Discrepancies of statements
    • Information not verifiable
    • Information and reasons not Credible
    • Baggage search at the border (entry clearance)

E-1) The purpose of visiting the United Kingdom

In the assessment, it is carefully scrutinised whether the information provided, especially the reasons stated for either visiting or extending stay by an applicant are credible.

What could be a credible reason for a UK visit visa?

The credibility of purpose means whether the reasons correspond to an applicant’s personal, family, economic and social background or not. For instance, a family member such as parent applying for the UK visit visa to meet their son or daughter is a credible reason. Likewise, an avid traveller applying for a visa to see the sights and sounds is also a credible reason. However, an unemployed person with weak ties, applying for tourism is not a credible reason. Therefore, if the ECO finds reasonable grounds to judge that the information provided by an applicant is incongruent with the applicant’s background then it is quite a sufficient condition for a refusal decision.

E-2) Financial and Personal Circumstances of an Applicant

Perhaps, in terms with paragraph V 4.2, an applicant needs to prove the ability to meet the trip cost. Accordingly, would be able to maintain and accommodate him/herself during the trip without recourse to public funds. Therefore, it is necessary during the application assessment process to evaluate the evidence relating to the stable income and savings of an applicant. Moreover, the decision-maker also assesses an applicant’s ties to the country of residence.

What is the meaning of weak ties to the country of residence?

In the context of UK visitor visa, weak ties mean that an applicant has only a limited number of family, economic, social, professional and business ties to the country of residence. Moreover, quite a few family members of the applicant are living in the United Kingdom. For instance, an applicant with most of his/her near and dear family members living in the UK with no full-time employment/study status in the country of residence may be deemed to have few ties with the home country.

Changes in the circumstances (for repeat visitors)

A repeat visitor is a person who has already travelled to the UK in the past on either one or more than one occasions for undertaking any permitted activity in the UK such as tourism, business and visiting family. Therefore, in case of a repeat application, it is necessary for the decision-maker to look for changes in the circumstances of an applicant since his/her last trip to the UK. Certainly, the decision on a repeat application is on the principle of balance of probabilities. And there is no room for giving the benefit of doubt to the applicant!

Accordingly, the ECO carefully considers and evaluates all the relevant information before reaching an appropriate decision. Therefore, it is quite common that an application for a repeat visa gets refused if the applicant is not able to prove his/her circumstances that may necessitate a grant of a visit visa. Likewise, a reapplication after a refusal can become successful, if an applicant is able to prove his/her credibility.

E-3) Immigration and travel history of an applicant

Perhaps, if an applicant has no or limited travel history then the chances of getting a favourable decision are quite slim, especially it the purpose is tourism. However, an applicant’s travel and immigration history is not the only consideration during the UK visitor visa assessment. Certainly, travel history provides useful information about the credibility of an applicant.

Compliance with the UK Immigration Rules

For repeat visitors, a pattern of previous visits to the UK may indicate that an applicant has complied with the UK Immigration Rules. Certainly, this increases the balances of probabilities in the UK visitor visa assessment process.

Travels and Trips to Other Countries

Travels to other Countries such as the USA, Schengen Countries, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, etc. increases the balance of probabilities that an applicant is a genuine visitor. Moreover, a clean travel history also indicates that an applicant is a law-abiding person.

Failure to Comply with the Immigration Law of other countries

Perhaps, if an applicant has failed to comply with any other country’s immigration laws in the past then this may negatively impact the decision. For instance, if an applicant has been either removed from another country or refused entry to another country, this may lead to doubt an applicant’s intentions. However, it is not an automatic and sufficient condition for refusal but may reduce the balance of probabilities.

E-4) Duration of Foreign Trips to the UK and Other Countries

Certainly, the duration of past trips is an important consideration for the UK visitor visa application assessment process. Perhaps, the length of time, along with frequency, gives an indication of the purpose of visiting. And also the strength of ties with the home country.

Moreover, for repeat visitors, the decision-maker may check for discrepancies between the formerly stated length of stay on the UK visitor visa and actual details (from an independent source) of an applicant’s journey to the UK. If there are discrepancies then this may not necessarily yield a  refusal decision. However, quite certainly, raise questions about the overall credibility of an applicant.

Period of time spent in the UK

Many visitors have a habit of extending their visits in the UK beyond the originally planned duration. For instance, a visitor’s family in the UK may request to prolong the stay in the UK. Perhaps, the applicants should certainly be mindful of the cumulative time period of their UK visit. And also the time spent in the UK during the preceding 12 months before making a new application. Certainly, spending time beyond the stated time duration leads to doubt the intentions. Accordingly, the decision-maker may become doubtful whether an applicant has made the UK the ‘de-facto’ residence or not.

E-5) Is an applicant making the UK his/her main home?

For repeat visitors to the UK, the assessment process takes into the past trips of the applicant to the UK. Accordingly, the application assessment process takes into account the duration of stay in the UK. And also the frequency of visits to the UK.

Assessment of the duration and frequency of visits

The frequency and duration of visits are scrutinised in the UK visitor visa assessment process. According, this evaluate: whether a repeat visitor is making the UK his/her main home or not. Perhaps, for assessing frequency and duration, the decision-maker may consider the following aspects of a UK visitor visa application:

  • the purpose of visiting the British Isles
  • the intended duration of stay stated in the application form and the actual duration of stay during the previous visits
  • the number and length of visits made during the preceding twelve (12) months
  • the time period elapsed since the last visit
  • is an applicant spending more time in the UK than in his/her home country?;
  • what is the purpose of the return journey that an applicant is making to his/her home country? Is this nothing more than just to seek re-entry to the UK?;
  • the ties of an applicant to his country such as:
    • is an applicant is registered with the tax authorities of his/her home country?
    • are the children of the applicant attending schools in the UK?
  • the information on previous applications. For instance, if the previous application to settle in the UK through the family route has been refused. And an applicant merely intends to enter so as to join the family in the UK.

E-6) The risk perception of an applicant’s country of residence

Certainly, an ECO has the necessary information relating to the situation of an applicant’s country of residence. Therefore, the political, economic and security situation of an applicant’s country of residence and nationality are important considerations during the application assessment process.

Assessment of country risk

The country risk means the overall political, economic and security conditions of an applicant’s country of residence. Accordingly, during the application assessment process, the decision-maker may raise questions such as:

  • is the applicant’s home country politically unstable?
  • is the applicant’s country of residence in a conflict zone?
  • are there imminent risks that the country will become politically unstable in the near future?

Accordingly, these macro signals could lead to doubt the intentions of an applicant to leave the UK. Therefore, applicants applying from countries where there is social and political turmoil needs to prove their credential in a much more precise and robust manner than nationals of those countries where there are relatively better and stable economic, political and social conditions.

The Overall Degree of Non-Compliance to Immigration Rules

In the light of the empirical and statistical data, the ECO also assesses an application against the overall noncompliance to the Immigration Rules by the nationals/citizens of a country from which an applicant is making an application. Accordingly, this means that applicants belonging to countries that have a higher rate of non-compliance with Immigration Rules are more likely to go through a much rigorous and thorough assessment process.

E-7) Other possible grounds for doubting the intentions

Perhaps, apart from the aforesaid, the assessment process may consider many additional factors. However, some of the more common reasons for doubting an applicant’s intentions are:

Previous history of deception and UK visitor visa requirements

The credibility of an applicant may becomes doubtful if an applicant or his/her sponsor (in case an applicant is visiting a relative or a friend) or sponsor’s/applicant’s immediate family members have used deception or have attempted to use deception in any of the previous applications – for entry clearance, leave to remain or leave to enter – submitted to HM’s Home Office.

Discrepancies of Statements

Certainly, the credibility becomes doubtful, if there are discrepancies in the declarations of an applicant and his/her sponsor. Perhaps, if the sponsor knows the information then the credibility may become even more doubtful.

Information provided with the UK visit visa application

If after several attempts the decision-maker is not able to verify the information provided by an applicant. Then this will surely create an applicant’s credibility quite doubtful.

Information and Reasons Not Credible

If the information provided or the reason(s) stated in an application/interview are prima facie, not logical and reliable.

Baggage Search at the Border

If an applicant’s baggage search at the border reveals possession of items demonstrating intentions to work or live in the UK. Then perhaps, a record of such an instance would greatly undermine the credibility of any subsequent UK visitor visa application.

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F) Do I need a visa to travel to the UK?

Certainly, non-visa nationals such as citizens US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand etc may not need a visa to travel to the UK. However, in terms of paragraph V 1.3 of Appendix V, a non-visa national require to apply for the UK visit visa if he/she is:

  • visiting the UK to marry or to form a civil partnership, or to give notice of marriage or civil partnership in the UK, or
  • seeking to visit the UK for more than 6 months

What about the 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 the US, Australian, Canadian citizens.

So, who needs a visa to travel 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. Perhaps, only for visiting up to 6 months for meeting family, tourism, business, study and private medical treatment.

Who needs a visa to travel to the UK?
List of visa national countries
1 Afghanistan 38 Georgia 75 Oman*
2 Albania 39 Ghana 76 Pakistan
3 Algeria 40 Guinea 77 Peru
4 Angola 41 Guinea Bissau 78 Philippines
5 Armenia 42 Guyana 79 Qatar*
6 Azerbaijan 43 Haiti 80 Russia
7 Bahrain* 44 India 81 Rwanda
8 Bangladesh 45 Indonesia* 82 Sao Tome e Principe
9 Belarus 46 Iran 83 Saudi Arabia
10 Benin 47 Iraq 84 Senegal
11 Bhutan 48 Ivory Coast 85 Serbia
12 Bolivia 49 Jamaica 86 Sierra Leone
13 Bosnia Herzegovina 50 Jordan 87 Somalia
14 Burkina Faso 51 Kazakhstan 88 South Africa*
15 Burma 52 Kenya 89 South Sudan
16 Burundi 53 Korea (North) 90 Sri Lanka
17 Cambodia 54 Kosovo 91 Sudan
18 Cameroon 55 Kuwait * 92 Suriname
19 Cape Verde 56 Kyrgyzstan 93 Swaziland
20 Central African Republic 57 Laos 94 Syria
21 Chad 58 Lebanon 95 Taiwan*
22

People’s Republic of China*

59 Lesotho 96 Tajikistan
23 Colombia 60 Liberia 97 Tanzania
24 Comoros 61 Libya 98 Thailand
25 Congo 62 Macedonia 99 Togo
26 Cuba 63 Madagascar 100 Tunisia
27 Congo DR 64 Malawi 101 Turkey *
28 Djibouti 65 Mali 102 Turkmenistan
29 Dominican Republic 66 Mauritania 103 Uganda
30 Ecuador 67 Moldova 104 Ukraine
31 Egypt 68 Mongolia 105 UAE*
32 Equatorial Guinea 69 Montenegro 106 Uzbekistan
33 Eritrea 70 Morocco 107 Venezuela
34 Ethiopia 71 Mozambique 108 Vietnam*
35 Fiji 72 Nepal 109 Yemen
36 Gabon 73 Niger 110 Zambia
37 Gambia 74 Nigeria 111 Zimbabwe

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G) Study on the UK standard visitor visa?

Yes, as per Appendix V, visitors can study a recreation course, which does not lead to formal education such as horse riding or dancing, for a maximum period of 30 days. However, travellers cannot make a visit for the sole purpose of studying in the UK. Perhaps there are some exceptions for long-term visa holdersFurthermore, if either a visitor intends to study a course for more than 30 days or study is the main purpose of visiting the UK then the applicant needs to apply for a short-term study visa.

Can a visitor make repeat visits to study in the UK?

Certainly, not. Indeed, a visitor can not make frequent or repeat visits to complete a long term study course in the UK.

Are there any exceptions for long-term visa holders?

Yes, a long-term visa holder can:

  • visit the UK solely to study a non-recreation course up-to 30 days
  • study a recreational course more than 30-days per visit at an accredited institution
  • visit the UK up to 30 days for studying a course such as a distance learning course, which is longer than 30 days

Certainly, the aforesaid exception does not apply to holders of single-entry visas. And also does not apply for non-visa nationals, who are applying for leave to enter as a visitor at the border.

However, the main purpose of holding a long-term visa should continue to be to undertake permitted activities as a visitor. Accordingly, the time spent studying in the UK must not exceed the time spent carrying out other permitted activities. Perhaps, if the successive visits are not mainly for permitted activities under Appendix V, then the immigration officer can refuse the entry clearance and cancel the visa.

What about educational exchange visits?

Apparently, for educational exchange visits, the visiting children should be full-time students in their home country. And the adults accompanying teachers or adults should also be employed overseas.

Quite certainly, the purpose of such visits is to broaden the horizons of children. And also to deepen intercultural understanding. Therefore, these visits may be longer than 30 days. However, the decision-maker, scrutinize the educational exchange visits longer than 30 days. Accordingly, assess that the proposed exchange programme does not amount to a course of study, which could only be carried out under a study route. Moreover, schools can decide the precise nature of the visit. However, needs to furnish the requisite evidence of the educational exchange programme.

Is public education for children of visiting academics possible?

Yes, it is possible for the dependant children of visiting academic on sabbatical leave for undertaking research up to 12 months in the UK. However, admission to public maintained schools is not an immigration matter. Perhaps, the Department of Education has policy responsibility for admissions to schools in England. Accordingly, a public school or a local authority makes the decision.

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