Complete Guide to UK Standard Visitor Visa Application
The UK Standard Visitor Visa is a popular choice for millions of tourists, business travelers, and family visitors each year. The application process can seem complex, but with the right guidance and preparation, you can successfully navigate it. This comprehensive guide covers the essential aspects of the application process, from requirements to essential documents and common questions. By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of obtaining a UK Standard Visitor Visa and enjoying your visit to the United Kingdom.
Updated as of March 22, 2023, to ensure the latest UK Standard Visitor Visa requirements are reflected.
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UK Standard Visitor Visa Requirements
To apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa, applicants must meet specific requirements outlined in Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. This visa category allows individuals to enter the UK for tourism, visiting family, business meetings, short-term studies (courses up to 6 months), and other permitted activities. Applicants can apply for a short-term (6 months) or long-term (2, 5, and 10 years) Standard Visitor Visa. The UK multiple entry visa rules are the same for all types of Standard Visitor Visas, allowing visitors to stay in the UK for up to 180 days per visit.
Applicants must complete the online application form accurately and provide the required supporting documents. A sponsor’s supporting documents may be provided, but false or forged documents can lead to a 10-year deception ban under the General Grounds for UK Visa Refusal.
Meeting the Requirements of Appendix V for Visitors
According to paragraphs V4.2-4.10 of Appendix V for Visitors, Immigration Rules, an applicant for a UK Standard Visitor Visa must satisfy the following criteria:
- Leave the UK at the end of the visit: The applicant must demonstrate their intention to leave the UK once their visit is completed.
- Avoid extended stays and frequent successive visits: The applicant must not stay in the UK for extended periods through frequent and successive visits, making the UK their main home.
- Genuine visitor for a permitted activity: The applicant must genuinely seek entry as a visitor for a permitted activity only.
- Sufficient funds: The applicant must have enough funds to cover all reasonable expenses relating to their return or onward journey, the costs of any dependants (such as spouse and accompanied children), and any planned activities (e.g., tourism, sightseeing, or private medical treatment).
- Third-party sponsorship (if applicable): If relevant, the applicant must have a genuine third-party sponsor, such as a family member, friend, or business partner, who will cover the trip expenses.
- No prohibited activities: The applicant must not intend to engage in any activities prohibited under paragraphs V 4.5 – V 4.10 of Appendix V, such as unauthorized work, study, or medical treatment, receiving payments, or getting married or forming a civil partnership without a Marriage Visit Visa.
Important Notes and Guidelines
- Each applicant must meet the UK Standard Visitor Visa requirements, regardless of whether they are traveling with a school party, family, or tour group.
- All travelers must also pass the suitability requirements under Part V3 (3.1-3.16) of Appendix V.
- First-time visitors are typically eligible for a short-term, 6-month visitor visa, while repeat and frequent visitors may apply for 2, 5, or 10-year long-term visas.
- It is not possible to switch from a Standard Visitor Visa to a work or study visa in the UK. The only exception is for prospective entrepreneurs who can switch to work visas, such as the Global Talent, Startup, or Innovator visa categories.
- Visitors must adhere to the conditions of their stay; breaching the rules outlined in paragraphs V 4.5 to 4.10 may result in the cancellation of the Standard Visitor Visa.
- In limited circumstances, a visitor may apply for an extension of their visa.
By following these steps and adhering to the requirements outlined in Appendix V, applicants can successfully apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa and enjoy their stay in the United Kingdom.
Tips for a Successful UK Standard Visitor Visa Application
- Ensure all documents are complete and accurate.
- Provide clear and concise explanations for the purpose of the visit.
- Demonstrate strong ties to your home country to show your intent to return.
- Follow the application process and submission guidelines carefully.
*What happens next?
Multilingual qualified London based immigration specialists will get back to you, usually within 2-3 working days. If you have not attached any documents, then the UK based Law firm may ask for the relevant Case-Specific Document(s) such as Refusal Letters, Deportation Orders, Application Forms etc. Moreover, after reviewing the papers and information, the legal advisor may advise a course of action and quote the fees for processing the application.
Have a wonderful day!
How to Apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa
If you are a non-UK resident looking to visit the UK for tourism, visiting family or friends, business purposes, or other short-term activities, you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. The following steps outline the process to obtain a UK Standard Visitor Visa:
- Specify the Purpose of Visiting the UK
- Gather Supporting Documents
- Fill the Online Application Form
- Prepare and Upload the Final Documents
- Attend a Biometrics Appointment
- Wait for the Decision
- Collect Your Passport and Visa
1. Specify the Purpose of Visiting the UK
To apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa, you must have a clear reason for your visit. Common purposes include:
- Meeting family, relatives, or friends
- General tourism for leisure and sightseeing
- Business-related purposes such as attending meetings or job interviews
- Academics conducting research or accompanying students on a study abroad program
- Doctors or dentists undertaking a clinical attachment
- Participating in sports or creative events
- Taking a Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
2. Gather Supporting Documents for the Standard Visitor Visa
Applicants need to provide supporting documents to substantiate the information in the application form. These documents should prove that the applicant:
- Has sufficient funds to support the trip without relying on public funds
- Intends to leave the UK at the end of the visit, demonstrating strong ties to their home country
- Can cover the costs of an onward journey
Relevant supporting documents may include a passport, bank statements, marriage or civil partnership certificates, family forms, income tax certificates, and tax returns. It is not necessary to submit irrelevant documents like credit card statements.
3. Fill the Online Standard Visitor Visa UK Application Form
Complete the online application form after gathering your supporting documents. Review the form and documents before proceeding to select the relevant application center in your country or city.
4. Prepare and Upload the Final Documents
Review your application form and supporting documents for any errors or corrections. Finalize your document package, which includes printing the final PDF of the UK Standard Visitor Visa application form, supporting documents, and a cover letter if needed. Upload any remaining documents as required by the system-generated checklist.
5. Attend a Biometrics Appointment
Go to the visa application center at your scheduled appointment time, arriving at least 15 minutes early. The staff will review your documents and collect your biometric information, including fingerprints and a photograph.
6. Wait for the Decision
UKVI’s Service Standard is to process 90% of non-settlement visa applications, including Standard Visitor Visas, within 15 working days or 3 weeks. If you have purchased priority or super-priority service, the processing time is 5 working days or the next working day, respectively. You can also contact UKVI’s International Contact Centre for updates on your application status, at a cost of £5.48 per query or £1.37 per minute for phone calls.
7. Collect Your Passport and Visa
Once your application has been processed, you will receive a decision email informing you that your UK Standard Visitor Visa application has been concluded. The UK Visa Application Centre (UKVAC) will contact you when your passport is ready for collection. If your application remains unresolved after 12 weeks or 60 working days, you should contact UKVI for further assistance.
Note that the visa application process may vary depending on individual circumstances, so it is always best to check the official UK government website for the most up-to-date information and guidance.
Essential Documents for UK Standard Visitor Visa Applications
When applying for a UK Standard Visitor Visa, you must provide the following essential documents:
- Printed UK visa online application form
- Current valid passport
- Previous passport, if available
- Translations of non-English/Welsh documents
- Invitation letter, if applicable
- UK accommodation address for the visit
- Home country residential address
- Contact phone number
- Business or employment details
- Tax registration certificate
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Salary slips (for employed applicants)
- Marriage certificate, if applicable
- Family certificate, if applicable
- Home country property ownership or rental agreement
- Evidence of assets
Additional Documents for Specific Standard Visitor Visa Categories
Certain standard visitor visa categories require additional supporting documents, as outlined below:
- Child visitors: birth certificate, parental consent letter, travel and accommodation details
- Private medical treatment: confirmation of private medical treatment, letter from a UK medical practitioner, evidence of financial support
- Organ donors: letter from the lead nurse or coordinator, evidence of the relationship between the donor and recipient
- Chinese nationals under ADS agreement: approved tour itinerary, ADS tourist group membership confirmation
- Academics seeking a 12-month visa: confirmation of employment, evidence of academic qualifications
Tour Details for UK Tourist Visa
Providing a detailed trip itinerary is important when applying for a UK tourist visa, as it can help strengthen your application. Keep in mind that the following example is only an illustration, and applicants should tailor their itineraries to their specific plans and interests. A 15-day trip itinerary may include the following tour details:
Days 1-4: Glimpses of London
Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross Station)
St. James’ Gardens
Westminster- Church, Parliament Buildings and Big Ben
London Eye (Ride)
Boat ride on the Thames
Tower of London (Inside)
Days 5-8: Museum Days
Natural History Museum
Science Museum (South Kensington Station)
Victoria and Albert Museum
Leicester Square/Oxford Circus
Days 9-11: Gardens Days
Kew Gardens (full day)
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Hyde Park (Walk)
Days 12-13: Shopping and Glimpses of London
Days 14-15: Excursions Outside London
Day trip to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge
Day trip to Oxford and Cambridge or Bath and the Cotswolds
These suggested itineraries are just a starting point for planning your visit to the UK. Be sure to customize your trip based on your personal preferences and interests, and don’t forget to include any relevant details in your visa application.
Frequently Asked Questions about UK Standard Visitor Visa
How difficult is it to get a UK standard visitor visa?
Since the introduction of new immigration rules in April 2015, obtaining a UK standard visitor visa has become slightly more challenging. However, applicants with a clear purpose and well-documented applications have a high chance of success. In 2019, the UK visitor visa success rate was 87.46%.
Do non-visa nationals need to apply for a standard visitor visa?
Citizens of 111 visa national countries require a visa to travel to the UK. Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE nationals can obtain an electronic visa waiver (EVW) for short visits of up to 6 months for family visits, tourism, business, study, or private medical treatment. Non-visa nationals, such as US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand citizens, typically do not need a visa for UK visits. However, according to paragraph V 1.3 of Appendix V, a non-visa national must apply for a visit visa if they intend to:
- Marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership, or
- Travel for more than 6 months for private medical treatment or as a visiting academic
Do EU citizens need to apply for a UK visitor visa?
After Brexit and the end of free movement on 31 December 2020, EU citizens can still visit the UK for short stays (up to six months) without a visa. However, EU citizens will need to apply for a visa if they wish to stay in the UK for longer periods, work or study. It is important to note that the rules regarding travel and visa requirements may be subject to change, and it is recommended to check the latest UK government guidelines for up-to-date information.
What is the Standard Visitor Visa GWF Number?
A GWF number is automatically generated when an applicant starts an online application. If the applicant does not finalize the application within 30 days, it will lapse. The final application form, available after fee payment, will have barcodes and the GWF number at the bottom of the barcodes on each page.
What are the mandatory documents for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
A valid travel document, such as a national passport, and translations of documents not in English or Welsh are mandatory for a UK standard visitor visa application.
What are the bank statement requirements for a UK visitor visa?
Bank statements are essential for demonstrating income and savings to cover trip expenses. While there is no minimum or maximum bank balance requirement, a 6-month bank statement with an average balance of US$2-3K is usually helpful.
Is travel history necessary for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
Frequent, short international travels may increase an applicant’s chances of obtaining a standard visitor visa as they demonstrate financial stability and intent to return home. However, some applicants with extensive travel history may still face visa refusal due to insufficient explanations of their circumstances.
Is an invitation letter necessary for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
An invitation letter is not mandatory, as a tourist visa applicant can provide a trip itinerary instead. However, if a third party sponsors the trip, they must provide their details, a copy of their British passport or residence permit, bank statements, accommodation details, the reason for sponsorship, and a written undertaking to support and accommodate the visitor.
Is a cover letter required for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
Cover letters are optional and recommended only for complex applications
What are the photograph requirements for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
In recent years, there is no need to submit a passport-sized photo with the application at the UK Visa Application Centre (UKVAC). The application centre staff will take an electronic photo of the applicant during the biometrics process (fingers and thumbs scanning). This electronic photo will be used for the visa vignette if the application is successful.
Is it possible to book tickets and hotels without payment?
It is a common practice to provide ticket and hotel bookings without payment as proof of travel and accommodation arrangements.
Can a person apply for family members?
No, each applicant must submit their application personally and complete the biometrics process. A family member, such as a spouse or parent, cannot submit the application on behalf of their spouse or children.
What is the UK Standard Visitor Visa assessment procedure?
An Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) evaluates an applicant’s intentions based on the balance of probabilities principle. The burden of proof lies on the applicant, who must provide clear and conclusive evidence to establish their personal circumstances and credibility. The balance of probabilities principle considers the overall credibility of the applicant and the authenticity of the evidence. However, this principle does not apply to refusals based on suitability grounds.
What is the processing time for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?
The processing time for a UK Standard Visitor Visa can vary depending on the country from which you apply and the specific circumstances of your application. Generally, it takes around 3 to 4 weeks (15 working days) for a decision, but it could take longer during peak travel seasons or if your application requires further assessment. It is recommended to apply for the visa well in advance of your intended travel date to allow for any delays in processing.
What if the UK standard visitor visa is refused?
If an applicant fails to establish their bona fide intentions, their passport will be returned with a refusal letter outlining the reasons for the refusal. In such cases, the applicant may consider reapplying, addressing the refusal reasons and providing additional evidence to support their application.
Applying for a UK Standard Visitor Visa may seem complex, but with the right guidance and preparation, you can successfully navigate the process. This guide covers the essential aspects of the application process, from requirements to essential documents and common questions. By following these steps, you increase your chances of obtaining a UK Standard Visitor Visa and enjoying your visit to the United Kingdom.
Explore more information on UK Standard Visitor Visa and other related topics with these informative articles:
- UK Visa Application Form – Learn more about the UK visa application form and the process of filling it out.
- UK Visitor Visa Sponsorship – Understand the role of a sponsor in a UK visitor visa application.
- Re-entry Ban UK – Find out the reasons and implications of a re-entry ban to the UK.
- Long-term UK Visitor Visa – A comprehensive guide on long-term visitor visas for the UK.
- UK Visa Refusal Reasons – Explore common reasons for UK visa refusals and how to address them.
- UK Visit Visa Extension – Find out how to apply for an extension of your UK visit visa.
- Marriage Visitor Visa UK – A guide on applying for a UK Marriage Visitor Visa.
- UK Tourist Visa Processing Time – Discover the average processing times for UK tourist visas.
- Form FLR(IR) – Learn about the Form FLR(IR) for immigration applications within the UK.
- Business Visitor Visa UK – Get insights into the requirements and application process for a UK business visitor visa.
These related articles will provide additional insights and guidance on various aspects of the UK Standard Visitor Visa process, as well as other relevant topics.
Useful External Links
Explore the following resources for further information and guidance on the UK Standard Visitor Visa:
- UK Government’s Official Standard Visitor Visa Page – Access the official UK Government page for detailed information on Standard Visitor Visas and requirements.
- UK Government’s Visa Check Tool – Determine if you need a visa for your visit to the UK and explore the application process.
- UK Government’s Visas and Immigration Homepage – Browse the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration homepage for an overview of all visa types, eligibility criteria, and application procedures.
- VFS Global (for UK Visa Application Centre information) – Find your nearest UK Visa Application Centre, schedule appointments, and learn more about the application process with VFS Global.
- Apply for a UK Visa – Visit the UK Government’s official page to start your UK visa application process.
- Immigration Rules Appendix V: Visitor Rules – Access the UK Government’s detailed visitor rules that apply to the Standard Visitor Visa and other visitor visas.