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What are the Requirements for Applying for a UK 10-year Visitor Visa?

It is common to think of a UK visitor visa as lasting for a short period of time, allowing travel for a holiday, to visit friends and family, have private medical treatment, a job interview, or attend a conference. Many of our clients are surprised to hear that the Home Office grant, in some situations, visitor visas lasting two, five, or ten years. In this article, we will explain the purpose of a long-term ten-year visitor visa, the eligibility rules, and the conditions.

Why apply for a ten-year visitor visa?

The main reason to apply for a long-term visitor visa, whether for two, five, or ten years, is to enable entry to the UK, where it is known that the visa holder will be making repeated trips. This means that long-term visitor visas can be used to cater for a wide range of scenarios, including those who wish to:

  • spend several weeks or months in the UK each year on holiday (and perhaps leave during the colder months)
  • make multiple business trips each year to the UK
  • visit family members (such as children or grandchildren) in the UK on a regular basis
  • take part in regular sports events or activities
  • take part in regular creative events or activities

Once you hold a long-term visitor visa, you will then avoid the need to apply again until the document expires.

What are the eligibility rules for a visitor visa?

The eligibility rules are the same regardless of the duration of the visa; these include that the applicant:

  • must intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit
  • will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home
  • can support themselves and their dependents during your trip
  • can pay for a return or onward journey
  • have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules

Other rules may apply depending on the purpose of your visitor visa – see the Home Office website for more details.

What can I do in the UK on a visitor visa?

The rules on the conditions attached to visitor visas are set out in Appendix Visitor. This depends on the purpose of the visit to the UK. Those coming specifically for tourism or leisure are able to:

  • spend time with friends and family
  • take a holiday
  • do a recreational course of up to 30 days, for example, a dance course
  • volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
  • take part in a school exchange programme

Visitor visa holders intending to come to the UK for business can:

  • attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews; and
  • give a one-off, or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser; and
  • negotiate and sign deals and contracts; and
  • attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling; and
  • carry out site visits and inspections; and
  • gather information for their employment overseas; and
  • be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside the UK.

Visitors are also permitted to undertake volunteer work, “provided it lasts no more than 30 days in total and is for a charity that is registered with either the Charity Commission for England and Wales; the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland; or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator”.

Other permitted activities include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Intra-company activities by an employee of an overseas company such as advising and consulting, troubleshooting, training, and sharing skills and knowledge.
  • Staff members from a foreign manufacturer or supplier may install, dismantle, repair, service or advice on equipment, computer software or hardware, where the manufacturer or supplier has a contract of purchase or supply or lease with a UK company or organisation.
  • Religious workers may visit the UK to preach or do pastoral work.
  • Performances by musicians, artists, and entertainers.

No matter the duration of your visitor visa, whether one, two, five, or ten years, the maximum stay in the UK at any one time is six months. The Home Office rules do not specify that this means six months in every year; rather, it simply says, “You can usually stay in the UK for up to six months”.

What is meant by a genuine visitor?

The Home Office will want to be satisfied that you are a genuine visitor at all times. According to section V4.2 of the visitor rules, this means that you as a visitor:

  • will leave the UK at the end of their visit; and
  • will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home; and
  • is genuinely seeking entry or stay for a purpose that is permitted under the visitor route as set out in the permitted activities
  • will not undertake any prohibited activities
  • must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds.

Final words

It is important to understand that the visitor visa cannot be used as a means to simply live in the UK by stealth by spending six months, leaving, and immediately returning. This breaches the rule not to live in the UK for extended periods. Several long stays which reach the six-month limit each time may arouse suspicion that a visitor visa holder is not genuine. It is, therefore, essential that you do not gain employment in the UK, set up a business, do a work placement, sell products to the public, provide goods or services, study (outside the permitted rules above), come to the UK specifically for public health medical treatment, get married, or enter into a civil partnership. Any such activities may lead to a visitor visa holder having their visa cancelled and future visas being refused. By erring on the side of caution and adhering to the rules at all times, you will be able to use your visitor for regular trips to the UK without any problems.

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