How to apply for a visa to go to the UK

How to apply for a visa to go to the UK.

Find more information here:

1. Choose a visa

You may need a visa to come to the UK to study, work, visit or join family.

There are different visas depending on:

  • where you come from
  • why you want to come to the UK
  • how long you want to stay for
  • your personal circumstances and skills

Before you apply, you must check if you need a visa and what type you need. Depending on your nationality, you might not need a visa to visit or transit through the UK. Your application must be approved before you travel. You do not need to apply for a visa if you’re an Irish citizen.

2. Prepare your application

You can apply and pay for most visas online. If you have dependents who want to come to the UK with you, each person will need to apply and pay separately.

When to apply

The earliest you can apply is usually:

  • 3 months before your planned travel date for visit visas
  • 3 months before your employment start date for most work visas
  • 6 months before your course start date for Student and Child Student visas

It’s currently taking 7 weeks on average to get a decision on Standard Visitor visas. Find out visa decision waiting times.

3. Prove your identity

When you apply, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide documents to show your eligibility.

How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

  • go to an appointment at a visa application centre
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app

You’ll find out if you need to go to an appointment or use the smartphone app when you start your application.

If you need to go to an appointment at a visa application centre

Visa application centres are run by external companies. You’ll get a link to their website where you can book an appointment to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and photograph).

You may have to travel to get to your nearest visa application centre (this could be in another country).

You can choose to use a standard service or to pay extra for optional services. Paying for optional services does not mean your application is more likely to be successful.

Standard services

Most visa application centres offer some free appointments.

In some locations you’ll need to pay £55 for a standard appointment. You can choose to travel to a different visa application centre with free appointments, but you’ll need to pay your own travel costs.

You may be able to either:

  • upload your evidence before your appointment
  • bring your evidence to your appointment and have it scanned there for a fee

The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide.

Visa application centres will usually keep your passport while they process your application. They may also keep your documents too.

Extra optional services

You can choose to pay for an appointment, for example if you want to book it for a specific date and time.

You may also be able to choose to pay for other extra services, such as:

  • getting your documents scanned instead of doing this yourself
  • keeping your passport while your application is processed

Paying for optional services does not mean your application is more likely to be successful.

If you applied for someone else

The applicant will need to attend the appointment at the visa application centre to provide their biometric information and documents.

They’ll also need to sign a copy of their application form, to confirm that the information is correct.

If you need to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app

You’ll be asked to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document and submit a digital photo of your face.

You will need to scan and upload documents that show your eligibility as part of your online application. The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide.

4. Getting a decision on your application

You’ll get a letter or an email with the result of your application. It will explain what you need to do next.

If your application is successful

You’ll be given either:

  • a sticker (called a vignette) that goes in your passport – if you gave your biometric information at a visa application centre
  • access to view your immigration status information online – if you used the smartphone app to prove your identity

The vignette or online immigration status information will show:

  • what you’ve been granted (for example, a Student visa)
  • the dates your visa is valid (start date and end date)
  • the conditions of your visa

Your visa conditions

The conditions say what you can and cannot do in the UK. For example, they might say:

  • ‘No access to public funds’ – you cannot claim benefits
  • ‘No work’ – you cannot take paid or unpaid work in the UK
  • ‘Restricted work’ – you can only work for your sponsor

You’ll also be told if you need to register your personal details with the UK police.

Getting your vignette

If the visa application centre kept your passport, they’ll either: 

  • send it to you with the vignette inside – if you paid for this service when you applied
  • ask you to collect the passport and vignette

If you kept your passport, you’ll need to take it to the visa application centre to collect your vignette.

If you’re a national of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates and you applied for an electronic visa waiver this permission is sent to you electronically (you do not receive a vignette).

If there’s an error in your vignette

If you notice an error in your vignette, you should contact your visa application centre immediately to correct it before you come to the UK.

If you notice the error after you’ve arrived in the UK, you must report it to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) within 3 months of arriving or you’ll need to make a new application.

Getting a biometric residence permit

If you get a vignette and you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months then you have to collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) after you arrive.

You must do this before the vignette sticker expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

You choose where to collect your BRP from during your application.

When you get your BRP, check the details are correct. If your name is long it may appear ‘cut off’. This is not a mistake – it is because there is limited space on the BRP card. However, if there’s a spelling mistake, you must report it.

You need to report any errors in your BRP within 10 days of collecting it.

If you get access to your immigration status information online

You’ll be able to view your immigration status information online. You can also use the online service to share your immigration status information with others, for example employers or universities.

Some government organisations and public authorities will be able to access your immigration status information, for example when you travel through the UK border.

You will not get a vignette or a BRP.

If your application is refused

You’ll get a letter or an email explaining why your application was refused.

Your passport will be returned, if it was kept as part of your application.

Your refusal letter will explain if you have the right to either an:

Do you want to apply?

If you want to apply for a UK Visa, please use the following link:

If you want to apply for a UK Visa, please use the following link:

The end.


You may also check> Republic of Ireland is offering work permits for critical skills and other employment categories


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