How to get a tourist or business visa to the UK

01 May 2009. There are many reasons why a person may apply for a visit visa to the UK. This includes wanting to visit the UK to do some sightseeing, or perhaps to meet with friends or attend a special event such as a wedding. Other people may wish to visit the UK to see family members who live here. The main types of visit visas are: general visitor, family visitor, business visitor, student visitor, academic visitor, marriage visitor, medical treatment visitor, sports visitor, entertainer visitor.

General visit visas do not attract a full right of appeal, the only visit visa which does attract a full right of appeal is a family visit visa. So if a family visit visa application is refused by an Entry Clearance Officer, that person can appeal the refusal decision and an Immigration Judge in the UK will be able to decide whether the refusal should be overturned and whether that person should be granted a visa.

Recently, a government body called UK Visas introduced “business visas”. Business visas can be applied where an individual wishes to come to the UK for the following purposes (this list is not exhaustive):

✓ Attending meetings (including interviews that have been arranged before coming to the UK), or conferences
✓ Arranging deals, negotiating or signing trade agreements, contracts, etc
✓ Undertaking fact-finding missions, e.g. journalists on a short assignment to cover a story
✓ Religious workers undertaking preaching or pastoral work during a business visit (eg to attend a conference)
✓ Purchasing, checking details of or examining goods
✓ Attending interviews, where prior arrangements for interview have been made

The fee for applying for most visit visas is currently the equivalent of £67.00 and this amount is payable directly to the British Embassy.

Visit visa refusal statistics

Applying for a visit visa may seem relatively straightforward, but the statistics on the number of visa refusals show otherwise. UK Visa entry clearance statistics for the financial year ending 2007 on a global scale, show that South Asia (principally India) accounted for most visa applications (20%), followed by West Africa (11%).

The refusal rate at 50% (148,470) was highest in West Africa, followed by 41% (88,790) in Pakistan.

Nigeria received 168,620 visa applications and 81,320 were allowed and 87,300 were refused, which means more applications were refused than allowed in Nigeria. In Pakistan, the British High Commission in Islamabad received 186,250 applications, 91,350 applications were approved and 76,900 applications were refused, again showing a very high refusal rate.

More than 50% of all visa applications were for visits (excluding family visits). The strongest demand for student visas was in North East Asia (principally China), for Family Visit visas in South Asia (principally India), and for Settlement visas in Pakistan.

47% of visas issued between 2006-2007 were from: India, Moscow, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, New York, Turkey, Kuwait City

To apply successfully for a visit visa

In general, you must show that:

✓ you want to visit the UK for no more than six months;
✓ you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit, and
✓ you have enough money to support yourself and live in the UK without working or needing help from public funds

Type of documents to submit with the visit visa application

1) A valid travel document or passport
2) One passport sized colour photograph. This must not be more than 6 months old
3) The appropriate application processing fee
4) Evidence of how your trip is to be funded-if you have a sponsor they should provide:

a) Invitation letter from your Sponsor stating that he will undertake the cost of your flight, maintenance and accommodation during your stay in the UK
b) Your Sponsors most recent 3-6 month bank statements
c) Your Sponsors most recent 3-6 month wage slips/Accountant’s report
d) Copy of your sponsor’s employment contract
5) Evidence of your sponsor’s accommodation where you intend to stay: his most recent mortgage statement and photographs of the property
6) Evidence of your own current employment/self employment/occupation/ work/ studies/other means of support
7) Letter from your employer stating that they will grant you leave and that your position will remain open until you return
8) Evidence of your total monthly income from all sources of employment or occupation after tax
9) Evidence of any income from other sources e.g. friends, family, savings, property etc
10) A letter from you addressed to Entry Clearance officer detailing why you wish to visit the UK, for how long and the reasons why including why you will not remain longer than the visit visa duration if granted a visa to the UK
11) A table showing all relatives in your home country which you have. The table should include the name of the relative, their relationship to you and their address
12) A planned itinerary, if held, details of any hotel/flight bookings etc
13) If attending a wedding or some other special occasion, an invitation card
Appealing a family visit refusal decision

If you receive a refusal notice from the Entry Clearance Officer at the British Embassy having been refused a visa and you wish to appeal, then the first stage is to lodge the appeal at the British Embassy or at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the UK. Your appeal should focus on why you believe the refusal notice is wrong and why you should be granted the visa. It is important to bear in mind that it is currently taking 6-8 months for appeals to be hearing in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the UK.

There is no fee to appeal a decision unless you decide to seek legal representation to assist you and many people do appeal the decision themselves without legal advice. In family visitor visas appeal, the Sponsor may wish to attend the court hearing to give assistance to the Judge in deciding the case. The Judge will decide whether you should be granted a visa depending on the papers you submitted to the British Embassy when applying for the visa. If the Judge agrees that the refusal notice was incorrect, then he will order the Home Office to allow the appeal and for the visa to be granted. A visit visa is generally issued for a six month period.

The above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors on 020 8884 1166 for a Consultation with a Solicitor.

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