UK Visa Types And How To Apply For Them

 In Immigration, United Kingdom

Moving entails a myriad of paperwork, and undoubtedly the different UK visa types may prove daunting to someone considering a move to the United Kingdom. Whilst you might know that citizens of the European Economic Areas, Switzerland and Commonwealth countries are not required to apply for a UK visa to enter the UK (if you are travelling for pleasure); you might not know about the visa requirements in regards to an international relocation. (Check the list of nationalities that need a UK visa for more information in this regard.)

The visa application process depends a lot on the UK visa type that you are applying for. This difference is especially pertinent if your type of visa belongs to one of the Points-Based System categories. Though most of the requirements are the same across categories, the way they are evaluated in the system as well as additional requirements differ from one category to another.

Also, the earliest you can apply for a UK visa is three months before the date of your intended move. As such, keep in mind that the processing of your visa application may take up to three weeks. Do apply in advance so that you have enough time to plan your trip and to factor in any potential delays in the issuing of visas.

Wondering which of the UK visa types applies to you and how you can go about applying for them? Well, fret not as we have rounded up everything you need to know about the main UK visa types and how you can start applying for them.

UK visa types

uk visa types, what type of visa do i need
Photo credit: Ethan Wilkinson / Unsplash

1. Work visas

Given that the United Kingdom has an incredibly robust and active economy, it’s no wonder that many business-minded individuals want to pursue a career in the UK. As such, the UK does have strict rules regarding visa holders working and obtaining jobs. Working visas are offered as an alternative, especially for high-end professionals from other countries who wish to work and live in the UK for longer periods.

Long term work visas

There currently exist five different types of long term work visas:

  1. Skilled Worker visa
  2. Health and Care Worker visa
  3. Intra-company visas
  4. Minister of Religion visa (T2)
  5. International Sportsperson visa

To not bore you with every type of visa, we will explore the most common types of long term work visas – the skilled worker and intra-company visas – in greater detail. If you fall into the categories of a health and care worker, a minister of religion or member of a religious order working in the UK, or an elite sportsperson, refer to the corresponding links above for more information regarding your specific visa.

Skilled Worker visa

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. Do note that if you (or your family) are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you can instead apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme. Otherwise, you would need to apply for a visa.

Requirements
  • Work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office

  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK

  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations

  • Be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do

  • You should also check here if your job is eligible for this scheme.
    DurationYour visa can last for up to five years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.
    How to applyAll application is done online. However, the process depends on whether you’re:
    outside the UK and are coming to the UK

    • inside the UK and extending your current visa

    • inside the UK and switching from a different visa
    CostApplication fee of around £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances and a healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 per year – will apply. Check here for more information.

    For the limits of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa, refer to the United Kingdom immigration website here.

    Intra-company visas

    An Intra-company visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job at your employer’s UK branch. There are two main intra-company visas: An intra-company Transfer visa and an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa.

    The Intra-company Transfer visa is applicable if you’re being transferred by your employer to a role in the UK and have worked for your employer overseas for more than 12 months. (Unless they’re going to pay you £73,900 a year or more to work in the UK.) The Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa is for transfers to the UK as part of a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role. You’ll need to have worked for your employer overseas for at least 3 months immediately before the date you apply.

    Requirements
  • Be an existing employee of an organisation that’s been approved by the Home Office as a sponsor

  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK

  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations

  • Be paid at least £41,500 for an Intra-company Transfer visa or at least £23,000 for an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa

  • You should also check here if your job is eligible for this scheme.
    DurationHow long you can stay in the UK with an Intra-company visa depends on which visa you’re applying for and how long your employer is sponsoring you for.

    Click here for more information regarding the duration of both visas.
    How to applyAll application is done online. However, the process depends on whether you’re:
    outside the UK and are coming to the UK

    • inside the UK and extending your current visa

    • inside the UK and switching from a different visa
    CostApplication fee of around £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances and a healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 per year – will apply. Check here for more information.

    For the limits of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa, refer to the United Kingdom immigration website here.

    Short term work visas

    There currently exists eight different types of short term work visas:

    As with long term work visas, we will explore the most common types of short term work visas – the seasonal worker visa – in greater detail. If you fall into the aforementioned categories, do refer to the corresponding links above for more information regarding your specific visa.

    Seasonal Worker visa

    A Seasonal Worker Visa is an employment visa for non-EU and non-Swiss nationals who wish to work temporarily in the UK. Do note that if you (or your family) are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you can instead apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme. Otherwise, you would need to apply for a visa.

    Requirements
  • Work in ‘edible horticulture’ for up to 6 months – for example, picking fruit and vegetables

  • Do poultry work until 31 December 2021

  • Drive heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to transport food until 28 February 2022

  • You also need a work sponsor and should also check here if your job is eligible for this scheme.
    DurationYou can stay in the UK:
    • For up to 6 months for edible horticulture work

    • Until 31 December 2021 for poultry work

    • Until 28 February 2022 for HGV work

    You can enter the UK as soon as your visa is valid (up to 14 days before the start date of your job).
    How to applyAll application is done online.
    CostThe application fee is £244.

    Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries:

    Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
    Do note that these requirements are the most updated at the time of this article’s publication.

    For the limits of what you can and cannot do with a Seasonal Worker visa, refer to the United Kingdom immigration website here.

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    2. Business visas

    There currently exist five different types of business visas:

    We will explore the most common types of short term work visas – the Global Talent visa – in greater detail. If you fall into the aforementioned categories, do refer to the corresponding links above for more information regarding your specific visa.

    Global Talent visa

    As of 2020, the Global Talent visa is UK’s new programme for attracting exceptional talent into the country, replacing the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. The following table charts out the requirements and definitions of “leaders or potential leaders” who are eligible for this visa.

    FieldRequirements
    Academia or researchShow an exceptional talent/promise in one of these fields:
    • Science
    • Medicine
    • Engineering
    • Humanities

    You also need:
    • To have a job offer as a senior academic or researcher (e.g. a university professor) in the UK
    • Received an individual fellowship in the UK
    • To be part of a research grant that is approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

    If you do not have any of the aforementioned, you can still apply for the Global Talent Visa for the UK if your application is endorsed via peer review. In this case, someone with an eminent position and with “internationally recognised expertise” in your field must write you a letter of recommendation.
    Arts and culture Show an exceptional talent or exceptional promise on one of the following:
    • Combined arts
    • Dance
    • Literature
    • Music
    • Theatre
    • Visual arts

    You also need:
    • To have worked regularly in your field for the last five years and have produced work which is recognised internationally and considered “outstanding” by the Arts Council England or related judges (ie. RIBA for architecture, Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television for film and television)
    Digital technologyTo be considered an exceptional talent or exceptional promise in the field of digital technology, you need to:
    • Set up or held a senior position in an innovative product-led tech company
    • Have worked in an innovative digital field or concept
    • Have taught, mentored, or taken part in collaborative projects to help the digital technology sector

    Additional requirements include having won awards, developed new skills (commercial or technical) during your career, or have had your research works published or endorsed by an expert.

    You can also renew the visa as many times as you want and can change jobs without notifying the immigration authorities. For more information regarding how to apply for the global talent visa and associated fees, you can visit the United Kingdom immigration website here.

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    3. Study visa

    uk visa types, what type of visa do i need
    Photo credit: Julius Dūdėnas / Unsplash

    There currently exists three different types of study visas:

    We will explore the most common type of short term work visa – the Global Talent visa – in greater detail. If you wish to apply for a child student visa (between the ages of four to 17) or a short term visa to study English in the UK, do refer to the corresponding links above for more information regarding your specific visa.

    Student visa

    International students who have accepted an offer by a British educational institution have to apply for a UK Student visa before their courses start.

    RequirementsYou can apply for a student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

    • Have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor

    • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances

    • Can speak, read, write and understand English

    • Have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17 – you’ll need evidence of this when you apply
    DurationHow long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.

    If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

    Read the guidance to find out exactly how long you can stay.
    How to apply Application can be done online or at a visa application centre. More importantly, make sure you have all the associated documents you might require for an application.
    Cost• £348 to apply for a student visa from outside the UK

    • £475 to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK

    In addition, you must pay the visa fee for each person that joins you. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application, which is depended on how long your visa lasts. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

    Do note that you can arrive before your course starts. This can be either:

    • up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
    • up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months

    You must not travel to the UK before the start date given on your visa, no matter when your course starts. For the limits of what you can and cannot do with a Student visa, refer to the United Kingdom immigration website here.

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    4. Visitor visas

    This category of visa deals with the UK as a tourism destination. The UK Visitor visas are issued for short stays, tourism visits and similar purposes. Do note that UK authorities rarely do issue a tourism visa for longer than six months. Foreigners with this visa type are prohibited from getting a job within the UK.

    There currently exists 5 ways to apply for a Visitor visa for the UK, each with a varying set of requirements and documents:

    If you wish to travel to the UK not for relocation purposes but for a family or business trip, do refer to the related links above for more information.

    5. Family visas

    family visa is one of the uk visa types
    Photo credit: Alexander Dummer / Unsplash

    One of the UK visa types is the Family visa – this visa type is for people for have family members working and living in the UK and want to join them for more than six months, as their dependents. The dependents can be husband or wife (spouse), partner, fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner, children, parents, other family members.

    There are two main UK visa types for Family visas:

    As the EU Settlement Scheme only applies if you’re the family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, we will be focusing on the general Family visa.

    Family visa

    RequirementsApplying from outside the UK:
    You can apply for a family visa to live with your:
    spouse or partner
    fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner
    child
    parent
    relative who’ll provide long-term care for you

    Click on each link for more information about your specific situation!

    Extending your family visa
    You can apply to extend your stay with your family member if you’re already in the UK on a family visa. You can extend at any time before your current permission to stay in the UK expires.
    If you’re extending to stay with the same family member, you’ll only get up to 28 days left on your current stay added to your new visa.

    You must live in the UK for a certain amount of time before you’re eligible for settlement (‘indefinite leave to remain’). Before you extend your visa, check how much time you need to settle in the UK.
    You might be able to apply to stay on the basis of your private life if you’ve lived in the UK for many years already.

    Switching to a family visa
    If you came to the UK on a different visa, you might be able to switch to a family visa to stay with your:
    • spouse or partner
    • child
    • parent

    You can switch at any time before your current permission to stay in the UK expires.
    How to applyApplication can be done online or at a visa application centre. More importantly, make sure you have all the associated documents you might require for an application.

    How much it costs to apply for a family visa depends on how you apply.

    Apply outside the UKApply in the UK
    Cost if joining your partner, parent or child£1,523£1,033
    Cost for each dependant added to your application£1,523 each person£1,033 each person
    Cost for an adult who needs to be looked after by a relative£3,250£1,033
    Note that these figures are most updated as of the publication of this article.

    Additional costs include:

    • The healthcare surcharge
    • £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken if you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK
    • An extra £800 for the super priority service if you’re applying from the UK (to get a faster decision).

    Psst: If you’re thinking of going to the UK to get married, here’s a handy guide for you!

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    6. Other visas types

    Given that there are over 30 specific visa types,  check here if you need a visa and what other visas you’re eligible for your circumstance.

    For instance, Commonwealth citizens can apply for an Ancestry visa to work in the UK if you have a British grandparent and meet other eligibility criteria. If you’re a Commonwealth citizen and cannot prove your right to be in the UK, read about the Windrush scheme.

    If you had indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and left the UK for more than 2 years you’ll need to apply for a Returning Resident visa to come back.

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