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Do I Need a Visa to Travel to the UK?
You may need an entry visa to visit the UK depending on your nationality of origin. In general, third country nationals are obliged to apply for a visa in line with the purpose of their visit. You can check online whether you will need a visa to travel to the UK.
UK Visa Types
UK visa types are broadly categorized as work, business, study, visitor, family, settlement and transit visas. Single-entry visa grants one time entrance whereas double-entry visa holders may travel twice in designated times. On the other hand, multiple-entry visa allows for consecutive visits not exceeding the time constraints.
Type C (Short-term Stay) Visa
Short-term visa is issued in line with the requested days indicated by the traveller for periods not exceeding a total of six months. Travellers are obliged to leave the UK at the end of visit.
UK Tourist Visa
Travellers who wish to visit the UK for leisure or holidays shall apply for the Standard Visitor Visa upon submission of the required documents. Standard Visitor Visa covers a wide range of categories including general visits, family visits, business related visits or medical treatment purposes.
UK Visa for Business and Fair Visits
Standard Visitor Visa is applicable for travels within the context of business activities including entry visas for academics, prospective entrepreneurs, doctors or dentists. However, beware that individuals cannot engage in any paid work or stay in the UK for longer periods than required with this kind of a visa.
UK Visa for Visit to Family, Relatives and Friends
Standard Visitor Visa is required for third country nationals who intend to visit family, relative or friends who are based in the UK. Family members of the EU, European Economic Area, which includes the EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, or Swiss citizens shall prove their relationship through documents such as birth certificate, marriage or partnership documents.
UK Visa for Cultural, Sports Activities and Participation to Conferences
Standard Visitor Visa shall be obtained for travelling to the UK with the purpose of participating in cultural or sports related events whether the applicant is an artist, entertainer, musician or athlete who is visiting to perform.
UK Visa for Short-term Education and Traineeship
Academics, researchers or students wishing to take part in short period trainings can apply for Standard Visitor Visa as well. Citizens of countries that are not from the European Economic Area and Switzerland can obtain “Permitted Paid Engagement Visa” for stays up to one month given that they will be invited to the UK by a registered organization for professional purposes. In this case, an invitation letter by the relevant organization whether it is a higher education, sports or research institute is required. The applicant must also prove his/her professional status in his/her country of residence and demonstrate sufficient financial assets to cover the expenses without any public funds. Further criterias to apply for Paid Engagement Visa can be reached online.
Type D (Long-term Stay) Visa
Long-term visa grants its holder the right to enter and stay in the UK for a period up to six months with multiple entry possibilities. In the case that the visitor needs to enter the UK territory on a regular basis, he/she can apply for a long-term “Standard Visitor Visa” that will last 2, 5 or 10 years. However, it enables the holder to stay for a maximum of 6 months during each visit.
“General Work Visa” for the UK is categorized under the heading of Tier 2. Foreigners of a third country that is not included in the EEA or Switzerland can apply for such visa in case they have been offered a skilled job and they are supported by licensed organizations whose details are described online. “Tier 2 General” visa permits the holder to stay in the UK for up to five years and fourteen days. Third country employees that are conducting intra-company transfers and religion workers or sports persons are also entitled to Tier 2 visa regulations as well.
Citizens of a third country that is not included in the EEA or Switzerland can also apply for a “Start-up Visa” if they meet the requirements. Endorsement by a competent authority whether it is a UK- based higher educational institution or a business organization is required in that case. Demonstration of an innovative idea which has potential is also mandatory. Start up visa grants the holder to stay in the UK for up to two years and further details can be reached online.
On the other hand, “Innovator Visa” is applicable to foreign citizens who are non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals and would like to set up a business in the UK. Apart from the legal endorsements, the applicant must have £50,000 in investment funds. Innovator Visa enables the holder to stay in the UK for up to three months. You can check all the details about Innovation Visa applications online.
Youth mobility programs are governed under Tier 5-Youth Mobility Scheme Visa for foreigners who are aged between 18-30 and would like to live and work in the UK. Holders of such visa are entitled to rights to enroll in a course program, work in a paid-job, be self-employed or set-up a company for stays up to twenty four months. Further information can be reached online.
UK visa for private medical treatment is also applicable when a medical certificate is issued by competent authorities detailing the condition and estimated duration of treatment. Additionally, long term visits for marriage or civil partnerships require documented evidence of such arrangements.
UK Transit Visa
Transit visa for the UK grants passengers the possibility to change planes through a stopover in the UK during travel to third countries. Proof of bookings and entry requirements for the onward journey is necessary for a transit visa.
General Requirements to Apply for the UK Visa
Tourist visa for the UK requirements and application procedures are explained for specific categories below. In general, applicants must submit their applications comprising of the requested documents to the Diplomatic Mission or authorized visa application centers in due time.
UK Visa Applications
- A travel document/passport with at minimum two blank pages and is valid for at least 90 days after the end of travel. Copy of the first page including personal data and previous Schengen visas if obtained.
- Completed and signed visa application form along with two biometric photos that are not older than 6 months.
- Proof of travel with confirmed both-way tickets.
- Bank account details proving that the passenger can sufficiently fund his/her travel.
- Evidence of occupation in the form of certified documents through employer letter, student certificate, document of registration or demonstration of pension funds.
- Accommodation details through an invitation letter or proof of your hotel reservation throughout your stay.
- Documentation of travel health insurance that will be valid throughout the period of travel.
- In case you are not residing in the country of your nationality you may have to show the confirmation of your residence permit.
- Employment contract (original certificate of employment indicating the position in the company and the salary)
- Bank account statement of the past 6 months
- Approval letter of leave from employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
- Proof of business license (company registration)
- Company’s bank account statement of the past 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
- Documentation of University enrollment
- No-objection certificate from school management
- Pension statement documenting the past 6 months
- Proof of financial resources is nevertheless required
- If the person is not able to finance his/her own expenses, proof of a sponsor is mandatory.
What is Visa Sponsorship for the UK?
Students or unemployed/retired people who are not in a position to cover their own travel expenses will need to demonstrate support from a sponsor who will borne the full costs. The sponsor is entitled to certain requirements.
Passengers who are below the age of 18 and are travelling alone or with someone other than their parents shall submit a signed letter provided by their parents.
Hence, only first grade relatives can fulfill this position. You can check our website for all the relevant details.
UK Visa Rules
- In general applicants shall personally submit their visa applications in due time, with all the necessary documents at the UK Diplomatic Mission authorized in their place of residence.
- A tuberculosis test may be required for residents of the listed countries who intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. Chest x-ray is required to test for tuberculosis.
UK Visa Requirements
In addition to above mentioned application documents, general requirements include:
UK Visa requirements for Non-Europeans
The general requirements for foreigners wishing to visit the UK comply with the above mentioned rules and regulations. When an invitation is applicable to support the documentation process, contact details of the host organisation or private host such as name, address, relation to the guest, purpose and length of visit shall be included in the application.
UK visa for European countries
Citizens of European countries can benefit from visa-free travel opportunities within the borders of the European Union. However, the UK has decided to exit the Union as of 31 January 2020 and initiated the transition period. The transition period continues until the end of 2020 in which the existing rules for trade, travel and business purposes between t£50,000 to £200,000he UK and the EU continue to apply. The new rules will take into effect from 1st of January 2021.
UK Visa requirement for US and Canadian citizens
- US citizens holding US passports valid for at least 3 months from intended return date from the UK are not obliged to obtain a visa for tourist or business purposes as well as airport transits for stays up to 90 days.
- Canadian citizens are not obliged to have tourist visa to visit the UK for stays up to 180 days. However, beware that travelers may be asked to demonstrate return tickets and adequate financial funds at the border controls.
UK Visa Fees
You can find below fixed fees for different types of UK visas determined by authorities as of March 2020. The visa fees includes consultation, submission and processing of your application. Please keep in mind that under specific conditions some applicants may be exempt from visa fees or benefit from reduced prices. The visa fee is non-refundable which means that in the case of rejection of your application reimbursements are not available.
|Short-Stay Visa/ Standard Visitor Visa (valid for up to 6 months, single or multiple entry)
|Long-Stay/Standard Visitor Visa (valid for up to two years)
|Long-Stay/Standard Visitor Visa (valid for up to five years)
|Long-Stay/Standard Visitor Visa (valid for up to ten years)
|Short-term Visa for Child Visitors (valid for up to 6 months, single or multiple entry)
NOTE: This article was prepared in March 2020. Please check up-to-date information published by official sources.
Frequently Asked Questions