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Opinions of Thursday, 8 October 2015

Columnist: Acheampong, Emmanuel Opoku

UK visit visa: What are the requirements?

Who is a visitor?
A person is a visitor if they apply to go to the UK for a temporary purpose, for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity. A visitor cannot work or study in the UK unless this is permissible under the Visitor Rules.

Suitability Requirements
In considering a visit visa application, the ECO must generally determine three things. First, they must determine whether the applicant is not excluded under any provision of law from entry to the UK. If the ECO determines that the applicant is excluded, they will automatically refuse the application without having to consider any other evidence.

The Rules create mandatory and discretionary refusals on grounds of exclusion. If the expression “will be refused” is used, the ECO must refuse the application. On the other hand, if the expression “will normally be refused” is used, the ECO may exercise a discretion.

An applicant will be refused if the Secretary of State directs that their exclusion is conducive to the public good, or if the applicant is the subject of a deportation order, or if they have made false representations or submitted false document or information in support of an application, or if they have previously breached a UK Immigration law and a reentry ban applies. This will also be the case if the applicant fails to produce a travel document that satisfies the decision maker as to their identity or nationality, or fails without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement to attend an interview, provide information or biometrics, or fails to undergo a medical examination or provide a medical report.

On the other hand, an applicant will normally be refused if the ECO finds that it is undesirable to grant the application for medical reasons, or the applicant is indebted to a relevant NHS body and the outstanding charges stand to at least £1000, or the applicant seeks entry to the UK with the intention of entering another part of the Common Travel Area and fails to satisfy the ECO that they are acceptable to the immigration authorities there, or the applicant fails to satisfy the ECO that they will be admitted to another country after a stay in the UK.

Standard Eligibility Requirements
If the ECO determines that the applicant is not excluded under any provision of law, they will proceed to determine whether the applicant meets the standard eligibility requirements. All visitors must establish the standard eligibility requirements, irrespective of the visit visa type they are applying for. To meet these requirements, the applicant must establish that they genuinely seek entry to the UK, and that they will depart after their visit. If the applicant fails to establish this, their application will be refused.

Additional Eligibility Requirements
For some applications, the ECO will require the applicant to establish additional evidence even if they determine that the applicant seeks entry as a visitor as a genuine visitor. This will be the case if the applicant is a Child, or seeks entry to the UK for private medical treatment, or as an organ donor, or under the ADS agreement, or as an academic.

For example, if a person seeks entry to the UK for private medical treatment, they must first establish that they seek entry as a genuine visitor. In addition, they must establish that they have arranged prior medical treatment, and must provide a medical letter detailing the medical condition requiring consultation or treatment, the estimated costs and likely duration of any treatment, and also where the consultation or treatment will take place. If the applicant fails to establish any of these, their application will be refused, despite having established genuine intentions to enter the UK.

Conclusion
A person who seeks entry to the UK as a Visitor must establish that they are not automatically excluded from entry. They must again establish that they seek entry to the UK as a genuine visitor. In some applications, they must establish additional evidence applicable to the visa type, even if the ECO determines they are a genuine visitor.

By Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong

Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on UK immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information.

The writer is an Immigration law advisor and a practicing law attorney in Ghana. He has special interests in U.S., UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works part-time as a consultant for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, an immigration law firm in Accra. He may be contacted on acheampongassociatesgh@gmail.com or 0200388706.