UK Visitor Visa Requirements and Fees

Personal Immigration
· 09 Jul 2024
· 16 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal
The UK Standard Visitor Visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months and is valid for up to 10 years. The visitor visa fee starts from £115 for six-month of validity.
UK Visitor Visa Requirments

Table of Contents

Personal Immigration
· 09 Jul 2024
· 16 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal

What is a UK Standard Visitor Visa?

The UK Standard Visitor Visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months and is valid for up to 10 years. The visitor visa fee starts from £115 for six-month of validity. Whether you’re a tourist, business professional, academic visitor, medical patient, or planning to get married or form a civil partnership, this visa is suitable for various short-term visits, including leisure, business, education, or personal health reasons.

How do you apply for a UK visitor visa? Watch Our Video Guide

A step-by-step guide on UK Visitor Visa

UK’s Standard Visitor Visa Categories

The UK Standard Visitor Visa allows non-visa nationals to visit the UK for a period of up to six months. It is suitable for tourists, business professionals, and in some cases, students. ​​Among the requirements is a requirement to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your trip, provide evidence of social ties and your intent to return to your home country, and an explanation of why you intend to visit.

Visa Categories under the Standard Visitor Visa include:

UK Tourist and Leisure Visa

This category is ideal for individuals who intend to visit friends and family living in the UK. It’s also suitable for those who are planning to undertake leisure activities like sightseeing, exploring tourist attractions, and attending cultural events. A visit visa is valid for 6 months and is often issued with multiple entries. 

UK Business Visit Visa 

A business visit visa is issued when the main purpose of your trip is business-related activities such as client meetings, attending conferences, or engaging in specific paid activities. Check out our page on Business Visit Visa for more information.

Short-term Study Visa

For those aiming to undertake a short course of study (under 6 months in the UK).

Medical Visit visa

A visitor visa also covers those seeking to receive private medical treatment in the UK. However, be aware that you will not have access to the NHS.

Apply For a Visitor Visa with Rove Legal

See our Visitor Visa Consultation page here

How Do You Check if You Require a Visitor Visa?

You can check whether you’d require a visa to begin with using the UK government visa check service. If you are a visa national, you’d then need to apply for a visa online. Normally EEA nationals, US, Australian and certain Middle Eastern countries enjoy visa-free access to the UK for a period of 3 months in any 6-month period, also known as non visa national countries. .

How Long Will My Visitor Visa Be Valid For?

The validity period of your visit visa depends on various factors such as your past visitor visa applications, the purpose of your visit to the UK, and whether you are eligible to receive a long-term visitor visa that typically remains valid for 2, 5 or 10 years. 

However, the maximum allowed stay is 6 months for each visit. It is possible for anyone to apply for a long-term visitor visa, which is more expensive than the standard visa, but there is no guarantee that you will be given a long-term visa. 

Instead, you might still receive a short-term visa with no option for a refund. A standard visitor visa starts at £115 in 2024, while 2-year and 10-year visas are £432 and £963, respectively.

UK Tourist Visa

UK Visitor Visa Requirements in 2024

As a standard visitor visa applicant, you’d need to prove your general eligibility to the UK’s Home Office. This includes:

  • A genuine intention to leave the UK at the end of your stay without overstaying more than your visa term. This is often supported by providing social ties to your home country or country of residence.
  • Providing supporting evidence for the intended activities you’re planning to do while in the UK. This could be business conferences, meetings or tourist attraction tickets, depending on the main purpose of your visit.
  • Having sufficient funds to pay for flights, accommodation and other travel expenses without the need to access public funds.

Required Documents for UK Visitor Visa

Supporting documents are among the most important steps for any Visa application. Most applicants often provide irrelevant or insufficient documents, which could result in application refusal and complicate any subsequent visitor visa requests.

All documents will need to be either in English or be accompanied by a certified translation to be valid. 

  • Current and old passports with at least one blank page.
  • Residence documents if you are residing in a country other than your home country.
  • A complete travel itinerary with dates and places you intend to visit. 
  • Return flight itinerary if booked and proof and accommodation arrangements. If you’re planning to stay with friends or family, you’d need to provide further documentation to ensure they can host you. You’d need to include contact details of your host including name, email and phone number.
  • Your complete immigration and travel history, including places you have visited over the past 10 years. 
  • Proof of sufficient funds and details of the provenance of those funds (for example, bank statements, payslips, business details, tax returns)
  • Social ties to your home country. For example, proof that you’d need to return to your home country (e.g. job/rental contracts) and details of family members in your home country
  • Estimated cost of your trip (if you are going as a family, you’d need to consider total expenses)
  • Invitation letter. This could be from a company, educational institution or friends and family depending on the main purpose of your trip. 
  • Your current home address and how long you’ve lived there.
  • Information about your parents. Their names, dates of birth (if known) and nationality.
  • Your yearly income and its source, along with documents to prove that. 
  • Criminal records and information regarding previous immigration or civil offences.

This list isn’t exhaustive. Every application is unique so what’s needed for someone might not be required for you. It’s, therefore, best to get the help of a professional rather than trying to piece together information and risk getting rejected. A rejected visa application from the UK might affect your visa application from countries such as the US, Canada and the EU.

Invitation Letter Samples

We have a separate guide on visitor visa invitation letter samples; make sure you review them as well.

How to Apply for a Visitor Visa

You can submit your application online. You will then be asked to schedule an appointment at a visa application centre near your country of residence. During this appointment, your biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) will be recorded. You may also be asked to attend a visa interview. During the interview, you will be asked about the purpose of your visit, your previous international travel history, and your plans after your travel has concluded.

UK Visitor Visa Application Processing Time 

The earliest you can apply is three months before the intended date of your trip and the latest you can apply is 48 hours before your trip. However, needless to say applying that late might not be the best idea.

Typically, the processing time for a Standard Visitor Visa is about 3 weeks from the date of your application submission. However, this can vary based on the volume of applications, the country in which you’re applying from, and your personal circumstances. Always check the current processing times provided by the Home Office for the most accurate estimate.

Factors Affecting Processing Time: Delays can occur due to incomplete applications, the need for additional documentation, or during peak travel seasons when application volumes are high.

Fast Tracking Your Visitor Visa Application

Priority Visa Service is available for an additional fee. 

This service expedites the processing of your visa application from around 3 weeks to a maximum of 5 working days. It’s an ideal option for travellers who need their visas approved quickly but require early planning as appointments and availability can be limited.

Super Priority Visa Service: If there is an urgent need to acquire a visa even faster, the Super Priority Service could offer the fastest turnaround, with decisions typically made by the end of the next working day after your biometric appointment. This service comes at a higher cost but is invaluable for last-minute travel needs.

How to Apply for Expedited Services: These services can be selected during the online application process. Availability may vary by location, so it’s essential to verify the options at your nearest visa application centre.

Our skilled immigration solicitors provide a comprehensive expedited application service to ensure that your submission is swiftly processed with the highest probability of approval. You can rely on us to handle the entire process of securing a Home Office Same-Day Premium slot, verifying your necessary documents, drafting a Letter of Representation for the Home Office, and providing additional assistance. Contact us today to learn more about the ways we can offer our support.

Can I Extend My Stay in the UK Beyond 6 Months?

UK’s visitor visa is typically granted for up to six months and generally cannot be extended, except under specific circumstances. Exceptions are mainly for academic visitors or medical patients. 

You can also acquire a long-term visitor visa, valid for either two, five, or ten years. However, they also come with an additional fee. Despite the extended duration of these visas, any single stay is limited to a maximum of six months. Nevertheless, the visas allow for multiple entries within the validity period.

Common Application Mistakes 

Incomplete Forms: Double-check every section of your application form. Incomplete applications are a common reason for delays or refusals.

Insufficient Documentation: Ensure you have all required documents, and they clearly support your application’s claims. Lack of evidence regarding your finances or intentions in the UK can lead to refusal.

Misunderstanding the Visa Type: Apply for the visa that matches your primary reason for visiting. Misclassifying your visit can result in unnecessary complications.

Not Following Instructions for Document Submission: Pay attention to the specifics of how and where to submit your documents. This includes following any requirements for translating documents not in English or Welsh.

Overlooking the Importance of the Cover Letter: Although not always mandatory, a cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit and outlining your application can clarify any complexities.

How Much Does a Visitor Visa Cost?

When considering the cost of various UK visas, it’s important to note that fees vary significantly based on the visa type and the duration for which it is issued. Here’s an overview of the current costs for some key visa types (figures from the UK Gov website):

Standard Visitor visa £115 – 6 months Validity

Standard Visitor visa for medical reasons £200 – 11 months per visit Validity

Standard Visitor visa for academics £200 – 12 months per visit Validity

2 year long-term Standard Visitor visa £432 – 6 months per visit Validity

5 year long-term Standard Visitor visa £771 – 6 months per visit Validity

10 year long-term Standard Visitor visa £963 – 6 months per visit Validity

Additional services, which include faster processing times, range from £500 for priority services to £1000 for super-priority services.

UK Visitor Visa Refusal 

If your UK Visitor Visa is refused, there are several strategies you may consider for addressing the decision:

Submit a New Application: This allows you to rectify any errors or omissions in your initial submission, such as missing documents. However, you will need to cover the costs associated with a new application.

Request an Appeal: There is generally no right to appeal a refusal of a visit visa. Appeals are restricted to decisions involving human rights claims. This option is generally more costly and time consuming. 

Apply for a Judicial Review: This is suitable for challenging the lawfulness of a decision rather than its merits and can be costly. You risk incurring legal fees from the other party, and the process can be extensive. Although no new evidence can be introduced, if successful, you might recover these costs, and the original decision could be overturned.

Short-Term Study Visits to the UK

The Standard Visitor Visa accommodates various educational activities for up to six months, detailed as follows:

Study at Accredited Institutions: Applicants can enrol in short courses, which must not exceed six months, at accredited institutions across the UK. To qualify, you must provide an acceptance letter from the institution and prove that the course cannot be done in your home country.

Research Opportunities: This is available for students enrolled in an overseas degree program, allowing them to conduct short-term research in the UK. Applicants need to demonstrate that the research is relevant to their overseas study and must be endorsed by the educational institution both in the UK and abroad.

Medical Electives: Medical students can apply to undertake clinical attachments or observer posts in the UK, which are usually unpaid. These electives should be part of the student’s course requirement and must be certified by the medical school providing the elective.


Academic Visits to the UK

Academics, including scientists and researchers, can use the Standard Visitor Visa for specific academic purposes for up to 12 months. 

Key details include:

Private Medical Treatment: If you’re visiting the UK for private medical treatment, pre-arrangements with medical facilities must be established before travel. Documentation should include evidence of appointments and proof of financial means to cover all associated medical and personal expenses during the stay. This visa also necessitates showing that you intend to leave the UK at the end of the treatment period.

NHS Treatment: Visitors eligible for NHS treatment under reciprocal healthcare agreements need to provide documented authorisation from their home country’s healthcare provider along with the treatment plan. It’s crucial to verify eligibility for such treatments before applying for a visa.

Organ Donation: For organ donation, visitors must show a confirmed match and planned procedure date. Documentation should include proof of the donor and recipient’s relationship, medical suitability for donation, and the legal status of the recipient in the UK.

Visa Duration and Costs: Visits up to 6 months require a standard application, while those who need to stay up to 12 months must apply for a longer visa at a cost of £200, with potential extensions costing £1,000. Extensions for medical reasons under a Standard Visitor Visa may be granted if ongoing private medical treatment is necessary beyond the initial 6 months, supported by medical assessments and evidence of finances to cover extended stay costs.

Visit for a Paid Engagement or Event

Professionals invited to the UK for specific engagements can utilise a Standard Visitor Visa. 

This visa category is specifically designed for professionals like artists, entertainers, musicians, sportspeople, and invited academics who must have a formal invitation from a recognised UK organisation. These invitations should specify the event or activity that the professional is being invited to participate in.

Participants can engage in a variety of professional activities including artistic performances, speaking at conferences, participating in sports competitions, and providing specialised services such as advocacy in a specific legal trial.

To qualify, professionals need to demonstrate their expertise and relevance to the engagement with evidence like proof of qualifications, examples of previous work, awards, or recognition in their field. The invitation letter from the hosting organisation should clearly outline the nature of the work to be performed.

The visa is valid for a stay of up to 6 months, with the expectation that the paid engagement will be completed within the first 30 days after arrival in the UK.

Additional Resources

UK Government official page for visitor visa

UK Government official page for the tourist visa

How We Can Help

Each applicant has their own unique set of circumstances. We can advise you on the documents required, the strength of those documents and the likelihood of obtaining a visa on the basis of those documents. 

We complete online applications, book appointments at visa application centres, upload supporting evidence and assist with drafting any supporting template letters as well as cover letters explaining the financial and personal circumstances and background of the applicants including purpose of visit.


Can I extend my UK visitor visa while in the UK?

Typically, the UK visitor visa is issued for up to six months and is non-extendable. However, under exceptional circumstances such as medical emergencies or the need to retake a professional exam, you might be eligible to extend your stay. To apply for an extension, you must complete a formal application, provide biometric information, and pay a fee of £1,000. It’s recommended to plan your travel within the initial visa period unless unforeseen circumstances arise. 

What if my visa application is denied? Can I apply again?

Yes, if your application is denied, you can apply again at any time, unless you face a ban. Review the reasons for refusal carefully and address these issues in your new application. Consider seeking professional advice to improve your application’s success rate.

Can I work in the UK on a standard visitor visa?

No, working (including paid or unpaid employment, running a business, or doing a work placement) is not allowed on a standard visitor visa. There are specific visas for work-related activities.

Is it possible to study on a standard visitor visa?

Yes, you can undertake short courses of study lasting no longer than 6 months. For longer courses, you’ll need to apply for a Student Visa.

Can I visit the UK multiple times on the same visa?

If you have a long-term Standard Visitor Visa (2, 5, or 10 years), you can make multiple visits to the UK. However, you cannot stay for more than six months during any single visit.

What happens if I overstay my UK visitor visa?

Overstaying your visa can result in consequences including difficulties obtaining UK visas in the future. It’s crucial to adhere to the visa expiration date unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Can family members join me in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa?

Family members must apply separately and meet all the standard visitor visa 
requirements, including proving their travel purpose and plans to leave the UK.

Are there specific documents required to prove financial sufficiency?

You should provide bank statements, evidence of income or savings to demonstrate that you have enough funds to cover your stay in the UK without recourse to public funds.

What are the requirements for minors visiting the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa?

Minors under 18 visiting the UK must provide additional documents with their visa application, including a letter from their parent or guardian granting permission for travel, details about who will be responsible for them in the UK, and where they will stay. It’s essential for the application to confirm arrangements for the minor’s travel, reception, and care in the UK.

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About the Expert
Jay Moghal
Founder and Managing Director
With over 15 years of immigration law experience at top London firms, Jay Moghal established Rove Legal in 2020 to offer prompt, personalised services without the bureaucratic hurdles associated with larger firms.
+44 (0) 203 146 0900

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