What visa do I need for the UK?


Who needs a visa for the UK?

British citizens, Commonwealth citizens with a right of abode, and EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are all entitled to enter the UK without the need for a visa. All other citizens must obtain leave to enter the UK from an immigration officer. Depending on what country you are from, this will either require a visa obtained prior to travelling to the UK, or obtaining leave to enter as a visitor on arrival in the UK.

If you want to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, you must obtain the appropriate visa for your circumstances prior to travelling to the UK.

What types of visa are there?

For a short trip to the UK, a visit visa is likely to be the most appropriate. This allows a stay of up to 6 months, with limits on what the individual can do whilst in the UK. There are four types of visit visa; standard visit visa, marriage/civil partnership visa, Permitted Paid Engagements visa, and transit visit visa.

For a longer stay in the UK, an individual will need to obtain a visa specific to their circumstances. This could be on the basis of investing in business in the UK, working, studying, or living with a family member who has the right to remain in the UK. For Commonwealth citizens, an ancestry visa might be an option if a grandparent was born in the UK.

Points Based System

Where an individual wishes to come to the UK to invest in a business, work, or study, it is likely that they will need to obtain a visa under the Points Based System. This system has five “Tiers” and an applicant needs to pick which is most appropriate for their circumstances.

The five tiers are:

  • Tier 1 – for investors, entrepreneurs, and exceptionally talented individuals
  • Tier 2 – for skilled workers
  • Tier 3 – was for low skilled workers but has never been opened
  • Tier 4 – for students
  • Tier 5 – for temporary workers, or young people coming to the UK on working holidays.

Each Tier, and the sub-categories of visa, has its own requirements for scoring points in order for an individual to apply for that visa. These tend to require evidence of why the person will be in the UK, evidence of funds to maintain themselves, and evidence of English language ability.

The length of time a person can stay in the UK differs according to which visa is obtained, and some visas can lead to indefinite leave to remain after 5 years (or, in rare circumstances, a shorter time).

How we can help

Each visa has its own requirements and conditions and it can be tricky to know the most appropriate for your circumstances. It can also be difficult to understand how to ensure you remain within the confines of the visa once in the UK.

Our business immigration experts are able to advise on what visa is most appropriate for your circumstances, and guide you through the notoriously tricky applications process. To arrange an initial meeting with one of our advisers please contact employment@mlplaw.co.uk. Alternatively, please call 0161 926 1592.

Don’t forget to also follow us on twitter for important employment and immigration law updates @HRGuruUK.