If you aren’t British or a citizen of an EU Country and you would like to visit, work in, or settle in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a UK Visa or entry clearance. To help you understand the different options for entering the UK, we’ve written this short guide explaining what a Visa is and what applying for one entails.

What is a Visa?

A Visa is what’s known as an endorsement. Essentially it entitles you to enter, leave or stay for a specified period of time in a country. Each country has their own rules and Visa types, and acquiring a Visa is dependent on a variety of different factors, such as your intentions while you’re in the country and where you are from.

For instance, if you would like to work in the UK you will need a work Visa or work permit. If you’re simply visiting, a tourist Visa is usually the easiest type to apply for, but has time and activity restrictions. Or, if you want to come to study in the UK, you will need a student Visa.

Types of UK Visas

There are several different types of UK Visas that you can apply for:

  • Tourist Visa – the most common form of Visa, which allows you to stay for 6 months but doesn’t allow you to work or take payment for work.
  • Family Visa – for visitors whose spouse, partner, close family member, or parent is already a UK citizen.
  • Tier 1 Highly Skilled Visa – for highly skilled workers looking to enter the UK and work for a UK company.
  • Tier 2 Medium Skilled Visa – for medium skilled workers, and requires an offer of employment from a UK company.
  • Student Visa – a 6 month initial visa that allows you to apply to UK universities. Once accepted, you can apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa.
  • Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa – for those looking to immigrate to the UK for temporary work opportunities.
  • Entrepreneur Visa – for those looking to invest in UK companies and eventually acquire settlement.

UK Settlement

Settlement (also called ILR or Indefinite Leave to Remain) can be granted to foreign citizens after they have spent a specified period in the UK and qualify for settlement under UK immigration law. Your right to apply for Settlement/ILR will depend on the Visa you have been given and also on whether you:

    • are working in the UK.
    • have partners and family members in the UK.
    • are seeking asylum in the UK.
    • have invested a certain amount of money in the UK.
    • have lived in the UK for a requisite period of time.

Applying for Asylum

If you are fleeing a country, or being forced to return to a country where you may be persecuted, you can apply for asylum in the UK. This is different from applying for a Visa, and can grant you the right to settle and remain in the UK indefinitely should the conditions of your home country be dangerous.

Applying for a UK Visa

Applications for work, family, and student Visas can be complicated and you may need to seek legal advice along the way. You can use the Gov.uk website to start off your application, but if you have a question or problem relating to a UK Visa application, you can call our expert solicitors for advice. Arlingsworth specialises in all areas of UK Immigration Law and has helped many clients with their immigration issues over the years. If you need help applying for a UK Visa, you can call our Brighton office on 01273 696962 or send us a email directly on our contact page.