City, town and village > Expats > Planning To Visit or Stay in the UK? Learn about UK Visas and How To Apply for Them


How to get a visa to visit or live in the UK

Do you want to enter the UK? Depending on your nationality, the reason behind your trip, and the length of your stay, you will need to apply for a different type of visa. In this article, we will tell you about the main type of visas to enter or stay in the UK. Find out what each of them allows you to do and how to apply for them here.

How to get a visa to visit or stay in the UK


The answer depends on what country you come from and how long you are planning to stay. As from January 2021, EU citizens are able to enter and stay in the UK without a visa for up to six months. However, for longer stays, they will need to apply to the Home Office for an appropriate visa permit.

There are other nationalities exempt from visitor visas. The UK also allows citizens from 56 other countries to stay in the country without a visa for up to six months. This is the case of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the US among others. You should check the complete list to learn if your home country is included.

Are you still unsure about whether you need a visa? You can learn the answer in matter of seconds here. Simply type your country of origin and choose UK as your destination to find out if you need to apply for a visa to visit the UK.

What types of visas are there in the UK?

You've just confirmed you'll need a visa. But which one should you apply for? Depending on the reason for your visit, visas can be divided into six main categories. Let's explore them briefly.

Visitor visas

These visas are useful when you need to come to the UK for a short period of time, usually up to 6 months. One of the most common one is the Standard Visitor visa. This visa allows you to visit family and travel for tourism, business, or study purposes (only for courses that are less than 6 months long). Once you obtain it, you will be able to stay in the country for up to 6 months per year. To get it, you must apply online and pay a £95 fee.

It is possible to extend this visa to a long-term visitor visa for a fee. However, you will only be able to stay for a maximum period of six months at a time with it. In any case, you will have to prove you can support yourself for the duration of your stay without working.

Another common visitor visa is the Marriage Visitor visa, which allows you to come to the UK to get married. You will be asked about your wedding plans and accommodation plans during your stay.This visa does not entitle you to stay in the UK after you get married. You'll need to apply for a spouse visa is that is your plan. The cost for the Marriage Visitor visa is £95.

Study visas

These visas are made for people who want to study for more than 6 months in the UK. Most of them are issued for periods of between 1-5 years with the chance to extend them if you wish to stay longer. The main one is the Student visa. You must be over 16 and have been offered a place on a course by a licensed sponsor to apply. You must also have a good command of the English language and enough money to support yourself. The cost for this visa is £348 plus healthcare surcharge costs. In some cases, it’s possible to extend this visa. The cost of the extension is £475. If you’re under 16 and you want to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a Child Student visa instead.

If you want to study for longer than 6 months but less than a year, you will need to apply for a Short-term Study visa. This permit grants you the right to stay for up to 11 months. You must be over 16 years old and be coming to the UK to study an English language course to qualify. If this is your case, you can apply online. You will be asked to pay £186 fee plus a £470 healthcare surcharge to be able to use the National Health Service (NHS).

Family visas

You can apply for a family visa if you want to come and live with your spouse, fiancée, children, or parents. You can also apply if are you coming to the UK because a relative is providing you with long-term care.

The cost of this visa depends on whether you are allowed to apply within the UK or not. If you apply outside the UK the fee is £1,523, but it's only £1,033 if you apply from inside the country. Family visas last between 2 to 5 years and can be extended. But the exact length of time you are allowed to stay when you apply will depend on your particular situation.

Work visas

There are plenty of visas for people who want to work either permanently or for some time. The one you need to apply for depends on your job and country of origin. Please follow this link to find out which visa applies to you.

Visas to live permanently

If you wish to settle permanently in the UK, you will need to prove that you have been in the the country for at least 5 years. This permit is known as indefinite leave to remain. You can check if you can apply here.

Asylum visas

If you want to apply as an asylum-seeker or refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to return due to fear of persecution. You should apply when you arrive to the UK. Learn more about how to do it here.

Now you know

The type of visa you'll need to apply for will depend on your personal circumstance, country of origin, reason for coming to the country, and length of your stay.

All visa categories that allow to live in the UK
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