Visas and Immigration in the UK

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Visas and Immigration in the UK

The United Kingdom has long been a sought-after destination for travellers, students, professionals, and families from around the world. Unfortunately, Brexit has reshaped the UK's relationship with the European Union and, by extension, its approach to immigration. The end of the free movement era has ushered in a new set of rules and systems, impacting both EU and non-EU nationals alike.


Brexit marked the end of free movement between the UK and EU member states. Effective from 1 January 2021, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens no longer enjoy the automatic right to live, work, or study in the UK without a visa, aligning them with non-EU nationals in terms of immigration requirements. The UK's new points-based immigration system, applicable to both EU and non-EU citizens, emphasizes skills and talents over nationality. Under this system, applicants must meet specific criteria, earning points for attributes like job offers, salary levels, and language proficiency, to qualify for a visa.


Overview of UK Visas and Immigration Service


The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the official body responsible for deciding who has the right to visit, study, work, and reside in the UK. Beyond granting entry permissions, UKVI plays a pivotal role in safeguarding national security and ensuring that legal visitors receive optimal customer service.


In essence, the UK Visas and Immigration service is not just a bureaucratic entity. It’s a dynamic organization that balances the needs of applicants with the broader interests of the United Kingdom. Whether it's facilitating the entry of skilled professionals, reuniting families, or offering sanctuary to refugees, UKVI plays an essential in shaping the nation's demographic and cultural landscape.


Who Needs a UK Visa?


Citizens of the European Economic Area, Switzerland, and a Commonwealth country aren’t required to apply for a UK visa. The same applies to USA citizens too. This rule applies to short stays. If you are going to stay in the UK for more than six months, you’ll need a visa regardless of your nationality.


Types of UK Visas


The UK offers a diverse range of visas tailored to various purposes. We characterised them in the table below.


Visa Type


Skilled Worker Visa

For skilled workers with a job offer in the United Kingdom

Temporary Worker Visa

For temporary workers in the UK for less than one year

Youth Mobility Visa

2-year work permit for young people aged 18-30
(eligibility is limited to certain countries)

Paid Permitted Engagement Visa

Short-term entry for experts invited to the UK

Sportsperson Visa

Work permit for sportspersons

Minister of Religion Visa

Work permit for religious workers

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

For employees transferring to work in a UK branch

Business Visitor Visa

For business people who travel to the UK for up to
six months for business activities

Adult Student Visa

For students who want to study in the UK

Two-year Post-study Work Visa

For international students who studied a bachelor’s or
master’s course in the UK

Student Visitor Visa

Studying in the UK temporarily

Child Student Visa

For children between 4-17 to study in the UK

Spouse Visa

For spouses of British Citizens or settled people

Fiancé Visa

For fiancés of British Citizens or settled people

Unmarried Partner Visa

For long-term partners of British Citizens or settled people

Adult Dependent Visa

For foreign nationals requiring care from their relative in the UK

Innovator Visa

For international entrepreneurs who invest £50,000 in a business in the UK

Investor Visa

For international investors with a minimum of £2 million to invest in a UK business

Startup Visa

For applicants who have approved sponsors to start their business in the UK

Transit Visa

For passengers who pass through the UK on their way to another country

Tourist Visa

For visitors who travel to the UK for up to six months for leisure


The Application Process


The application process depends on the type of visa you are seeking, particularly if it's within the Points-Based System framework. While many requirements are consistent across categories, they are assessed differently. Additionally, specific criteria can vary based on the visa type. What does it mean?


For instance, those seeking an investor visa must demonstrate adequate financial resources. Conversely, if you're an employee aiming to work with a UK-based company, you can pursue a skilled worker visa, provided your prospective employer meets the eligibility criteria.