UK Visa - Definitive Guide

Consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom is one of the world’s most influential countries. Harbouring a wide diverse crowd of people, this country possesses some of the best mixes of medieval and modern architecture. Travellers from across the world with a UK visa can encounter the country’s uniqueness from the cosmopolitan cities of London, Liverpool, and Manchester, to the stunning countryside and the fascinating shoreline. Rich in history and culture, every city in the kingdom has a story to tell. Along with this, the nation has the 5th highest economy, and with London being the globe’s largest financial centre, there is no dearth of people wanting to visit the country. To visit this magnificent island, most people do require a UK Visa.  Through this UK Visa guide, the UK permit will be discussed in detail.

What is a UK Visa?

People who do not belong to the EU, USA and a few other visa-exempt countries require a permit to visit the country. Citizens of the UAE, Kuwait and a few other GCC countries also have an Electronic visa waiver program. Indian citizens require a UK Visa to enter the country. The permit is issued in the form of a sticker in your passport. The validity of the visa depends upon the types. Different types of visa have multiple duration and entry types given with that particular permit.

How to Apply for UK Visa?

Before starting the application process for the visa, you will need to decide the right type of visa you are applying for. It is important to meet the eligibility criteria for a particular type of visa. Once this is done, you will have to gather the necessary documents required for the process. These may vary depending upon the UK Visa types. Please note that in the case of North Korea, there is only an offline application. However, most countries have online application mode. 

How to apply for UK visa online from India?

The process of applying for a UK Visa for Indians online is described as below. 

  1. Create an account on the UK Visa application portal called Visa4UK. If you are applying for a visitor visa, you can also apply it via the visa immigration service portal too.
  2. Complete the UK online visa application form with your details.
  3. Proceed to pay the UK Visa fees online.
  4. Book your visa appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) for the visa and biometric submission.
  5. Take a print out of the confirmation of the appointment you receive in your email. 
  6. Along with this, attend the appointment at the VAC with your documents to finally submit your application.

Please note that in certain cases, you may be required to submit to an interview. Also, it is necessary to ensure that you submit genuine and correct documents. Any false information can lead to visa rejection. A refusal for the permit can affect your future applications.

UK Visa Types

There are a number of types of permits issued to visit the United Kingdom. For the temporary visas; Based on the purpose of visit, the major types can be classified into the following. 

  • Visitor - This type allows you to visit the country for a short term visit. These are normally issued for a duration of 6 months. However, in certain cases where the applicant requires to travel to the country multiple times over a few years, it may be issued for even 2,5 or 10 years. However, you will only be allowed to stay for a maximum of 6 months per entry. Based on the type of visit, these can further be classified into the following -
    1. Standard Visitor - This is issued to visitors travelling for the purpose of tourism, business, medical treatment, and other similar short term visit purposes.
    2. Marriage Visitor - This type is required if you are visiting the country to get married or get into a civil partnership in the UK.
    3. Transit - This is only required if you have to travel through the UK as a transit to visit another country.
  • Student - This type of permit is issued to people who want to pursue a course in the UK. This is generally based on the Point Based System (PBS). The types of student permits are as follows -
    1. Short-term study - Used for students doing short term courses or research for 6 or 11 months. 
    2. Tier 4 General Student - This is issued in cases where you have been offered a place on a course. Since this is a PBS type, you will need to meet the necessary eligibility points. The visa is issued as per the duration of your course.
    3. Tier 4 Child Student - Children between the ages of 4 and 17, visiting the UK to take part in studies in an independent school will require this type.

 

  • Work - The work permit is issued to individuals who are visiting the country to take part in work or employment activities. This is also a PBS system and requires the individuals to meet the eligibility points. The types of work visas are as follows.

 

    1. Tier 2 - This is issued to individuals who are moving to the country to take part in long term work.  You will be required to be sponsored by a licensed sponsor for this. There are several sub-divisions of this visa too.
    2. Tier 5 - A 5th tier permit is issued for short term work. These can be unpaid voluntary work, religious work, sports-related, etc. These can further be split into multiple types based on the purpose.
    3. Tier 1 - For individuals performing long term business activities, and planning to set-up their business, a tier 1 type is the apt one. This can be issued for entrepreneurs, start-ups, etc based on the eligibility.
  • Family - You can apply for a family visa is you are going to the UK to live with your spouse, parent, child, or a relative who will be providing for you for a long term. These visas are issued for more than 6 months. If you require to visit them for a period of fewer than 6 months, you can apply for a standard visitor visa instead.

Documents required for UK Visa

As per the UK Visa documents requirements for Indian citizens, the documents needed for UK Visa depends on the type of visa. Each one of the UK Visa types has a certain set of documents specific to it. However, the general requirements for most types are as follows - 

  • UK visa application form - Online completed application form on Visa4UK
  • 2 recent passport size photographs
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of return, along with at least one blank page
  • Proof of financial means to support your stay in the UK
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Complete travel itinerary
  • Biometric information, if applicable
  • Visa fees receipt
  • Proof of occupation

UK Visa Photo Requirements

According to the regulations, the photos have to be as per the following instructions -

  • Recently taken
  • Dimensions- 35mm X 45mm
  • Clear basic cream or light grey background
  • Glasses - allowed only for medical reasons
  • Eyes - directly gazing at the lens
  • Headgear - not permitted except in religious cases
  • Facial expression - neutral
  • No “Red-eye effect” from the camera flash

UK Visa Processing Time

The time taken for a permit to enter Britain depends on several factors. Mainly, it depends on the type of visa. Certain visas are processed much faster than the other ones. Apart from this, it also depends on the embassy workload, additional documentation requirements, fast track processing, and so on. On average, the popular types are issued within 15 days. It is necessary to ensure that you apply for the permit well in advance to avoid delaying your visa.

UK Visa Fees -

The UK Visa fees India depends on aspects such as the UK Visa types, the number of entries, the duration of the visa, express processing fees, biometric charges, as well as any additional service charges. It is crucial to check the exact fees before applying for it.

Where to Apply for a UK Visa for Indians

Except for a few certain types, every other UK Visa types have to be applied online. The online application is completed on Visa4UK, and alternately on visa services portal in the cases of standard visitor visa. However, for the biometric, and document submission, you will have to visit one of the visa application centres located around the country. As per your convenience, you can book an appointment at any of them near you. The applications, however, as processed by the British High Commission in New Delhi, or the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

You can acquire complete assistance for the process from the professional visa services. This way you can ensure that there are least chances of any errors in the process and odds of visa rejection are reduced as well.

How to Check UK Visa Status?

You cannot check the status of UK Visa application online. You will be notified of the status via text message if your visa has been approved. You can also check it by sending a message with your passport number to the designated number. Alternately, you can perform the UK Visa tracking by contacting the High Commission, or VAC email or phone and telling them the GWF number. The GWF is a unique number given for each application. You must make a note of this. Once your visa has been accepted and has been dispatched, you can track it using the GWF number on the courier company’s website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the general UK visa interview questions?

Normally, you do not have a visa interview. However, if you are called for one, you will have to ensure that you answer honestly. The main questions will revolve around your purpose of visit, the duration you plan on staying, your future plans once your purpose has been finished, and your source of funds. They can also ask you a few questions about the UK, as well as other questions they seem is necessary to grant you the visa.

Where can I go with a UK visa within Europe?

Since the UK is no longer a part of the Schengen area, you will require a Schengen visa to visit those countries. Your UK visa alone is not enough. Despite this, there are certain European countries where you will not require a visa, or be issued with a visa on arrival as long as you hold a valid UK visa. These include Turkey, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia. However, to qualify for these, you will have to meet certain conditions on your visa for the United Kingdom.

Can I withdraw my application for a UK visa?

Yes, you can delete your application online as long as you have not booked an appointment. You will have to log in to your visa4UK account and then delete it. However, please note that your visa will only start processing once you have submitted your documents at the appointment centre. If you do not make it to your appointment, the application will be automatically deleted.

What do I have to show in the financial section in a UK visa application?

You will have to mention the number of funds you possess, in this field. You will have to show a minimum sum to prove that you can support yourself during your stay in the UK. Along with this, you will have to submit financial documents to prove the same. 

How many financial documents such as bank statements can I submit for a UK visa?

There is no specific number of statements that you can submit. However, it is advised to submit only a single bank’s statement for better processing. Also, keep in mind that you will have to show the statements for the past 6 months at least. The statement you submit must be genuine and should contain a seal from the bank proving its authenticity.

What are the medical tests required for a UK visa?

The medical tests depend on the UK Visa types. For a visitor permit lasting less than 6 months, you normally do not require a health check-up. However, if you are applying for a visa longer than 6 months, depending on the country you are travelling from, you may require tests to be taken. Indian citizens visiting the UK from India for more than 6 months will need a Tuberculosis test to be taken. Apart from this, it is suggested to have a health check-up before you travel to any country for safety reasons.

Can I submit a new UK visa application without cancelling the previous application?

No, you cannot apply for another permit without cancelling your current application. The portal will not let you apply for another one as long as you have an active application. To apply for another visa, either cancel the application or wait until you are issued with the current visa.

If I have been banned from entering the US, does it affect a UK visa?

It depends on several factors such as the strength of your application, the reason for your ban, the visa interview, and so on. Although, if your passport shows a stamp proving the ban from the US, you are most likely to be rejected. The US and UK share immigration data. However, you can still apply for a UK Visa. Make sure that you answer honestly when asked about the ban. If you do this, you may or may not get rejected. But, if you lie on the application form about the ban, you will 100% be rejected. 

Who do I address the covering letter to, for a UK visa?

As per the requirements, a cover letter is not a mandatory document for the application for a UK Visa. However, if you wish to strengthen your application, you can submit a cover letter stating the purpose, duration, as well as the source of funds for your visit. You will have to address it to the British High Commission, New Delhi.

Is it mandatory to have medical travel insurance for a UK visa?

No, you do not require travel insurance while applying for the UK entry permit. However, it is advised to obtain it as it will greatly limit your expenses due to emergencies. Although, if you are going to the UK on a visa other than the visitor visa, and the length of the stay is longer than 6 months, you may have to pay for the UK healthcare while applying for the visa. This is done by paying an Immigration Health Surcharge fees.

How do I reschedule a UK visa appointment?

To reschedule a UK visa appointment, you will have to log in to your Visa4Uk portal. You can then click on your present appointment, and choose to update it to a new date. However, in the case that you missed your appointment, you will have to make a new application and pay the fees again. 

Can I obtain a UK visa without a travel agent?

Yes, you can obtain a UK visa without an agent. However, in this case, you will have to do every bit of the work. You are going to have to fill the application form, book the medical tests, book the appointment, get the certificates notarized, and so on. However, a visa agent makes your job easier. You will only have to show up for appointments. They will take care of everything else. 

Is it safe to apply for a UK visa after being refused twice?

Yes, you can obviously apply for the visa again. However, the chances of you getting it approved depend mainly on the reason for rejection. Technical errors in the application, spelling mistakes, and other minute problems will not affect the application greatly. You can rectify this, and submit a stronger application. However, if the visa refusal reasons were of a higher degree, such as criminal charges, fraudulent documents, etc, you will almost certainly have the application rejected again. This is applicable for almost all visas.

How can I change the VAC for a UK visa?

You cannot change your visa application centre once you have paid the fees and booked the appointment. Alternately, you can cancel your application and start a new application with a new visa appointment as long as you have not attended the appointment and submitted your biometrics.

Can I apply for a UK visa while on a B1 B2 US visa?

Yes, you may apply for a UK permit while you are on a tourist visa in the USA. However, there are certain restrictions on this. You can only apply for the UK visit visa in another country other than your country of residence. Since the B1/B2 is a visit visa, it is not a residence permit. If you have a residence permit in the USA such as the F1, or H1B, etc, you can apply even for other types of UK visa from the US.

 

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