Getting a visa for family and friends to visit the UK
Your friend or family member can apply for a visa so they can visit you in the UK. Visas to visit the UK are usually for up to 6 months.
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.
If you’re helping them apply
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 visa, 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
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.
Coronavirus - applying for visas and family permits
At the moment, some application centres are closed.
Your application is still valid if you can’t book an appointment. If you have leave to stay in the UK, this continues until you can book an appointment.
You should register with the appointment service when you apply. They’ll contact you and either:
tell you when you can book an appointment
say you don’t need an appointment and tell you to send a photo of yourself – they’ll only do this if you’re in the UK and you’ve given your fingerprints before
You can find more information about applying if you’re outside the UK on GOV.UK.
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.
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, 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.
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
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.
Coronavirus – if your family or friends are entering the UK from abroad
If your family or friends are planning to arrive in the UK, they'll probably have to:
get tested for coronavirus within 3 days before they start their journey to the UK
fill in a form on GOV.UK with details of where they'll stay in the UK
stay at the address they put on the form for 10 days after they arrive – this is called ‘self-isolating’
This includes if they're coming back to the UK after spending time abroad.
These rules are sometimes called ‘quarantine’ – check if they have to quarantine and how to self-isolate on GOV.UK.
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Page last reviewed on 13 May 2019