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Types of UK Visas in 2022

If you plan to come to the UK for a long visit or to work, live with family, study, or run a business, you will most likely require a visa before you come. There are many types of visas in the UK catering for different situations and requirements. The main types of UK visas are as follows:

  • Visitor visas
  • Work visas
  • Business visas
  • Family visas
  • Study visas
  • Settlement visas

Each of these visa categories has a number of specific visas, and it is important to select the correct one for your immediate and long-term requirements. The following explains the main visas under each immigration category. In this article, we will take a close look at those visas.

If you need any assistance with your UK visas, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

Visitor visas

UK visitor visas are for foreign nationals who wish to come to the UK as a tourist, business person, student, or for other permitted reasons, typically for up to 6 months.

There are several UK visitor visas available, including the following:

  • Standard Visitor Visa
  • Marriage Visitor visa
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor Visa
  • Chinese tour group Visitor Visa

Standard visitor visa

The Standard Visitor Visa enables overseas visitors who require a visa to come to the UK for the purposes of:

  • Tourism
  • Business – e.g. to attend a business meeting or interview
  • Study of up to 6 months
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Visiting family or friends
  • Volunteering for a period of up to 30 days with a registered charity
  • Transiting through the UK to another country
  • A school exchange programme
  • Completing a recreational course of no more than 30 days
  • A placement
  • Taking an exam
  • A work-related activity as an academic, senior doctor or dentist

Standard Visitor Visas enable holders to stay in the UK for up to 6 months; however, in some cases, this can be longer, including those coming to the UK as an academic or for medical reasons

Marriage visitor visa

The Marriage Visitor Visa enables foreign nationals to come to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership or give notice of a marriage or civil partnership.

This visa is used by those who are not planning to stay or live in the UK once they are married or have entered into a civil partnership. Applicants must be 18 years of age or more, be in a genuine relationship, and be free to give notice of marriage or to marry or enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of arrival in the UK. Those granted a Marriage Visitor Visa can spend up to 6 months in the UK. If you plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK and then remain here, the Fiance visa will likely be more suitable for your needs.

Work visas

UK work visas enable foreign nationals to come to the UK for the purposes of employment. This includes EU and EEA nationals who were previously able to come to the UK under the right of free movement before Brexit at the end of 2020. The most popular work visa route is the Skilled Worker Visa (previously called the Tier 2 General work visa). The main work visa schemes include the following:

Skilled worker visa

The Skilled Worker Visa (which replaced the Tier 2 General visa) is for foreign nationals who wish to come to the UK to work in a sponsored job. Only UK employers with a sponsor licence are able to employ overseas staff through the Skilled Worker Visa scheme. The Skilled Worker Visa uses a points-based system (PBS) which awards points based on meeting certain criteria. Applicants must:

  • have sufficient skills to perform their role in the UK (equivalent to RQF level 3)
  • have a role that is on the list of eligible occupations
  • have a salary of at least £25,600 or £10.10 per hour – those with a lower salary may be able to apply if they:
    • have a job in a shortage occupation
    • are under 26 years of age, studying or a recent graduate, or in a professional training programme
    • have a PhD in a STEM subject
  • meet the English language requirements

Those granted a Skilled Worker Visa can come to the UK for up to 5 years (depending on the length of their sponsorship), at which point they can apply to settle in the UK (ILR). It is also possible to further extend a Skilled Worker Visa. This visa also enables partners and children to join the holder in the UK if they are eligible.

Global talent visa

The Global Talent Visa is for those who are considered a leader or potential leaders in the field of academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology. Applicants must be:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Endorsed by an approved endorsing body as a leader or potential leader

Global Talent Visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 5 years, at which point they can apply for an extension or settlement (ILR). Those who are endorsed by the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, UK Research and Innovation, Arts Council England, or Tech Nation may be able to apply for settlement after just 3 years. Eligible partners and children can also join the holder in the UK on this visa.

High potential individual visas

The High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa is a new scheme that enables recent (i.e. in the last 5 years) graduates from a top international university to live in the UK. HPI visa applicants must have qualified in the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, UK postgraduate degree, or a UK PhD or doctorate. They do not require a job offer, but they must meet the English language requirements and have sufficient savings to support themselves in the UK.

HPI Visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 2 years (3 years for those with a PhD). It is not possible to extend an HPI visa or apply for settlement, however, holders can switch to a different visa, such as a Skilled Worker Visa. The Skilled Worker Visa can be extended and provides a path to settlement in the UK.

Scale-up visa

The Scale-up Visa is a new immigration route that will open to applications on 22nd August 2022. Applicants must:

  • Be 18 years or more
  • A valid certificate of sponsorship from your employer
  • Have a job offer from a UK business in the “scale-up” phase (i.e. Have achieved 3 years of annual average revenue or employment growth of 20%)
  • At the start of the 3-year period, the business must have had at least ten employees.
  • Have a salary of £33,000 per year (or £10.58 per hour) or the ‘going rate’ for their job
  • Meet the English language requirements

It is expected that scale-up visa holders will be able to stay for up to 5 years, at which point they will be able to extend their visa or apply for ILR. Holders of this visa will also be able to bring their dependant family members, such as partners and children, to join them in the UK.

Global Business Mobility Visas

The Global Business Mobility Visa scheme was introduced in 2022. There are five visas under the Global Business Mobility route, all of which are designed to allow overseas businesses to operate in the UK. The five Global Business Mobility Visas include the following:

Graduate visa

The Graduate Visa was introduced in July 2021 and allows international students in the UK on a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa who have graduated to stay here to travel or find a permanent skilled job. Applicants must have a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK master’s degree, or a UK PhD or doctorate. It is important that those considering applying for a Graduate Visa do so before their student visa expires. The Graduate Visa cannot be extended, and it does not provide a route to ILR.

Successful Graduate visa applicants can stay for up to 2 years, at which point they can apply for a different type of visa which can be extended and count towards ILR (e.g. the Skilled Worker visa or Family visa).

Business visas

UK Business visas are for foreign nationals who wish to establish a new commercial enterprise here. The main business visas include the following:

The older business immigration schemes, including the UK Investor visa and the UK Entrepreneur visa, are now closed to new applications but can still be extended by existing holders before the expiry date.

Innovator visa

The Innovator Visa allows entrepreneurs from outside of the UK to establish an innovative business here. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have at least £50,000 in investment funds, and have a business idea that is endorsed by an approved endorsing body. The business must be endorsed as being new, original (i.e. different from anything else on the UK market), and having potential for growth. In addition, the English language and sufficient savings requirements must be met.

Those granted an Innovator visa can stay for an initial period of 3 years, and this can be extended for a further 3 years. Those who wish to settle in the UK can do so after 3 years in the UK on an Innovator visa.

Start-up visa

The UK Start-up visa, like the Innovator visa, is for business people who wish to come to the UK to establish a new innovative business. The main difference is that Start-up visa applicants do not require any investment funds. It also cannot be extended and does not provide a route to settlement. Start-up visa applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have a unique business idea that is endorsed by an approved endorsing body as being new, original, and viable. The English language requirement and sufficient savings requirements must be met to secure a Start-up visa.

Start-up visas are granted for up to 2 years. Those who wish to stay longer need to switch to a different type of visa (e.g. an Innovator visa).

Family visas

UK family visas are for individuals with family members who are either British nationals or settled in the UK. The main family visas include the following:

Spouse visa

The spouse visa is for foreign nationals who are married or in a civil partnership with a British national or a person who is settled in the UK. It is also possible for spouses of EU or EEA nationals to secure a spouse visa if their partner was living in the UK before 1st January 2021.

Spouse applicants must be:

  • in a genuine relationship
  • intending to live with their partner in the UK
  • able to meet the English language requirements
  • able to show a combined income of £18,600 or more (this is more for those with children).

Those granted a spouse visa can stay in the UK for up to 33 months initially, and this can be further extended by 30 months. After 5 years, a spouse visa holder can apply for ILR (settle in the UK).

Unmarried partner visa

The Unmarried Partner Visa allows foreign nationals who have been in a genuine relationship for at least 2 years with a British citizen or a person settled in the UK to join them in the UK. The eligibility rules, visa duration, rules on extending, and ILR eligibility are the same as the spouse visa above.

Fiance visa

The Fiance Visa allows a foreign national to come to the UK for 6 months to get married or enter into a civil partnership with a British citizen or a person who is settled here. Applicants for a Fiance visa must show that any previous marriages or civil partnerships have ended and they intend to get married within 6 months of arrival in the UK. The Fiance visa cannot be extended, but it is possible to apply for a spouse visa before the visa expires.

Adult Dependent Relative visa

The Adult Dependant Relative visa enables a foreign national to come to the UK to be cared for by a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son or daughter who is a British national or settled here. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have long-term care needs due to illness, disability or age. They also need to prove that the care they need is not available (or affordable) in their home country and that their intended carer is able to provide the support, accommodation, and care they need without needing public funds (for at least 5 years). For those with a British, Irish, or settled family member in the UK, the length of stay permitted is unlimited, and there is no requirement to apply to extend the visa or settle here.

Child dependent visa

The child-dependent visa enables a child from outside of the UK to join their parent in the UK for more than 6 months. Children of parents with ILR may not require a child visa, as such, it is important to seek advice from an immigration solicitor before applying. Children born in the UK will normally receive the same immigration status as their parents. Children who were born outside the UK with a parent in the UK can apply for a child visa as long as they are dependant (i.e. not living an independent life as a married person or in a civil partnership).

The Home Office will want to be assured that the child applicant will be living with both parents in the UK or one parent with sole responsibility for the child.

Parent visa

The parent visa is for foreign nationals with a child who is living in the UK either as a British citizen or if they have settled here. Parent visa applicants normally apply from outside the UK, but it is possible to apply from within the UK if their child has resided in the UK for 7 or more years continuously, and it would not be reasonable for them to leave. To make a successful Parent Visa application, the child living in the UK must be under 18 years of age or under 18 when the applicant was first granted leave. In addition, the child must not live an independent life – i.e. be married, in a civil partnership, or have their own children. Applicants must also show they have sole or joint parental responsibility. The rules make it clear that the child’s other parent must not be your partner – they must also be a British or Irish citizen or a person who is settled in the UK.

Ancestry visa

The UK Ancestry visa allows commonwealth citizens, British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, British nationals (overseas), and citizens of Zimbabwe to stay here for up to 5 years. Applicants must have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. After 5 years, the Ancestry visa can be extended for a further 5 years, or the holder can apply for permanent settlement (ILR).

Student visa

The UK Student visa enables overseas students over the age of 15 years to come to the UK to study with a licenced educational establishment. Applicants must have:

  • a valid offer of study from an approved student sponsor
  • a place on a course at the required level (typically RQF level 3 or above)
  • sufficient funds to pay for the course and any living expenses
  • consent from their parents if aged 16 or 17 years
  • the ability to speak, write, and read in English to the required level.`

Student visa holders can stay for the duration of their course. For those studying for a degree in the UK, this can be up to 5 years. Before your student visa expires, it can be extended if you plan to continue with your studies. Alternatively, you can apply to switch to a different visa (e.g. Skilled Worker Visa or Family Visa) or apply for a Graduate Visa. Student visa holders may also be able to bring their dependant partner and children with them to the UK. It may also be possible to work during and outside term time.

Settlement visas

UK settlement visas allow holders to remain permanently in the UK after living here for a qualifying period. The most popular settlement routes include:

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

In most cases, those with an eligible visa can apply for ILR (settlement) after 5 years, although this is less for some visas. Long residence ILR can also be granted to those who have been living in the UK on any visa type (or a combination of various visa types) after 10 years.

ILR holders are able to:

  • remain permanently in the UK without being subject to immigration control
  • live, work and study in the UK
  • apply for British citizenship after 1 year
  • receive free healthcare
  • apply for benefits and public funds

It is important to note that ILR can be lost if you spend more than 2 continuous years outside the UK (this is not the case with British citizenship).

EU settlement scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was put in place by the UK Home Office to allow EU nationals who had been living in the UK before the end of 2020 to gain permanent residency. The deadline for applications under the EUSS was 30th June 2021; however, it is still possible to apply if you have reasonable grounds for making a late application (e.g. illness). You may also be able to apply in a number of scenarios, including if:

  • You are an eligible family member of a person from the EU or the EEA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) who was living in the UK by 31st December 2020, and you intend to join or have already joined them in the UK on or after 1st April 2021.
  • You are applying for your child if they were born or adopted in the UK after 31st March 2021
  • You are a family member of a British national who you lived within the EU or EEA before 30th December 2020 and have returned to the UK with them

Those approved under this scheme will be granted Settled or Pre-Settled Status. Settled Status is equivalent to permanent residency and is awarded to those who have been living in the UK for 5 or more years. Pre-Settled Status is granted for up to 5 years to allow holders to qualify for full Settled Status after living in the UK for 5 years or more.

It is also possible for those with a family member from the EU or EEA living in the UK to apply for an EUSS family permit. EUSS family permits allow holders to come to the UK for up to 6 months to visit their family members, study, and work.

Other UK visas:

There are several other visas outside of the above categories; these include the following:

  • British national overseas (BNO) visa
  • Ukraine Family Scheme visa
  • Right to reside
  • Windrush scheme
  • Indefinite leave to remain (refugee, humanitarian protection or Discretionary Leave)

How Reiss Edwards can help

Reiss Edwards is one of the top-rated UK immigration law firms specialising in UK Family Visas, Work Visas, Business Visas, and Citizenship applications. Our immigration lawyers are here to:

  • Provide professional guidance on your immigration matters and positive outcome
  • Remove all the stress and free up your valuable time
  • Discuss your immigration options in the UK
  • Handling all the applications and enquiries with Home Office

For assistance with your UK visas, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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