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Visitors Visa

A visitor visa allows you to enter the UK for up to 6 months.

This type of visa caters for people wanting to travel to the UK on a temporary basis in the following categories:

1 Standard Visit covers those wishing to travel for ‘permitted activities’ (summarised below) and includes holidaymakers or those wishing to visit friends or family. This type of visa is usually granted for 6 months but can be issue for 2, 5 or up to 10 years enabling an applicant to enter for up to 6 months on each time, unless specified otherwise.

2 Marriage/Civil Partner Visitor for those who would like to marry or enter into a civil partnership or give notice thereof – this is aimed at those who wish to simply marry in in the UK and leave.

3 Transit Visitor covers those who would like to travel for up to 48 hours and is perhaps the most common.


Individuals travelling to the UK should ensure they have applied for a visit visa in advance from a mission designated to process visit visas. Depending on your nationality, you may be able to travel to the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, such individuals are referred to as ‘non-visa’ nationals. Although no advance visa is required, they should be prepared to explain and evidence the purpose of their visit on arrival.

The UK government is also in the process of rolling out Electronic Travel Authorisations which should be applied for in advance for nationals of designated countries.

To secure a UK visit visa, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, for example:

·         you must genuinely intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay

·         not live in the UK for extended periods and

·         have enough money to cover the duration of your visit

·         undertake a prohibited activity such as work, unless it is through a ‘permitted activity.’

Visitors under the Approved Destination Agreement with China

Individuals applying through this route need to:


(a) be a national of the People’s Republic of China; and

(b) intend to enter, leave and travel within the UK as a member of a tourist group under the Approved Destination Status Agreement.

Permitted activities

It is important that individuals who intend to apply or travel through the UK to undertake the following activities can demonstrate the purpose of the visit if required.

Tourism and Leisure

The most common purpose for those coming to the UK as a visitor is for tourism or to see family and friends.

This also includes participating in educational exchanges or attending recreational courses for up to 30 days – but not to study English.


Allowed for up to 30 days so long as it is with a registered charity.

General business activities

This allows an executive to:

(a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews; and

(b) give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser; and

(c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts; and

(d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the Visitor is not directly selling; and

(e) carry out site visits and inspections; and

(f) gather information for their employment overseas; and

(g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK; and

(h) undertake activities relating to their employment overseas remotely from within the UK, providing this is not the primary purpose of their visit.

Intra Corporate activities

Allows an employee of an overseas company to visit the UK arm to:

(a) advise and consult

(b) trouble-shoot

(c) provide training

(d) share skills and knowledge.

Manufacture and supply goods to the UK

Enables an employee of an overseas company to conduct certain activities where there is a business relationship with a UK company.

Client of UK export company

A client of a UK company can be seconded to the UK to oversee activities so long as the companies are not linked.

Overseas roles requiring specific activities in the UK

Allows certain job roles to be undertaken in the UK, but the applicant works outside the UK and they are only travelling to conduct those functions:

(a) a translator and/or interpreter may translate and/or interpret in the UK as an employee

(b) personal assistants and bodyguards may support an overseas business person

(c) a tour group courier to conduct activities

(d) members of the media to conduct functions in the UK

(e) archaeologists taking part in a one-off archaeological excavation

(f) a professor from an overseas academic institution accompanying students

(g) market researchers and analysts may conduct market research or analysis

(h) between 01 March and 31 October, a pilot or cabin crew member may work in the UK temporarily under the terms of a Civil Aviation Authority approved Wet Lease Agreement

(i) drivers working in official capacity

(j) seafarers working in official capacity

Work related training

Overseas graduates from medical, dental, or nursing schools may:

(a) undertake clinical attachments or dental observer posts provided if unpaid and no treatment of patients is involved; and

(b) take the following exams:

(i) the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test; or

(ii) the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations for overseas.

Employees of an overseas company or organisation may receive training from a UK based company.

An employee of an overseas based training company may deliver a short series of training to employees of a UK based company.

Science and academia

Allows academics, scientists, and researchers to:

(a) take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors)

(b) collaborate, gather information and facts, or conduct research, either for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas, or independently; and

(c) if they are an eminent senior doctor or dentist, take part in research, teaching, or clinical practice, provided this does not amount to filling a permanent teaching post.


Allows expert witnesses and lawyers in connection with legal proceedings and work.


Religious workers to preach or undertake pastoral work.


Artist, entertainer or musician and technical staff to perform in specified circumstances.


Sport person to perform and technical staff to support in specified circumstances.

Medical treatment

Allows an individual to receive private medical treatment or to be an organ done in specified circumstances.

Permitted paid engagements

Undertake paid engagements for up to 30 days where specified.

Other visit visa categories

In addition, to the general visitor category, there are number of variants of visit visa that will allow an individual to undertake a specific task. These include:

  • Short term student
  • Healthcare visitor
  • Parent of a child.

Regardless of the purpose of the visa, the conditions that apply to a general visitor apply to most other visitor categories listed above in that the visa is issued on a temporary basis and the applicant must show a clear intention to return to their country of origin at the end of their visit to the UK.

RLegal has over 20 years of experience in advising and assisting clients with such applications.

For more information, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 where you can talk to one of our team or email us on

The legal criteria a person must satisfy when applying for a visit visa are that they:

  • must be ‘genuinely seeking entry to the UK for either the period stated and not exceeding 6 months;
  • must not fall for refusal through the 'general grounds of refusal'
  • meet additional criteria for certain activities;
  • intend to leave at the end of the period requested; not intend to take employment;
  • not intend to produce goods or services, including the selling of services directly to the public;
  • not intend to take a course of study unless permitted;
  • can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants;
  • can meet the cost of their travel; is not under the age of 18;
  • only intend to undertake one of the permitted activities within the visit category;
  • not be paid in the UK unless authorised in certain circumstances
  • have arranged private medical treatment in advance.

- Comprehensive legal advice.


- Ensuring your application meets the legal requirements.


- Completion and submission of all forms.


- Booking a biometric appointment.


- Ongoing liaison with the authorities where possible.


To find out more about our visitor visa services, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 or use our online form.

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