You can visit the UK as a ‘Standard Visitor’ for travel, study, business, and other permitted activities (see below) for a period of up to 6 months. You may be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances.
To be allowed entry to the UK as a Standard Visitor, you must:
- intend to visit the UK for no more than 6 months
- have enough money to support yourself during your stay
- have a valid reason for visiting the UK, such as tourism, business, studying, or visiting family or friends
- have a valid passport or travel document
- not have a criminal record or have breached any UK immigration laws
- not have intentions of making the UK your main home
- If you’re under the age of 18, you will need written consent from a parent/guardian and have made suitable travel and accommodation arrangements.
- You will need to provide contact details of both your parent/guardian and the person who will be looking after you while in the UK
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the main things you can and cannot do as a Standard Visitor to the UK:
|You can||You cannot|
|Visit for tourism, or to see family and friends||Do paid or unpaid work for a UK company|
|Volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity||Work as a self-employed person|
|Transit through the UK to another country||Claim public funds (such as benefits)|
|Attend a meeting or interview||Effectively live in the UK with frequent or successive visits|
|Do a school exchange or short-term course [up to 30 days]||Get married or register a civil partnership, or give notice to do so|
Visiting the UK to study as a Standard Visitor
You have the option to travel to the UK for a maximum of six months to engage in various study-related activities.
Approved activities include:
- studying at an accredited institution (including courses in the English language)
- conducting research relevant to acourse you’re doing overseas
- participating in an elective placement if you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, nursing, midwifery or dentistry
- sitting entrance exams, retaking exams/modules, or doing PhD oral exams (viva)
- completing an unpaid clinical attachment if you are a graduate from a medical, dental or nursing school
- taking OSCE or PLAB tests
Learn more about visiting the UK to study as a Standard Visitor here.
Visiting the UK as a Standard Visitor (academics, senior doctors and dentists)
If you are visiting the UK as a Standard Visitor as an academic, you are allowed to take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts and carry out your own research during a sabbatical.
If you are a senior doctor or dentist, you can also take part in research, teach (as long as it’s not a permanent position) and undertake non-permanent clinical practice.
If you want to visit the UK as an academic for more than 6 months, you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa that can grant you permission to visit for up to 12 months.
You must also prove your academic background to be granted a 12-month visa. You need to be highly qualified in your field of expertise (usually PhD or higher) and be working in that field at an academic institution overseas at the time of applying. You cannot fill a permanent teaching post while on this visa.
You can learn more about visiting the UK as an academic here.
Visiting the UK for medical reasons as a Standard Visitor
If you are visiting the UK as a Standard Visitor for medical reasons, you can visit for up to 6 months to:
- have private medical treatment at a medical facility or hospital
- You must be able to prove that you have a medical condition that needs to be treated or assessed in the UK, have made plans for the consultation or treatment, have enough money to cover all the costs, intend to leave the country once your treatment is finished (or before your visa expires), and that you are not a danger to public health.
- have treatment at an NHS hospital, as long as the care is covered by your own government under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement
- donate an organ to a family member or close friend, or beassessed for donor match suitability
If any of the above-mentioned medical reasons require you to stay longer than 6 months, you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
You can learn more about visiting the UK for medical reasons here.
Visiting the UK on business as a Standard Visitor
You have the option to travel to the UK as a Standard Visitor to engage in some business-related activities for a maximum of six months .
Such activities include attending seminars, trade fairs, meetings, training, or site visits, and providing service or advice on equipment that is suppliedto a UK-based business byyour overseas company.
For further details about visiting the UK on business as a Standard Visitor, as well as guidance on approved business-related activities, click here.
Regardless of your reason for visiting the UK, you will still need to meet the basic eligibility requirements for a Standard Visitor.
Do you need a visa to visit the UK as a Standard Visitor?
Whether or not you need a visa to visit the UK depends on your own personal circumstances. Citizens of some countries can enter the UK without a visa for a short period of time, while citizens of other countries need to apply for a visa before they travel.
If you’re a citizen of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you can enter the UK without a visa for up to 6 months.
If you’re a citizen of a country outside of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you may need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa before you travel to the UK.
If you would normally be eligible to visit the UK as a Standard Visitor without a visa but have a criminal record or have previously been refused entry to the UK, you may want to apply for a visa in advance to ensure you’ll be allowed entry upon arrival in the UK.
If you are only intending to pass through the UK en route to another country, either directly at the airport or after a stay of less than 48 hours in the UK, you may need to apply for a Transit Visa.
Whether you’re entering the UK on a visa or not, you may still be questioned by border control officers upon arrival at the UK border and could be asked to prove your eligibility before entry to the UK is permitted.
How much does it cost to visit the UK as a Standard Visitor?
There are no costs associated with visiting the UK as a Standard Visitor if you meet the eligibility requirements for visiting without a visa. However, if you need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa for a stay in the UK of up to 6 months, the cost is £115. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you expect to travel to the country.
If you have been granted a visa for up to 6 months and want to extend it up to 11 months while in the UK, there’s an additional fee of £1000 to apply for the extension. You will need to apply before your current visa expires.
If you are applying for the Standard Visitor Visa as an academic and intend to stay longer than 6 months, the fee is £200 if you apply before entry to the UK. This will allow you to stay in the UK for a total of up to 12 months.
If you have been granted a visa for up to 6 months and want to extend it up to 12 months while in the UK, there’s an additional fee of £1000 to apply for the extension. You will need to apply before your current visa expires.
If you are applying for the Standard Visitor visa for medical reasons and intend to stay longer than 6 months, the fee is £200 if you apply before entry to the UK. This will allow you to stay in the UK for a total of up to 11 months.
For visits for medical reasons, there’s no limit on how many times you can extend your visa, but you will still need to pay the fee of £1000 every time you extend your stay.
Travel to the UK as a Standard Visitor – Checklist
- Ensure that the reasons for your visit to the UK are permitted as a Standard Visitor
- Check that you meet the appropriate eligibility criteria for your reason for visiting the UK
- Check if you need to make an application for a Standard Visitor visa or are eligible to travel as a Standard Visitor without a visa
- If you visit the UK often, you can apply for a Long-term Standard Visitor visa instead
Neveen is a UK Immigration Solicitor with over 20 years experience in UK Immigration Law. She represents corporate and individual clients seeking assistance with any visa category to the UK. Neveen is a graduate of Westminster University, from which she was awarded the 2021 Westminster Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.
Neveen’s rapid career trajectory saw her progress at pace from paralegal to Head of Department level, and then to earning a place on her firm’s Board of Directors by the age of 28. This achievement was recognised by Who’s Who placing her in their directory of ‘Britain’s Business Elite’ in 2008. Neveen then went on to establish her own boutique Immigration Law Firm in the City of London in 2015. She also co-founded the Hexagon Legal Network in 2017.
Neveen is passionate about all aspects of UK immigration law, and is committed to providing bespoke residence and citizenship solutions to citizens across the globe that wish to relocate to the UK. Neveen’s immigration advisory services are predominately geared towards highly skilled workers and companies wishing to have a UK presence, however she and her team of experienced immigration advisors can also assist with partner-based applications, student visas and all other personal and business immigration matters.
If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.