Visitor Visas – Special Visitors

The visitor visa is the most popular single route for individuals coming to the UK for tourism, to visit family or for  business or other special purpose visits.
In line with the recent review of the UK immigration system by the government, new rules have been implemented from 27 November 2008 to reform specific categories of the “visitor” visa.
The idea behind this reform is to ensure that visitors clearly understand  the range of activities they are allowed to undertake whilst in the UK on a visitor visa.

Reasons why you may wish to visit the UK
There are numerous reasons why an individual may wish to come to the UK for a short period. In addition to visiting family, sightseeing or visiting on business, people may wish to visit the UK to get married or undertake a civil partnership ceremony, arrange plans for studying in the UK, undertake a short course, attend important events, visit the UK as a representative of a company or conduct research or sit a test/exam in the UK.

General requirements for coming to the UK as a visitor
Individuals intending to visit the UK must be able to demonstrate that they wish to visit the UK for no more than six months and that they will be leaving the UK at the end of the visit. In addition, individuals must be able to show that they have sufficient finds to maintain and accommodate themselves (and any dependants) without assistance from UK public funds.

The exceptions to this general rule are for ‘academic visitors and ‘parents of children at school in the UK” who are entitled to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 12 months.

Categories of the “Visitor Visa”
It is important that if you intend to visit the UK that you apply for the correct category of visitor visa before entering the country as you are required to comply with the conditions on your visa. Any breach of visa conditions during your stay in the UK may result in adverse consequences; and it is therefore recommended that you ensure that your intentions for coming to the UK are adequately reflected in the type of visitor visa you apply for.

The different categories of “Visitor Visa” are as follows:

  • Business Visitors
    • Academic visitors
    • Advisers, consultants, trainers, trouble shooters who are employed abroad by the same company which has the UK branch
    • Individuals undertaking specific, one –off training in techniques and UK work practices or coming for business meetings/negotiations
  • Sports Visitors
  • Entertainer Visitors
  • Special Visitors
    • Visitors for private medical treatment in the UK
    • Visitors intending to marry or undertake a civil partnership ceremony in the UK
    • Parents of a child at school in the UK
    • Prospective entrepreneur


Special Visitors

If you wish to enter the UK during transit or you wish to come to the UK for marriage, private medical treatment, to undertake a short course of study (or arrange a proposed course of study), or if you are the parent of a child at school in the UK, you will need to apply as a special visitor. There is also a new subcategory “prospective entrepreneur” which is in power from 6 April 2011. 

It is advised that you seek legal advice if you are uncertain whether your purpose for coming to the UK or proposed activity is covered by the “special visitors” category.

A. Requirements

1. You will need to demonstrate that you only intend to visit the UK for a short period (no more than 6 months), unless you are the Parent of a Child at School and Private Medical Treatment Visitor.

2. You must demonstrate that you intend to visit the UK for the relevant category of ‘special visitor’. Each category has different requirements which are detailed individually on our website and you are required to provide evidence of your purpose for entering the UK. (It is advised that you obtain advice from us at Law Firm Ltd. to ensure that your proposed category is covered under ‘Special Visitors’ as outlined by the UK Border Agency and that you are able to provide the necessary documents to support your application).

3. You must intend to leave the UK after the end of your visit and demonstrate that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey.

4. You must show that you have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) without working in the UK or receiving assistance from UK public funds. Alternatively you can show that your relatives or friends or an organisation will be financially supporting and/or accommodating you.

B. Activities not permitted on a special visitors visa

  • You must not intend to charge the public for services provided or goods received
  • You must be based abroad and have no intention of setting up a base in the UK
  • You must receive any salary/remuneration from overseas

C. Documents required

If you wish to apply as a special visitor, you should ensure that you have the following documentation:

  • Confirmation and details of the purpose for which you wish to visit the UK.
  • Evidence of why you are required to come to the UK.
  • If employed: Letter from employer approving your leave for a specified period. The letter should include details of your employment, duration, your position, salary etc. and should detail when you are expected to resume work.
  • If self-employed: Evidence of your business activities, accounts and financial credibility
  • Evidence of ties to your home country – e.g. ownership of property, family ties/responsibilities, employment ties
  • Evidence of your travel plans – ticket bookings, hotel bookings, itinerary
  • Bank statements for the last 3 to 6 months
  • Evidence of additional savings or assets

D. Extension & Switching

The maximum you can stay in the UK, on any one occasion is six months as a special visitor.

If however your visa was granted for a period less than six months, you may apply for an extension of your visa which takes you up to the maximum of six months.

You are not permitted to change into another visa category.

Please note that upon the expiry of your visa, you are required to leave the UK. If you stay beyond the expiry of your visa, you will remain illegally in the UK and you will be considered an “overstayer”. This may have an adverse impact on your immigration record and is likely to affect any future UK immigration applications. This could even result in you being banned from re-entering the UK for a certain period of time.

E. Right of Appeal

Applicants can be refused a visa to enter the UK as a special visitor and would normally receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for refusal.

There is no right of appeal against the Entry Clearance Officers decision to refuse any visitor visa application.  We therefore advise that if applicants have been refused a special visitor visa, they should  seek legal advice on the procedure for submitting a fresh application.

In case of visitor visa refusal, the only judicial remedy is Judicial Review. This is where a Judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by the British Embassy/Home Office in the High Court. If you wish to explore this option further then please contact us to arrange a consultation.

F. Our Services

  • We can advise on the procedure of making a ‘special visitor’ application and discuss the merits of your application.
  • We can advise on the procedure involved for applying for dependant  visas for members of your family.
  • We can advise on the evidence required for the entry clearance application.