Getting a visitor visa for family and friends

This advice applies to England. See advice for Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Your friend or family member can apply for a visitor visa so they can visit you in the UK. Visitor visas are usually for up to 6 months.

Bringing your partner to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership

Your partner can’t use a standard visitor visa to come to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.

If you and your partner want to live in the UK after you get married or register a civil partnership, check if they can apply for a partner visa.

If you and your partner don’t want to stay in the UK together, your partner can come to the UK on a marriage visitor visa. This means they’ll have to leave the UK within 6 months. Check how to get a marriage visitor visa on GOV.UK.

Check if your visitor needs a visa

You’ll need to check if they need a visitor visa on GOV.UK if you don’t already know - it depends on their nationality.

If they don’t need a visitor visa, they might be able to scan their own passport at an ‘eGate’ instead of speaking to an immigration officer. Check who can use the eGates on GOV.UK.

If they can't use an eGate, they should still be prepared to explain why they’re visiting when they get to the border. If the Border Force thinks they might try to stay longer, they can refuse them entry

If you’re helping your visitor apply for a visitor visa

They’ll have to apply online.

Make sure your visitor puts their information in where it asks for the applicant’s details.

After you fill in the form, the visitor will need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre. Check where their nearest visa application centre is before you apply, because it might be in a different country.

The online form asks you some questions to get to the visa you need. 

If you need more support with your application 

You should consider getting specialist advice if you’re unsure about the application. It might cost you money but it can save you time and hassle. Your local Citizens Advice can either help you or let you know where to get expert advice.

Documents you’ll need to include

You’ll need to include documents that support their application when you send it off. The online form will give you guidance on what to include, but here are some things to keep in mind.

If your documents aren’t in English or Welsh, you’ll need to provide certified English translations of your documents with the originals. Each translation has to include:

  • confirmation from the translator that it’s an accurate translation of the original

  • the date of the translation

  • the translator's full name and signature

  • the translator's contact details

Prove they’ll be returning to their country after their visit

You could show proof your visitor has a job or studies to go back to in their home country. You can also show they have family who depend on them in their home country.

Prove there’s enough money for the trip

You’ll have to provide evidence to show that the visitor’s trip can be afforded, whether it’s being paid for by them or by you. 

If the visitor is paying for themselves, they’ll have to include documents proving that they can afford it, for example bank statements or payslips.

If you’re paying for their visit (eg for their flights and accommodation), you’ll need to prove that you can afford the visitor’s trip as well as your own costs - for example your rent, mortgage and general expenses.

Include:

  • an estimate of how much the trip will cost - this needs to be as accurate as possible

  • proof of your income and where you work, for example payslips or an employment contract

  • proof that you have enough money to pay for the visitor’s stay, for example recent bank statements

  • proof that you’re in the UK legally, for example a copy of your passport or visa

Prove you have a genuine relationship

You’ll have to show how you’re connected to the person visiting you.

If the person visiting you is a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, you might need to give stronger proof they’ll be returning to their country after their visit.

If your visa is refused

You can read the government’s guidance on reasons for refusing visas on GOV.UK, if you're concerned the visa you're applying for might be refused.

You can’t usually appeal if the visitor visa is refused. It's quicker and easier to apply again. Make sure you deal with the reasons your first application was refused.

Page last reviewed on 13 May 2019