Visiting the UK

There are many UK visa types. To help you understand various UK immigration routes, I’ve divided these visa types into six main categories.

There are visas for:

  1. Visiting the UK
  2. Studying in the UK
  3. Working in the UK
  4. Joining your family in the UK
  5. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
  6. Protecting citizens


This article is a part of the ‘UK Immigration and All UK Visa Types in 2021’ article series. Below, I’ll explain the first category – visa types suitable for those who would like to come to the UK for a short period of time.


Visiting the UK

Those, who would like to visit the UK for a short period of time, will generally do so as:

  1. Visitors
  2. Parents of a child student
  3. Short-term English language students.



Visiting the UK
Visiting the UK

If you would like to visit the UK for a short period of time, you should check if you need to apply for a UK visitors’ visa. The UK Visitor route is for a person who wants to visit the UK for a temporary period, usually for up to 6 months. This visa is for tourism, visiting friends or family, carrying out a business activity, or undertaking a short course of study.

If your country is on the Visa National list, you’ll need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK. If your country is not on this list, you can travel to the UK without applying for a visa first. However, you’ll still need to meet the requirements of the UK Visitor route.

There are 12 types of UK visitors:

  1. Standard visitors

    This route is for those who would like to travel to the UK as tourists. This route is also for those who would like to visit their family in the UK. And they would like to remain in the UK for up to 6 months.


  1. Marriage and Civil Partnership visitors

    This one is for those who want to come to the UK to marry (or form a civil partnership) or give notice of marriage or civil partnership.


  1. Permitted Paid Engagement visitors

    This UK visitor route is for experts in their field coming to the UK to undertake specific paid engagements for up to one month.


  1. Transit visitors

    This visa is for those who want to transit the UK on route to another country. And this country is outside the Common Travel Area. This visa is usually valid for 48 hours.


  1. Child Visitors

    Special rules apply to those who are under the age of 18.


  1. Chinese Tour group visitors

    You’ll need to apply for this type of visa if you would like to visit the UK in a Chinese tour group. Some call this type of visa the ADS visa. If you’re a Chinese citizen, you can come to the UK for up to 30 days as part of a tour group. You’ll need to arrange your trip through the approved destination status agreement (ADS). For this reason, some call it the ADS visa. To qualify, you need to be a part of the tour group consisting of a minimum of 5 people. Also, you’ll need to stay with the group for the whole of your visit. Your tour must be organised by an ADS licensed Chinese tour operator.


  1. Short-term student visitors

    If you are over the age of 16 and would like to study on a short-term course in the UK, you can apply for this type of visa. The course should not be longer than 6 months. Also, the course has to take place at an accredited institution that is not a state-funded school or academy.


  1. Academic visitors

    You can apply to come to the UK as an academic visitor if you would like to remain here between 6-12 months. This visa may be for you if you are a doctor or an author. Your application will be successful if you prove that you are highly qualified within your field of expertise. Also, to qualify, you’ll need to be working in your area of expertise at an academic institution or institution of higher education overseas.


  1. Clinical attachment or dental observer visitors

    If you are an overseas graduate from medical, dental or nursing schools, you can come to the UK as an observer. You’ll need to provide written confirmation of your offer to take up this post. Additionally, you’ll need to confirm that you have not undertaken this activity in the UK before.


  1. Visitors to resit the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board Test

    Visiting the UK
    Visiting the UK

    The PLAB test ensures that doctors who qualified abroad have the right knowledge and skills to practise medicine in the UK. If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you’ll probably need to take the PLAB test. There are two parts to the test. Part 1 is a written multiple-choice exam with 180 single best answer questions. Part 2 is a practical objective structured clinical exam, known as an OSCE. You’ll need to pass both parts before you can apply for registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK.


  1. Private medical treatment visitors

    It is also possible to enter the UK to get some private medical treatment. Usually, you’ll need to provide a letter from your UK doctor in support of your application. In this letter, your doctor will need to specify your medical condition. They need to clarify the estimated costs and likely duration of your treatment. They’ll also need to explain where the consultation or treatment will take place.


  1. Organ Donation visitors

    This type of visa is for those who intend to donate an organ to an identified recipient in the UK. They can also come to the UK for an assessment as a potential organ donor.

They’ll need to prove that they have a genetic or close personal relationship with the recipient.


Parent of a Child Student

This UK immigration route is for a parent of a child student. This route is for a Parent of a Child Student to come to or stay in the UK. This visa will help parents care for their child, where the child is in the UK as a Child Student. Their child will have to be over 4 but under 11 and is attending an independent fee-paying school. This school cannot be a state school or academy. Only one of the child’s parents can be in the UK under this route.


Short-term English Language Students

This route is for those who are over 16 and who want to study an English language course in the UK. This type of visa is suitable for those where the course duration is between 6 and 11 months at an accredited institution.

It is important to remember that all UK visitors can study on a recreational course for up to 30 days with any provider. However, this excludes English language courses. All English language courses will need to be with an accredited provider. In other words,  the Home Office will need to approve and put the provider on their list before you can apply.


Further Help

And finally, if you would like to understand the UK visa rules, you may find it useful to attend one of these online courses:

  1. ‘Three Secrets of a Successful UK Visitor Visa Application’ 
    2. ’10 Ways to Avoid the Refusal of Your British Citizenship Application’ 
    3.‘How to Meet the Financial Requirement of Your British Spouse Visa Application when Applying from Outside the UK’ 
    4. ‘How to Avoid the Refusal of Your Adult Dependent Relative UK Visa Application’ 

For more online courses, check THIS PAGE.

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UKVisaSuccess com Online Courses
UKVisaSuccess com Online Courses

Visiting the UK