Do I need a visa?
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may require a UK visa in order to enter the UK.
If you are a national from a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), you must apply for a visa prior to travelling to the UK.
Visas grant you permission to remain in the UK for a specific period of time, or for a particular activity or purpose.
Each UK visa requires a specific criteria to be met by the applicant and includes its own conditions.
Whether you wish to join a family member, study in the UK, work or reside permanently in Britain, you will need to meet various requirements.
To demonstrate that you are eligible for a specific UK visa, you must provide the relevant documentation to support your visa application.
Our immigration lawyers can assess your eligibility and advise you on your next steps. We can also prepare, complete and submit an application on your behalf.
Your length of stay and visa fees will of course depend on the route you wish to take and whether you qualify.
To find out more about the different visa options available, get in touch with our team of Manchester immigration lawyers on 0161 826 8769.
Joining family in the UK
You may wish to join your family member/(s) in Britain for a variety of reasons, however to do so, you must apply for a UK visa.
Each family visa outlines specific requirements which must be met by the applicant and varies in cost, length of stay and conditions.
Whether you wish to join your spouse who is settled in the UK or your child who is living independently in the UK, our immigration lawyers in Manchester can help with every aspect of your immigration process.
If you wish to join a family member in the UK, you must apply for the relevant visa.
Our immigration lawyers can determine your eligibility for a family visa, depending on your relationship to the family member you wish to join.
UK Family Visas include:
- Parent of a UK citizen/settled person – If your child is under the age of 18 and living independently in Britain, you can apply for this permit
- Children of a British citizen/settled person – If your children are under the age of 18, you can include them within your application as your dependants
- Adults moving to the UK to be cared for by a relative – If you are looking to be cared for by a designated relative who is a British national or settled person in the UK, you can apply for this route. Your British relative must be able to financially support, accommodate and care for you without accessing public funds
- Ancestry Visa – If you are a Commonwealth citizen, or if one of your grandparents was a British national, you can apply for this permit
The above visas are some of the options available to those looking to join their family in Britain. It is important to note that, with each visa, you must meet the relevant requirements in order to qualify.
Another route available to those looking to join their family in the UK is the EEA Family Permit. While this is not technically a UK visa, it is ideal for those who live outside of the EEA (European Economic Area) and wish to join their family within six months of their application submission.
We recognise that it can be both costly and complex to navigate the UK’s immigration system. We are also aware that joining a family member may be something you need to do out of necessity, such as if you need to be cared for by a British national/settled person.
Joining a partner in the UK
If you wish to join your spouse/partner in the UK, you must apply specifically through either of the three following visa routes (depending on which is relevant to your circumstances):
- Spouse Visa – This is for if you are already married to a British national and wish to join them in the UK
- Unmarried Partner Visa – Those in long-term relationships with a British national/settled person ought to apply for this visa
- Fiancé Visa – This is for those who intend on marrying a British national prior to moving to the UK to join them
Each visa involves the applicant meeting unique criteria. However, all of these visas require that the applicant submits various forms of evidence in order to prove that their relationship with a British national is ‘genuine and subsisting’.
The Home Office requires that those applying to join a partner/spouse in the UK have provided sufficient proof of their relationship in an attempt to prevent fraudulent/false relationships solely for immigration purposes.
We can help you to gather and submit your evidence to the Home Office when applying for a Spouse Visa, Fiancé Visa or Unmarried Partner Visa.
Contact our client care team today on 0161 826 8769 to be assigned an experienced, committed immigration lawyer in Manchester.
Our OISC-accredited immigration lawyers will assess your personal circumstances, tailoring all advice and guidance to your specific needs.
We can help the process to run as smoothly as possible, advising you of which route to take and determining your eligibility. We can also complete your application for you, submitting this to the Home Office and corresponding with them throughout.
Whether you wish to work, study, or conduct business in the UK, you will need a specific category of visa, known as a Points-Based Visa. This category is based on a tier system, as explored below.
Tier 1 Visas
If you require a Tier 1 Visa, this means you are considered a ‘high-skilled’ worker. It typically refers to talented/highly-sought-after workers and businesspeople.
There are five types of Tier 1 Visa.
- Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa – To apply for this visa, you must be an endorsed leader in your field
- Tier 1 Exceptional Promise Visa – To qualify for this route, you must be an emerging leader in your field
- Tier 1 Innovator Visa – Until recently, this was known as the ‘Entrepreneur Visa’. It is aimed towards those who have an established business plan, endorsement, and at least £50,000 in savings
- Tier 1 Start-up Visa – This was formerly the ‘Graduate Visa’, to be eligible for this visa you must be endorsed by an approved body, and have enough money to support yourself throughout the duration of your time in the UK
- Tier 1 Investor Visa – You must have £2 million in investment funds in order to apply for this visa
Tier 2 Visas
Tier 2 Visas are for those who have been offered a skilled job by a UK-based employer. It is aimed towards skilled workers who wish to work and reside in the UK on a long-term basis.
Tier 2 Visas include:
- Tier 2 General Visa – This is the most common work visa and is for skilled international workers who have been offered employment in the UK. The job role must either feature on the Shortage Occupation List or the UK employer must have failed to hire from within the UK due to a lack of skilled workers in the domestic labour market. The UK employer offering you a job role must have a Sponsor Licence.
- Tier 2 Sportsperson – This is specifically for elite sportspeople who are renowned for being the at the highest level of their fields on an international basis. It similarly applies to qualified coaches.
- Intra-Company Transfer Visa – This is only to be applied for by existing employees who work in an organisation based abroad which wishes to transfer the employee to a UK branch of its company
- Tier 2 Religious Worker – This visa route is to be taken by those who wish to do religious work in the UK, such as missionaries or Ministers of Religion.
Tier 4 Visas
To qualify for a Tier 4 Visa, you must be an international student who wishes to study in the UK for longer than six months. You must have received an official offer to study at an approved UK academic institution (such as a university).
When assessing your application for a Tier 4 Student Visa, the applicant must prove that:
- They are able to financially support themselves throughout their studies, in addition to paying their tuition fees in full
- They have received a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) from the registered institution
- They meet the English language requirements of their particular course
In addition to the Tier 4 Student Visa for adults, there is a Tier 4 Child Study Visa. This operates in a similar way, with the child being required to have a position at a British fee-paying school.
They must also similarly be provided with the required funds to support them throughout and have paid for their course in full.
Tier 5 Visas
For those looking to work in the UK on a temporary basis, the Tier 5 Visa is ideal.
To be eligible for a Tier 5 UK visa, you must meet the requirements of one of the following routes:
- Tier 5 (Charity Worker) visa – This is suitable for temporary workers who have received a job offer to complete unpaid/voluntary work with a UK charity with a valid Tier 5 sponsorship licence.
- Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) visa – This is specifically for very highly skilled workers who have received a job offer as a sportsperson or creative worker. Sportspeople on who qualify for this visa must be established internationally at the highest level in their sport; their job role in the UK must contribute to the development of sport at the highest level.
- Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa – This is an approved government exchange scheme which allows workers to complete work experience, academic research, training, and to participate in an Overseas Government Language Programme.
- Tier 5 (International Agreement) visa – If you have received a job offer covered by international law – including embassy and diplomatic workers – you may be eligible to temporarily work in the UK via this route. You must have received a certificate of sponsorship from an organisation with a valid Tier 5 sponsorship licence.
- Tier 5 (Religious Worker) visa – This is for those who have been offered a role preaching or working in a monastery/convent by an authorised religious order in the UK.
- Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa – This is specifically for workers aged between 18-30 who wish to live and work in the UK for a period of up to two years. It only applies to those from specific countries.
UK Visa advice
Our Manchester immigration lawyers offer unique, comprehensive packages aimed at helping you with a range of visa or broader immigration enquiries. We have extensive experience in completing and submitting UK visa applications – from Spouse Visas to Tier 2 Work Visas.
Our OISC-accredited team of immigration lawyers are based in Manchester and across the UK, with offices throughout the country. We are able to provide expert legal advice no matter your location, as we can arrange telephone consultations, Skype video calls and more.
Your caseworker will be assigned to your case and will be dedicated to achieving the desired results – whether this is a first-time application or appealing a Home Office decision. We can advise you on which visa route you ought to take and can ensure your visa application is of the highest standard, submitting this to the Home Office on your behalf complete with a Letter of Representation.
UK Visa application help
When assisting with your visa application, our Manchester based immigration lawyers will guide you throughout the entire immigration process. To begin with, we will assess your eligibility, ensuring that you meet all necessary requirements and criteria. Next, your caseworker will help you to compile the sufficient level of supporting documentation which will largely determine your success; this documentation will be used by the Home Office to consider whether you do in fact meet the requirements – it is your way of proving that you do.
Our immigration lawyers in Manchester will complete and submit all accompanying visa application forms to the Home Office, equipped with a Letter of Representation outlining the key highlights and strengths of your particular case.
We will then go on to correspond with the Home Office, taking full responsibility for all communication and tracking the status of your visa application.
Visiting the UK
If you are from outside the EEA and you need to visit the UK for any reason, then you will need a UK Visitor Visa.
If you wish to visit the UK for a holiday, to receive medical treatment, to visit family, to attend business meetings or to study for a short period, you will be required to obtain a Visit Visa.
This of course depends on your country of origin – if you are from an EEA (European Economic Area), it is not necessary to apply for a Visit Visa. However, those from non-EEA countries must apply for a UK Visitor Visa prior to travelling to the UK.
You must prove to the Home Office that you will return to your country of residence once your Visit Visa expires. To do so, you must provide the relevant supporting documentation which highlights that you have a reason to return home, whether this is due to employment, family ties or other.
The three main types of Visit Visa are:
- Standard Visitor Visa – The most commonly acquired form of Visit Visa. This covers the majority of potential reasons for visiting the UK, such as visiting family, tourism, and medical visits
- Visitors in Transit – This visa route is for visitors who are passing through the UK on their way to catch another flight
- Permitted Paid Engagement Visa – This UK Visa is for those who are invited to the UK on the basis that they are experts of their profession, such as academics, performers, and journalists
Other types of Visitor Visa
There are a few other, less common routes via the Standard Visitor Visa which are worth noting.
The requirements for those who wish to make visits for these reasons are slightly different and therefore must be considered.
- Marriage Visitor Visa – With this route, the applicant must be able to prove that they will get married during their visit to the UK and that they will return soon after. This is unique from the Fiancé Visa and Spouse Visa as it is only for the purpose of marriage in the UK
- Business Visitor Visa – If you simply need to attend meetings and conduct specific business enquiries/tasks in the UK, this visa allows you to do so for a short time but it does not permit working in the UK. To undertake work, you must apply for a Work Visa
- Short-Term Study Visa – This is for students who hold a temporary place at a registered UK institution. It typically includes those who are studying abroad for a single term
No matter what your reason is for deciding to visit the UK for a short period, our Manchester immigration lawyers can assist. We can advise on the most appropriate visa route for you and subsequently offer practical assistance with every aspect of the visa application.
There are a number of different post-visa routes for those who have migrated to the UK. These vary depending on the type of visa you already have.
Extending a UK Visa
If you wish to extend your UK visa, you must first be eligible to do so. Not all visas allow for an extension so it is important to check this before proceeding with any visa extension application.
- Family Visas:
UK visas under the Family Visas category can be extended and may lead to settled status in the UK. Family Visas are typically granted for an initial period of two and a half years. However, when you are approaching the end of this period, you can extend this visa for a further two and a half years. Crucially, this time can be considered as a qualifying period if you would subsequently like to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- Points-based Visas:
Not all tier-based visas can be extended or progressed into settled status. Only Tier 1 and Tier 2 Visas can be extended once expired and may also be used as qualifying time for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application. However, Tier 4 and Tier 5 Visas cannot be extended but you may be able to switch from these visas to another visa category if you meet the necessary criteria.
- Visitor Visas:
Visitor visas cannot be extended unless you are in the UK for a period of under six months and wish to extend your time while there. You can only extend the visa for up to six months in total. A Visitor Visa cannot be used as qualifying time for a settlement application and you are not permitted to switch to another visa category from this visa.
Settling in the UK
Many visa holders in the UK choose to switch to Indefinite Leave to Remain when they have acquired the necessary qualifying time/meet the relevant requirements. Indefinite Leave to Remain grants the individual settled status in the UK, offering a range of benefits and further security. It is often considered the final step prior to acquiring British citizenship.
To be eligible for ILR you must meet the criteria. This includes:
- You must have lived in the UK for a ‘continuous period’ of at least 5 years
- Any absences from the UK cannot exceed 180 days per 12 months of residency
- You must prove that you meet the English language requirements
- You must pass the Life in the UK test
Holding ILR means that you are no longer restricted by immigration controls; it allows you to work, study and live in the UK without having to acquire or renew a visa.
After having held ILR for one year, you may apply for British naturalisation. This allows you to become a British citizen where you will be granted full legal rights.
The requirements for naturalising as a British citizen are as follows:
- You must have held ILR status for at least 12 months; or
- You must have held EU Settled Status for the same period; or
- You must have held EEA Permanent Residence for the same period
You must also have passed a Life in the UK Test and have met the Naturalisation English language requirements in order to qualify. However, if you already passed the Life in the UK test when acquiring ILR, you do not need to re-sit this test.
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With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
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If you are a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), you do not need to apply for a UK visa. UK visas are currently only necessary for those who live outside of the EEA, however, as a result of Brexit, this will soon change.
Arrivals to the UK from either inside or outside of the EEA will be subject to immigration control and restrictions, meaning that shortly, both EEA and non-EEA nationals will be required to apply for a UK visa prior to travelling to the UK.
The process of submitting a UK visa application can be difficult and complex. Our immigration lawyers in Manchester are experts in all areas of immigration law, meaning we can alleviate this stress and take responsibility for your UK visa application.
It is possible to make a UK visa application online directly to UKVI, or to post your visa application, without the help of a professional.
However, the Home Office regularly rejects visa applications for a variety of reasons, from insufficient evidence to ineligibility. For this reason, it is often highly advised that you seek the guidance of a legal expert in immigration who can take you through each step of your UK visa application, completing and submitting it to the Home Office.
Our immigration lawyers in Manchester know what makes a strong UK visa application; we have extensive experience in preparing applications for all visa categories – from Tier 1 Investor Visas to Tier 5 Temporary Work Visas.
To apply for a UK visa, you must pay the relevant fee (this varies depending on your specific visa route), complete the application form (with or without the help of an experienced immigration lawyer) and submit adequate supporting documentation.
UKVI immigration officials will reach a decision for your application based on whether you qualify for this visa category and whether you have submitted the sufficient level of supporting documentation (neither too much nor too little).
The length of time that your UK visa is valid for depends entirely on the type of visa that you have acquired.
For example, if you are simply visiting the UK with a Visitor Visa, this is only valid for a period of up to six months – it is not possible to extend this visa.
If you hold a Family Visa, these are typically valid for a period of between two and half to five years.
Points-based visas again vary by type, however these are usually valid for up to five years.
Depending on which visa you hold, you may be able to extend this visa therefore allowing you to remain in the UK for a longer period of time. You may also be eligible to switch to another visa category, or apply for permanent residency in the UK such as Indefinite Leave to Remain.
You must of course qualify for any visa category that you attempt to switch to.
Our immigration lawyers in Manchester can provide professional legal advice regarding your visa options, eligibility and the length of time you are permitted to stay in the UK.
If your UK visa application was rejected by the Home Office, you may wish to re-apply. There is no required cooling-off period, meaning you can begin to prepare your new application immediately upon receiving a rejection.
However, you may wish to consider appealing this decision. Our immigration lawyers in Manchester are able to appeal a Home Office decision if you are eligible to do so. To find out whether you can appeal the result of your UK visa application, your rejection letter will detail your eligibility.
To monitor the status of your UK visa application, you must first wait until a decision has been reached.
UK visas can take between three weeks to six months to be processed, therefore you must allow this time for a decision to be reached.
The length of time it takes for the UKVI to reach a decision on your UK visa application depends on the type of visa you have applied for and also your personal circumstances. For example, if your case is complex, it can take significantly longer to process.
Similarly, the time it takes can also depend on whether you applied from within the UK or outside of the UK.
You will receive your result by post or, if you have sought the legal guidance of an immigration lawyer, they can inform you once a decision has been made.
To apply for a Tier 2 Work Visa, you must be a skilled worker who has been offered a job by a valid UK sponsor.
This means you must have received a Certificate of Sponsorship.
Similarly, you must also have enough money to financially support yourself upon your arrival in the UK, and you must pass the ‘genuine vacancy test’, proving that your skills are appropriate for the role.
You must also be earning an appropriate salary for this occupation and must meet the necessary English language requirements.
As one of the points-based visa categories, it is essential that you acquire the necessary points in order to be eligible for this UK visa.
You must score the required 70 points for a Tier 2 Work Visa.
Our immigration lawyers in Manchester can help to prepare your UK visa application, ensuring that you stand the best chance of success and will acquire the required points.
Supporting documents are an essential aspect of any UK visa application – the Home Office will use your supporting documentation to help determine your eligibility.
The required supporting documents will vary depending on which UK visa you are applying for. You will send these documents along with your application form to the Home Office.
Every UK visa application requires that you provide proof of your identity and your criminal and immigration history. For certain UK visas – such as those which require you to have a UK sponsor – you must include documents which prove your relationship to this UK sponsor.
This is the case for Spouse Visa applications, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 Visa applications.
Some examples of supporting documentation which you may be required to include within your UK visa application are:
- Evidence of correspondence
- Marriage licences
- Proof of meetings/events attended together
- Proof of official job offer
- An official offer for a place at a university
- Proof of an interview
- Proof of gifts bought, or money exchanged
If you feel that your UK visa application decision was either unfair or that your legal representative made a mistake, you may be eligible to make an appeal.
UK visas are notoriously difficult to obtain; the Home Office often rejects UK visa applications for a number of reasons. However, if you are eligible to make an appeal, one of our immigration lawyers in Manchester can help you to potentially achieve a successful result.
You will need to resubmit your supporting documentation and UK visa application form – you can either resubmit your application for administrative review or judicial review, depending on which is most suited to your circumstances and the reasons for refusal.
An administrative review allows for your UK visa application to be reviewed by another member of staff at the Home Office. This is usually the best option for those who believe there was a genuine error in the initial decision-making process.
A judicial review allows the appeal to be heard by an independent judge, who will then review the case and decide on whether to keep or overturn the original decision.
It is always advisable to seek the legal expertise of an immigration solicitor when lodging an appeal. Legal professionals are equipped with the knowledge and experience to provide you with the best chance of success in overturning your initial UK visa decision.