Do you want to go on vacation or holiday in the UK? Or do you simply want to visit some of the most impressive sites in the historic country? If so, what you need is a UK tourist visa. You can find out all the information on how to apply in this post.
What Is the UK Tourist Visa?
The UK Tourist Visa, also known as the standard visitor visa, lets you enter the UK for tourism purposes. With this visa, you can stay in the country for up to six months, and it’s a relatively flexible visa.
The maximum duration of a tourist visa is six months, but your visa can be valid for less. The UK Home Office makes the ultimate decision on the duration when issuing the visa.
Although it’s called the UK Tourist Visa, you can do more than tourism with the visa. You can visit family members, attend a business activity, or get medical treatment. However, you need a definite reason for applying – which in this case should be for tourism.
You may not need to apply for a UK Tourist Visa if you’re a citizen of some visa-free countries. Therefore, before you begin your application, you should check if you need a visa on the UK Home Office website.
Obtaining a UK Tourist Visa is not very difficult, so long as you have a valid reason to enter the country and the funds to sponsor your stay. However, the visa does require many supporting documents.
UK Tourist Visa Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for a UK Tourist Visa, you must have a valid reason to enter the country. Also, you must be able to support yourself – and whoever’s coming with you – throughout your stay.
The tourist visa is a short-term visa, so you won’t have access to public funds and cannot work in any paid or unpaid position. For this reason, the financial requirement is essential.
You can present a third party willing to sponsor you if you don’t have the funds. Your tourism trip may be sponsored by your company, an organization, family, a friend, or someone else.
Furthermore, you must convince the embassy that you’ll leave the UK after your visa expires. You mustn’t intend to live in the UK long term, as the short-term visa doesn’t allow it.
You still need to meet these eligibility requirements if you’re from a country that doesn’t require a visa to travel to the UK. While you can travel to the UK, you’ll need a pass at the border to enter the country.
The officers at the UK Border Control will ask you questions about your intentions to enter the UK. If it’s for tourism, you must show that you have the funds to support your stay before they clear you to enter the country.
Documents You’ll Need To Apply
Here are the documents you’ll need to apply for a UK Tourist Visa:
- A valid international passport or other travel documents. Your passport must have a blank page and be valid for at least three months from the date you should leave the UK.
- Completed visa application form. You’ll need to complete the visa application form on the UK Home Office website and print the confirmation page.
- Two passport photographs. The passport photographs must be in-line with the UK visa requirements, colored, and no more than six months old.
- Proof of funds. This is the most important document, as explained before. You can present your bank statements or payslips for the past six months. If someone or an organization is sponsoring you, you must present a signed written note from them.
- Details about your intended activity. Since you’re coming to the UK for tourism, you must have specific places you wish to visit and also where to reside during your stay. You must provide a detailed itinerary of your activities throughout your stay.
- Proof of payment of fees. The UK Tourist Visa attracts a processing fee. You must pay this fee and present your receipt as proof.
- Previous travel history. Your previous travels can heavily influence your visa application. The embassy may deny you the visa if you have a bad record – breaking immigration laws, for example – in the UK or any other country. On the other hand, having a clean travel history boosts your chances.
- Proof that you’ll return to your home country. You must show ties to your home country to convince the embassy officials that you won’t try to remain in the UK when your visa expires. You can do this by showing family or work ties and properties you own.
- Biometric data (fingerprint and passport). You’ll receive a temporary biometric residence permit when you get your visa. As a result, you must submit your biometric data during the application process.
- Criminal records. You can present a court or police statement to prove that you have no pending criminal cases in your home country.
The above list is extensive but not comprehensive. During any visa application, there’s always the possibility of the embassy requesting extra documents. It ultimately depends on your circumstance.
UK Tourist Visa Application Fees
Compared to many other UK visas, the tourist visa is relatively affordable. The visa costs £100. Nevertheless, the funds you must have to be eligible are far higher.
The UK Home Office doesn’t give a specific amount. It depends on what you plan to do in the country. However, the amount is speculated to be up to £122 per day.
That means if you’re going to stay in the UK for up to a month, you need to have up to £3,660. Staying for a full six months will demand up to £21,000.
For these reasons, most tourists don’t stay too long in the UK on a tourist visa. Usually, they spend two to three weeks at most before leaving the country. Two to three weeks is enough for anyone to tour the UK.
Furthermore, there are extra fees to pay if you wish to speed up your visa processing. The priority processing service costs £500, while the super priority service costs £800.
How To Apply
You can start your UK Tourist Visa application three months before the date you intend to travel. If you’re traveling with people (dependents), they must also apply separately. You can only apply on behalf of dependents who cannot apply by themselves.
Ensure you have all the necessary documents read before you start your application. It’ll ensure the embassy doesn’t delay your application. Missing any important document could delay your application for weeks.
You should get a verdict on your UK Tourist Visa application three weeks after submitting all the required documents. However, sometimes it could take up to six weeks.
You can get a faster verdict on your application using the priority service or super priority service. With the priority service, you get a verdict within five working days. On the other hand, you can get a verdict the next day with the super priority service.
The UK Tourist Visa demands that you attend an interview. Therefore, you must schedule an appointment when done with the online application.
After scheduling the appointment, print the confirmation and take it to the interview. You must also take along original copies of your documents.
The embassy officer will ask you why you deserve the visa at the interview. It’s crucial to provide honest answers that correspond with the documents you present.
Ultimately, the UK Home Office will send you an email on the verdict of your application. If successful, you can begin preparations to travel to the UK. If unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal the decision.
Duration of the UK Tourist Visa
The UK Tourist Visa, as a short-stay visa, cannot stay valid for more than six months. How long you can stay in the UK depends on the itinerary you present during the application.
The UK Home Office can approve your visa for a month, two, three, four, or five months. However, as mentioned before, the longer you’re to stay, the higher the funds you must have.
UK Tourist Visa Extension
The UK Home Office allows standard visitor visa holders to apply for an extension in special circumstances. However, you cannot extend a tourist visa as there’s no need to.
Already, it’s unlikely for your tour to last for six months, which is the maximum the visa can last. Hence, you’ll likely leave the UK before then, which makes the visa extension irrelevant.
Standard visitor visa holders that can extend their visa application include only scholars and patients receiving treatment.
If you’re in the position to extend your visa, note that you must pay the processing fee and provide supporting documents. It’ll take around eight weeks to get a verdict, but you can apply and pay for expedited processing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about the UK Tourist Visa:
Is It Easy To Get a Tourist Visa for the UK?
The UK Tourist Visa isn’t as rigorous to get as many other visas, but it’s not easy. Indeed, you’ll find it facile if you exceedingly meet the funds’ requirement. However, you must demonstrate that you will return to your home country.
The UK Immigration deals with many cases of visa beneficiaries that try to evade the law and remain in the UK after their visa expires. It’s one of the reasons why the country has strict immigration laws.
Nevertheless, suppose you have the funds needed and can demonstrate strong ties that demand you return to your home country. In that case, you can easily get a UK Tourist Visa.
Is a Tourist Visa and a Visitor Visa the Same in the UK?
It’s incorrect to say the tourist visa is the same as the visitor visa. Instead, the tourist visa is one of the UK visitor visas – it falls under the Standard Visitor Visa category.
In addition to the tourist visa, other visas under the Standard Visitor Visa include study visas, medical treatment visas, and business visas. They are all short-term visas and, like the tourist visa, do not last for more than six months at a time.
Therefore, if you want to apply for the UK Tourist Visa, you’ll first begin your application as a Standard Visitor. Then, during the course of your application, you can select your reason for applying – which should be tourism.
Is There an Interview for a UK Tourist Visa?
When it comes to UK visa applications, nothing is set in stone. You may or may not have to attend an interview. It will depend on your country, what you plan to do in the UK and the embassy’s ultimate decision.
However, you must book an appointment at the end of your online application, even if you don’t need an interview. The appointment is necessary for you to submit your supporting documents and biometrics.
You’ll know if you need an interview from the email you receive after successfully completing the online application.
Why Would a Tourist Visa Be Denied?
A common reason why the embassy would deny you a tourist visa is if you don’t have the funds to sponsor your stay. As mentioned several times, sufficient funds are the most crucial requirement.
Other reasons could be that you presented misleading information during the online application or if you have a pending criminal case in your home country.
Can I Sponsor Someone for a Tourist Visa?
Yes, someone else can sponsor your visit to the UK as a tourist. In fact, it happens all the time.
Touring the UK is fun and exciting. If you have that on your bucket list, simply follow the instructions in this post to apply for the tourist visa and begin your journey.