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    Long Term Visitor Visa

    Long-term tourist visa in the UK is a great option for international visitors to legally travel to the country multiple times without the necessity of applying for a permission for every single visit.

    Since it is one of the long-term permission documents, the terms for applicants are expectedly strict, and the procedure is slightly more complicated than with shorter visitor visas. This is why travellers who are planning to fly to the United Kingdom with a multiple entry visa should perform a comprehensive research before applying for the document.

    This article will cover all the main aspects related to the long-term visitor visa in the UK, starting with defining the permission, and ending with processing times. We will also share instructions on how to apply for a multiple visit visa, discuss the fees associated with the procedure, and cover the course of action in case an application is refused.

    What is the Long-Term Visitor Visa?

    As the name of the document suggests, a long-term visitor visa is designed for tourists travelling to the United Kingdom for prolonged periods of time. The document might be given out for multiple purposes including:

    • visiting your family;
    • studying;
    • performing various business-related activities;
    • travelling for holidays.

    The main standout feature of this document is that it allows visitors to stay in the country for up to six months at a time, while its validity period may range from two to ten years. This makes the long term standard visitor visa a perfect solution for spending long periods of time in the country on multiple occasions over the years.

    Even though the allowed periods of stay are great, it is important to keep in mind that this permission is still a visa. It is not supposed to be used for making the United Kingdom your main home. The Home Office will track your visits to the country, and it may recall your visa in case the rules are abused or the permission is not used as intended.

    There are some additional limitations to the holders of the visitor visa in the UK. This permission document is not suitable for paid employment. There is a separate procedure for worker visas involving issuing of a certificate of sponsorship, so visitors who are planning to be employed in the United Kingdom should undertake an entirely different route.

    Eligibility Criteria for Long-Term Visitor Visa

    The list of eligibility requirements for this visa is rather comprehensive, as the Home Office treats such long-term permissions seriously. Firstly and most importantly, the reason for your visit must be genuine and fall into one of the eligible categories we have mentioned previously.

    Secondly, since this visa does not make its holder eligible for work, it is necessary to demonstrate to the Home Office that you are eligible to support yourself financially throughout your stay in the country. The holders of UK long-term visas are also not eligible to receive any public funds, so it is vital for the authorities to ensure you have enough funds not to need any additional support.

    There are no specific criteria on how you should justify your visit, but the point of the procedure is to demonstrate to the Home Office that you are a genuine traveller who is not going to abuse the permission in future. It also depends on your reason for obtaining the document. For example, in case you are planning to visit the UK for casual trips, you should provide the Home Office with flight and hotel details for your first stay in the country.

    Documents Required for UK Long-Term Visitor visa

    There are three groups of documents that should accompany an application for a multiple-year visa in the UK:

    • Authentication documents. These documents serve to verify your identity. You will be required to furnish the Home Office with either your passport or an alternate valid identification document.
    • Financial documents. Proof of sufficient financial means to support your stay in the UK, typically in the form of bank statements, sponsorship letters, or other financial evidence.
    • Purpose-related documentation. As for this group of documents, it strongly depends on the reason for your visit. In case you are travelling to the United Kingdom to visit family members who reside here, you might need to provide the Home Office with some details about them. In case you are carrying out some business-related activities, you should attach documents proving the existence of these activities and potential evidence supporting your limited stay in the country.

    Expectedly, most refusals to multiple visas in the UK happen because of the third group of documents. This is why it is recommended to consult professionals before sending out the application, as it will enable you to make sure the documents are submitted correctly.

    How to Apply for a Long-Term Visitor Visa for the UK?

    The application process itself is fairly straightforward, as the main part of the procedure is performed online. It should be noted that it is only possible to apply from outside the United Kingdom, meaning in case you are already in the country with a different permission document, you will have to leave before you can apply for a long-term visitor visa.

    After submitting the initial application online, it will also be necessary to attend a local visa application centre to provide your biometric information and the documents required for the application to be approved.

    It is also important to keep in mind that in some rare cases, the Home Office might require you to attend the visa centre an additional time, in case some aspects of your application need to be clarified. However, in case some of the submitted documents that are key to approval turn out to be submitted wrongly, the application will most likely be rejected without a chance to make any corrections before the decision is made.

    The Visa Processing Time

    The applications for a long-term visitor visa can be submitted as early as three months prior to the first planned visit to the United Kingdom. It should also be kept in mind that the processing time actually starts on the day you attend the visa application centre, not on the day you submit the online form.

    The standard term for the decision to be made by the Home Office is three weeks, however, it is common for the applications to be processed within five weeks. In some cases, it might require the Home Office an even larger amount of time to make a decision, although it is very rare. It should also be noted that delays caused by additional visits to your local visa application centre are not included in this term.

    In case you need the decision to be made faster, there are two Priority Service options available for this type of visa. The first one costs an additional £500, enabling you to get a decision within five working days, while the second option costs around £1000 and offers the decision by the end of the next working day.

    How Much Does a Long-Term Visitor Visa Cost?

    The fee associated with issuing a long-term visitor visa is based on the intended validity duration of the document:

    • 2-year visa – £400;
    • 5-year visa – £771;
    • 10-year visa – £963.

    As we have mentioned in the previous section, it is also possible to get a faster decision with an additional fee. It should be noted that purchasing any of the Priority Service options will not have an effect on the decision itself. The refund policies of the Home Office regarding the visa fees and the Priority Service purchases are also rather strict, as you won’t be eligible for a refund of any of these charges even in case your application is rejected or the authorities decide to issue a visa for a shorter term than requested.

    What Happens if Your Application is Rejected?

    There are two main reasons an application for a long-term visitor visa may be rejected. First of all, the Home Office will definitely not approve your application, in case some of the documents are submitted wrongly. For example, in case you forget to provide the local visa application centre with a copy of your identification document, the application will get rejected. The same applies to all other documents that accompany the application.

    The second reason relates to failing to prove meeting the eligibility requirements. This might concern both the reason for the visit and the ability to support yourself financially during your stay in the United Kingdom.

    There are three main courses of action following a refused application. You can try to appeal the decision or request a Judicial Review, but these two options are tricky, time-consuming, and none of them guarantee a positive decision. The most common option is to simply make a new application taking into account the reasons for the initial refusals and improving upon them.

    How Can We Help?

    The team of Sterling Law has a rich experience with visitor visas and other permission documents that allow travellers to visit the United Kingdom freely. No matter whether you are only considering applying, waiting on a decision for your application, or thinking about your course of action after getting a refusal, we are always ready to provide the legal assistance you need.

    In case you are already in the United Kingdom, feel free to visit our office in London. If you’re only applying from overseas, we would be glad to help you out through an online consultation.

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