If you are coming to the UK for a temporary stay, the Visit route is the category to choose. This is suitable for EU citizens wishing to travel to the UK for a limited period of time and who do not wish to make the UK their permanent place of residence. EU citizens do not need to apply for a Visit status before travelling to the UK. A Standard Visitor status can be granted automatically on arrival at the eGate or one of the other types can be requested from the border agent on arrival. While it is meant to provide for flexible short-term visiting, this route is complex and requires a good level of understanding to use it for non-tourism reasons.
Each type of visitor status provides different levels of permissions. If you are wishing to use the visitor route you must be fully aware of what activities are permitted and ensure that you choose the correct type on arrival. If you undertake activities that are not permitted, or choose the wrong type, then the conditions may be breached, and this may jeopardise future entry into the UK. The types include:
- Standard Visit: this provides permission for tourism and visiting family or friends. Limited and specified business activities are permitted, for example, attending a meeting based in the UK or short-term volunteering with a charity. It permits very short periods of study or permits participation in a research or exchange programme as an academic. It also provides permission to receive private medical treatment. This type does not permit paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person. It does not permit access to public funds (benefits). It does not permit studying that lasts longer than 6 months. It also does not permit marriage or registering a civil partnership.
- Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor: this is suitable if you want to undertake permitted short-term paid activities in the UK. You must be invited by a UK-based organisation or client who requires you to undertake limited and specified types of activities. For example, you can take part in a selection panel as a highly qualified academic, be a student examiner, or take part in broadcasting. The list of permitted activities is set out in the Immigration Rules, you must ensure that your activity is listed before applying. You must also be aware of what is and is not permitted, so you avoid breaching your conditions by undertaking paid activities that are not listed in the Rules. This status does not permit paid work unrelated to your main job or area of expertise at home. It does not permit access to public funds. It does not permit study. You are not allowed to marry or enter into a civil partnership.
- Marriage Visitor: if you want to visit the UK in order to get married, register a civil partnership, give notice to marry or enter in a civil partnership, and you’re also not planning to stay or settle in the UK after your ceremony, then you must choose this one from 01 July 2021. It does not permit paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person, except for permitted activities related to your work for business overseas. It does not permit access to public funds. It does not permit study. You must show that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit. You will need to show that you can support yourself during your trip and you can pay for your return or onward journey. You also need to provide evidence of the activities that you wish to undertake in the UK.
How long can I stay in the UK?
Generally, visitors can travel to the UK for up to 6 months at any one time. You cannot apply to extend it to permit longer stays unless you are visiting to access medical treatment in which case you can stay up to 11 months and if you are an academic visitor you can stay up to 12 months. Medical and academic visitors can apply for extensions but only in limited circumstances.
Can I switch into another immigration status from within the UK?
Visitors cannot switch into a different type of status from inside the UK. For example, if you were visiting and you were offered a job, you will not be able to apply for a Skilled Worker status from inside the UK. You will be required to leave the UK and apply for a Skilled Worker status from your country of residence to return in order to take up the job offer.
How much does this cost?
The fees depend on the duration for the visit and its purposes. For example, the fees are higher for medical treatment visitors or academic visitors. You do not need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as a visitor because your stay in the UK is temporary.
Can my family members join me?
Your family members are not included in your visitor application. If you wish for your family members to join you on your trip, then they must apply and pay for their own applications.
Is this the right status for me?
The Visitor status does not permit long term residence in the UK through a series of frequent visits. If you want to live in the UK long term, then you must consider one of the other non-visit options available within the immigration system. If you want to do something other than visiting, for example work or longer-term studying, then you must not use the Visitor process and apply for the immigration status that allows you to undertake those activities.
Should I apply for a visitor in advance of my travel to the UK?
If you are travelling to the UK as a visitor then you do not need to apply in advance of your travel. You might want to consider applying in advance of your travel if you have a previous criminal record or a history of non-compliance with immigration laws in any country. Your non-EU national family members must apply before they travel if they are not visa nationals themselves.
Should I use the e-passport gates when I arrive in the UK?
If you are entering as a Standard Visitor and you do not intend to undertake paid activities that are only allowed under the Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor type, then you can use the electronic gates to gain entry. You will be automatically granted a Standard Visitor status and you must ensure you comply with the conditions of that status.
If you are entering to undertake Permitted Paid Engagements as a visitor, and you have not applied in advance, then you should use the manual border controls and speak to a border official so that they can grant you the correct Visitor status. This rule applies to the other non-Standard Visitor types.
Can I continue to stay in the UK if I am offered a job or study opportunity?
This Visitor status does not allow you to apply for, or switch into, a different type of status while inside the UK. If you wish to take up long-term employment or studying, then you will need to leave the UK and apply for the correct status from your country of residence. It is very important to stay within the permitted conditions of your status while you are in the UK. Breaching those conditions will impact on your ability to stay in or return to the UK in the future.