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UK visa types

It is a legal requirement for overseas nationals to apply for a UK visa before entering the UK for more than 90 days. The type of visa you apply for will depend on your reason for entering the UK.

For more information on how we can help you, call our friendly team of advisors on 0121 667 6530 for immediate assistance.


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    The importance of a UK visa

    A UK visa is an essential document to obtain if you wish to come to the UK to stay on a specific time basis. Whether it be to live, work or study in the UK, you must ensure you have the correct permission to enter and remain in the UK before you proceed to come to the UK.

    A visa is typically a stamp on your passport that has been endorsed by the UK Home Office to permit you to enter the United Kingdom. There are multiple different UK visa types and the one you apply for will depend on your intentions within the UK.

    The most common reasons for overseas nationals to enter the country on one of the UK visa types include:

    • To live
    • To work
    • To study
    • To travel
    • To visit family
    • To seek refuge

    Whatever the reason overseas nationals need to come to the UK for, you must ensure you apply for the correct UK visa type and do not enter the country until you have the correct authorization to do so, as well as being familiar with UK visa types and requirements.

    When should foreign nationals apply for a UK visa?

    All foreign nationals who intend to spend more than 90 days in the UK must apply for the relevant UK visa before entering the UK. You must select the correct visa based on how long you plan on staying and your intentions whilst residing in the UK.

    UK visas can often act as a step up to applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship- but this is something you must meet the eligibility requirements for. Usually to apply for ILR, you must have been in the UK for at least 5 years continuously.

    You can apply for all UK visa types online using the correct application form for the visa you are applying for. You will be required to pay the specified application fee for the visa you are applying for, along with having to submit a number of supporting documents.

    The processing time for each visa type will vary depending on what you apply for and where from. Rough processing times for each visa application can be found on the government website.

    Do you need help applying for a Skilled Worker Visa? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      Work visas

      You must apply for one of the many UK Work visas if you intend to live and work in the UK. Without a work visa, you will be deemed as illegally working in the UK which can face serious consequences. The UK offers the following work visas:

      • Skilled Worker visa
      • Sportsperson visa
      • Minister of Religion visa
      • Health and Care Worker visa
      • Temporary Worker visa
      • Youth Mobility Scheme visa
      • Charity Worker visa
      • Senior or Specialist Worker visa
      • High Potential Individual visa
      • Global Talent visa

      Typically, the most common worker visa to enter the UK is the Skilled Worker visa. This allows anybody in a skilled profession to work for a UK-based company in the same or a similar job role. As part of the application, the applicant must have a certificate of sponsorship from their UK employer- in order to do so, the organization must hold a valid Sponsor Licence. The Skilled Worker visa is valid for up to 5 years at any one time.

      Study in the UK

      In order for overseas nationals to study in the UK, they must acquire the correct student visa.

      The UK student visa allows foreign nationals to live in the UK for the duration of their studies at a UK educational institution. The eligibility requirements for a study visa are as follows:

      • Have an unconditional offer of study from an approved educational facility
      • A score of 70 on the points-based system
      • Funds to support yourself in the UK
      • Good knowledge of the English language

      The student visa acts as a great prerequisite to settlement in the UK if this is something you are considering after your visa has expired.

      Other study visas available are:

      • Short-term study visa- for those who wish to study in the UK for a maximum of 6 months
      • Child Student visa- for those aged between 4-17 who wish to study in the UK for longer than 6 months

      Family visas

      There are several types of family visas that allow foreign nationals to come to the UK to be united with their family members. If you are looking to visit the United Kingdom and remain with your family for a period longer than 6 months, you may be eligible to apply for the Family Visa. To be eligible you must meet one of the following requirements:

      • Your family member is a British citizen
      • Your Family member has settled status or Indefinite Leave to Remain
      • You are in a relationship deemed as eligible with a person of refugee or humanitarian protection status

      If you wish to join your partner in the UK you will need to apply for either a Spouse visa or an Unmarried Partner visa, based on your relationship status.

      If you are coming to work and live in the UK and you plan to bring your partner and children with you, they should individually apply for a Dependant Family Member visa.

      Visitor visas

      If you aren’t an EEA citizen and you wish to visit the UK for 6 months or less, you can apply for a visitor visa to do any of the following:

      • Visit friends and family
      • Access private medical care in the UK
      • Remain in the UK as a tourist for a maximum 6 month period

      Typically, visitor visas last up to 6 months at a time and cannot be renewed once they have expired.

      Some alternative visitor visas include:

      • Short-term Study visa
      • Business Visitor visa

      Business visas

      There are a selection of Business visas available to foreign nationals who wish to enter the United Kingdom as an entrepreneur or business person. These visa types include:

      • Investor visa
      • Innovator visa
      • Business Visitor visa
      • Start-up visa

      Each visa will allow you to pursue your business venture within the UK.

      What are the fees for UK visa applications?

      The fee varies based on the type of visa you’re applying for. The fees range from as low as £100 for a Standard Visitor visa to as high as £3,250 for other visas. The specific fee you pay also depends on whether you’re applying from abroad, extending your stay in the UK, or switching to a different visa category.

      If you have family members who want to join you in the UK, each person must apply separately and pay the same fee. Additionally, each applicant may be required to pay the healthcare surcharge, which provides access to the UK’s National Health Service. Currently, this surcharge is set at £624 per year, payable upfront. However, students and children enjoy a reduced charge of £470 per year.

      UK Visa processing times

      The time it takes to get a UK visa varies based on the visa type and whether you apply from within the UK or overseas. For instance, applying for a family visa from overseas may take up to 6 months, while it takes 8 weeks from within the UK. Conversely, a work visa typically takes 3 weeks whether you apply from overseas or within the UK.

      In certain situations, you can expedite your UK visa application for a fee, but this doesn’t guarantee a faster decision, especially if your application is complex. It also doesn’t increase your chances of approval. To enhance your chances of a successful visa application, it’s advisable to seek expert guidance. This ensures you choose the right visa type, meet the necessary requirements, and provide the correct documentation.

      How can Birmingham Immigration Lawyers help?

      Birmingham Immigration Lawyers are expert immigration lawyers with a wealth of legal knowledge.

      Our team is ready and waiting to assist you with your visa application process. We strive to support our clients through the entire visa application process- in order to minimize the stress and maximize the opportunity for a successful UK visa application.

      For more information on how we can help you, call our friendly team of advisors on 0121 667 6530 for immediate assistance.

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                There are various types of UK visas available, each designed for specific purposes and categories of individuals. Here are some of the main types of UK visas:

                Visitor Visas:

                • Standard Visitor Visa: For tourism, business, family visits, and medical treatment.
                • Marriage Visitor Visa: For those coming to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.
                • Transit Visa: For individuals passing through the UK enroute to another destination.

                Work Visas:

                • General Visa: For skilled workers with a job offer in the UK.
                • Intra-Company Transfer Visa: For employees of multinational companies being transferred to a UK branch.
                • Temporary Worker Visa: For temporary workers in various categories such as charity workers, creative and sporting workers, and more.

                Student Visas:

                • General Student Visa: For international students studying at UK institutions.
                • Child Student Visa: For children between 4 and 17 years old studying at independent schools.

                Family Visas:

                • Spouse, Partner, or Fiancé(e) Visa: For those joining their spouse, partner, or fiancé(e) in the UK.
                • Parent of a Child at School Visa: For parents of children studying at independent schools in the UK.
                • Adult Dependant Relative Visa: For dependent relatives of a British citizen or settled person in the UK.

                Ancestry Visas:

                • UK Ancestry Visa: For Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK.

                Entrepreneur and Investor Visas:

                • Entrepreneur Visa: For individuals looking to start or take over a business in the UK.
                • Investor Visa: For individuals willing to invest a substantial sum in the UK.

                Asylum and Protection Visas:

                • Asylum Seeker Visa: For those seeking asylum in the UK.
                • Humanitarian Protection: For individuals who do not qualify for refugee status but still need protection.


                Other Special Visas:

                • Representative of an Overseas Business Visa: For employees of an overseas company establishing a UK branch.
                • Global Talent Visa: For exceptionally talented individuals in various fields such as science, arts, and culture.
                • Sole Representative Visa: For overseas companies sending a representative to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK.

                Our lawyers at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can guide you in determining what visa type is right for you and your situation. Visas are changing all the time, and picking the wrong visa type could forfeit your plans of emigrating to the UK, especially if you are choosing a visa to settle.

                Let us help you, talk to one of our friendly team today on 0121 667 6530 or visit us online.

                The main difference between a visitor visa and a work visa in the UK lies in the purpose and activities permitted during the stay.

                Visitor Visa

                Purpose: Visitor visas are intended for individuals who wish to visit the UK for tourism, leisure, family visits, medical treatment, or other non-work-related purposes.

                Activities: Holders of visitor visas are generally restricted from engaging in paid work, running a business, or undertaking any form of employment in the UK.

                Duration: Visitor visas are typically short-term and grant temporary stays in the UK, ranging from a few weeks to a maximum of six months, depending on the specific visitor visa category.

                Permissible Activities: Visitors can engage in activities such as sightseeing, visiting family and friends, attending conferences, seeking medical treatment, or pursuing recreational interests.

                Work Visa

                Purpose: Work visas are designed for individuals who have a job offer from a UK employer and intend to work, perform specific roles, or pursue employment-related activities in the UK.

                Activities: Work visa holders are authorized to work and earn a living in the UK according to the terms and conditions specified in their visa. They may also be eligible for benefits such as access to public healthcare.

                Duration: The duration of work visas varies depending on the specific visa category and employment circumstances. Some may be temporary, while others can lead to permanent residency.

                Permissible Activities: Work visa holders are expected to engage in employment as per their visa category. This may include skilled work, intra-company transfers, temporary work, and more, depending on the specific visa type.

                Yes. The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the duration and nature of your study program.

                General Student Visa (formerly Tier 4): This visa is for international students who intend to pursue a full-time degree-level course at a recognised UK educational institution. To apply for a General Student Visa, you must have an offer of admission from a licensed UK institution, prove your English language proficiency, and demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses.

                Short-Term Study Visa: If you plan to study a short course or an English language course in the UK, you can apply for a Short-Term Study Visa. This visa is suitable for courses that are less than six months in duration (or up to 11 months for English language courses).

                Child Student Visa: If you are between 4 and 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK, you can apply for a Child Student Visa. You must have an unconditional offer of enrolment from the school and provide evidence of parental consent.

                Student Visitor Visa: This visa category is for individuals who want to undertake a short course of study in the UK (up to six months) and do not intend to work or extend their stay.

                Yes, there are special visas designed for family members of UK residents or citizens who wish to join their loved ones in the United Kingdom. These family-related visa categories include:

                Spouse, Partner, or Fiancé(e) Visa:

                Spouse Visa: For married partners of UK residents or citizens.

                Unmarried Partner Visa: For long-term partners (cohabiting for at least two years) of UK residents or citizens.

                Fiancé(e) Visa: For individuals who intend to marry a UK resident or citizen within six months of their arrival in the UK.

                Parent of a Child at School Visa:

                This visa category allows parents to join their child who is studying at an independent school in the UK. The child must be under 12 years old.

                Adult Dependant Relative Visa:

                This visa is for elderly parents, grandparents, or other adult dependant relatives of UK residents or citizens. To be eligible, the applicant must prove that they require long-term care, and their needs cannot be met in their home country.

                Family Reunion Visas:

                These visas are for family members of refugees or individuals granted humanitarian protection in the UK. Eligible family members may include spouses, children, parents, or dependent relatives.

                Ancestry Dependant Visa:

                Dependant family members of Commonwealth citizens with UK Ancestry Visas can apply for this visa to join the main visa holder in the UK.

                The duration of a typical UK tourist visa, also known as a Standard Visitor Visa, can vary depending on the specific circumstances and purpose of your visit.

                Typically, short-term visits permit you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

                Long-term visits can last from 2,5, or 10 years.

                Most UK visas can be extended for a further 6 month duration.