The Standard Visitor Visa replaced nine specialised visitor visas in 2015, including the family visitor visa, the business visitor visa (including visas for academics, doctors and dentists), the prospective entrepreneur visa and the private medical treatment visa.
If you are a national of a country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you may need a visitor visa to enter the UK. Nationals from certain countries, such as the United States and Canadian for example, may not need to obtain a visitor visa before arriving in the UK. There are also other exceptions, so you should always check if you need a visa. You can do this here: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Like all visa applications, the type of visa you apply for depends on what you intend to do in the UK, for how long, and your nationality.
The Standard Visitor Visa is an option for tourists, prospective entrepreneurs, volunteers, visitors planning to undertake intra-corporate activities (advising and consulting, providing training and trouble-shooting), creative travellers who are employed by an overseas company and clients of UK export companies.
The Standard Visitor Visa is a restrictive visa. It is important not to undertake any activities not permitted by the visa, as it could mean that you may have problems gaining entry to the UK in the future.
Most significantly, the Standard Visitor Visa does not allow you to undertake any work in the UK, whether paid or unpaid, or to do a work placement or internship, or to receive public funds (government credits, allowances and benefits). A Standard Visitor Visa also does not permit you to get married or enter into a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. Furthermore, you must not live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits.
However, you may be able to participate in a number of permitted business related activities. You must be coming to the UK temporarily to engage in these activities, and the permitted list includes coming:
• For a conference, meeting or training
• To partake in a specific sports-related event
• As an artist or musician coming to perform
• If you’re doing research or accompanying students
• If you’re a doctor taking a clinical attachment or observer post
• You want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK
You can also study for up to 30 days on a Standard Visitor Visa, so long as this is not the main purpose of your visit. If you are under the age of 18 a Standard Visitor Visa will be sufficient to cover an educational exchange programme.
The time you are allowed to stay in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa depends on what you intend to do here. For tourism or business related activities, for instance, you can usually stay for up to six months. If you are coming for private medical treatment (and not using public funds) or to study on a short term English language course you may be able to obtain a visa for up to 11 months. As an academic entering the UK for research you may be able to stay for up to 12 months.
You can make a Standard Visitor Visa application up to three months before you hope to arrive in the UK.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.