A non-settlement visa for the United Kingdom (UK) is a passport-based permit, typically valid for six months, that grants entry to the UK for various, specific purposes other than permanent residence. Except for citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and a few people benefiting from exemptions, all entrants to the UK require a visa of one type or another. Initial visa applications must be made from outside of the UK.

General Visitor

General visitors to the UK must be at least 18 years old, have enough funds to support themselves during the stay (or be able to prove that family or friends already in the UK will accommodate and support them) and be able to afford the cost of the return journey. This category of visa is for tourists or persons visiting friends and relatives. Paid work of any type, formal academic studying, marriage or the formation of a "civil partnership" or receiving pre-arranged, private medical treatment is not permitted.

Special Visitor Visa

The UK Special Visitor Visa is for applicants other than general tourists, business people, sports persons or entertainers. The category applies to several types of visitors, all of whom must agree that during their stay, they will not charge money for the provision of any service or sale of any goods and that they will leave the UK prior to the expiration of the visa. They must have proof that they have access to sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay and to pay for their homeward journey without recourse to government help.

Students Requirements include pre-registration on a course offered by a provider approved by various UK government agencies. The restrictions regarding working includes internships. Studying at government-funded establishments is not permitted.

Private Medical Treatment Providing the applicant meets the requirements to enter as a general visitor, entry to undertake pre-arranged, private medical treatment is possible providing that any illness or disease from which the applicant is suffering does not pose a risk to public health, and the course of treatment is for a specified, limited time.

Child Visitor Applicants must be under 18 years old and able to prove that appropriate arrangements exist for their travel to, reception in and care whilst in the UK. These arrangements must meet guidelines published by the UK Border Agency; the visitor must also have a contactable parent or guardian in their home country who will verify that they agree to the travel, reception and care arrangements made.

Marriage Couples may apply to visit the UK together to get married or register a civil partnership but they must leave within 6 months. In certain cases, a "certificate of approval" must be obtained from the Home Office.

Parent of a Child at School Aside from meeting the general visitor requirements, parent-applicants must also prove that the child is under 12 years of age and attending an independent, fee paying school; and that they do not seek to make the UK their main home.

Visitor in Transit Visa These are granted to people passing through the UK to a destination outside the UK Common Travel Area (UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland). Applicants must have proof that they have booked the earliest onward passage and that it departs, at the latest, 48 hours after their arrival. They must also have any visa required by the destination country.

Sports or Entertainment Visitor

Sports visa are Intended for people wishing to take part in a pre-arranged sporting or related publicity event (or series of events). Support personnel and officials also may request entry under this visa. The receipt of payments, other than cash prizes for charity events, expense payments and payments for food and lodging is prohibited.

Entertainer visas are issued for professional or amateur entertainers and their support staff who will take part in major music or arts festivals, competitions or charitable events for which they will not receive a fee.

Business Visa

Business visas should not be confused with "Work Permits." Business Visas strictly prohibit obtaining UK-paid employment, and proof must be shown that the salary for any business activities undertaken is paid from abroad. A list of "permissible activities" and the types of applicant considered to be genuine business visitors is published by the UK Border Agency. It should be consulted before applying for such a visa.


As of June 2010, entry to the UK as a paid worker is based on a tiered points system that considers various factors, including an applicant's qualifications, age, recent earnings and language capability. The tiers include highly skilled workers, recent graduates from UK universities, entrepreneurs and investors, all of whom may apply without the need to provide a specific job offer. Skilled workers with a definite job offer from an employer sponsor, temporary workers with an employer sponsor and nationals of countries taking part in the "youth mobility scheme" also can receive a worker visa. People can also apply as domestic workers or as the sole representative of an overseas company, newspaper/news agency or broadcast company. Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry also may apply to enter the country for work.