This page provides an overview of the various UK Visit and Transit Visa Categories that are currently open to overseas visa applicants. Every visa category or sub category contains a brief description of that particular visa category, as well as a reference to the relevant Immigration Rule. This section will help you decide which visit/transit category applies to your circumstances. Please note that this information is provided for informative purposes. Immigration rules are subject to frequent change and you should therefore always visit the UKBA website for correct and up-to-date guidance. The use of the information contained in this page is entirely at your own risk.
|UK Visa Category|
|Visit and Transit|
|Sub category||Brief description of Visa Category||Immigration Rule|
|General Visitor||If you are an adult and you want to come to the UK as a tourist or to visit friends, you should apply as a general visitor. If you want to visit members of your family in the UK, you should apply as a family visitor (but see Family Visitor below for a definition of ‘family member’).||Paragraphs 41-46|
|Child Visitor||The child visitor category is for children aged under 18 years old who want to come to the UK for up to 6 months (or up to 12 months if they are accompanying an academic visitor). This includes children who want to study in the UK for up to 6 months. If a child wants to study here for more than 6 months, they must apply under Tier 4 (Child) of the Points Based System.||Paragraphs 46A-46F|
|Family Visitor||If you want to come to the UK to visit members of your family, you should apply as a family visitor. To come to the UK as a family visitor, you must be able to show that you will be visiting the following family members in the UK:
If you want to visit a family member who is not listed above, you should come to the UK as a general visitor.
If a child is adopted under an adoption order that is recognised in UK law, UKBA will treat the child as if they are the natural children of the adoptive parents. Additionally the family member you are visiting must :
|Business Visitor||The business visitor category is for people who want to come and do business in the UK for a short time. This includes academic visitors, visiting professors, overseas news media representatives and film crews on location. However, you may need to apply under the points-based system if you want to carry out certain work activities or receive training. For a list of permissible business activities, click here.||Paragraphs 46G-46L|
|Visitors undertaking Permitted Paid Engagements||The category of visitors undertaking permitted paid engagements is for a defined list of visitors who are invited to come to the UK because of their particular skills and expertise. They may apply to come here for up to 1 month without the need to be sponsored under the points-based system. The category is for visiting examiners or assessors; lecturers; overseas designated pilot examiners; qualified lawyers; and professional artists, entertainers and sportspersons. If you wish to do work that is not permitted under this category you may be able to come here under the points-based system. For a list of permissible activities, please click here.||Paragraphs 56X-56Z|
|Prospective Entrepreneurs||This category of visitor is for people who are in discussions with venture capitalists or UK government departments to join, set up or take over – and be actively involved in the running of – a business in the UK. It enables them to enter the UK for a maximum of 6 months so that they can secure funding to meet the financial criteria for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) of the points-based system.||Paragraphs 56N-56Q|
|ADS Visitor||If you want to come to the UK from China as part of a group of tourists for 30 days or less, you can apply as a visitor under the ADS (=Approved Destination Status) agreement.||Paragraphs 56G-56J|
|Student Visitor||If you are an adult and you want to undertake a short course of study in the UK (such as a beginner’s English Language course or a work-related training course), you might be able to come here as a student visitor.
If you want to study a longer course, or you want to work (including on a work placement) alongside your studies, you should apply under Tier 4 (General) of the Points Based System. UKBA has produced a quick guide to help you decide which is the correct student immigration category for you.
Student visitors are allowed to come to the UK for 6 months (or 11 months if they will be studying an English Language course). When you enter the UK, the duration of your permission to stay will be stamped in your passport. You cannot extend your stay beyond this period.
|Prospective Student||This category is for prospective students who intend to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the Points Based System but have not completed all the arrangements for their course of study. For example, you can come here as a prospective student if you have been provisionally accepted on a course, with final acceptance dependent on an interview.
You should have a clear idea of the type and purpose of course that you want to study, and you should already have been in touch with educational institutions in the UK. If you only have a vague intention to study for qualifications or to enter an unspecified university or other institution, you cannot come here as a prospective student.
You must be able to show that you will start your course within 6 months of arrival in the UK. In some cases, you may be able to provide this evidence in a letter of acceptance or prospectus giving details of the course.
If you already have an unconditional offer of a place on a course, which you intend to accept, you should not come here as a prospective student – instead, you should apply to enter the UK under Tier 4 of the Points Based System.
You must show that you intend to:
You must also be able to show that you have enough money to meet the costs of your intended course and accommodation, and to support yourself, without working or help from public funds.
There is no minimum age requirement as a prospective student.
Your husband, wife or civil partner, and any of your children under 18, can come to the UK with you while you arrange your studies. They are known as your ‘dependants’. You must be able to show that you can adequately accommodate and support them without working or needing any help from public funds.
|Parents of Children at School||This category is for parents whose children under 12 years old are receiving their school education in the UK under Tier 4 (Child) of the points-based system, or under the student immigration category that existed before 31 March 2009. You will initially be allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of 12 months, but you can then apply to extend your stay for 12 months at a time if you still meet the requirements.||Paragraphs 56A-56C|
|Sports Visitor||You can come to the UK as a sports visitor for a period of up to 6 months if you are a sportsperson who wants to: take part in a specific event, tournament, or series of events (including charity events and exhibition matches) as an individual competitor or a member of an overseas team; or join an amateur team as an amateur sportsperson (provided you receive no payment except for travel and other expenses); or make a personal appearance or take part in a promotion such as a book signing or television interview; negotiate a contract or discuss a sponsorship deal; take part in a trial (which must not be in front of an audience, either paying or non-paying); do a short period of training, as an individual or as part of a team.
For example, competitors in the British Open Golf or Wimbledon, touring football and cricket teams, and boxers coming for 1 fight can all be sports visitors.
You can also come to the UK as a sports visitor if you are: a member of the technical or support staff of amateur or professional sportspeople, and you are attending the UK with them for the same event or series of events; or an official attending a sporting event or series of events as, for example, an umpire.
|Entertainment Visitor||This category is for visitors that wish to come to the UK and are:
|Visit for Marriage or Civil Partnership||If you want to come to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership, and you and your partner intend to leave the country within 6 months, you can apply for a visa as a visitor for marriage or civil partnership. If you want to live in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership ceremony, you cannot come here as a visitor and would need to apply in a long-term stay category. If the latter is the case, the UKBA Partners and families section of their website explains how you can apply to come to the UK.||Paragraphs 56D-56F|
|Visit for Private Medical Treatment||If you want to come to the UK for a short time to receive treatment for a medical condition, you can apply as a visitor for private medical treatment. You will not be able to receive treatment from the National Health Service.||Paragraphs 51-56|
|Visitor in Transit||You can come to the UK as a visitor in transit if you will arrive in the UK, pass through immigration control and then leave the UK within 48 hours (or 24 hours if you are travelling under the ‘travel without visa’ concession. The UK’s transit rules are complex so carefully read the UKBA Guidance on Transiting the UK.||Paragraphs 47-50|
|Direct Airside Transit||This category is for nationals that require Direct Airside Transit visas. They must arrive at and depart from the same UK airport within 24 hours, must not pass UK immigration control, must hold dated and confirmed tickets, and must be assured of entry to their (non Common Travel Area) final destination. The UK’s transit rules are complex so carefully read the UKBA Guidance on Transiting the UK.||Transit Visa Order|