Types of UK Visas

All overseas nationals must apply for a visa to enter the UK if they intend to stay for more than 90 days. Non-EEA nationals must also apply for a visitor visa if their stay is less than 90 days whilst citizens from EEA countries can enter the country for up to 90 days without the need for a visa.

There are a wide variety of UK visas available including both short-term to long-term visas, the right one for you will depend on why you intend to enter and how long you plan to stay in the UK.

The visa types available include work visas, study visas, family visas, tourist visas, business visas and transit visas. Many UK visas can also be used as a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is a key step in the journey to British citizenship.

You can apply for a UK visa by completing the relevant application form online, all of the applications are available on the UK government website. As part of your application, you will also need to submit a number of supporting documents to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements for the visa that you are applying for.

The UK’s new points-based system requires you to score a certain number of points for each visa to be eligible and you will need to prove that you can do this.

UK Visa Types

Visa typePurpose
Skilled Worker VisaSkilled Workers with a job offer in the UK
Temporary Worker VisaTemporary work, work experience and research in the UK for less than 12 months
Youth Mobility Visa2-year work permit for young people aged 18-20 from participating territories
Paid Permitted Engagement visaShort-term entry for individuals invited to the UK as experts in their field
Sportsperson VisaWork permit for elite sportspersons or qualified coaches
Minister of Religion VisaWork permit for religious workers
Intra-Company Transfer VisaEmployees from multi-national companies transferring to work in a UK branch
Business Visitor VisaTravel to the UK for up to 6 months for business activities
Student Visitor VisaStudying in the UK on a temporary basis
Tourist VisaTravel to the UK for up to 6 months for leisure or other purposes
Adult Student VisaStudying in the UK
Two-year post-study work visaWork permit for international students who have studied a bachelor’s or master’s course in the UK
Child Student VisaChildren aged 4-17 to study in the UK
Spouse VisaSpouses of British Citizens/settled persons
Fiancé VisaFiancés of British Citizens/settled Persons
Unmarried Partner VisaLong-term partner of British Citizens/settled persons
Adult Dependent VisaForeign nationals requiring care from a UK relative
Child Dependent VisaChild of a British citizen/settled person not living an independent life
Ancestry VisaCitizens of commonwealth countries with a British grandparent
Innovator VisaInternational entrepreneurs with £50,000 to invest in a business in the UK
Investor VisaInternational investors with at least £2 million to invest in UK businesses
Startup VisaApplicants with approved sponsors to start their first business in the UK
Schengen VisaTravel throughout the Schengen area

UK Work Visas

If you intend to work whilst living in the UK, then you must hold a visa that permits you to do this. The UK work visas include:

  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Temporary Worker Visa
  • Youth Mobility Scheme Visa
  • Paid Permitted Engagement Visa
  • Sportsperson Visa
  • Minister of Religion Visa
  • Intra-Company Transfer Visa

The most common UK work visa for overseas nationals is the Skilled Worker Visa. Previously known as the Tier 2 visa, this visa allows you to work in the UK for up to 5 years and can also be extended after this. To be eligible under the points-based system you must score at least 70 points. You can do this by having a job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from a registered UK sponsor company, demonstrating a knowledge of the English language and meeting the relevant salary requirements for your role.

There are also a number of business visas suitable for entrepreneurs who may wish to enter the UK, they include the:

  • Innovator Visa
  • Investor Visa
  • Startup Visa
  • Business Visitor Visa

Visas to study in the United Kingdom

The UK is home to many world-class educational institutions, which makes it a popular destination for international students. Before entering the UK, overseas nationals must secure a visa that permits them to study in the UK.

The UK Student Visa, previously known as the Tier 4 Visa, permits students to stay in the UK for the duration of their studies. To be eligible you must have an offer to study on a course from a registered UK educational facility. You will also need to demonstrate your knowledge of the English language and will need to prove that you are able to support yourself financially without the use of public funds.

There are also other types of student visas available. The Short-Term Study Visa is available to those intending to study in the UK for 6 months or less, for example as part of an exchange programme. For younger students, there is also a Child Student Visa. This is for children between the ages of 4 to 17 who will study in the UK for over 6 months.

UK Visitor Visa

Non-EEA citizens will require a visitor visa if they intend to enter the UK for a period of six months or less. The standard UK Visitor Visa can be used for a number of purposes including:

  • Visiting friends and family
  • Staying in the UK as a tourist
  • Accessing private medical treatment

There are also other types of visitor visas that may be more suitable for you. The Short-Term Study Visa is a student visitor visa that allows people to study in the country temporarily. The Business Visitor Visa allows foreign nationals to enter the UK temporarily to carry out business activities.

Visitor visas are issued for a period of six months and cannot be extended. However, visitors from the United States, China, Pakistan, India, and other non-EEA countries can, however, apply for a long-term visit visa for UK travel. These are available at an extra cost and can be held for a duration of two years, five years or ten years. The long-term visitor visa still restricts you to a maximum single visit of six months or less.

UK Family Visa

Being apart from your family can be difficult, luckily there are several types of UK Visas that can be used for the purpose of family reunions. You could be eligible for a family permit if one of the following applies to you:

  • Your family member/spouse is a British Citizen
  • Your family member/spouse has ILR of settled status
  • You have an eligible relationship with an individual in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection

The Child dependent visa allows you to bring your children to join you in the UK, and the Adult dependent visa allows you to bring an adult relative who requires care in the UK to join you here. If you wish to join your partner in the UK, you will need to apply for one of the partner visas. They include the Spouse Visa for those who are married to a British citizen or settled person, the Unmarried Partner Visa for those in a civil partnership with a British citizen or settled person or the Fiance Visa for those who intend to marry a British partner or register a civil partnership during their stay in the UK.


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