Getting a UK Family, Tourism, Medical & Business Visitor’s Visa

A family, business or tourist visa allows you to visit the UK for up to six months
A family, business or tourist visa allows you to visit the UK for up to six months

You can apply for a visitor’s visa to come to the UK for business, pleasure, or to see your friends or family members and even for medical treatment or to speak at an event. Visas to visit the UK are usually for up to 6 months.

You should consider getting specialist legal advice as the rules and evidential requirements are complex, and, if refused, there’s no right of appeal. It might cost you a little, but it can save a lot of your time and hassle.

Applying for the UK Visit Visa

Whether or not someone has to make an application for a visit visa depends on their nationality, character and immigration history.

For instance, nationals of the following countries, called ‘non-visa nationals’, do not normally need to make a physical application for the visitor’s visa. They may apply when they arrive at the port of entry.

‘Non-visa national’ is the term used to describe nationals of 56 countries who are exempt from having to apply for a visitor’s visa or a ‘short-term student visitor’ visa to enter the UK for up to 6 months (or 3 months if they enter from the Republic of Ireland). It also applies to non-EU British Nationals.

If your country of nationality is listed in the list below, you will definitely need to make an application for the visit visa.

Bosnia HerzegovinaMontenegro 
Burkina FasoMorocco 
Cape VerdeOman* 
Central African RepublicPakistan 
People’s Republic of China*Philippines 
CubaSao Tome e Principe 
Democratic Republic of the CongoSaudi Arabia 
Dominican RepublicSerbia 
EcuadorSierra Leone 
Equatorial GuineaSouth Africa* 
EritreaSouth Sudan 
EthiopiaSri Lanka 
Guinea BissauTanzania 
Indonesia*Turkey * 
Ivory CoastUkraine 
JamaicaUnited Arab Emirates* 
Korea (North)Yemen 
Kuwait *Zimbabwe 

Although, you can apply online for the UK Visas, it’s in your interest to seek professional advice and representation.

What to do after an application has been completed?

After you complete the application form, the applicant will need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre to verify their identity. Check where their nearest visa application centre is before applying.

The online system will tell you where to send the form after it’s been completed and printed. The online form asks you questions to select the right application form for your visa.

Supporting Documents

You’ll need to provide supporting evidence in the form of documents. The online form will give you guidance on what to include, but here are some things to keep in mind.

Evidence that you can pay for the visit

You’ll have to provide evidence to show that you can pay for the visit to and stay in the UK as well as your return to your home country at the end of the visit.

If the visitor is paying for themselves, they’ll have to include documents proving that they can afford it, for instance, bank statements or payslips.

If you’re sponsoring their visit ( flights and accommodation), you’ll need to prove that you can afford the visitor’s trip as well as your own costs (your rent, mortgage and general expenses)

You should provide:

  • an estimate of the cost of the visit
  • proof of your income and/or employment/self-employment
  • proof that you have enough money to pay the cost of the visit
  • proof that you have the right to live in the UK

Evidence of purpose of the visit

The evidence you’ll supply to support your visitor’s visa application depends on the purpose of the trip.

Family visit visa

If the person visiting you is a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s a good idea to include a letter with your application explaining that you’re in a genuine relationship. You should explain some details of your relationship, like:

  • how and where you met
  • how often you communicate with each other
  • how you communicate (eg phone calls or emails)

If it’s a relative, you should include how you’re related to them and why the visit is necessary.

Tourist visit visa

If the purpose of the visit is tourism, you should provide information on the places you want to visit and the bookings you have made for them.

Business visit visa

If the purpose of to visit the UK is business, you should provide evidence of your background in business, and the activities you will undertaking during the trip.

Medical visit visa

If the purpose of to visit the UK is to get medical treatment, you should provide evidence of your illness along with the proof that medical treatment has been booked and will be paid for privately.

Visit visa tips

Don’t forget to review the government’s guidance on reasons for refusing visas.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to appeal a visitor visa refusal – therefore get specialist visa advice before attempting this yourself.