Frequently asked questions about UK visas, immigration, rules, processes and regulations
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Tier 4 Student Visa
EEA Family Permits
I received a VFS visa application update status. What do these visa statuses mean?
If you track your application on the VFS website/by SMS and see the message ‘Your application has been sent to the BHC’, this means that VFS have forwarded your documents to the appropriate British High Commission for processing and consideration. It does not mean that your application was successful. A few of our blog visitors have asked us for the meaning of this VFS status update, hence we wanted to mention it here as well.
If you see the message ‘Application under process at British High Commission’, this means that your application is with the BHC that will consider your application. It means that the application is currently in the BHC’s work queue. For example, it is waiting to be assigned to a caseworker, or has been assigned to a caseworker that is assessing your application.
If you see the message ‘Processed application in transit’, this means that the caseworker has finished assessing your application and that the BHC has returned your passport and documents to the application centre. In other words, your papers are on their way back to the centre where you had your visa application appointment. It does not mean that your visa has been issued or refused; it means that a decision was made and that your documents are now in transit, back to the centre where you submitted your application. You must wait for the next status update, which will say that your documents have arrived at the centre and are now ready for collection.
If your status shows as ‘Your Application is being sent to the application center. Please wait until it is ready for collection.’ this means that the British High Commission has returned your documents to the visa application centre. It does not mean that your visa has been issued or refused; it means that a decision was made and that your documents are now in transit, back to the centre where you submitted your application. You must wait for the next status update (please see below), which indicates that your documents have arrived at the centre and are now ready for collection.
If your status shows as “Your application is ready for collection; please visit the UK Visa Application Centre where you submitted your visa application to collect the same” or “Your application has been received at the uk visa application centre and is ready for collection” (which version depends on where you submitted your application). this means that a decision has been made and that you can collect your passport and documents from the Visa Application Centre. It does not mean that your visa has been issued. Nor does it mean that your visa has been refused. All it means is that a decision was made and that the High Commission has returned your passport and documents (either with a visa or with a refusal notice) to the VAC. You will only find out whether or not the visa was issued or refused when you collect your documents from the VAC. There is no way to check this on-line and, if you signed up for the SMS service, you will not receive a message with the result of your application either.
Can I have more than one valid UK visa in my passport, or will one of my visas be cancelled?
The answer is yes, you can (can) have more valid visas in your passport. As long as they are in a different visa category. Examples: you were issued with a 5-year multiple entry visit visa, which is still valid. You now apply for a PBS Tier 4 student visa. Your visit visa will not (not) be cancelled because it is in a different UK visa category. Another example. You were issued with an EEA Family Permit, which is still valid. You now apply for a UK visit visa because the EEA National cannot accompany you on this occasion. Your UK visit visa will not be cancelled. As long as the visas are in different visa categories, you can have more than one valid UK visa concurrently.
Does my passport need to be valid for 6 months when I submit my UK visa application?
No, this is not required.
I hold a valid UK visa. Do I need an Irish visa if I want to visit the Republic of Ireland?
Yes, unless you qualify under the Irish visa waiver programme.
Summary of the Irish visa waiver programme:
If you are a national of the countries listed below; and
You have entered the UK on a general visit visa; and
You have been granted leave to remain in the UK for up to 180 days (i.e. the maximum period that you can stay in the UK on a visit; 180 days = 6 months – you can check this on your UK immigration entry stamp)
You may travel to Ireland, within the time remaining on a current leave to remain in the UK, without the requirement to obtain an Irish visa, and be granted permission to remain in Ireland up to a maximum of 90 days or the time left on their UK leave to remain, whichever is the shorter.
Please note that each distinct period of leave to remain in the UK (up to a maximum of 180 days each time) requires a prior legal entry into the UK before travel to Ireland under the Programme, no matter what the duration of the UK visa.
Countries that benefit from the Irish visa waiver programme as outline above are:
Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and India, Kazakhstan, Peoples Republic of China (please note that nationals of the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao are already on the list of nationals that do not require a visa to visit/transit the Republic of Ireland) and Uzbekistan
UK visas that qualify for the Irish visa waiver programme:
In order to benefit from the programme, except for the other criteria (see above), you must hold a valid UK visit visa. Other visas do not (not) qualify. So, if you, for example, hold a valid UK transit visa, a UK Tier 4 Student visa, a UK Tier 2 General Worker visa, or a UK settlement visa, you do not qualify for the Irish visa waiver. Only holders of valid UK visit visas are eligible. The traveller must have used the current visa to enter the UK at least once in order to avail of the Visa Waiver Programme. A stamp of the UK Border Agency evidencing the use of the visa to enter the UK is, therefore, required.
How long can I stay in the Republic of Ireland under the visa waiver?
The maximum period of validity of leave to remain in the UK for the above categories is 180 days but the maximum stay in Ireland will be 90 days or to the end of the period of validity of the UK leave to remain, whichever is the shorter. Holders of UK long-term business visas should note that the visit to Ireland must take place within a current period of leave to remain.
Where can I find information about the Irish Visa Waiver Programme?
You can find the Irish Immigration Department’s “Information Note – March 2012” here. Please note that the Note says that the Waiver is in force until 31 October 2012. This has since been extended. You can find the announcement concerning the extension (by another 4 years) here.