In most cases when you’re visiting the UK you’re only allowed to stay for a maximum of 6 months. If you intend to stay for longer then you’ll likely require a UK Visa, and in some cases a work permit. To enter the UK, an individual must meet certain requirements, according to the purpose of the visit. There are different categories, including: business, medical treatment, marriage short holidays, study needs and visiting family or friends.

Visitors are not allowed to enter or stay in the UK to receive free medical treatment from the NHS by any means, unless they are receiving treatment in an accident and emergency department. The patient will be charged for any treatment provided by the hospital.

Once certain types of visitor have entered the UK, it is important that they register with the police within seven days. Individuals that need to do this will have this requirement written in their passport.*

If a visitor wants to change their visa and the basis of their stay, clear reasons for the amendment must be provided.

* Countries/territories whose citizens are relevant foreign nationals for the purposes of Part 10 (Police Registration) of the Immigration Rules: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

Visitor Visa Categories

General Visitors
People who apply for this type of visa usually want to enter the UK for a holiday or to visit friends. To be granted entry, the applicant must demonstrate that they have the funds necessary to support themselves whilst in the UK and that the visit will not last longer than six months, after which they intend to leave. This category of visa can be granted for up to six months; such visitors are not permitted to:

  • Undertake employment;
  • Commence a learning course;
  • Marry or form a civil partnership; or
  • Give notice of an intention to marry or form a civil partnership

Family Visitors
This type of visa lasts up to six months and such visitors are subject to the same provisions and restrictions as general visitors. Family visitors can apply for multiple visas, ranging in duration from six months to ten years.

Child Visitors
The applicant must be under 18 years of age to be eligible for a visa under this category. The maximum stay granted is usually six months, although it is possible for this to be extended to twelve months if the child is accompanied by an academic visitor. This also applies to children who wish to study in the UK for a period of up to six months.

If a child wishes to study in the UK for longer than six months, they must apply for a visa under Tier 4 (Child) of the points-based system.

The child must intend to leave the UK at the end of the visit; appropriate travel arrangements must have been prepared.

Business Visitors
Individuals who want to enter the UK to conduct business, e.g. attend meetings; negotiate business deals; sign agreements or contracts; undertake fact-finding missions; deliver goods or passengers; speak at a conference; or perform any other activity listed as a “permissible activity” in the Immigration Rules, can enter the UK for a period of six months at a time. This category of visa cannot be extended.

The category of business visitors also includes those who have come to the UK to conduct research or partake in formal exchange schemes; these are known as academic visitors. An academic visitor can spend a maximum of 12 months in the UK at any one time.

Business visitors can apply for multiple visas, which can last up to ten years.

Sports Visitor
A sports visitor can be granted a visa to enter the UK for up to six months, although multiple entry visas are available from six months – ten years. To be granted this category of visa, the applicant must intend to:

  • Participate in a specific sporting event, tournament or series of events;
  • Participate in a particular one-off sporting event for charity. They must not be paid anything other than cash prizes or for reasonable expenses;
  • Be a member of the support staff of a visiting sportsperson or official (including voluntary officials). They must intend to attend the same event as the visiting sportsperson or official;
  • Join a wholly or mainly amateur team. They must not be paid for anything other than reasonable expenses;
  • Undertake a trial (must not be in front of an audience) or training (the visitor must not envisage basing themselves in the UK and must only take part in friendly/exhibition sporting events); or
  • Take part in promotional work or make public appearances.

Entertainer Visitor
An entertainer visitor can be given a visa to enter the UK for a maximum of six months. They must intend to:

  • Enter at least one music competition as a professional;
  • Participate as an amateur or professional in a cultural event. The event must be included in the list of named events to which this applies;
  • Fulfil at least one specific engagement as an amateur entertainer, either as an individual or as part of an amateur group;
  • Provide support to a visiting entertainer as a member of their support staff or act as an official attending the same event as the visiting entertainer;
  • Participate in broadcasts or public appearances, provided these are undertaken without payment; or
  • Perform an audition, as long as it is not performed in front of an audience.

Parent of a Child at School
This type of visa is subject to the same regulations as a visitor visa. However, the maximum time an individual can stay in the UK under this category is one year. If the child is under the age of 12 and the parent does not intend to settle in the UK on a permanent basis, the parent can apply for a one-year extension.

Private Medical Treatment
Entering the UK for medical treatment has certain requirements that must be adhered to; for example, the time required for the course of treatment must be specified. The individual must fund all treatment and prove that they are able to do this. They must also demonstrate that the sole purpose for their entry into the UK is for treatment. Arrangements must have been made for accommodation and support and no help will be provided by public funding. If the patient has a disease that can be easily transferred to others, there must be no risk of endangering public health.

Marriage or Civil Partnership
This category of visa is applicable to those who wish to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK; successful applicants can stay in the UK for a maximum of six months. The couple must have readily available evidence that they are able to support themselves and any dependants and have accommodation without the need for public funding. Under this type of visa, providing services or goods to the public, undertaking employment/study, and receiving private medical treatment are prohibited.

Visitor Visas for Chinese Nationals
Chinese nationals are permitted to visit the UK under the Approved Destinations Status (ADS) Agreement with China; this grants a visa that lasts up to 30 days.

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