United Kingdom Visa Types, Requirements, and Application

The United Kingdom offers a variety of visa options, each with its own eligibility criteria, application requirements and benefits. This guide covers everything you need to know about United Kingdom visa, including the different types, eligibility criteria, application process, fees and advice.

Who needs a visa to enter United Kingdom?

Visa exemption

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter the United Kingdom for a maximum stay of six months:

  • EU/EFTA member countries
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธย Iceland
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑย Poland
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พย Cyprus ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฎย Liechtenstein
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany
  • Other countries
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Andorra ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ Saint Kitts and Nevis
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Antigua and Barbuda ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Lucia
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Kiribati ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macau ๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ Samoa
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ Bahamas ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Barbados ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป Maldives ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ Seychelles
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ญ Marshall Islands ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ง Solomon Islands
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Micronesia ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡จ Monaco ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฑ Timor-Leste
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด Tonga
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ท Nauru ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น Trinidad and Tobago
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Dominica ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ป Tuvalu
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ป El Salvador ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎย Nicaragua ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Grenada ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ผ Palau ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ Uruguay
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡น Guatemala ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฆ Panama ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡บ Vanuatu
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ณ Honduras ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฌ Papua New Guinea ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vatican City
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Paraguay

United Kingdom visa types

There are main types of United Kingdom visa including:

Partner visa

A partner visa may be suitable for a spouse, civil partner, fiance, unmarried partner or same-sex partner. This visa will allow the applicant to reunite with relatives in the United Kingdom. Having a current partner visa will allow you to enter or remain in the UK, provided you are in a civil partnership with a British citizen or individual with settled status in the United Kingdom.

Your partner must be a British citizen, settled in the United Kingdom or from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status. This means you are legally resident in the United Kingdom and there are no restrictions on the length of your stay.

Visitor visa

A visitor visa is a short-term visa (usually no longer than 6 months) that allows visitors to the United Kingdom for short-term stays, tourism and similar purposes. With this visa, you cannot work in the United Kingdom. You need to demonstrate that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit, as well as that you need to be able to financially support yourself and any dependents during your time in the United Kingdom. If you need to visit the United Kingdom regularly, you can apply for a standard long-term visitor visa lasting 2, 5 or 10 years.

Family visa

A family visa may be suitable for a spouse (or civil partner, fiance), parent, grandparent, child or other relative. This visa will allow applicants to reunite with family members in the United Kingdom as their dependents.

Student visa

International students wanting to come to the UK to study may need to apply for this type of visa. There are different types of student visas depending on whether the student is a child, an adult or an individual who is only coming for a short period of time. When applying for a student visa, you should make sure to state your eligibility as clearly as possible, making it easier for the Home Office to make a decision to grant your application.

Business visa

The business visa allows individuals to come to the United Kingdom as investors, innovators or global business employees. Some business visa routes offer representatives a final opportunity to gain indefinite leave to remain in the UK, also known as Permanent Residence, through a five-year route.

There are many types of business visas available, as you can see below – make sure to apply for the visa that is most appropriate and suitable for you:

  • Entrepreneur visa
  • Global business mobility visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Investor visa
  • Prevention of illegal working
  • Sole representative of overseas business visa
  • Expansion worker visa

Work visa

Individuals coming to the United Kingdom to work may need to apply for a specific work visa depending on their circumstances. There are many types of visas that fall into this category including:

  • Skilled worker visa: The skilled worker visa allows you to live and work in the UK for an approved employer in an eligible skilled job. To qualify, you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor, meet the minimum salary requirement, and possess the necessary skills and qualifications.
  • Start-up visa: The start-up visa is designed for entrepreneurs who want to establish a new business in the United Kingdom. To be eligible, you must have an innovative and viable business idea endorsed by an approved body and have sufficient funds to support yourself.
  • Graduate work visa: If you’ve recently completed a degree in the United Kingdom, you may be eligible for the graduate work visa, which allows you to stay and work in the country for up to two years after graduation.
  • Domestic worker visa: The domestic worker visa permits you to work as a domestic worker (e.g., nanny, housekeeper, or chauffeur) for a private household in the UK.
  • High-potential individual visa: This visa allows recent graduates from the world’s top universities to work in the United Kingdom for up to two years without a job offer.
  • International sportsperson visa: Elite athletes and coaches can apply for the international sportsperson visa to work and develop their sport in the United Kingdom at the highest level.
  • Minister of religion visa: Religious workers, such as ministers or missionaries, can obtain this visa to work in the United Kingdom for a religious organization.
  • Youth mobility scheme: This scheme allows young adults (aged 18-30) from participating countries to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years.
  • Global business mobility worker visa: These visas facilitate the temporary transfer of overseas workers to the UK for various business purposes, including senior or specialist roles, company expansion, secondments, service provision, and graduate training programs.
  • Temporary worker visa: Temporary worker visa cater to specific short-term work needs, such as creative projects, seasonal agricultural work, international agreements, charity work, and authorized exchange programs.
United Kingdom visa
United Kingdom visa

United Kingdom visa requirements

The visa requirements for the United Kingdom vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for and your specific circumstances. However, some general requirements apply to most visa categories:

  • Job offer or sponsorship: Many UK work visas require you to have a valid job offer or sponsorship from a licensed United Kingdom employer. Your employer must provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) as part of the application process.
  • English language proficiency: You’ll need to demonstrate a certain level of English language proficiency, typically at least B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.ย 
  • Financial requirements: You’ll need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself (and any dependents) in the UK while your work visa is being processed.ย 
  • Educational qualifications: Depending on the visa type and job role, you may need to provide evidence of your educational qualifications, such as degrees, diplomas, or professional certifications.
  • Criminal record check: You may need to provide a police certificate or criminal record check from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.
  • Tuberculosis test: If you’re from a country where tuberculosis is prevalent, you may need to undergo a tuberculosis test and provide a negative test result.
  • Biometric information: You’ll need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a digital photograph) as part of the application process.
  • Travel history: For some visa types, you may need to provide your travel history for the past 5-10 years, including details of any visits to the United Kingdom.
  • Immigration health surcharge: You’ll need to pay the immigration health surcharge, which grants you access to the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay in the United Kingdom.

How to apply for United Kingdom visa

To apply for United Kingdom visa, you’ll typically follow these steps:

  • Step#1. Check your eligibility: Review the eligibility criteria for the specific visa type you’re applying for and ensure you meet all the requirements.
  • Step#2. Prepare your documents: Gather all the necessary documents, such as your passport, job offer or sponsorship certificate, proof of funds, qualifications, and any other supporting evidence required.
  • Step#3. Complete the online application form: Visit the official UK government website and complete the online visa application form, providing accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Step#4. Pay the visa fees: You’ll need to pay the applicable visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge as part of the application process.
  • Step#5. Schedule a biometric appointment: If you’re applying from outside the United Kingdom, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) at a designated visa application center.
  • Step#6. Submit your application: Once you’ve completed the online form, paid the fees, and gathered all the required documents, you can submit your application and supporting evidence.ย 
  • Step#7. Wait for a decision: The processing time for most visa applications is around 3 weeks if you’re applying from outside the UK, or 8 weeks if you’re applying from within the United Kingdom.ย 

It’s important to note that the application process can vary slightly depending on your specific circumstances and the visa type you’re applying for. It’s always recommended to thoroughly review the requirements and follow the official guidance provided by the United Kingdom government to ensure a successful application.

United Kingdom visa feesย 

Here are some of the common fees you may need to pay when applying for a visa:

  • Application fee: This is the primary fee for processing your visa application. The application fee can range from ยฃ259 for a temporary worker visa to ยฃ1,423 for a skilled worker visa, depending on the visa category and your situation.
  • Immigration health surcharge (IHS): If your visa allows you to stay in the UK for more than six months, you’ll need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This fee grants you access to the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay in the United Kingdom. The current IHS fee is ยฃ624 per year (ยฃ470 for the Youth Mobility Scheme).
  • Biometric enrolment fee: If you’re applying from outside the UK, you may need to pay a fee (usually around ยฃ19.20) to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) at a visa application center.
  • Translation fees: If any of your supporting documents are not in English or Welsh, you’ll need to pay for certified translations, which can add to the overall cost.
  • Priority or super priority service fees: If you need your visa application processed more quickly, you can pay additional fees for the Priority Service (around ยฃ500-ยฃ800) or Super Priority Service (around ยฃ800-ยฃ1,000) to expedite the process.
  • Dependant fees: If you’re bringing family members (spouse/partner and children) to the United Kingdom as your dependents, you’ll need to pay additional fees for each dependant’s visa application.
Tower of London - United Kingdom
Tower of London – United Kingdom

Tips when applying for United Kingdom visaย 

Applying for a United Kingdom visa can be a complex process, but following these tips can help ensure a smoother and more successful application:

  • Read the guidance carefully: Thoroughly review the visa guidance provided by the UK government for the specific visa type you’re applying for. Ensure you understand all the eligibility criteria, required documents, and application steps to avoid mistakes or omissions.
  • Provide complete and accurate information: Ensure that all the information you provide in your visa application form is complete, accurate, and consistent with the supporting documents.ย 
  • Gather supporting documents: Collect all the necessary supporting documents, such as your passport, job offer or sponsorship certificate, proof of funds, qualifications, and any other required evidence. Make sure the documents are valid, up-to-date, and meet the specified requirements.
  • Translate documents (if required): If any of your supporting documents are not in English or Welsh, you’ll need to provide certified translations. Use a professional translation service to ensure accuracy and avoid delays.
  • Prepare for biometrics: If you’re applying from outside the United Kingdom, make sure you schedule an appointment to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) at a designated visa application center.
  • Pay the correct fees: Calculate and pay the appropriate visa application fee, Immigration Health Surcharge, and any other applicable fees. Double-check the payment amounts to avoid any issues or delays.
  • Attend interviews (if required): If you’re invited for an interview as part of the visa application process, ensure you prepare thoroughly and provide accurate and consistent information during the interview.
  • Maintain communication: If the UK visa processing center requests additional information or documents, respond promptly and provide the requested materials to avoid delays in processing your application.
  • Check the processing times: Be aware of the typical processing times for your visa type and plan accordingly.ย 
  • Avoid travel plans until approved: Refrain from making any final travel plans or purchasing non-refundable tickets until your United Kingdom visa has been approved to avoid potential loss of funds.

By following these tips and carefully adhering to the visa requirements, you can increase your chances of a successful United Kingdom visa application and minimize potential delays or issues.