Visitor Visa Application
General information on making a visitor visa application
For more information about visitors’ visas go to the UK Government website.
If your friends and family members are visiting the UK as a tourist or to attend your Graduation, they will need to apply online using the GOV.UK website.
The earliest they can apply is 3 months before they travel.
The applicant will need to attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre in their home country.
If you want to sponsor their visit to the UK you should produce an invitation letter and supporting documents.
- An applicant is the person who will apply for a visitor visa.
- A sponsor is the person inviting the applicant to visit the UK.
The sponsor should send their invitation letter and any supporting documents to the applicant so the applicant can include these documents in their visitor visa application.
The sponsor should not send any documents directly to a British Embassy or High Commission.
What information should be included in the sponsor’s invitation letter?
There isn’t a specific format to a letter of sponsorship. However, a sponsor should consider including the following information in their letter:
- Sponsor’s full name and UK address.
- Details of sponsor’s immigration status in the UK (for example, what type of visa you currently have).
- Details of sponsor’s course (for example, the course title, start and end dates).
- Explanation of sponsor’s relationship to the applicant, for example, daughter or son.
- If the applicant’s visit is for a holiday and you are a relative or a friend, you should state why the visit is taking place at this particular time, for example, because they want to attend your graduation ceremony or perhaps the visit is taking place out of term time because you have free time.
Note that it is not compulsory for the sponsor to provide financial support and/or accommodation for the applicant. However, if the sponsor is providing financial support and/or accommodation; the sponsor should also include the following information in their letter:
- Details of sponsor’s occupation and income.
- Details of exactly how much financial support the sponsor will give the applicant and/or how the sponsor will provide accommodation for the applicant.
There is no need to have this letter certified (in other words, signed) before a solicitor, notary public or commissioner for oaths to confirm it is genuine.
What supporting documents should the sponsor send to the applicant?
There are no rules stating what documents the sponsor should provide when sponsoring a visitor to the UK.
However, the sponsor may want to provide the information listed below.
- Evidence of their own immigration status in the UK for example, a photocopy of your passport and UK visa or BRP card.
- Evidence of their student status, for example, a letter of enrolment from the university.
- If the visit is for a special family occasion (for example, celebrating a wedding, a birth or an important anniversary), consider including an invitation giving details of the event, when and where it is to take place. If the applicant you are sponsoring is not a close relative or is one of several people invited to the occasion, it would be helpful to explain why the applicant was chosen to attend.
- If the visit is so the applicant can attend the sponsor’s graduation ceremony, the sponsor should also send a letter confirming details of the event. You can obtain this letter from the University Graduation Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- If the sponsor is providing financial support to the applicant, the sponsor will also need to provide evidence of their ability to cover these costs, such as copies of their last six months' bank or building society statements.
- An applicant can provide evidence of their finances if the sponsor is unable to give these.
- If the sponsor is arranging accommodation for the applicant, the sponsor will also need to provide evidence of this in the form of a letter from the landlord/agent (plus a copy of the tenancy agreement) or confirmation of a bed and breakfast/hotel booking.
For more information on supporting evidence, please see the UK Government "Visitor: Supporting documents guide".
Example sponsor invite letter
See below for a sample sponsor letter. Please use this as a guide only. Any BOLD sections should be changed to describe your particular situation. You can add or amend any part of it to suit the applicant.
<Insert full Name>
<Insert UK address>
<Insert UK postcode>
The Visa Section
< Embassy/High Commission where the application will be made>
To whom it may concern
Re: General Visitor visa application for <full name of applicant>
I am writing to you in support of <your relationship to applicant, for example, my parent’s> application for a visitor visa.
I am currently in the UK as a student. My Tier 4 visa is valid until <expiry date of student visa>. I have enclosed a photocopy of my passport and my UK visa.
I am registered as a full-time student at the University of Reading and I am enrolled on the <full title of your course>. I have enclosed my enrolment letter for your information.
Subject to obtaining the entry clearance from your office, <name of applicant> would like to visit the UK on <date of travel to the UK>.
I would like <name of applicant> to visit the UK at this particular time because <give reasons for visit, for example, graduation ceremony, holiday>. You may wish to elaborate, for example, explain how long it has been since you last saw the applicant or explain that the applicant wants to visit at this time because they have been granted leave from their job during this time.
I will be providing <provide any details of any financial support or accommodation you have arranged for the applicant>. I have enclosed financial documentation to demonstrate I am able to provide this support.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this application.
What supporting documents should the applicant provide?
UK Visas and Immigration have created a guide on supporting documents that you can view here.
Applicants should provide:
Evidence that they are able to maintain and accommodate themselves during their stay. This can be hotel bookings or by a letter from you confirming that you will accommodate them during the stay. If you are renting accommodation, it is also a good idea to include something from the landlord confirming he/she is happy for them to stay with you for the relevant period. Adequate funds will have to be shown to cover food and living costs during the visiting period applied for, this can be the visitor’s or the sponsor’s funds.
Return or onward ticket or evidence to show sufficient funds to cover the cost of the return (or onward) flight. If it is an onward ticket to a third country then there will also need to be some evidence, such as a visa, to show the applicant will be acceptable there.
Intention to leave the UK after the visit. The following section has some suggested means to consider for doing this but it is not exhaustive. If there is some other matter which clearly makes it more likely the visitor will leave, then include it. The key to issue of a visit visa is often seeing a clear enough picture to show departure is likely.
Visitors beyond working age are in a better position generally than younger applicants, particularly unmarried ones, who are less demonstrably firmly settled in their own country.
Employment at home. If the visitor is working in their own country they should include a letter from the employer confirming the job, salary, how long they have worked for the employer and that the employer has authorised leave to make the trip. If the applicant is married and the spouse is also working, include employment evidence for them too. Salary slips are also useful, as is a bank account showing regular salary receipts that will usually be on current accounts, so include a suitably long period to show regular payments being made to the account.
Savings. Evidence of a savings account is very useful, especially if it shows savings building up over a period. Do not be tempted to inflate artificially the amount held, as recent large deposits in an otherwise modest account will be regarded with great suspicion unless the source is clearly shown. Investment evidence, if held, is also helpful.
Property ownership documents.
Car ownership documents.
Evidence of studies if the applicant is a student. A confirmation of student enrolment letter showing the course name, the start date, the end date and the date the student is expected to return. It is a fact of life that a student is going to find it harder to show reasons for return than someone employed for a long period, so make sure whatever proof is available is included.
Reasons for the trip. If it is for a Graduation ceremony, then include the Graduation invite letter. If it is because the person in the UK is expecting a child then include evidence of the pregnancy and expected date or, if already born, of the birth. Make it clear in the invitation letter what the arrangements will be for childcare in the longer term after the visitor returns home e.g. spouse taking care, child minder, nursery. This will help to avoid any suspicion arising that the visitor will seek to stay on longer than the period applied for to help with childcare. Whatever the reason, give it clearly. Missing each other is a perfectly understandable reason, so say so if that is the case.
Include ANYTHING that makes return more likely, mention it and provide documented evidence. Examples being that there are elderly or disabled relatives normally to be cared for at home, impending visits to the home country by other relatives that are living abroad. There can be no exhaustive list so, if in doubt, include it. No applications are likely to be refused on the basis of too much evidence. Many are refused for lack of enough evidence to show intention of returning to home country.
Think of the future. If the application is made successfully on the basis of a two week stay do not, just because the visa is valid for six months, allow the visitor to stay for longer than the period applied for. This would not in itself be illegal, but would be a good reason for doubt the next time an application is made by the same visitor for a short visit. A short variation in the period is not likely to be a problem but a substantial variation could well be. The question the visa officer is bound to ask themselves is how they can believe only two weeks is intended when the last such request led to a stay of some months. The visa officer has to be satisfied that the visitor is genuinely seeking entry for the period and purpose specified and such a scenario might well lead to a visa refusal the next time because, given the history, they cannot be satisfied the visitor will not stay longer than applied for.
Most visit applications are granted, but if the application is refused there is no right of appeal against a refusal of a visit visa.
It is possible to make a fresh application following a refusal but, if that is done, it is vital that the reasons for refusal are properly addressed in the second application. The reasons for refusal will be given in the refusal notice.
Visitors are not allowed to use the NHS for free, so it is important that there is some form of medical insurance cover obtained at home before travelling. Failing to do this could prove financially draining if the worst happens. Hospital treatment would be charged at 150% of the actual cost and failure to pay such costs is a reason for refusal of any sort of future visa. A small payment for insurance can save any worry about this.
Need more help?
If clarification is needed on any aspect of the Rules or you have questions about your visa application, please email the International Student Advisory Team at email@example.com where we will respond to you as soon as possible, alternatively telephone +44(0)118 378 8038 or you can book an appointment to speak to an International Student Adviser.