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Visiting the UK – make sure you apply for the correct visit visa | Immigration Matters

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Around 90 million people travel through UK borders every year. If you come from a visa national country and want to visit the UK you will need to apply for a visa. There are a number of sub-categories visitor to the UK, and you need to choose which category is the most suitable for you before applying for your visa.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) website section ‘Visiting the UK’ explains what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do while you are in the UK as a visitor on a visitor or UK tourist visa.

If you are coming to the UK as a visitor or tourist, you are allowed to stay here for up to 6 months in most cases. For trips longer than 6 months, you should read the Visas and immigration section to find out about non-visitor immigration categories.

Many people go through the whole visa process, pay for flights and travel all the way here only to be refused entry by an immigration officer at the border. This also happens to British people who do not obey the rules in other countries.

Reasons for refusal can vary from carrying illegal substances or because the immigration officer is not convinced that the purpose of your visit is what you say it is.

For instance, you say you want to do some sightseeing, but the officer discovers you are carrying copies of your CV and job application letters, clearly indicating that your primary purpose of visiting the UK is to look for work.

Other examples where officers become suspicious is where you have not declared information such as a fiancé in the UK, who also happens to be calling you on the airport immigration phone asking why you have been detained!

In order to be allowed entry or transit through the UK, you must meet certain requirements. To find out what you can expect when you arrive at the UK border, you should carefully read the Travel and customs section of the UKBA website.

If someone in the UK is ‘sponsoring’ you for your visit, they must read the Sponsoring a visitor pages on the UKBA website.

UKBA service standards state that they will decide 90 per cent of applications within 3 weeks, 98 per cent within 6 weeks and 100 per cent within 12 weeks.

There are a number of categories of visitor including:

  • Tourism and visiting friends
  • Business visitor
  • Student visitors
  • Prospective students
  • Child visitor
  • Parents of children at school
  • Sports person visitor
  • Entertainer
  • Visitor in transit
  • ADS visitor – a new category for Chinese national coming to the UK as part of a group for a maximum of 30 days

If the purpose of your visit to the UK is get married or register a civil partnership in the UK, and you plan to leave the UK soon after the ceremony, you should apply to come here as a visitor for marriage or civil partnership.

From 9 July 2012 the UK Government changed the Rules on number of important changes to family migration routes. Brits who want to marry a non-EEA European Economic Area national and live in the UK together will have to showing earnings of at least £18,600 per annum

In cases where the foreign-born spouse has children, their British partner would have to earn £22,400 or more, plus £2,400 for each additional children.

You can also apply to come here as a visitor for private medical treatment at some of the world’s best hospitals. 

Please note that the UK is not part of the Schengen visa area.

Common reasons for refusing a visit visa include: submitting forged or false documents (which will lead to a UK ban) and doubts by the Entry Clearance Officer that you are likely to return after your trip and join the hundreds of thousands of visa overstayers – e.g. you have no job to go back or and all your family live in Britain.

Most refusals against a visit visa no longer carry a right of appeal so you will have to apply for an administrative review or reapply.

If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

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