UK Visa – Types and Information

Applying for a UK Visa type can be one of the most difficult processes you could possibly face. The United Kingdom has very strict policies for visa approvals.

Applications must pass certain requirements before one can gain access to entry as a non-English man. At times, intended immigrants fail to meet the expected requirements right at the first phase of the application.

The UK receives thousands of applications on a yearly basis for visas into the country. This amongst many others is the reason why applications are highly scrutinized before approval is granted.

Even after an application has failed, the UK keeps records of them should in case the applicant decides to reapply in the future.

The failed application could become a hindrance against the applicant in the future.

As of 2019, the UK visitor visa refusal rate was 13% according to statistics published by the Home Office. It is imperative that an applicant should get approval on their first try.

Why Travel to the United Kingdom?

Asides its economy, many people make the UK their foremost and favorite travel destination because of their rich history.

Britain, as otherwise known, dates back as one of the oldest countries in the world.

Also, the English language is arguably the most spoken language in the world (as well as Mandarin Chinese).

It’s quite easy to communicate with a typical Brit as long as you speak English.

The United Kingdom is the 10th biggest tourist destination and the 4th biggest in the whole of Europe.

It hosts a lot of historical monuments which include the Big Ben Clock Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the famous Stonehenge.

It is even the birthplace of the oldest monarch in the world, Queen Elizabeth II (89 years). And for football fans, it’s the home of the world’s most-watched football league.

What Countries Do Not Require a UK Visa?

As hard as gaining entry to the UK might be, there are still countries that do not need entry visas to stay. This is only for a maximum duration of 6 months, with the exemption of the Republic of Ireland which is 3 months.

It is compulsory to submit the required documents for a UK visa application to show to the immigration officers.

Basically, citizens of the US, an EU Member State, or certain Commonwealth countries do not need a visa for the UK. Some countries include:

  • Australia
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • ElSalvador
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Samoa
  • SanMarino
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UnitedStates of America
  • Vatican City

How Do I Apply for a UK Visa?

Before applying for a UK Visa, an individual needs to know the type of application process they would go through.

The type of UK visa is dependent on your reason for entry whether for work, school, tourism, etc. The application process takes between 3 months, but visas can even be approved within 2-3 weeks of applying.

You may also be eligible to use the ‘priority service’ or the ‘super-priority service’ depending on the visa type you are applying for. 

Priority service allows you to receive a decision on your application within five working days for an extra fee of £500.

Super priority service will costs you about £800 aside from the visa fee and enables you to get a decision by the end of the next working day.

To apply, you’ll have to go through the following steps:

  • First find out whether you need a UK Visa, based on your nationality.
  • Select the Right UK Visa Type: Your purpose of entering the United Kingdom will determine the type of visa you’ll need.
  • Complete an Online Application Form: In filling out the online form, you’ll be required to provide information such as your names, nationality, current country of residence, passport number, marital status, personal phone number and reason for wishing to enter the UK. Also, note that the information you provide in the form must comply with every other document. If they don’t, your application would be rejected.
  • Proceed to Obtain the Necessary Documents: These documents include a UK application letter, two passport photographs taken within the last 6 months, valid passport, proof of funds, proof of accommodation, travel itinerary, UK Visa invitation letter, biometric information, tuberculosis test results and paid UK Visa fees.
  • For Work Visas, applicants must provide a letter of employment or document of business registration if you’re a business owner. For Study Visas, a letter of confirmation from the institution.
  • Schedule a UK Visa Appointment.
  • Attend the UK Visa Interview.

What are the UK Visa Types?

The United Kingdom grants seven (7) different types of visas to travelers.

You’ll need to be specific about your intent in gaining entry before you can be given as different visa types have different validity periods. The different visa types are:

Work Visas:

This type of visa is granted to people who have been given employment by an organization in the UK. It could either be a short term or long term employment.

The applicant is also required to meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. This is known as The Point-Based System.

The duration of the employment will also determine the validity period of the visa. There are still further classes of the work visa which are:

  • Visa for Highly Qualified Foreigners: Global Talent Visa
  • Visa for Skilled foreign workers with a job offer in a shortage area: Tier 2 (General) Visa, Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa, Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa, Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Visa.
  • Visa for Youth mobility and temporary foreign workers: Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa
  • Other: Croatian National Registration Certificate, Domestic Workers in a Private Household Visa, Exempt Vignette Visa and Turkish Worker Visa.

Business Visas:

This type of visa is issued to those who intend to set up businesses in the UK. These include; Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, Tier 1 Investor Visa and Turkish Businessperson Visa.

Study Visas:

This is for international students whose intention is to study. The various types include Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa, Tier 4 (General) Student Visa and Short Term Study Visa.

Visitor Visas 

This is issued to persons who are coming into the UK for short stays and tourism purposes. Most times, this only lasts for a maximum of 6 months.

With this visa, visitors aren’t allowed to get a job during their stay. Short business trips are considered to be in this category as well.

The different types include: Marriage Visitor Visa, Parent of Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa, Permitted Paid Engagement Visa, Short-term Study Visa, UK Visitor Visa and Visa for a Chinese Tour Group.

Family Visas:

This type of visa is issued to people who wish to visit a member of their family currently living or working in the UK.

It could either be a husband, a wife, parents or other family members. The various categories of family visas are UK Spouse visas, UK Parent visas and UK Child visas.

Transit Visas:

This is issued to foreigners who are on their way to another country but have to go through the UK to their destination.

The transit visa also gives travelers the ability to request a similar visa but with a longer duration in the future.

This type of visa includes a Direct Airside Transit Visa, for those who have to change flights and a Visitor in Transit Visa, which is for travelers who engage in other means of travel after unboarding their flights to the UK.

Settlement Visas:

This is only a temporary visa granted to refugees whose lives are in danger and who are at the UK border. It only serves its purpose until the refugee is no longer in danger.

It is applied for from within the UK and is granted to foreigners living in the UK. This type of visa is given for 2 to 6 years with a possibility of extension.


What’s the Cost to Obtain a UK Visa?

Again, the cost of a UK Visa is based on the type of visa the traveler is applying for.

The duration of the stay is also a contributing factor to the cost, as some temporary visas last up to 9 months. Application fees also depend on whether the job an applicant seeks is on a list of skills that the UK has shortages of.

Work Visas:

For those seeking to work in the UK, the total cost (including application fees and other fees) ranges from £363 – £1,623 depending on the nature of the job and level of expertise.

Business Visas:

To gain a business visa in the UK, the expected total cost ranges from £363 – £1,623. This also depends on the nature of your business i.e. whether you are an entrepreneur, an investor or simply a representative of a foreign company.

Study Visa:

This can be obtained between the range of £97 – £186. For this category, short term visas which are no more than 6 months cost less. Visiting Academic visas, as they are referred to, are more than 6 months but less than 12 months.

Visitor Visa:

This UK Visa type costs between £93 – £798 depending on the duration of the visit. The maximum number of years is 10 years, and visits could be as short as 6 months as well.

Family Visa:

This cost about £516 to apply for, except for the case of private medical treatment which case cost £186.

Transit Visa:

The transit Visa cost also varies between £35 – £64. This highly depends on whether it’s a direct airside transit or landside transit.

Settlement Visa:

This would cost the applicants between the sum of £388 – £3,250

What to Avoid After a Successful Visa Application?

Remember we said that obtaining a UK Visa is a rigorous task? Well, you wouldn’t want to mess things up after going through all that scrutiny and risk getting your visa cancelled.

Once a visa holder violates any visa conditions or overstays, they risk having their visa revoked. This could also affect future applications.

Below are some actions a visa holder is prohibited from:

  • Getting a job of other professional activity in the UK, for those in possession of any other visa other than a Work Visa.
  • Do not stay in the UK without properly registering with the UK police to obtain a police registration certificate.
  • Using public funds.
  • Study in the UK, for those with visas other than a Study visa.

In most cases, these restrictions are made known to the applicant in different ways. Either by attaching in the visa application form, in the visa, in the travel document or even in a written notification.

A foreigner even after he or she has obtained a visa might still be subject to an examination by Immigration Control at any point in time.

What Could Lead to an Unsuccessful Visa Application?

A variety of reasons could lead to you not getting a UK Visa but most times, it could be one of the below cases:

  • Missing documents.
  • Mismatching information on your documents.
  • Incorrect information.
  • Inability to reach the English language requirements.
  • Insufficient financial support for your stay in the UK.
  • Inappropriate organization of documents.


The key to getting a UK Visa is getting the right information. Most people who end up getting denied a visa are subject to misinformation or lack of information.

It isn’t quite difficult if you think about it, all one needs is to have the right details of the process.

The cost, duration of the application process, documentation and Visa validity are things an individual must know before proceeding.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Points-Based System (PBS)?

  • The Points-Based System is meant to evaluate visa applicants based on the points they can gather by meeting visa requirements. Every visa requirement has specified points, and there is a required number of points to get before the candidate can receive the visa.

Can I Obtain a Work Visa without Getting a Job?

  • No, you can’t. It’s important you get a job offer before applying for a work visa.

Can I get a Study Visa without IELTS?

  • Yes, you can. Some universities in the UK offer admission without IELTS if given a scholarship.

Can I get a UK Visa without paying an application fee?

  • No, you can’t. All visas require application fees.


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