Applying for a visa
What is a visa?
A visa is a document issued by the UK Border Agency which gives someone permission to travel to or enter the UK. This permission is called ''entry clearance''.
There are 4 types of entry clearance document:
- a visa which is required by some nationals or citizens of the countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
- an entry certificate which is issued to non-visa nationals;
- an EEA family permit which is issued to non-EEA nationals who are the family members of EEA nationals; and
- an exempt vignette for people (such as diplomats) who are exempt from the requirements of the Immigration Act 1971.
What are visa application centres?
Where there are no visa sections in the country where you are applying for a UK visa, a visa application centre (VAC) is where you, as a visa applicant, will have to go in person to submit your application and provide your biometric information. Our VACs are run by commercial partners. You may also collect your documents from the VAC at the end of the process. VACs are located in major cities for your convenience and ease of access.
Visa staff at the British mission will then consider your application and decide whether to issue or refuse your visa. In some instances it may be necessary for the visa staff to request further documents. VAC staff have no say in deciding the outcome of an application.
Can I have more than one visa?
It is not possible to hold more than one visa or entry clearance. If your circumstances change you should always inform the Home Office before you leave the UK so that your permission to stay can be curtailed. Once your permission to stay has been curtailed you will be able to apply for a new visa overseas.
Can my friend or family member in the UK apply for my visa for me?
Visas for the UK can be issued only at British Missions overseas. If you need a visa, you must get it before you travel to the UK.