Visitor visa application

The guidance in this section provides an overview of the visa application process, the costs involved and some of the visa conditions connected to UK visitor visas.

Please note that the Staff Immigration Team cannot guarantee the successful outcome of any visitor visa application since this decision is made by the Home Office and not by the University.

It is the visa applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they enter the correct information in their visa application and provide the required supporting documents when submitting their visa application. Should the applicant submit the wrong visa application, or fail to provide the correct supporting documents, the visa application is likely to be refused by the Home Office. Any visa refusals will need to be included in any UK visa application made in the future. If the visa application is refused, the applicant is required to contact their hosting University department or college.

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1. Visa nationals 

The Home Office separates visitors into visa nationals and non-visa nationals depending on their nationality. 

Visa nationals are required to apply for (and obtain) a visa before travelling to the UK. A list of the countries can be found in the visa national list on the Home Office Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules (under Appendix 2).

If a visitor is from a country which is not on the visa nationals list, they are classed as a 'Non-visa national'. They are able to travel to the UK without holding a UK visa, but must instead present the documents at the border to an immigration officer. If they satisfy the conditions of the visa they are applying for, the immigration officer stamps the visitors passport. This stamp acts as the visitors visa as it grants the visitor entry clearance to the UK for a temporary amount of time.

 

2. Academic visitors (and dependants) coming to the UK for over 6 months 

Academic visitors who are coming to the UK for  a period of over 6 months will need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK. This also applies to nationals who are not on the visa national list.
 

If an Academic visitor is bringing dependants, each dependant will also need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK (even if they are also classed as a non-visa national) 

 

Those who need to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK can submit the visa application up to  3 months before the visit is due to commence. 

The Home Office advise against booking any flights before the visitor visa has been obtained. 

 

Dependants can apply at the same time as the main applicant, though each dependant will need to submit a separate application. Dependants cannot apply before the main applicant: they must either submit their application at the same time as the main applicant, or after the main applicant has submitted their application, or after the main applicant’s visa has been granted.

 

All visa applications are submitted online on the UK Government website. This is the case for residents of all countries except North Korea. Applicants should ensure that they check the Home Office Standard visitor eligibility requirements before applying, as well as the Staff Immigration team's Overview of the different visitor visa routes before for submitting a UK visa application in their country of residence.

Step 1: apply online

The applicant will need to complete an online application form. Guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Standard visitor application pageAny dependants must apply separately, and submit an individual application. 

 

The online application forms should be intuitive, and only ask for information relevant to the application being made. The Staff Immigration Team is happy to provide guidance on the completion of the application. 

 

Once they have carefully checked the details and submitted their application, the applicant will need to pay the combined visa application and biometric enrolment fee.

When the visa application, biometric enrolment have been paid, two PDF documents are generated: the completed application form and a supporting evidence checklist.

 

Step 2: book a biometrics appointment

Once they have submitted their application, the applicant should be automatically directed to book a biometrics appointment at a Visa Application Centre in their country of residence. At this appointment, the applicant will enrol their biometrics (photographs and fingerprints), and submit their documents.

The exact process may differ depending on country, so applicants are encouraged to check the Home Office guidance on how to apply for a UK visa in their country of residence.

 

Non-visa nationals coming for up to 6 months and gaining entry clearance at the UK border, do not need to pay a fee.

Visa nationals applying for a visitor visa valid up to 6 months must pay a visa fee of £95.

 

For up-to-date information on visitor visa fees, please see the gov.uk webpages here: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa

 

Applicants and each of their dependents will incur a visa application fee, biometric enrolment fee, and any additional fees for priority services. The Priority service is paid in addition to the visa application fee, and Priority service fees may vary according to country. Applications for a Standard (Visitor ) visa are not subject to the NHS Immigration Surcharge, even where they are issued for longer than 6 months.

 

 

How long it takes

A Standard Tier 5 visa application should be decided within 3 weeks of the application being submitted online. It may take longer to receive a decision if the applicant has had a prior visa refusal, or if the Home Office needs to request more information.

A Priority service visa application should be decided within 5 working days of the biometrics appointment.

Please note that the Home Office generally does not recommend that applicants with previous visa refusals use the Priority service.

Entry clearance vignette

 

Once the visa application has been granted, the Home Office will notify the applicant of this. The applicant will then receive an entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) in their passport as well as a decision letter. This vignette contains details of the visa applicant, the type of visit and a 'valid from' and 'expiry date'. It is important to make arrangement to enter the UK before the expiry date of the vignette. 

The validity of the vignette depends on the duration of the visit:

 

  • Coming for 6 months (or less): Where a visitor is coming to the UK up to 6 months, the vignette should be valid for the whole period.
     
  • Coming for over 6 months (Academic visitor): Where a visitor is coming to the UK for a period of over 6 months, they will receive an entry vignette valid for 30 days.
    In this case the visitor should receive a letter stating the full dates for which the visa has been granted, as well as the address of the Post Office from which their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be collected, and the date from which their BRP should be available for collection. This will be based on the applicant’s work location and intended travel date listed in their visa application.

    Visa holders coming for over 6 months need to present their passport, visa sticker, and decision letter when collecting their BRP. An applicant must collect their BRP within 10 days, and could face a financial penalty and/or have their visa curtailed if they do not.

 

To avoid potential cancellations, it is recommended to book flights to the UK (or make other travel arrangements until after the visa has been obtained)

 

STANDARD VISITOR VISA  (VALID UP TO 6 MONTHS)

Those applying for a Visitor visa under the Standard Visitor visa route for up to 6 months must provide the following documents in support of their visa application, whether applying before travelling to the UK or at their UK port of entry:

  • current passport or other valid travel identification
  • an invitation letter from the host department/ college within the university
  • proof that they can support themselves during their trip
  • details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans
  • (For Academic researchers) proof that they are highly qualified in their own field of expertise and currently working in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas, for example a letter from their employer

More information of other relevant documents can be found on the Home Office's Guide to supporting documents for visitor visas

 


ACADEMIC VISITORS (coming for over 6 months) 
 

Those applying for an Academic Visitor (up to 12 month) visa must submit the following documents in support of their visa application before travelling to the UK:

  • current passport or other valid travel identification
  • an invitation letter from the host department/ college within the university
  • proof that they are highly qualified in their own field of expertise and currently working in that field at an academic or higher education institution overseas, for example a letter from their employer
  • proof that they can support themselves during their trip
  • details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans
  • Tuberculosis screening certificate issued by a Home Office approved medical practitioner confirming that they have undergone screening for, and have been diagnosed as being free from active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) - if applying from specified countries. More information can be found on the Tuberculosis screening page.

     

     


PPE VISITORS
 

Those applying for a PPE Visitor visa must submit the following documents in support of their visa application if applying if advance of travelling to the UK, or to the Immigration Office at their UK port of entry if applying for ‘leave to enter’:

  • current passport or other valid travel identification
  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph (only required if applying for a visa in advance)
  • an invitation letter from the host department/ college within the university
  • proof that the paid engagement relates to their expertise, qualifications and main job in their home country, for example a letter from their employer
  • proof that they can support themselves during their trip
  • details of where they intend to stay and their travel plans

 

More information of other relevant documents can be found on the Home Office's Guide to supporting documents for visitor visas

Q: I'm a non-visa national and used the 'Check if you need a UK visa' on the Home Office website. Is it correct that I do not need a visa to enter the UK?

 

A: When the Home Office website states that you do not need a visa to come to the UK, it means you do not need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK.

All visa and non-visa nationals need a visa to enter the UK. However, the visas they obtain look a bit different from one another.

A visa national receives a entry vignette in their passport which is stamped by UK border control. Non-visa nationals, on the other hand, can travel to the UK without a entry vignette and should instead present their documents to UK border control. If the immigration officers are satisfied that the main purpose of your visit complies with the visitor visa category you are wishing to enter as, you should receive a stamp in your passport. This stamp acts as your visa as it grants you entry to the UK under a certain visitor visa category for a certain amount of time. 

If you're a non-visa national who enters the UK as a tourist visa, they will be expected to undertake tourist activities and could not have any engagement with the University.  This will not permit you to undertake any activities classified under any of the other visitor visa categories. In order to change the visitor visa category, the individual would need to leave and re-enter the UK under the correct visitor visa route.


Q: Are letters of invitation from the University always required?

 

A: Visitors to the University who are coming as an Academic or Business visitor or as a Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visitor will always require a letter of invitation from the host department or college to present with their visa application (for visa nationals) or to Immigration Officers at their UK port of entry (for non-visa nationals).

Those who are visiting only open access areas of the University, such as public areas of Museums and Libraries, would not require a letter of invitation. Letters of invitation are not required for dependants who are accompanying Visitors, nor do they need to be listed in the Visitor’s letter of invitation.

The Staff Immigration Team has produced template for Business Visitor template letter of invitation  and Academic Visitor template letter of invitation and a PPE Visitor letter of invitation that can be copied on to department/faculty headed paper and amended accordingly. Please note that a letter of invitation will not guarantee a successful visa application/successful entry to the UK. This decision is made solely by immigration officers overseas and/or at the UK port of entry.


Q. If I hold a UK visitor visa, can I apply for a Tier 2 or a Tier 5 within the UK?

A. No, this is not possible. You will need to apply for these visas from overseas.


 

Q. Can the University pay travel and subsistence expenses to Visitors?

A. Visitors are not permitted to receive pay from a UK source (except PPE Visitors who must be paid), however, payment of reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence is permitted. The Home Office do not define ‘reasonable’ so please ensure any payments can be justified. If unsure on this point please go our 'Contact us' page and speak to your key contact within the Staff Immigration Team to discuss prior to the invitation letter being issued.

 


Q. Does the NHS Surcharge apply when applying for a Visitor visa?

A: No, the NHS Surcharge does not apply to the Visitor visa categories, even where the visa is issued for more than 6 months. Visitor visa holders are charged for any NHS treatment they receive (at a rate of 150% of the cost of treatment) and are advised to ensure they have adequate insurance for their visit.

 

If someone applying for a Visitor visa has failed to pay charges for NHS treatment on a previous visit to the UK and the outstanding charges amount to £500 or more their application will normally be refused.

 

 

 

 

Contact us


Medical Sciences

Angelina Pelova Tel: 01865 289904 Email: angelina.pelova@admin.ox.ac.uk 

 

MPLS

Nina Song Tel: 01865 289926 Email: nina.song@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

Humanities / Social Sciences / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education / Colleges

James Galloway Tel: 01865 289927 Email: james.galloway@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

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