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Top tips for a successful Visit Visa application

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The visit visa, contained in Appendix V of the UK’s Immigration Rules may seem like one of the more straightforward visa routes to the UK, but few Immigration lawyers will be surprised to know that in 2017, there were over 260,000 visit visa refusals. As with any visa, getting the visit visa application right takes time and effort to ensure that the permission to come to the UK is granted – whether it’s to visit family and friends, or to undertake a paid engagement such as performing in a festival.

Visit visa refusals in the news

Immigration solicitors in London have not been surprised to see the recent headlines about visit visa refusals in connection with high profile events such as the Womad world music festival that takes place in Wiltshire each year, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It seems that many performers, artists and writers due to be involved in these events have had their visit visas refused by over-zealous decision makers who have been unconvinced that the visit visa applications are genuine. As the director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival commented to the Guardian newspaper

“It is Kafkaesque. One was told he had too much money and it looked suspicious for a short trip. Another was told she didn’t have enough, so she transferred £500 into the account – and then was told that £500 looked suspicious. It shouldn’t be the case that thousands of pounds should be spent to fulfil a legitimate visa request. I believe this is happening to many arts organisations around the country, and we need to find a way around it.”

The result is that many individuals are being deterred from visiting the UK, with the result that major cultural events risk becoming less rich and diverse, family ties are weakened, and the UK suffers from a drop in tourism.

The visit visa rules

To come to the UK under a visit visa, there are some fairly uncontroversial conditions that the applicant must satisfy, set out in Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. The trouble is, as the best Immigration lawyers in London know only too well, those who decide on any individual visit visa application use their own discretion in considering the application. Very often, this discretion is exercised against the individual, resulting in many visit visa refusals. To succeed in a visit visa application, the individual must convince the decision maker that they are a genuine visitor to the UK. They will need to be able to

- Show that they will leave the UK at the end of the visit

- Convince the decision maker that they are not intending to use regular visits to live in the UK for extended periods

- Show that they can support themselves and any dependants while they are in the UK

- Show that they can pay for any return or onward journey and for the costs of the trip

- Have proof of any permitted business or other activities they will carry out while in the UK

- Demonstrate that they won’t carry out prohibited activities while in the UK

There are then additional rules, for example for those intending to undertake a paid engagement whilst in the UK.

Making a successful visit visa application

Talk to a UK Immigration lawyer and they will advise you that while the conditions for a visit visa seem simple, it is important to take the visit visa application seriously and provide detailed information in relation to each condition to avoid the disappointment of a visit visa refusal.

Submit comprehensive documentation

The person submitting a visit visa application may only intend to come to the UK for a short time, and less than the 6 month maximum that the visit visa allows, but top London Immigration lawyers will agree that it is still worth submitting comprehensive documentation to demonstrate the individual’s connections to their home country – and therefore the intention to return after the visit.

Follow up any discrepancies

If the documentation that is to be submitted in support of the visit visa application reveals any anomalies, it is worth taking the time to obtain an explanation of these anomalies and to include this evidence with the documentation.

Detail your relationship with family/friends in the UK

As well as convincing the decision makers that the applicant intends to return after the visit to the UK, if the purpose of the of the visit visa is to visit family or friends in the UK, it’s important to detail the relationships to satisfy that UK Immigration authorities that the reason for the visit to the UK is genuine.

Provide evidence of the reasons for the visit if not for family/friends

If the visit is for some other reason than visiting family and friends, to undertake a paid engagement for example, or to undertake private medical treatment, it’s important to take the same comprehensive approach to documentation as it is to convince the authorities of the intention to return after the visit.

Visit Visa refusals

As already mentioned, visit visa refusals are more common than might be expected - and there is very little an individual can do if their visit visa application is refused, because there is no right of appeal. One option is to make an application for judicial review which is both expensive and time consuming and the matter may well not be resolved before the individual needs to come to the UK; the alternative is to simply make a fresh application for a visit visa, addressing the issues that were identified in the visit visa refusal.

For assistance with your visit visa application, or advice if your visit visa application has been refused, OTS Solicitors can help. We are Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors based in London, with extensive experience dealing with all aspects of Immigration law. To book an appointment with one of our top Immigration lawyers, please call 0203 959 9123.

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