Visitor Visa

The Standard Visitor route can be used for short trips to the UK, for example by family and friends visiting you for a holiday or to attend your graduation ceremony.

This is a brief overview to the standard Visitor visa rules, which can allow visits up to 6 months.

What are the immigration requirements for visitors?

Visitors need to show: 

    • they are genuinely visiting for the time stated in their application (not more than 6 months) e.g. to visit you during your studies or to attend your graduation ceremony; and 
    • they have sufficient funds for living costs and accommodation and the cost of the return journey;and 
    • they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit. 

Visitors cannot: 

    • take paid or unpaid work 
    • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits 
    • receive treatment on the National Health Service (NHS) services (unless it is an emergency) 
    • receive public funds 
    • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership 

Before leaving their home country visitors should consider taking out travel insurance which includes medical cover while in the UK. 

How to apply for standard visitor permission

Visa nationals must apply for a visa before travelling to the UK, using the access UK website 

Non-visa nationals can apply for leave to enter from a Border Officer on arrival in the UK. The applicant should carry relevant evidence to show they meet the visa requirements in case requested. It is possible to apply for entry clearance before travel by following the visa application process; this could make entry at the border quicker especially if there have been any previous immigration problems. As entry to the UK from the Republic of Ireland is not always staffed it may not be possible to obtain full visitor permission by arriving this way. 

Certain non-visa nationals can now use eGates on arrival in the UK without seeing a Border Officer. If the traveller holds no other visa or immigration permission they are deemed to have entered the UK as a Standard Visitor by passing through the eGate. 

A visitor who holds a passport from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates can obtain permission using an electronic visa waiver (EVW). 

What documents will be needed?

UKVI produces a guide to the required supporting documents for visitors.  

Visitors should provide documents that demonstrate the immigration requirements are satisfied – see above: ‘What are the immigration requirements for visitors?’  These will differ depending on the nature and purpose of the trip. 

Visa nationals must submit these documents in their visa application; non-visa nationals seeking visitor permission at the UK port of entry should carry them in their hand luggage to show to a Border Officer on arrival. 

If your family or friends are planning to visit, you can help them by providing evidence of your situation in the UK, e.g. 

  1.  An invitation letter (the University cannot write letters of invitation for your family and friends)
    • The content of your letter should reflect the individual circumstances and be consistent with the information your visitor gives in their application.  Avoid using a standard letter that may be found on the Internet or copying a letter used by someone else as you need to write this letter yourself, reflecting your own personal situation. 
    • Address the letter to the relevant visa section or ‘UKVI’ and include your contact details.  
    • Clearly identify the person who is visiting you by name and confirm your relationship (or friendship) to them.  Give brief details of the visit e.g. if there is a special occasion, why you wish to be visited, what you intend to do in the UK and how long the visit is expected to last.  
    • If you are providing accommodation, you should confirm this and describe what is being provided.  
    • If you are providing any financial support, you can also mention this, confirm what you are helping with (e.g. travel or living expenses) and how it is you can afford to provide the financial support. 
  2. Copies of the photograph page from your passport and the page containing your student visa or residence permit.  If you have been issued with a Biometric Residence Permit you should provide a photocopy of this.
  3. A letter from University confirming your student status including details of your programme can be downloaded through the Student Self-Service. If relevant, you can ask for your expected graduation details to be included or provide the information you have already received about graduation. 
  4. If you are providing accommodation for your visitor you should provide confirmation that they are permitted to stay with you (e.g. your tenancy agreement and a letter from your landlord) 
  5. If you are going to financially support your visitor you will also need to provide evidence of your ability to do this, e.g. recent bank statements showing that you have sufficient money available for this purpose. 

To show an intention to leave the UK, a visitor could provide documents to show employment, property or family in their home country. 

If a visitor is employed, he or she could ask their employer for a letter to confirm their employment and entitlement to take leave e.g. to allow them to visit you in the UK. 

To show enough money is available for travel, maintenance and accommodation a visitor would be expected to show bank statements covering the previous 6 months. 

For how long will the visa be valid?

Standard visitor permission is for 6 months from the date of issue. Visitors who have frequent and sustained reasons for travelling to the UK can be issued longer multiple entry visas, e.g. for 5 years.  

Regardless of the length of visa a visitor should stay for the period stated in their application and generally not spend more than 6 months in the UK in any period of 12 months. 

How can the University support you?

You can find guidance on various visa topics on the University’s webpages. These webpages include the most common visa related topics, questions and issues. You should always use the webpages first however if you require advice or guidance beyond what is covered on the webpages you can contact the Student Advice and Support Service.  

Last Updated: 13th December 2022