Visas for the UK

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Visas for the UK

Whatever you're doing in the UK, you're going to need a visa. There are a few different types of visas, but you're probably interested in one of these three:

1. Tourist visas

If you're from a country within the European Union, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, then you don't require a visa to visit or work in the UK. All you need to enter is a passport or a national identity card.

If you're from a major country outside the EU, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South America, South East Asia and the USA, then you don't require a visa for visits of up to six months, however, you can't work on these tourist visas. A six month tourist visa will set you back £76.

All other countries will require a visa, which can be obtained from the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.

Getting your visa for the UK

2. Working holiday visas

To apply for a UK working holiday visa, there are several requirements that you'll need to meet. UK Immigration will only grant visas to childless tourists over 18 and under 30, and you must have a return ticket (or funds with which to buy one).

A Working Holiday Visa allows foreign nationals to work and travel through the UK. The visa is a two year visa in which travellers can work for a maximum of 12 months in 24, making it a perfect way to fund a gap year while living abroad. You can also leave the country as many times as you like, but your two year visa will not be put on hold.

The countries that participate in a working holiday visa programme are Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. A two year visa will cost £190 and you'll have to under go certain checks.

The immigration authorities may also ask for proof of your funds before they let you into Britain. You must have sufficient funds to support yourself, so you'll need to get a job, otherwise you're out of here...

3. Student visas

Before applying for a student visa or permit, you'll need to have a placement offer from a British education provider. This must include the name and location of the course, proof that the course is available to international students, and the fees (if any) that you are required to pay.

The length of your course is also an important factor in whether or not your visa or permit will be granted. If your course is less than six months then you'll be able to complete it on a tourist visa. However, if your course is between six months to a year, then you can either try to extend your tourist visa or you can apply for a student visa.

The student visa granted by the British government lasts for up to three years, but as many courses will last longer than this the visa is renewable. Currently, the student visa costs £255 - make sure to arrange your visa at least two months before your course is due to start, as it can take over a month to process.

Bear in mind that the student visa is not a working visa. You will be required to show you are attending your place of education, and that you are passing your course - so no slacking! You're allowed to gain part-time employment while studying full-time, however. This can take the form of practical work experience for your course, over the Christmas period if you are in full-time education, and up to 20 hours a week if you're at university and your course is longer than 2 years.

Further information

Commonwealth citizens who are 17 or over and have a British grandparent can apply for an Ancestry visa. This allows residency and work for five years. After this, permanent residence may be applied for.

All UK visa applicants are required to provide biometric data (10-digit fingerprints and a biometric digital photograph) as part of the application process. You will have to go to your nearest visa application centre in person to provide your biometrics.

If you want more information you can call the UK Border Control Enquiries Centre on 0870 606 7766

If you need to apply for a visa you can do so here: