What are the different visa types in the UK
If you’re visiting the UK, you may need to apply for a visa before traveling. A visa is a type of temporary immigration document that allows the holder to enter and stay in a foreign country. But understanding the visa process can be challenging.
Additionally, there are several types of UK visas and each is designed for a specific purpose. If you’re considering studying, working, visiting, or living in the UK, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the UK visa application process.
This guide will explore UK visas, the application process, and residency permits. You can use this information to help you choose the right type of visa for your needs. We’ll also discuss the application process so that you know what to expect when applying for a visa.
What Are the Different Types of UK Visas?
There are several dozen types of UK visas. While we could list them all here, it might take you ages to locate and study the right visa for your trip to the UK. Fortunately, nearly all UK visas are grouped into major categories.
These visa categories are:
- Visitor Visas
- Student Visas
- Work Visas
- Spouse Visas
- Business Visas
You can discover which visa is right for you by starting with these categories. For example, if you’re hoping to spend time studying in the UK, you can start with the Student Visas group. Of course, if you’re only hoping to visit, Visitor Visas might be a more helpful category.
1. Visitor Visas
Some visitors to the UK won’t need a visa to stay for six months or less. US citizens, for example, don’t need a visa to visit the UK as a tourist. However, individuals from specific countries or long-term visitors may need to apply for a visa.
a) Standard Visitor
A Standard Visitor visa grants a person the ability to stay in the UK for up to six months. If you have this type of visa, you can visit family members in the UK, travel for touristic reasons, and seek private medical treatment.
A return flight home is often a useful thing to have when applying for a Standard Visitor visa, as it proves intent to return to your home country. You might also be able to extend your Standard Visitor visa by several months or years under special circumstances.
b) Marriage Visitor
Have you always dreamed of having a traditional English wedding? Couples hoping to get married in the UK can apply for a Marriage Visitor visa. While this type of visa doesn’t grant long-term stay in the UK, it does allow the holder to stay for up to six months.
This allows plenty of time for you and your future spouse to make plans, invite guests, and finalize marriage documents. Still, wedding guests and dependents may need to apply for a visitor’s visa to enter the UK and attend the ceremony.
c) Permitted Paid Engagement
Professionals and academics may need a Permitted Paid Engagement visa to participate in paid lectures while visiting the UK. If you’re an expert in a particular field and accept an invitation to enjoy paid fieldwork in the UK, you’ll want to apply for this visa type.
Still, it’s crucial to note that this type of visa is only valid for a one-month period. Individuals with this type of visa cannot ask for an extension or switch to a visitor’s visa to extend their stay.
d) Parent of a Child Student
If your child has come to the UK to study, you can apply for a Parent of a Child Student visa. This type of visa allows a parent to live in the UK while their child is a student there, providing basic care and housing on behalf of their child.
The Parent of a Child Student visa, once granted, remains valid until the child’s visa expires or they age out of the visa range. Parents cannot work in the UK while under this visa.
If you’re only traveling through the UK, you may need a Visitor in Transit visa. This document allows you to enter the UK and pass through Border Control, so long as you intend to leave the country within 48 hours.
Individuals flying into the UK and changing flights might need to request a Direct Airside Transit visa (DATV). Still, if you’re catching a connecting flight after landing in the UK, there’s a chance you may not need to apply for a DATV.
2. Student Visas
Studying in the UK can be a wonderful experience, but if you’re planning on staying for longer than six months, you’ll likely need a student visa. Short-term courses might also necessitate a visa.
A Standard Visitor visa allows individuals to study while in the UK, but only if the course of study lasts six months or less. The Short-Term visa has a maximum limit of 11 months, but is specifically designed for students studying English.
b) Child Student
Children between the ages of 4 and 11 can study in the UK if they have a Child Student visa. Of course, they’ll first need an offer of enrollment into a course of study within the UK. This visa lasts for the duration of the course or until the child is 12.
Unless the chosen academic institution offers boarding services, a child with a Child Student visa may also require their parent to apply for a UK visa, the Parent of a Child Student visa.
If you’re older than 11 and wish to study in the UK, you may be eligible for a standard Student visa. Still, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old to receive this visa.
Student visas are only eligible to those who’ve been offered enrollment into an approved school or course of study. Students should be able to support themselves financially while in the UK, or prove that they have access to enough funds to successfully afford schooling and accommodation.
3. Work Visas
Fees: £625 to £1,423
Are you looking to work in the UK? If so, you’ll need to satisfy a wide variety of different criteria that’s based on your chosen profession and position. Many applicants may choose the Skilled Worker visa, especially if offered a job within the UK.
a) Skilled Worker
Fees: £625 to £1,423
The Skilled Worker visa is one of the most accessible routes for those hoping to work in the UK. That’s because most applicants only need to prove an offer of employment (certificate of sponsorship) to meet this visa’s minimum criteria.
However, because this type of visa is one of the most popular among those looking for employment in the UK, applicants are often selected based on a points system that applies to their skill level, education, and potential salary.
Companies with international branches may ask certain employees to temporarily work at forigen branch locations. If your company has a branch within the UK, you may need to apply for the Intra-Company visa before arriving. This type of visa can last from five to ten years.
c) Health and Care Worker
Individuals with medical background and careers may be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa. This visa lasts for up to five years and can be extended.
Those who receive this visa are expected to work closely with the NHS (National Health Service) and may be asked to provide medical care or perform medical-based research on behalf of the NHS and its related entities.
d) Minister of Religion
If you’ve been invited to the UK to work for a ministry or religious organization, the Minister of Religion visa might be the right fit. It allows holders to live and work in the UK in a religious capacity for up to three years and one month.
Professional athletes that are offered positions within the UK can opt for the Sportsperson visa. This is designed explicitly for top athletes and coaches and permits holders to reside in the UK for up to three years.
f) Temporary Worker
There are several types of temporary worker visas that you may be eligible to apply for. Many are separated by work type. For example, there’s a temporary worker visa for charity workers, but there’s also a temporary worker visa for those working in creative industries.
Temporary workers are individuals invited to work a short-term position within the UK. They must submit a certificate of sponsorship to prove that a UK employer has offered employment. The maximum length of stay for someone with a temporary worker visa is one year.
Still, some temporary workers may be able to extend their visa. Employers that require their workers for longer than one year may be able to secure longer visa extensions.
g) Youth Mobility Scheme
The Youth Mobility Scheme is an immigration policy aimed at attracting young international workers to the UK for study and employment. It’s only available to young adults from specific countries and territories. This visa allows holders to stay in the UK for up to two years.
Students that have completed a degree while studying in the UK may want to investigate the Graduate visa. This is a specialized and relatively new type of visa that’s designed to help educated professionals extend their stay in the UK. It lasts for a maximum of two years.
4. Spouse Visas
There are two primary types of spouse-focused UK visas. The right option for you depends on your country of origin and intended length of stay. If you’re a citizen of one of the countries belonging to the European Union, the EU Settlement Scheme family permit might be the better choice.
a) EU Settlement Scheme
This type of family permit is designed to help family members (including spouses) of UK residents enter the country for up to six months at a time. It’s specifically applicable to citizens of the EU, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland.
If you’re the fiance, spouse, or child of a UK resident, you can apply for a UK family visa. Those planning on marrying a UK resident will have six months from the day of their arrival to marry if they arrive on a fiance-based family visa.
5. Business Visas
In addition to work visas, there are business-based visas. These are designed to help successful business people find work opportunities in the UK. If you’re an investor, entrepreneur, or a well-known talent, this visa category may apply to you.
International investors looking to invest funds into a UK business or company may be eligible to receive the Investor visa. Still, this is one of the most competitive UK visa types. Applicants must have at least £2,000,000 in investment funds to apply for this type of visa.
The Innovator visa is designed to help business people with innovative business ideas establish themselves and their business in the UK. Applicants are expected to seek and earn an endorsement before applying.
Most applicants are also expected to have at least £50,000 in investment funds and be prepared to have a direct role in their business’s upkeep, management, and growth.
Though there are still individuals that hold this type of visa, the UK is no longer accepting applications for the Entrepreneur visa. The Innovator and Start-Up visas have essentially replaced this visa type.
Do you have a brilliant idea for a business? If so, you might be eligible for the UK Start-Up visa. This is awarded to individuals with innovative business ideas who seek to start their business within the UK. It typically requires an endorsement from an endorsing body.
e) Global Talent
If you’re particularly notable within an academic field or the arts, you may be able to apply for and receive a Global Talent visa. Industry leaders within the digital technology field are also welcome to apply for this visa.
The Global Talent visa allows individuals to work and live in the UK for up to five years. Notably, this visa does allow the holder to bring their family members to live with them in the UK.
Gov.uk is an "Official website by the United Kingdom. Using this official website, you would be able to learn about obtaining a visa, as well as applying for your visa.
This website will help you with:
- Visa Application Fee
You will get to know how to apply for your nonimmigrant visa for travel to the UK.
What all documents, photos, and information do you need to apply for your visa?
How to easily access visa application forms and instructions
How to pay for your visa application fee
Schedule your interview at a UK Embassy
Disclaimer: You can always refer to the above official website for all the visa related concerns in the UK