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Getting a visa for family and friends to visit the UK

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You can apply for a visa on behalf of a friend or family member so they can visit you in the UK. Visas to visit the UK are usually for up to 6 months.

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.

If you’re applying for them

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. Citizens of some countries don’t need a visa to visit the UK at all.

You’ll have to apply online.

There’s an option to “apply for someone else” on the online form. Make sure you put the visitor’s 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 system will tell you where to send the form once it’s filled in (you have to print it).

The online form asks you some questions to get to the visa you need. Fill out the form using the following prompts.

Who the visa's forQuestionThe option you should choose
A family member or spouse 1. Reason for visit “Visit”
2. Visa type “Family”
3. Visa sub type “Visit - family - 6 months”
A friend, boyfriend or girlfriend 1. Reason for visit “Visit”
2. Visa type “Tourism”
3. Visa sub type “Visit - tourism - 6 months”

Documents you’ll need to include

You’ll need to include documents that support your 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.

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, eg 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 - eg 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, eg payslips or an employment contract
  • proof that you have enough money to pay for the visitor’s stay, eg recent bank statements
  • proof that you’re in the UK legally, eg a copy of your passport or visa

Prove you have a genuine relationship

If the person visiting you is a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s a good idea to include a letter with your application explaining that you’re in a genuine relationship.

You should explain some details of your relationship, like:

  • how and where you met
  • how often you communicate with each other
  • how you communicate (eg phone calls or emails)

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.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to appeal a visitor visa refusal - get specialist help before attempting this yourself.

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