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When visiting the UK from abroad, be that for work, pleasure, to study or to live, it’s important to make sure that you have the right visa.

Whether you need a visa depends on where you are travelling from, how long you intend to stay in the UK and what you intend to do while you are visiting. Here’s a quick guide to the different types of UK visa.

A Quick Guide To Visas In The United Kingdom

Visas and Brexit

Brexit RF

New visa rules for the UK do not come into force until January 2021, which means that currently, EU/EFTA nationals are able to travel to the UK visa-free.

After January 2021, EU/EFTA nationals will still be able to enter the UK without a visa but only for a duration of six months, after which they will need to apply for the relevant visa.

Leisure travel will remain largely unaffected, but if you have any doubt about immigration post Brexit, then it is best to speak with immigration solicitors.

The Types of UK Visa

The types of UK visa can be put into three distinct categories:

Types of UK Visas

  1. Short stay visas
  2. Non-immigration visas
  3. Immigration visas

Short Stay Visas

Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of different short-stay visas that you can choose from. The following are among the most common:

A Standard Visitor Visa

With a standard visitor visa, you can travel to the UK for pleasure or businesses and stay legally for 6 months. If you are doing academic research then this can be extended to 12 months, and if you are having private medical treatment it can be extended to 11 months.

A Short-Term Study Visa

This visa can only be used for courses or studies lasting 6 months or less.

A Marriage Visitor Visa

This visa can be used by those seeking to get married or to register a civil partnership in the UK. You will need to provide proof of your marriage plans and financial status and the visa will last for 6 months.

A Permitted Paid Engagement Visa

This visa is valid for just one month and is designed to be used by those invited to the UK by a client or a business.

A UK Transit Visa

This visa is designed for those that are travelling through the UK or changing flights on their way to another country, They typically last between 24 and 48 hours.

Non-Immigrant UK Visas

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Non-immigrant UK visitors typically cover things like longer-term study of business and last between 1-5 years. Here are some of the most popular:

A Study Visa

If your studies are to be longer than the six months allocated for a Short Term Study Visa, then you will need this visa instead. Typically your visa will last for the duration of your studies, though some Child Student Visas can last longer.

Short-term Work Visas

There are a number of short-term work visas within this category which are valid from 6 months to 2 years depending on the kind of work you intend to do.

Other business visas

Work and business visas are by far the most complex and there are many to choose from. If you plan to visit the UK for work, then it is best to speak with a visa advisor to ensure that you take out the correct one.

Immigrant UK visas

Lastly, if you intend to stay in the UK for a period longer than five years, then you will need to either extend your current visa or apply for a settlement permit. Visas that can be extended include:

  • General work visas (up to six years)
  • Minister of Religion (up to six years)
  • Intra-company transfer (up to nine years)
  • Global talent (up to five years at a time, indefinitely)
  • UK ancestry (for a maximum of 10 years)

After five years, you will be eligible to apply for a permanent settlement permit for UK residency.

So there you have it, a quick guide to some of the different types of UK visas!

Have you ever visited the UK on a visa before?

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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