UK Visit Visas: A Short Overview

24 Aug 2018, 44 mins ago

It has recently been reported by prominent media outlets (such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, the BBC and others) that the Home Office refused visit visas to a number of known international authors who intended to come to the UK for the Edinburg International Book festival. The same fate was shared by many foreign artists and performers who could not attend the annual Womad (World Of Music Arts And Dance) festival in Wiltshire.

According to the Home Office website, an application for a Standard Visitor visa can be submitted if the applicant wishes to visit the UK for various purposes such as leisure, business, to take part in sports or creative events or to receive private medical treatment.

Appendix V of the Immigration Rules (“The Rules”) states that:

“A visitor is a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose, for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity”


“Applications are decided based on the information provided by the applicant and any other relevant circumstances at the date of decision”.

EEA and Swiss nationals are not required to obtain a visit visa. They can currently come to the UK provided they present their ID document at the border. Nationals of countries like the US, Canada and Israel can come to the UK and stay here for up to 6 months provided the purpose of their visit is tourism.

Applicants may apply for a visit visa that allows multiple visits of up to 6 months at a time over a period of two, six and 10 years.

The documents required for UK visit visa applications depend on individual circumstances. However, it is mandatory to submit an original current passport (or travel document, where applicable).

In addition, applicants also need to submit evidence confirming travel dates and the place where they will be staying, proof of earnings, together with evidence that they have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds.

The Home Office Visit Guidance (“The Guidance”) (version 7.0, published on 11 January 2018) states that:

“Visitors can undertake multiple activities whilst in they are in the UK but the applicant should be able to explain what their main reason for coming to the UK is at the visa application stage, on entry and for extending their stay”.

Therefore, the burden of proof lies with the applicant to provide sufficient evidence and satisfy the Home Office decision-maker that they are genuine visitors.

The Guidance also provides that an application for a visit visa should be refused if the applicant does not submit sufficient evidence that they meet the requirements of the visitor rules. The Guidance lists a number of grounds for doubting the applicant’s intentions to visit the UK, for example a lack of family and economic ties with their country of residence, the political, economic and security situation in the applicant’s country of residence, the information that has been provided by the applicant, or that the reasons stated by the applicant are not credible.

If a visit visa application is refused there is no right of appeal except when the appeal is lodged on human rights grounds – where the applicant had applied to visit their close family. This leaves the applicant with limited options to overcome the refusal, such as:

  • judicial review, which can be an expensive remedy, and
  • submission of a new visit visa application (re-apply), this time providing extensive documentary evidence to satisfy the Home Office decision-maker that the applicant is a genuine visitor and in particular, submitting additional documents to address the reasons behind the previous refusal.

However, it must be noted that if the reason for the previous refusal involved a long ban to come to the UK because of deception, it is unlikely that re-application will be successful. In this case a legal challenge against the refusal will be required instead.

It is known that the Home Office frequently refuse visit visas. Therefore, applicants applying for UK visit visas should submit extensive supporting documents evidencing the purpose of their visit to the UK and their family, economic and social ties with their country of residence to persuade the Home Office decision-maker that they intend to leave the UK before their leave expires.


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.

©Gherson 2018


Gintare Plistkovaite 

  Gintare Plistkovaite

  Solicitor in our General Immigration Team