1. Decide what Visa you require

You may require a visa to visit, study, work or join relatives in the United Kingdom.

Different visas exist depending on:

  • where you originated
  • the reason you wish to visit the United Kingdom
  • how long do you wish to remain
  • your abilities and circumstances

Before applying, you must decide if a visa is necessary and what category.

Your application must be approved before you depart.

Irish citizens are not required to submit an application for a visa.

If you are a national of the European Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, or Liechtenstein citizen and your family member or you moved to the UK before 31 December 2020, you may still be permitted to submit and application for the EU Settlement Scheme instead of a visa.

30 June 2021 was the application deadline for the majority of applicants, but you may still be able to apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline, for example, if you are joining a family member in the UK who was residing there on 31st December 2020;
  • you had “reasonable grounds” for not being able to apply by 30 June 2021.

2. Make your application ready

The majority of visas can be requested and paid for online.

Each dependent who wishes to accompany you to the United Kingdom must submit a separate application and payment.

When to Apply

Generally, the earliest application date is:

  • Three months before your planned departure date for tourist visas
  • Three months before the employment start date for the majority of work visas
  • Six months before course commencement for Student and Child Student visas

The average processing period for Standard Visitor visas is currently seven weeks. Determine waiting durations for visa decisions.

Applications for settlement might take up to six months and must be approved before entry into the United Kingdom.

Getting a faster decision

You may be entitled to pay for a quicker decision on your visa application, depending on the following:

  • the type of visa you are requesting
  • your intended application
  • your application location


Each visa has a fee associated with it. The cost varies depending on the requested visa type.

Each family member applying to enter the United Kingdom with you will pay the same amount.

Healthcare Costs

You must pay the healthcare surcharge payment with your application if any of the following apply:

  • visa requests for employment, education, or family reunion
  • Applicants for stays lasting longer than six months
  • not seeking permanent residence in the United Kingdom

You are permitted to apply for a visa for someone else if they are a relative living abroad who does not have online access or your child if they are unable to apply for themselves.

If the applicant is not a family member and is 18 years of age or younger, you must receive a written agreement from their parent or legal guardian.

Fill out the form with the applicant’s information, not your own.

If you intend to visit the United Kingdom for longer than six months, you may be required to submit a tuberculosis test along with your visa application.

If so, you must submit a tuberculosis-free certificate with your visa application.

If you wish to change or cancel your application, contact UK Visas and Immigration if you need to modify it after it has been submitted (UKVI).

You can withdraw your visa application, but UK Visas and Immigration will only refund your fee if application processing has not begun.

3. Establish your identity

When applying, you must provide proof of your identity and eligibility.

This depends on your country of origin and the type of passport you possess, and you will either:

  • attend a visa application centre appointment.
  • utilize the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile application

Launching your application will help you discover if you need to attend an appointment or use the smartphone application.

Visa application appointment centres

You will receive a link to their website where you can schedule an appointment to submit your biometric data (your fingerprints and photograph).

You might need to travel to reach the closest visa application centre (this could be in another country).

You can use the regular service or pay extra for additional services. Paying for optional services does not increase the likelihood of your application being approved.

The majority of visa application centres provide free appointments.

In certain places, a typical appointment will cost you £55. You may choose to travel to a different visa application centre that offers free appointments, but you will have to pay for the costs of your travel expenses.

You could also be able to:

  • upload your proof before your appointment
  • bring your proof to your appointment and pay a charge to have it scanned there

The document checklist included in your application will outline the required materials.

Generally, visa application centres will retain your passport while processing your application. They might also save your documents.

4. Receiving an application determination

You will receive a letter or email containing the outcome of your application. It will outline the next steps to take.

If your application is approved, you’ll either receive:

  • a passport sticker (called a vignette) if you provided your biometric information at a visa application centre
  • internet access to your immigration status data if you used the smartphone app to verify your identification

The vignette or online material about immigration status will demonstrate:

  • what has been granted to you (for example, a Student visa)
  • the valid dates of your visa (start date and end date)
  • the parameters of your visa

Your visa conditions

The terms stipulate what you can and cannot do in the United Kingdom. For instance, they may say:

  • “No access to public finances” – ineligible to receive benefits
  • “No work” – you cannot accept paid or unpaid labour in the United Kingdom
  • “Restricted work” – you are only permitted to work for your sponsor

You will also be informed if you must register your personal information with the British police.

Getting your vignette

If the visa application centre retains your passport, they may:

  • deliver it to you along with the vignette if you paid for this service when you submitted your application.
  • Request that you retrieve your passport and vignette

If you kept your passport, you must present it at the visa application centre to obtain your vignette.

This permit is issued electronically to citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates who have applied for an electronic visa waiver (you do not receive a vignette).

If there is a problem in your vignette, please correct it.

If you discover an error in your vignette, you must contact your visa application facility promptly to get it corrected before entering the United Kingdom.

If you discover the error after you arrive in the United Kingdom, you must notify UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) within three months of your arrival; otherwise, you must submit a new application.

Getting a biometric residence permit

If you have a vignette and are entering the United Kingdom for more than six months, you must get a biometric residence permit (BRP) upon arrival.

This must be done before the vignette sticker expires or within ten days of entering the United Kingdom, whichever comes first.

You decide where to collect your BRP during the application process.

When you receive your BRP, verify that the details are accurate. If your name is lengthy, it may look to be “chopped off.” This is not an error; there is limited space on the BRP card, however, if there is a misspelling, it must be reported.

Any inaccuracies in your BRP must be reported within ten days of its collection.

You can access information concerning your immigration status online. You can also utilize the web tool to exchange information about your immigration status with others, such as employers and colleges.

Certain government agencies and public bodies will have access to your immigration status information, such as when you cross the UK border.

Visa Applicationsinformation centre

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