By Yang Peng
You may have been thinking about coming to the UK, whether it is just to visit or to settle here. The UK immigration procedure can seem complicated for those who have never travelled here before. In this article we will look at the most common UK visa routes.
Option 1 – Visiting the UK
This route is for a person who wants to visit the UK for a temporary period. This can include tourism, visiting friends or family, carrying out a business activity, or undertaking a short course of study. The earliest time you can apply for a visitor visa is usually 3 months before you planned travel date for visit visas.
A Standard Visitor may apply for a visit visa of 6 months, 2-, 5- or 10-years validity, however each stay in the UK must not exceed the permitted length of stay endorsed on the visit visa (usually 6 months).
Here are the requirements for the standard visitor visa.
- You will leave the UK at the end of your visit.
- You will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits or make the UK your main home.
- You are able to support yourself and your dependents during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you).
- You are able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey).
- You have proof of any business or other extra activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules.
The Visitor visa lasts for 6 months. With a Standard Visitor visa, you can visit the UK for tourism, certain business activities, short period study and other permitted activities.
- Your stay must generally be for no longer than 6 months and you have to leave the UK by the expiry date.
- Once you arrive in the UK, you cannot switch to a different visa category than a visitor visa; you will need to return to your home country and apply for a different visa from there.
- You cannot do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person, nor can you claim public funds.
Option 2- Work in the UK
A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.
- You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for the visa.
- You must work for a UK employer that the Home Office has approved.
- You must have a certificate of sponsorship given by your employer.
- You must have a job listed in the eligible occupations.
- You must receive the minimum salary for the job you will do.
- Your English level must be at least B1.
- A skilled worker visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.
- During your stay, you can work, study in the UK.
- You can bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’
- You may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements. This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.
- You cannot apply for most benefits or the State pension.
- You cannot change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa.
Option 3 – Study in the UK
All international students who want to study in the UK must get a student visa. A student visa is only available to full-time students pursuing a degree in the UK, not short-term or language courses.
For short courses that last less than 12 months, you can apply for a visitor visa or a short-term study visa. You should apply for a student visa at least three months before the academic year begins or six months at the earliest.
- You must be sponsored by a licensed college or university and have a confirmed place.
- You have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances.
- can speak, read, write and understand English.
- have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17 – you’ll need evidence of this when you apply.
- You can study and have limited work during your stay.
- You may be able to bring your partner and children. From January 2024, international students will not be permitted to bring family members with them while they study in the UK – unless they are studying in postgraduate research courses (e.g., research-based PhDs and research-based master’s programs).
- You can extend your student visa and switch to other visas in the UK if you are eligible.
- You cannot apply for public funds and pensions.
- You cannot work in certain jobs or be self-employed.
Option 4 – Setting up a business in the UK
The Innovator Founder Visa route is designed for experienced businesspeople who seek to start a business in the UK.
Your business idea must be innovative, viable and scalable. There is no minimum investment, however the plan must be endorsed by a relevant authority approved by the Home Office.
- Your need to produce a business plan that evidences the following qualifications: new, innovative, viable and scalable.
- Your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body, also known as an endorsing body.
- You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English.
- You are able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.
- You can stay in the UK for 3 years and can be extended for a further three years.
- During your stay, you can set up a business or several businesses.
- You can bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’ if they are eligible.
- You can apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you have lived in the UK for 3 years and meet the other eligibility requirements.
- You cannot work as a professional sportsperson.
- You cannot apply for most benefits or the state pension.
Contact us for more information about visas.
Do you need expert advice or assistance? We at Lisa’s Law specialize in assisting with applications for different UK visa routes. We will advise and represent you throughout the process. Contact us today to start the process.
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