Standard visitor visa

Standard Visitor visas information

Standard visitors can come to the UK for up to six months in any 12 month period, so this type of visa would be suitable for anyone coming to the UK to visit you for a holiday, to attend your graduation or to stay with you for a short period of time.

Standard visitor visas cannot be extended and Standard Visitors are not entitled to work or study during their stay if study is the main purpose of the visit. However, study of up to 30 days is permitted in some circumstances. Further details are available on the Gov.uk website. Standard Visitors must be able to show that they will return home by the end of the six month period.

Nationals of countries on the visa national list, which you can also find on the Gov.uk website, must apply for a General Visitor visa before travelling to the UK. 

Applications can be made online on the Gov.uk website unless you're applying from North Korea, in which case you must apply in person.   

It's possible to apply for a Standard Visitor visa from any country and not just your home country.

If your country is not on the visa national list you can either apply for a Standard Visitor visa before travelling (as above) or you can make a Standard Visitor visa application on arrival in the UK. You will need to show evidence that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your time here.

To avoid any problems on arrival we would recommend applying for a Standard Visitor visa before leaving for the UK. This is the safest option.

Can my family visit the UK to attend my graduation ceremony?

Your family can apply for Standard Visitor visas to attend your graduation ceremony. You should wait until you receive the official invitation to the ceremony and provide a copy of this for your family to submit with their visa application. If your graduation ceremony is in July you should receive the official invitation by the end of April.

Visit our award ceremonies page for further details.

Applying for a visa on arrival at the airport

If applying on arrival, visitors should show the following documents to the immigration officer: 

  • evidence of sufficient funds to cover the cost of their stay
  • a document confirming the purpose of their visit, eg an invitation letter from the person who has invited them
  • the data page from the passport of the person who has invited them to the UK (if applicable) together with evidence of their immigration status in the UK
  • evidence of any accommodation booked
  • evidence that the visitor will leave the UK at the end of the visit (for example a letter from their employer and details of their return travel arrangements)

Applying for Entry Clearance

Please read the information on the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration website carefully.   

The standard documents required for a standard visitor visa application are:

  • one recent passport colour photograph in the required format
  • current passport or other valid travel identification
  • evidence that the visitor has access to sufficient funds to cover the costs of accommodation and living expenses for the visit, for example, bank statements or payslips from the last six months
  • evidence that the visitor will leave the UK at the end of the visit (for example a letter from their employer and details of their return travel arrangements)
  • a letter from the person they are visiting explaining their relationship with them and the purpose of their visit
  • a copy of the passport data page (the page containing their photograph) of the person they are visiting and, if applicable, evidence of their immigration status in the United Kingdom. 
  • evidence of accommodation arranged, such as a contract or hotel booking
  • a tuberculosis (TB) test certificate for nationals of some countries where there is a high incidence of TB who are coming to the UK for more than six months (for more details visit the Gov.UK website)

Further information on providing supporting documents for your application can be found in the Home Office's Guide to Supporting Documents.

Length of visa

Visitors can usually enter and leave the UK any number of times while the visa is still valid. They can only stay for up to six months on each visit. Visitor visas issued overseas can be valid for six months or up to 10 years if you can prove you need to make repeat visits over a longer period.

Medical insurance

Those coming to the UK for less than six months are not entitled to use the National Health Service (NHS). Therefore visitors should purchase adequate travel insurance before travelling, which includes cover for any medical costs for the duration of the visit.