6 March 2015
The visitor visa category has recently undergone some dramatic changes which will affect those wishing to visit the UK from outside the EEA as of 24 April this year.
The Home Office has announced the streamlining of the 15 pre-existing visitor routes down to just four in the hope of making the system easier to navigate. The four new visit visa categories are as follows:
- Standard visitor;
- Visitor for marriage or civil partnership;
- Visitor for permitted paid engagements; and
- Transit visitor.
The new standard visitor category amalgamates existing visitor routes including general, business, child, sport, entertainer and visitors for private medical treatment. This route will also contain specific visit visa categories for those entering the UK to carry out academic research, for those receiving private medical treatment and for children.
Just as this new category will consolidate the current 15 different visitor entry routes into the UK, the respective lists of permitted activities will be similarly combined and standard visitors will now be able to perform activities from across the board which were previously category specific. For example, someone coming to the UK on business may now perform activities which were previously reserved for tourism and leisure visitors only, and vice versa.
This newly amalgamated list of permitted activities will also be extended out to those who fall into the visitors for marriage or civil partnership and visitors for permitted paid engagements categories.
Apart from detailing the expansion of the activities which standard, marriage or civil partnership and permitted paid engagement visitors will now be able to perform, the new Immigration Rules will also contain an expanded list of activities which these visitors will not be able to do during their stay in the UK. Unless they have been granted express permission to do so, visitors are prohibited from:
- taking employment in the UK;
- doing work for an organisation or business in the UK;
- establishing or running a business as a self-employed person;
- doing a work placement or internship;
- direct selling to the public; and
- providing goods or services.
The student and extended student visit visa categories will no longer be considered as visitor entry routes and have instead been re-branded as short-term study routes. It is hoped this change will make the system clearer for those who wish to come to the UK to study for an English language course for no longer than six months in duration (or 11 months in the case of adults studying longer English language courses).
These rule changes have not, however, affected everything which we know about the visitor visa system. A visitor will still be expected to explain the reason for their visit when applying and, as before, each visit to the UK may last no longer than six months in duration.
Only those who are granted a Permitted Paid Engagements visit visa are subject to a newer, shorter visit of one month, whilst those who fall under the Transit visit visa category are allowed in the UK for a maximum of 48 hours.
Please contact Smith Stone Walters for professional and friendly UK visa advice