The visitor visa is the UK's most common visa and is typically used by individuals who are coming to the UK for tourism, or visiting family, or visiting on business.
A key requirement of the visitor visa is that applicants must be able to show that they intend visiting the UK for no more than six months and that they will be leaving the UK at the end of their visit. Applicants are also required to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate themselves (and any dependents) without access to public funds.
The UK's Standard Visitor visa has replaced a number of previous Visitor Visa categories:
- Family Visitor visa
- General Visitor visa
- Child Visitor visa
- Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
- Sports Visitor visa
- Entertainer Visitor visa
- Prospective Entrepreneur visa
- Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
- Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa
Visiting the UK on business
You can apply to enter the UK as a business visitor if you are coming to the UK for business purposes if:
- You are attending a conference or a meeting or training event
- You are taking part in a specific sports-related event
- You are an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform
- You are an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme
- You are a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post
- You want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
- You want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK e.g. attend interviews or conferences, conduct site visits, arrange deals or sign contracts or deliver international goods and/or passengers from abroad.
Business visitor visa rules
As a business visitor visa holder you are allowed to:
- Take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules
- Study for up to 30 days as long as it's not the main reason for your visit
- Take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you're under 18)
However, you are not allowed to:
- Do paid or unpaid work
- Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
- Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
- Access public funds
How long is a visitor via valid for?
A Visitor Visa typically allows the holder to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. In some circumstances a holder may be eligible to stay for up to 11 months if they are coming to the UK for private medical treatment. Furthermore, you, your spouse or civil partner and children might be able to stay for up to 12 months if you are an academic on sabbatical and coming to the UK to conduct research.
Upon the expiry of your visa you must leave the UK. Failure to leave the UK before your visitor visa expires will have a negative effect on your immigration record and is likely to impact any future UK immigration applications you make.