How Long Can You Legally Stay In The UK?

Are you planning a visit to the United Kingdom and wondering how long you can legally stay? Look no further, as we have all the answers you need! Whether you are a tourist, student, or wishing to settle in the UK, it is crucial to understand the duration allowed within the country’s legal boundaries. In this article, we will explore the various types of visas and permits available, their respective time limits, and the essential guidelines you should know to make the most out of your stay. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of UK immigration regulations!

Visitors

Standard Visitor Visa

If you are planning to visit the UK for a short period, the Standard Visitor Visa is the most common option. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months for various purposes such as tourism, visiting family or friends, or conducting business activities.

To apply for the Standard Visitor Visa, you will need to provide documentation showing your intention to visit the UK temporarily, evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, and details of your accommodation arrangements. It is important to note that you are not allowed to work or study while on this visa.

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Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW)

The Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) is another option for visitors who hold a passport from a select group of countries. This online authorization allows you to visit the UK for up to six months for tourism, business, or studying. However, it is important to note that you are not allowed to work while on the EVW.

To use the EVW, you must complete an online application and pay a small fee. Once approved, you will receive an email confirmation that you can present upon arrival to the UK.

Transit Visa

If you are planning to pass through the UK on your way to another destination, you may need a Transit Visa. This visa is required if you need to pass through UK immigration control, even if you do not plan to leave the airport.

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Transit visas are usually valid for up to 48 hours and can be obtained if you have a valid visa for your final destination, proof of onward travel, and evidence of sufficient funds for your transit period.

Marriage Visitor Visa

If you are planning to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK, the Marriage Visitor Visa is the appropriate option. This visa allows you to visit the UK for up to six months solely for the purpose of your marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

To apply for the Marriage Visitor Visa, you will need to provide evidence of your intention to marry, such as a letter of invitation from the UK venue or proof of reservation, details of your relationship, and financial proof to show that you can support yourself during your stay.

Students

Short-term Study Visa

The Short-term Study Visa is designed for individuals who wish to study a short course in the UK. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months for a short course or English language training.

To apply for the Short-term Study Visa, you will need to provide a confirmation of your course booking, details of the course duration and content, and evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay.

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Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

For individuals planning to undertake a full-time degree course or a longer period of study in the UK, the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa is the appropriate option. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for the duration of your course.

To apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, you will need to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed Tier 4 sponsor, evidence of your English language proficiency, financial proof, and other required documents.

Post-Study Work Visa

The Post-Study Work Visa, also known as the Graduate Route, allows international students who have completed a degree in the UK to stay and work in the country for up to two years, or three years for PhD graduates.

To be eligible for this visa, you must have successfully completed an eligible course at a recognized higher education institution in the UK. The visa application can be made from inside or outside the UK.

Work

Tier 2 (General) Visa

The Tier 2 (General) Visa is designed for skilled workers who have a job offer from a UK employer. This visa allows you to work in the UK for up to five years, with the possibility of extending your stay.

To apply for the Tier 2 (General) Visa, you must have a valid certificate of sponsorship from your employer, meet the English language requirement, provide evidence of your qualifications and relevant experience, and show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK.

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa

The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa is available for individuals who have been offered a temporary job in the UK that cannot be filled by a resident worker. This visa is divided into several categories, including the Creative and Sporting category, Government Authorized Exchange category, and International Agreement category, among others.

To apply for the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa, you will need a certificate of sponsorship from your employer or a relevant sponsoring organization, meet the English language requirement, and provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay.

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Intra-Company Transfer Visa

The Intra-Company Transfer Visa is designed for multinational companies transferring their employees to a UK branch or subsidiary. This visa allows you to work in the UK for a period of up to nine years, depending on the category.

To apply for the Intra-Company Transfer Visa, you must have a valid certificate of sponsorship from your UK employer, meet the specific eligibility requirements for the category you are applying under, provide evidence of your qualifications and work experience, and show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK.

Global Talent Visa

The Global Talent Visa is aimed at individuals who are recognized as leaders or emerging leaders in their field of expertise, including science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology, and the arts. This visa allows you to work and live in the UK without the need for a job offer.

To apply for the Global Talent Visa, you must receive an endorsement from a recognized endorsing body in your field, provide evidence of your achievements, and meet the English language requirement.

Start-up and Innovator Visas

For individuals seeking to establish a business in the UK, the Start-up and Innovator Visas offer opportunities. The Start-up Visa is for individuals who are starting a business for the first time, while the Innovator Visa is for more experienced entrepreneurs.

To apply for the Start-up and Innovator Visas, you must receive an endorsement from a government-approved endorsing body, demonstrate your business plan and innovative ideas, and meet the English language requirement.

Representative of an Overseas Business Visa

The Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is for individuals who are employed by an overseas company and are coming to the UK to establish a branch or subsidiary. This visa allows you to work and live in the UK for an initial period of three years.

To apply for the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, you must have a genuine job offer from an overseas company, demonstrate your skills and experience, provide evidence of your intention to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, and meet the English language requirement.

How Long Can You Legally Stay In The UK?

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Family Members

Family of a UK Citizen Visa

If you have a family member who is a UK citizen or settled in the UK, you may be eligible for a Family of a UK Citizen Visa. This visa allows you to join your family member in the UK and can lead to settlement in the future.

To apply for the Family of a UK Citizen Visa, you must be able to demonstrate your relationship to the UK citizen or settled person, provide evidence of your intention to live together in the UK, and meet the financial requirement.

Family of an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen Visa

Family members of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens may be eligible for a Family of an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen Visa. This visa allows you to join your family member in the UK and can lead to settlement in the future.

To apply for the Family of an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen Visa, you must be able to demonstrate your relationship to the EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, provide evidence of your intention to live together in the UK, and meet the financial requirement.

Family Life as a Partner Visa

If you are in a genuine relationship with a person who is settled in the UK, you can apply for a Family Life as a Partner Visa. This visa allows you to join your partner in the UK and can lead to settlement in the future.

To apply for the Family Life as a Partner Visa, you must be able to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and subsisting, provide evidence of cohabitation or intention to live together in the UK, and meet the financial requirement.

Family Life as a Parent of a Child at School Visa

If your child is studying at an independent school in the UK, you may be eligible for a Family Life as a Parent of a Child at School Visa. This visa allows you to accompany your child and live in the UK for the duration of their studies.

To apply for the Family Life as a Parent of a Child at School Visa, you must be able to demonstrate that you have parental responsibility for the child, provide evidence of enrollment and attendance at the school, and meet the financial requirement.

Permanent Residence

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement, is a form of permanent residence in the UK. ILR allows you to live and work in the UK without any time restrictions.

To be eligible for ILR, you must usually have lived in the UK for a specified period and meet certain criteria, such as passing the Life in the UK test, proving knowledge of the English language, and demonstrating good character.

Settlement

Settlement is another term used to describe permanent residence in the UK. It allows you to live and work in the country without any time restrictions.

To be eligible for settlement, you must meet specific requirements, such as having lived in the UK for a certain period, demonstrating knowledge of the English language and life in the UK, and meeting the financial requirement.

Leave to Remain under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen currently residing in the UK, you will need to apply for Leave to Remain under the EU Settlement Scheme. This scheme allows EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens to secure their residence rights in the UK after Brexit.

To apply for Leave to Remain under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to prove your identity, demonstrate your continuous residence in the UK, and provide evidence of your relationship to an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen if applicable.

Asylum and Protection

Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are individuals who have fled their home country due to fear of persecution or serious harm. In the UK, asylum seekers can apply for refugee status to seek protection.

To seek asylum in the UK, you must disclose your reasons for seeking protection and provide evidence to support your claim. The process includes an interview and assessment to determine the credibility of your claim.

Humanitarian Protection

For individuals who do not meet the criteria for refugee status but still require protection, Humanitarian Protection may be granted. This protection is given to individuals who do not qualify as refugees but would face a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, or unlawful killing in their home country.

To be eligible for Humanitarian Protection, you must provide evidence to support your claim and demonstrate that you would face a serious risk if returned to your home country.

Refugees

Refugees are individuals who have been granted protected status in the UK due to a well-founded fear of persecution or serious harm in their country of origin. As refugees, they are entitled to live and work in the UK with the same rights as a settled person.

To be recognized as a refugee in the UK, you must provide evidence of your persecution or serious harm in your home country and demonstrate that you cannot return due to fear of further harm.

Other Categories

Sportspeople and Entertainers

Sportspeople and entertainers who wish to work in the UK can apply for a visa in this category. The requirements may vary depending on the specific occupation and circumstances.

To apply for a visa as a sportsperson or entertainer, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria set by the Home Office and provide supporting evidence related to your profession.

Religious Workers

Religious workers who have been offered a position within a religious organization in the UK can apply for a visa in this category. The requirements may vary depending on the specific role and circumstances.

To apply for a visa as a religious worker, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria set by the Home Office and provide supporting evidence related to your position and the religious organization.

Victims of Human Trafficking

Victims of human trafficking who are identified and referred by relevant authorities can apply for a visa in this category. This visa is designed to provide protection and support to individuals who have been trafficked.

To apply for a visa as a victim of human trafficking, you must be identified and referred by the appropriate authorities, provide supporting documents related to your trafficking situation, and cooperate with the authorities in any investigations or legal proceedings.

Home Office Approved Categories

There are various other categories recognized and approved by the Home Office for individuals who do not fall under the standard visa categories. These categories may include volunteers, artists, diplomats, and individuals with recognized exceptional talents or skills.

To apply under a Home Office approved category, you will need to meet the specific requirements set by the Home Office and provide supporting evidence related to your circumstances.

Extensions and Renewals

Applying for an Extension

If you are already in the UK under a visa and wish to extend your stay, you will need to apply for an extension. The requirements and process for extension may vary depending on the type of visa you hold.

To apply for an extension, you will generally need to demonstrate that you continue to meet the requirements of your current visa, provide updated documents and evidence as required, and pay the appropriate fee.

Switching Visa Categories

In some cases, you may wish to switch to a different visa category while you are already in the UK. This may be due to a change in circumstances or a new opportunity that arises.

To switch visa categories, you will need to meet the requirements of the new visa category you wish to switch to, provide the necessary documents and evidence, and pay the appropriate fee.

Overstaying

Consequences of Overstaying

If you stay in the UK beyond the expiration date of your visa without obtaining legal permission or extension, you will be considered an overstayer. Overstaying can have serious consequences and may impact your future immigration applications.

The consequences of overstaying include being banned from re-entering the UK for a certain period, difficulties in obtaining future visas or residency, and potential legal action, which may result in deportation.

Voluntary Departure

If you have overstayed your visa but wish to leave the UK voluntarily, you can choose to depart without the need for removal proceedings. Voluntary departure allows you to leave the UK without being forcibly removed.

To arrange voluntary departure, you should contact the Home Office or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), explain your situation, and cooperate with the authorities in making the necessary arrangements.

Forced Removal

In some cases, if you have overstayed your visa and refuse to leave the UK voluntarily, you may be subject to forced removal. Forced removal involves the authorities taking steps to physically remove you from the country.

Forced removal can be a distressing and challenging process. It is important to cooperate with the authorities, seek legal advice, and understand your rights throughout the process.

Brexit Impact

Prospective Changes

Brexit has introduced changes to immigration rules and policies in the UK. As the UK has left the European Union, the rights and requirements for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens have changed.

It is important to stay updated on the latest immigration rules and policies, especially if you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen planning to visit, study, work, or settle in the UK. The Home Office provides information and guidance on the impact of Brexit on immigration.

EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme is a program introduced by the UK government to secure the residence rights of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens living in the UK after Brexit. This scheme allows eligible individuals to apply for either settled status or pre-settled status.

To apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to prove your identity, demonstrate your continuous residence in the UK, and provide evidence of your relationship to an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen if applicable. It is recommended to apply before the specified deadline to secure your residence rights.

In conclusion, there are various visa options available for different purposes in the UK, including visiting, studying, working, joining family members, seeking asylum or protection, and obtaining permanent residence. It is essential to understand the specific requirements and eligibility criteria for each visa category, as well as stay updated on any changes introduced by Brexit. By adhering to the immigration rules and regulations, individuals can navigate the visa process smoothly and legally stay in the UK.

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