How To Get A UK Visa?

The United Kingdom offers various types of visas for those looking to visit, work, study, join family, or settle permanently in the UK. This article provides an overview of the major UK visa categories. It details the process for applying for a UK visa as a spouse or through the British National (Overseas) route.

We’ll cover the key eligibility criteria, required documents and application timelines. Whether you’re looking to get a visa as the spouse of a British citizen or join a family in the UK as a BNO visa holder, this guide aims to help demystify the UK visa process so you can submit a strong application.

Types of UK Visas

The UK offers various types of visas for people looking to visit, work, study or join family in the UK. Some of the main visa categories include:

Visitor Visas

Visitor visas allow people to come to the UK for tourism, to visit family and friends, for business trips, or to receive private medical treatment. The Standard Visitor visa lets you visit for up to 6 months, while the Marriage Visitor visa is for fiancés visiting to get married.

Work Visas

Work visas allow skilled workers to live and work in the UK. The main types are the Skilled Worker visa for jobs sponsored by a UK employer, the Global Talent visa for leaders in certain fields, and the Intra-Company Transfer visa for multinational employees transferring to a UK branch.

Student Visas

Student visas allow foreign nationals to study in the UK full-time. The Student visa covers university/college, English language courses, and independent schools. The Child Student visa is for children under 18 attending school in the UK.

Family Visas

Family visas allow partners, children, parents, and other relatives of UK citizens and residents to join them in the UK. This includes the Spouse/Partner visa, Fiancé(e) visa, Child of a Parent visa, and Parent of a Child visa.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a UK visa, you must meet certain requirements. The main eligibility criteria are:

Have a valid passport

You must hold a valid passport from your home country. Your passport should have at least one blank page for the visa sticker and be valid for your stay in the UK.

The UK government recommends your passport be valid for at least 6 months after the date you plan to leave the UK.

Meet the purpose of the specific visa type

The eligibility criteria vary based on the type of UK visa you are applying for. Make sure you meet the specific requirements for the visa category you are interested in.

For example, if applying for a UK spouse visa, you must prove you are legally married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK.

Have proof of financial support

Most UK visas require proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without relying on public funds.

The financial requirements differ based on your visa type, length of stay, and number of dependents.

Provide biometrics

As part of the application process, you must provide your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) at a visa application centre.

This is required for almost all UK visa applications.

Application Process

The application process for a UK visa generally involves the following steps:

  • Find the right visa form – The UK government website has all the visa application forms available to download. Make sure you select the appropriate form based on the type of visa you are applying for.
  • Pay the fee – Visa application fees vary depending on the type of visa. Fees must be paid online as part of the application process.
  • Schedule a biometrics appointment – As part of the application, you must provide biometric information (fingerprints and photo) at a visa application centre. You can schedule this appointment after submitting the online application.
  • Submit the application – Once you’ve completed the application form, paid the fees, and completed your biometrics appointment, you can submit the application. This is usually done online or by mail. Track your application to ensure it is received.

Application Documentation

The key documents you’ll need for a UK visa and for BNO visa application include:

Passport

Your passport must be valid for the entire time you intend to stay in the UK. It should have at least one blank page to affix the visa. Make sure your passport meets the validity requirements before applying.

Proof of Funds

You’ll need to provide bank statements showing regular income or sufficient savings to show you can support yourself financially while in the UK. Requirements vary based on visa type, but you generally need to show at least £945 in savings for a 6-month stay, plus additional funds if bringing dependents.

Supporting Documents Based on Visa Type

The other documents required depend on the specific visa you are applying for.

For a UK spouse visa, you’ll need proof of your relationship with your UK spouse, such as a marriage certificate, photos, correspondence, or proof of living together.

For a BNO visa, you’ll need your valid British National (Overseas) passport and proof that you ordinarily resided in Hong Kong. Supporting documents may include Hong Kong ID cards, tax records, or utility bills in your name.

Be sure to check the UK government website for the full list of documents needed for the visa you are applying for. Submitting complete and accurate documentation helps streamline the application process.

Application Timelines

The timeline for getting a UK visa approved depends on the type of visa and the service you select. There are two main application services:

  • Standard service – This is the default and takes longer to process. Use this service if you are applying well in advance of your travel dates.
  • Priority service – This expedites the processing but has an additional fee. Use this if you need your visa sooner.

Spouse visas usually take 12-24 weeks via the standard service. With priority, it’s around 30 working days.

Work visas like the Skilled Worker visa take 8 weeks via standard or 5 days with priority.

Student visas take about 3 weeks via standard service or one week with priority.

Visitor visas are some of the fastest, taking just 15 working days via standard. Priority can reduce this to 1-5 days.

In summary, standard service takes 2-3 months for settlement visas and 2-8 weeks for temporary visas. Priority can shave off several weeks to months from the processing times, but it costs extra. Apply early, especially if you need faster processing.

May 29, 2024
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