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Ensuring that your family visit visa is not refused

The Family Visit Visa was a popular option for families visiting the UK for a short-term trip. However, the British government has streamlined all of the visitor visas that it previously offered into a single route: The Standard Visitor Visa. This transition has enabled a straightforward process to be implemented that covers a wide range of options and circumstances.

In this article, we're going to look at the Standard Visitor Visa in a little more detail and try to ensure that your application progresses as smoothly as possible - as we've recently seen a rise in the number of rejected applications that we feel could have been avoided.

What is the Standard Visitor Visa?

The Standard Visitor Visa is a harmonised visa that covers several different options for those looking to come to the UK for a short period of time (six months of less). The visa is ideal for short visits to the UK for a number of reasons but these normally fall into either: business visits (not working), family visits, holiday visits, medical visits or short educational visits. The visa was harmonised to help the process become smoother and keep eligibility criteria simple.

The visa is very popular and there are thousands issued for use in the UK annually. There are also exceptions to the standard six month maximum (such as medical ones). There is also a longer term Standard Visitor Visa for those who do not need or want to live in the UK permanently, but need to stay in the country for a longer period of time. These visas are applied for slightly differently to the Standard Visitor Visa.

What is the Eligibility criteria for a Standard Visitor Visa?

As well as the rules laid out in the next section, you will also need to meet the eligibility criteria for the Standard Visitor Visa. The standard criteria is as follows:

  • You’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit (evidence may be required)
  • You’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip (again will need proof of this)
  • You’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
  • You have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Standard Visitor Visa

You’ll also need to provide the following:

  • The dates that you’re planning to travel to the UK, you’ll also be asked when you are leaving
  • Details of where you’ll be staying during your visit
  • How much you think your trip will cost (this is to ensure that you are aware of the cost of living in the UK)
  • Your current home address
  • Your parents’ details
  • How much you earn from your employment

You might also need:

  • Details of your travel history for the past 10 years (as shown in your passport)
  • Your employer’s details (in order to verify employment)
  • Your partner’s name details
  • The name and address of anyone paying for your trip
  • The details of any family members that you have living in the UK
  • Details of any criminal offences that you may have committed

When you apply, you’ll need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification that is valid for the length of your stay. You will also need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

What are the rules for what I can and cannot do while in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa?

As you can imagine, there is a vast number of rules that need to be adhered to if you want to remain compliant with the terms of your visa. Any failure to remain compliant could leave you at risk of your visa being withdrawn and even future attempts to visit the UK being affected. It is therefore important that you follow the rules as laid out below closely:

What you can do

  • Business related visits
  • Study up to 30 days
  • Take part in educational exchange program if under 18 years of age
  • Convert a civil partnership to marriage
  • Transit via the UK

What you cannot do

  • Paid or unpaid work
  • Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • Get public funds
  • Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership

These are reasonably straightforward rules and sticking to them should not be difficult. If you want to work in the UK or indeed live in the UK full time then you should look at an alternative route such as the Tier 2 General Visa that gives you these options. The Standard Visitor Visa is designed purely for a short stay in the UK.

What are the differences for a children's application for a Standard Visitor Visa?

The process for a child's application for a Standard Visitor Visa is slightly different to an adults. They will still be expected to meet a lot of the same criteria, but some of it is slightly different as laid out below:

  • You’ve made suitable arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK
  • You have parental consent to travel to the UK (this will be verified, so please ensure all parental details are correct)
  • You’re able to pay for your return or onward journey
  • You have enough money to support yourself without working or getting help from public funds, or you have family and friends that can support you travelling alone (you will need to supply the details of who you will be staying with during your time in the UK)
  • If you are travelling to the UK with an adult, it is important that they are also added to the visa application. You will have to arrive in the UK with them as if you do not, you will be returned to your country of origin

If you are looking to bring your children to the UK, you will need to complete separate applications for each member of your family. This is the main difference between the Family Visa that used to exist and the new Standard Visitor Visa system.

How can I avoid my Standard Visitor Visa application being rejected?

Like most visa applications, the vast majority are turned down due to incorrect information. This can often be as simple as a spelling mistake. Due to the complex nature of a Standard Visitor Visa (especially for applicants who do not speak English as their native language), it is often better to get some help in making your Standard Visitor Visa application.

You may not need professional assistance, often mistakes can be rectified by re-checking your application for errors before submission. But if you do need some help, please get in touch and we can help to look at your application to ensure that it has been completed correctly and that you have all the documentary evidence that you need to make a submission.

Where can I get more help?

If you need help with a Standard Visitor Visa, or indeed you have another immigration query, please get in touch today and our team of immigration solicitors will be happy to help with your case.

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