Visas and Immigration

There are a number of visa categories, each with its own requirements and application forms. Some categories of visas can only be applied for outside the UK, whilst for others you are able to apply for whilst in the UK.

This section contains information about immigration categories for non-European nationals. It describes the eligibility requirements for each category, and explains how you can make an application inside or outside the UK.

How we can help with your VISA application

We can represent you at any level of your visa application.

We offer our clients two different services:

– Preparing the full application

– Document checking services

The first option consists of a comprehensive service including advice about the procedure, documents required, assistance with completing the form, collation of evidence and representations outlining to the Home Office how the requirements are satisfied.

The second option is for those applicants who are confident with their applications and who merely want us to double check the application form and documents to ensure everything is in order and to advise of any potential weaknesses of the application so as to minimise chances of refusal.


 All visa nationals must apply for entry clearance to come to the UK as a visitor.

Non-visa nationals can apply to enter on arrival at the UK port but have the option of applying for entry clearance if they wish to. If coming to the UK for more than 6 months, entry clearance is required.

The Rules relating to visitors are found in Paragraphs 40 to 56M inclusive.

Anyone entering the UK as a general visitor must meet specific requirements (such as only seeking entry for a maximum of six months, intending to return to their home country, not working, and being able to meet the cost of their return journey).

Visits may be made for different reasons, such as to visit family, to attend a wedding or funeral, for business purposes, or for a holiday. A letter of invitation or document from a sponsor may help to prove that a visit is genuine.

The intention to return home must be proven with an employer’s or educational institution’s letter confirming leave.

Adverse conclusions about intention to work may be drawn from specific documentation in a passenger’s luggage (such as certificates of qualifications or a CV).

Visitors should be able to show that they are able to support themselves while they are visiting the UK without having recourse to public funds and that they can meet the cost of return travel.

Leave is granted up to a maximum of six months (Academic Visitors, their dependants and Parents with Child under 12 in Private School can have 12 months).

General Visitors

This is the general category and is used by people coming for a holiday or to visit family and friends. Visit visas can be given for a maximum of six months. Visitors are not allowed to work while they are in the UK and must have enough money to support themselves while in the UK. If a person is refused a visit visa they have a right of appeal if the purpose of the visit was to visit a family member. People who are not visiting a family member do not have a right of appeal if their application is refused, making it important to get it right first time. With effect from 1 September 2007 people who wish to do a course of study in the UK should enter as a student visitor, not as a general visitor. Since November of 2008 student visitors form part of the group of Special Visitors.

Business Visitors

The business visitor category covers people coming to the UK to transact business – attend meetings, negotiate and make contracts. Such activities are listed as Permissible Activities in the Immigration Rules. If you intend to work in the UK and to produce goods or provide services in the UK during your visit, it will be necessary to apply for visa under the appropriate Tier of the Points Based System – for example as a Tier 2 General Migrant or as a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transferee) Migrant. Depending on the nature of the work or services intended it may be that one of the categories of Tier 1 is more appropriate.

Business visitors may also be Academic Visitors or Visiting Professors who have come to the UK to undertake research or to take part in formal exchange schemes with their UK counterparts. In common with other Business Visitors, Academic Visitors and Visiting Professors cannot receive remuneration from a UK source when they are in the UK but may receive reasonable expenses.

Entertainers and Sports people

These are now, since November of 2008, subject to specific provisions in the Immigration Rules. They are granted a maximum of 6 months leave to enter and must intend to participate in particular events. The question of whether they can receive any fees for such events – beyond board and lodging and reasonable expenses is not clear and has to be determined by careful examination of the UKBA’s Immigration Directorate Instructions (the IDIs).

Visit Visas for Chinese nationals

The UK has special arrangements for Chinese nationals who visit the UK, under the Approved Destinations Status (ADS) Agreement between the UK and China. The visa is for a maximum of 30 days, and is for people travelling as a member of a tour group approved for the purposes of the agreement.

Special visitors

Since November of 2008 the government has grouped together people seeking to visit the UK in the following categories as Special Visitors:
child visitor;
for private medical treatment;
for marriage or to undergo a civil partnership;
as a parent of a child at school;
as a student visitor;
as a prospective student;
as a visitor in transit

Child visitors

A person under 18 who wishes to come to the UK for a visit must apply for entry clearance (a visa) as a Child Visitor. In addition to the requirements for adult visitors, suitable arrangements have to be made for the child’s travel to the UK and reception and care once in the UK. It is also necessary to identify the person responsible for the child in his/her own country. As with adult visitors, child visitors are not allowed to work and can stay for a maximum of six months.

Visits for medical treatment

It is possible to apply for a visa to come to the UK for private medical treatment. Such visitors must show that they can support themselves and are not allowed to work in the UK. If they have an infectious disease, they must show that there is no risk to public health in the UK. These visas are given for treatment of a fixed duration, for example an operation. These visas are given for a maximum of six months. It is possible in certain circumstances to apply for an extension where this is supported by the medical practitioner giving the treatment.

Parent of a Child at School

 This is for parents of children under 12 years of age who are attending a private day-school in the UK. The visa can be given for up to 12 months. Parents are not permitted to work and must be able to support themselves during their stay in the UK.

Student Visitors

 The Rules provide for people to visit the UK for not more than 6 months provided they are aged 18 or over and have been accepted on an approved course of study, intend to leave the UK at the end of their stated visit, do not intend to engage in business or to study at a maintained school and can be maintained and accommodated without recourse to public funds.

Prospective Students

 This category of Special Visitors is for those who intend to undertake a course of study within 6 months of their entry to the UK. If within that period they are able to meet the requirements for an extension of stay as a Tier 4 Student Migrant, they can make an appropriate application for leave to remain in that capacity. They must however intend to leave the UK if they are unsuccessful in their intention to become a student.

Visitors in transit

The UK requires people from certain countries to have a visa even they do not intend to stop in the UK, but only to pass through the UK on their way to another country. Visas for visitors in transit can be issued to people who are going to be in the UK for less than 48 hours and can satisfy the UK authorities that they intend and are able to travel on to their destination and that they will be admitted there.

Sports Visitors –  Olympic / Paralympic Games Visit visa

 The Olympic/Paralympic games visit visa has been introduced for potential Olympic or Paralympic Games family members which includes athletes, coaches, officials, rights holding broadcasters and sponsors who have been identified by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic games (LOCOG). They will be eligible to apply for an Olympic/Paralympic Games Visit visa.

Applicants will need to obtain and provide a written invitation from LOCOG to visit the UK for the Olympic or Paralympic related purposes. Applicants will not be able to switch into another visa from this category whilst in the UK.

Applicants coming to the UK for specific events (including charity events) or tournaments as individual competitors or as members of an overseas team will require entry clearance in this capacity. The sports visitor visa allows applicants to enter the UK without having to apply under the points based system. Applicants seeking entry to the UK for television appearances, promotions or book signings may also be included in this category.

Amateur and professional persons may also come to the UK for the purposes of short term training. The entry clearance officer must be satisfied that the applicants are not basing themselves in the UK, that they are not being paid by a UK sporting body, they are not joining a UK team and that any matches they are involved in are of a friendly nature or exhibition type.

Amateur sportspersons are permitted to join a club in the UK provided that the team is represented wholly or predominantly by amateur players and they are not being paid by the club other than for board and living expenses. Therefore, the UK club must be regarded as an amateur one and must not be in a professional league.

Entry clearance is mandatory for visa nationals and leave to enter should normally be granted for 6 months.

It should be noted that sports visitors cannot switch into a category covered by the points based system unless the person holds a Certificate of Sponsorship for the Tier 5 category (creative and sporting) which was issued before they came to the UK. If this is the case then the applicant can use this to apply for leave to remain under the Tier 5 category without having to leave the UK.


Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor

 Marriage visitors are people who are coming to the UK only for their wedding or civil partnership ceremony and do not intend to live in the UK afterwards. These visas are given for a maximum of six months. If you intend to live in the UK after your wedding or civil partnership ceremony, you cannot use this category and should refer to the information on family relationships. All applicants need to obtain entry clearance to come to the UK in this capacity -even if their country of origin is not subject to a visa regime.

(please read more about this topic under section: Family members of UK citizens and residents)


 Who requires a student visa?

Applicants who require a visa to enter the UK (known as visa nationals) will require a student visa from an entry clearance post abroad. Non visa nationals such as US citizens may be able to apply at the airport for courses lasting less than six months. If the course duration is longer than six months, then all applicants must apply for a student visa prior to entering the UK regardless of where they are from.

Applicants can also apply to enter the UK as a student visitor. Entry in this category is for a maximum duration of six months and cannot be renewed beyond that date. Students in this category are restricted from taking up employment.

Different provisions apply to applicants from European Union countries who are in general, allowed to visit, work and study in the UK.


Prospective applicants will need to demonstrate that they meet the requirements for obtaining entry clearance as a student.

Different requirements apply depending on what you seek to study however; essentially there are a few mandatory requirements:

-You have been offered a course of study at an institution registered as an education provider with the Department for Innovation, Universities and skills

-You are able to meet the costs for your course, accommodation and maintenance for yourself and any dependants without recourse to public funds

-You intend to continue with your course of study

-You do not intend to engage in business or take employment except part-time or vacation work

-You intend to leave the UK at the end of your studies

Applicants will also need to obtain a Visa Letter from their chosen place of study which must be on the sponsor register.

Applications must usually be made at a British post abroad and a fee will be payable. The timescales vary between posts and this should be borne in mind when making your application. If your application is successful, you will be issued with a visa for a specified period. If it is refused, you should have the right to appeal against the decision and this will be processed in the UK.


Applicants already in the UK on a different visa may be able to switch into the student visa category if they fulfil the requirements. Note however, that those here on a visitor’s visa cannot generally switch into this category as prior entry clearance is required.

Similarly, those in the UK on a student visa can apply to switch into other categories such as Tier 1 (post study work) provided the specific requirements are met.

For instance, you can apply under the post-study worker category if you are:

in the United Kingdom with permission to stay under the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme (SEGS), International Graduates Scheme (IGS) or Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme (FT:WISS); or

in the United Kingdom as a student, which includes students, student nurses, students re-sitting examinations, and students writing up a thesis, and want to switch into the post-study worker category.

Dependants of students  

Normally, the spouse/civil partner and dependant children (under 18) will be allowed to accompany the student to the UK provided that

The student will be studying for a period of at least twelve months and;

There will be adequate accommodation and;

They will be able to maintain themselves without recourse to public funds

Spouses of a student coming to the UK for more than a year will usually be granted permission to work on a full time basis.

Restrictions on working

 Students on courses lasting 6 months or longer usually have their passports stamped with a ‘restriction’ on working.

Students with a ‘restriction’ on working:

are automatically allowed to work while studying in the UK, for a maximum 20 hours a week during term time

are permitted to work full-time during college vacations

are also allowed to do sandwich placements and short internships.

Students on short courses can also request to have a ‘restriction’ on working (otherwise they will have a ‘prohibition’ and will not be allowed to work at all).

Entering or Staying to Study

The immigration rules provide for children and adults to apply for leave to enter or remain in order to study in the United Kingdom.

Tier 4

 Applications from students wishing to undertake a course of study in the UK fall under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system. (Slightly different rules apply to those who applied for permission to stay as a student before 31 March 2009 and student visitors who come to the United Kingdom in order to undertake a short course of up to six months in duration and do not wish to work during their stay.)

Tier 4 requirements

There are three principal requirements for Tier 4 (General) applications. First, an applicant must be offered a place on a course at a UK institution which is registered on the Home Office’s Register of Sponsors and obtain a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies from the sponsoring institution.

Secondly, the applicant must show that he/she has sufficient funds in order to satisfy the Home Office that course fees will be paid and the student will be able to support him/herself (and any dependants) during the period of study without having recourse to public funds. The general rule is that in order to meet this requirement an applicant will need to provide evidence of cash funds in a bank account. (The amount depends on the location and duration of the course.)

Thirdly, applicants have to demonstrate an appropriate level of English depending upon their course of study. The rules and guidance in this area are complex and subject to frequent change.

 Tier 4 – The same-day service

We are registered with the Home Office in Croydon to lodge same day service applications on your behalf. By way of process, we lodge the applications your behalf in person at the Home Office in Croydon and a decision is received later that same day. This service is particularly useful for those of you who have urgent travel plans or for those who simply do not wish to wait several months for a (postal) decision from the Home Office. You are not required to attend the Home Office either.

This service applies to the following applications:

For more information about this service please simply contact us immediately!


Under certain circumstances it may be possible for UK visa extensions to be granted for different UK visa categories. The rules applicable to UK visa extensions vary depending on the UK visa category.

How long can I stay in the UK if my visa is extended?
The duration of the UK visa extension is dependent on the type of UK visa category. In many instances where a person has entered a country after the UK visa start date, a UK visa extension may be granted to allow the person the full time period of the UK visa category. An example of a UK visa class where this might apply could be a Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 etc visas.

Types of visas

Many categories of UK visas will not be eligible for an extension or may need a new UK visa to be issued in its place. Visitor visas or Student Visitor visas, for examples, are unlikely to be extended.

We are normally able to assist you with extension of your stay (visa extension) applications, variation of your stay (switching a visa category) applications, Settlement (Permanent Residence/Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)) applications and some other applications on the same day/fast track/PEO premium service bases.

General types of applications:

-Husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner

-Children (only if the child entered the UK with the correct entry clearance)

-UK ancestry

-Visitor (for medical visitors, academic visitors and parents accompanying children under 12 years of age who are receiving private education in the UK),

-EEA (European Union citizens) applications

Applications for registration certificates – European citizens

Specific types of applications

Domestic worker in a private household

-Offshore worker

-Work permit applications

-Points-based system (PBS) applications

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