Visas and Immigration in the UK
Are you planning to move to the UK? Find out everything you need to know about visas and immigration in the UK with our essential guide.
Before you do anything, it’s essential to check if you need a visa to enter the UK, and what type you need to apply for. This will depend on where you are travelling from, and the reason for your visit. The UK Home Office is the government department responsible for dealing with visas and immigration in the UK.
As most people will know, the UK left the EU in 2020, following the Brexit vote in 2016. This means that EU nationals are now subject to the same visa requirements as third-country nationals.
Do I need a visa to enter the UK?
Whether you need a visa depends on the following
- What country you are coming from
- How long you are staying
- The reason for your visit
Residents from all overseas countries need a visa to stay in the UK longer than 6 months, while natonals from over 100 countries worldwide need a visa just to enter the UK. Countries whose citizens enjoy visa-free short-stay travel to the UK include Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States.
If you are from the following countries, you can get an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) which allows a visa-free stay of up to six months for tourism, business, study, or medical treatment;
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
What types of Visa are there?
UK visas can be broken down into three broad categories;
- Short-stay UK visas
- Non-immigrant Visas
- Immigrant Visas
You can find out about all the different types of visas here
A short-stay UK visa, also known as a visitor visa, allows individuals to visit the UK for a short period for reasons such as tourism, visiting family or friends, attending business meetings or conferences, or receiving private medical treatment. This type of visa is typically granted for stays of up to 6 months.
There are different categories of short-stay UK visas, and the specific requirements and eligibility criteria can vary depending on the purpose of the visit. It’s important to note that individuals applying for a short-stay UK visa may need to provide evidence of their intended activities in the UK, as well as demonstrate their intention to leave the country at the end of their authorized stay.
A non-immigrant UK visa allows individuals to temporarily visit or stay in the UK for purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family or friends, or participating in short-term educational programs.
Non-immigrant visas are typically granted for a for periods of 1-5 years with the chance to extend if you wish to stay longer. The visa holder is expected to leave the UK before the visa’s expiration date.
There are different types of non-immigrant UK visas, including tourist visas, business visas, student visas, and family visitor visas. The specific requirements and application process for each type of non-immigrant visa can vary, so it’s advisable to consult the official UK government website or seek guidance from a qualified immigration advisor for the most reliable and up-to-date information.
Types of UK work and Business visas:
- Longer-term visas for work and business purposes include the following
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
- Health and Care Worker Visa
- International Sportsperson Visa
- Innovator Founder Visa
- Global Talent Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Representative of an Overseas Business Visa
Types of Family Visas
You can apply for a Family visa in the UK if you want to come and live with your;
- Fiancée or Proposed Civil Partner
- Relative, who is providing you with long-term care
An immigrant UK visa allows individuals to permanently move to the UK for work, study, or to join family members who are already living there. There are different types of immigrant visas available, such as work visas, family reunification visas, and student visas.
They are available for people who want to stay in the UK long-term, or permanently (usually for periods of between 5-10 years)
Work and Business Visas
If you intend to relocate to the UK permanently, or for a period longer than 5 years for work or business reasons you will need to get a work visa, and then extend it – or apply for a settlement permit here Live permanently in the UK
Visas that can be extended beyond 5 years include;
- Skilled Worker visa
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa
- Innovator Founder visa
- Global Talent Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Representative of Overseas Business visa
Retiring to the UK
Retiring to the UK from abroad can be a complex process with various considerations. The UK no longer has a specific visa category for individuals looking to retire in the UK, however, individuals can explore different options and immigration pathways to retire in the UK, such as:
1. Family Route: If you have family members in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a family visa based on your relationship with a British citizen, settled person, or refugee/humanitarian protection recipient in the UK.
2. Investor or Entrepreneur Visas: If you have substantial funds to invest in the UK, you may consider applying for an investor visa or entrepreneur visa under specific business categories.
3. Standard Visitor Visa: This type of visa allows for short visits to the UK for purposes such as holidays, visiting family, or receiving private medical treatment. It’s important to note that the standard visitor visa generally does not permit living or settling in the UK for an extended period.
Residence in the UK
Individuals who are intending to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months must apply for a UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This is an identity card which contains the following information
- Name, date and place of birth
- Immigration status and any conditions of stay
- Photograph and fingerprints
- Any social rights (such as social security or access to public funds)
The BRP serves as evidence of your right to reside, work, or study in the UK. Upon successful visa or immigration application approval, individuals are typically required to collect their BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK (if granted entry clearance) or within 10 days of arrival at a specified UK address (if applying for further leave to remain from within the UK).
It’s important to keep the BRP secure, as it is a crucial document that you may be required to present as proof of your immigration status in the UK. It is valid for the duration of your stay, up to a maximum of 10 years.
Applying for permanent residence in the UK
After five continuous years of residing in the UK, you may be able to apply for permanent residence
To apply for permanent residence in the UK, individuals typically need to meet specific eligibility criteria and provide necessary documentation to demonstrate their qualification. The process for obtaining permanent residence in the UK often involves the following steps:
1. Eligibility Criteria: Determine your eligibility for permanent residence, which can vary depending on your current immigration status, such as holding indefinite leave to remain (ILR), settlement, or another form of residency.
2. Length of Residence: Ensure that you have legally resided in the UK for the required qualifying period. The amount of time needed to qualify for permanent residence can vary based on the specific immigration category under which you have been living in the UK.
3. Documentation: Gather the necessary supporting documents, such as proof of continuous residence in the UK, evidence of meeting the English language requirement (if applicable), and other relevant documentation specific to your circumstances.
4. Application Submission: Complete the appropriate application form and submit it to the Home Office, along with the required documentation and the application fee. It’s important to ensure that the application is accurately completed and includes all needed evidence to support your eligibility for permanent residence.
5. Biometrics and Interviews: If necessary, attend a biometric appointment and/or attend an interview at a designated location as part of the application process.
6. Decision: Await the outcome of your application. If your application is successful, you will be granted permanent residence in the UK.
Current UK Citizenship law is based on 1981 British Nationality Act and applicants will have to pass a Life in the UK test. It will evaluate your knowledge of British life, including values, traditions, history and daily life.
In addition to passing the test, applicants must also have an English Speaking and Listening qualification at level B1 or above from a recognised provider.
If you would like more information on visas and immigration in the UK, or any of our services, or you would like a free chat about your moving plans, do get in touch. We would love to hear from you
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Naomi Gleeson – Managing Director