22nd June 2020

Family And Friends Visiting You In The UK

  1. Standard visitor visa
  2. How you can help your visitor apply for a standard visitor visa
  3. What your visitor will need to show the british immigration authorities
  4. How to make an online application
  5. Gathering the supporting documents
  6. How can the student advice centre help you
  7. Final points

Standard visitor visa

Anyone who is not a British citizen, EEA national or person with a right of permanent residence in the UK will need permission to come to the UK for a visit.

Many nationalities (visa nationals) will have to apply for a visa before they travel to the UK. All other nationalities (non-visa nationals) will need to get permission when they arrive from an Immigration Officer.

The rules for entry as a standard visitor are the same for both groups and the same documents will be needed as proof. Please see below.

If you are a Tier 4 student in the UK and your family or friends wish to come and visit you, they will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

Find out more about the Standard Visitor visa.

There are special rules for Child Visitors, please contact the Student Advice Centre for further advice.

If the visitor wishes to visit the UK to undertake a short term course of less than 6 months, they will now have to apply for a 'short term study' visa. Find out more about if they are applying to undertake a short course at the University of Sheffield.

Find out more about about different categories of visit visas.

The Standard Visitor visa category can also be used if you wish to visit the UK as an Academic Visitor or Medical Visitor. Find out more about the Standard Visitor categories.

How you can help your visitor apply for a standard visitor visa

You can help your visitor prepare for their Standard Visitor application by helping them make arrangements for the trip and by providing an invitation letter to your visitor. You can also assist your visitor to make their online application and if required get advice from the Student Advice Centre about their application.

Before making the application you may want to consider the following:

  • Decide when your family member is coming to UK, for how long and where will they stay?
  • Discuss who will pay for the flights and living expenses?
  • Are they going to stay with you? If they are going to stay in a hotel find out how much this will cost.
  • Remember they do not need to book or pay for flights in order to get the visa.
  • Check if your family member or friend has had a visa refusal from the UK before. (If this is the case you may want to book an appointment with an International Adviser to obtain additional advice before making an application).
  • Make sure you plan well ahead as it can take at least 3 weeks for a visa to be processed. At busy times it may take longer.

What your visitor will need to show the british immigration authorities

1. Genuine Visit

You visitor must be able to show a genuine reason for coming to the UK.You can provide a letter of invitation for your friend or family member, supporting their visit.

You can download a sample letter. If your visitor does not read English we suggest you translate a copy for them. This is important, as they may be questioned about its contents. You can also provide an original student status certificate and copy of your passport and visa (BRP) as proof that you are in the UK as a student. If you have returned to your home country and are going to travel back with your family for the graduation then you can adapt the invitation letter to explain why you are coming back to the UK and to confirm any accommodation/financial arrangements.

2. Intention To Leave

Your visitor will need to show they will leave the UK at the end of the stay by demonstrating strong ties to their home country. Documents which could be provided include; a letter from their employer, school or university, evidence of property ownership or marriage certificate. (Certified translations of such documents will be required.)

3. Financial Support

Your visitor needs to prove that they have sufficient money available to them to cover the full cost of the trip including flights, accommodation and living costs for the duration of their stay.

Documents which could be included are bank statements, credit cards or travellers cheques. There are strict rules about what financial evidence is acceptable, so always read the guidance.

We suggest a minimum of £680 a month for living expenses if your visitor is going to stay with you. If they plan to stay in a hotel and/or do a lot of trips and shopping this figure will need to be a lot higher, although there is no minimum amount set by the Home Office.If you are helping to fund the trip you will also need to show your bank statements (six months) and state that you are doing this in your invitation letter.

Even if your visitor is not personally paying for the trip, they must show some evidence of their own financial status and income in their home country. If they do not, the visa may be refused.

4. Accommodation

Your visitor will need to show evidence of where they will be staying whilst in the UK. If staying with you, clarify this in your invitation letter and provide copy of your tenancy agreement. If staying in a hotel, your visitor should provide evidence of this e.g. hotel booking.

How to make an online application

  1. Go to the UK Visas website and follow the instructions.
  2. When you reach the online application form you will need to register an account for each family member or friend.

Gathering the supporting documents

If you are helping them to complete the forms you should get scanned copies of these documents sent to you to help you with completing a draft online form.

You will need to have a scanned copy of each family member’s passport showing the bio data pages and any previous visas to the UK.

As detailed above, your family member will need to show evidence of strong ties back to the home country and evidence their financial status. Documents could be:

  • Letter from employer or school/university.
  • Proof of savings/property.
  • Proof of relationships - marriage certificate.
  • Proof of income - 6 months bank statements.

All documents must be originals and if not in English accompanied by a certified translation.

You will need to provide the following documents to your visitor:

  • Copy of your passport and visa and Biometric Residence card if you have one.
  • Invitation letter - you can download a sample invitation letter.
  • Certificate of student status from SSID.
  • Your bank statements for 6 months if you are paying for some or all of the costs.
  • Your tenancy agreement or letter from landlord if they are staying with you.

You will then be able to fill in the form having checked all the personal information with the family member. REMEMBER: it is their application.

When you are certain that the form is correct it can be submitted. The applicant will need to pay online and book an appointment at their nearest UK embassy or visa application centre to submit the paper application, supporting documents and to give biometrics.

You should ensure that you allow enough time to send copies of your documents to your family member. Where possible these should be originals, e.g. the bank statements and certificate of student status.

How can the student advice centre help you

We offer 20 minute appointments to advise you on your friend and family visit visa. You can book an appointment by emailing advice@sheffield.ac.uk or telephoning 0114 2228660.

At busy times, e.g. around graduation, the Student Advice Centre may only be able to offer group workshops to advise and check application forms. These will be advertised on the website and via social media.

In some instances, for example if your visitor has had a previous refusal, we may be able to provide a full form and document checking service. If attending an appointment to check the visitor application, you will need to bring the log in details and copies of the documents outlined above.

Final points

Make sure that your visitor has bought adequate health insurance to cover their trip to the UK as they will be liable for all charges for medical treatment.

If your visitor’s visa is refused then it is important to ask them to send you a copy of the refusal notice and to arrange one-to-one with an adviser.