Working in the UK

The Different types of UK Visa Applications

When it comes to travelling, studying, or working in the United Kingdom, understanding the different types of UK visa applications is crucial. The UK offers a range of visa categories tailored to various purposes, each with its own requirements and application process. Whether you’re planning a vacation, pursuing higher education, or seeking employment opportunities, knowing the options available to you is essential.

In this article, we will explore the various types of UK visa applications, providing insights into tourist, work, and student visas. By delving into the eligibility criteria, application procedures, and specific requirements for each visa category, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the intricacies of the UK visa system and make informed decisions regarding your visit, study, or work in the United Kingdom.

types of uk visa application

Table of Contents

Work in the UK

There are many types of short-term and long-term work visas, including:

  • Temporary worker visas
  • Domestic workers in private household visas
  • Intra-company transfer visas
  • Sportsperson visas
  • and the General work visa

Each type of visa will carry its eligibility, conditions and application requirements.

The Skilled Worker visa, for instance, is open to non-UK residents with a job offer from a licensed sponsor for skilled employment in the UK.

The processing time for the Skilled Worker visa is generally three weeks after the applicant has attended their appointment; however, the current focus on processing Ukraine Family visa applications could take more than three weeks.

Holiday, Family Visit or Business Trip

The Standard Visitor visa is generally suitable for tourism, holidays, visits, and receiving short-term medical treatment. It replaces:

  • Business visitor and prospective entrepreneur visas
  • Family visitor visa
  • Child visitor visa
  • Sports and entertainer visitor visas
  • Private medical treatment visitor visa
  • Approved destination status visa
  • General visitor visa

Under the standard visitor visa, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

For the Standard Visitor visa, submitting your application at least three months before your intended entry into the UK is recommended. The processing time for the visa application is typically around three weeks, and a decision will be made after your appointment.

Under current processing times, visitor visa applications outside the UK take six weeks instead of the usual three.

Studying in the UK

Should you wish to study in the UK, there are three visas available for this purpose, depending on the individual situation:

  • A short-term study visa is suitable for a 6-month stay in the UK to attend a course. For students over 16 who wish to attend an English language course, it may be possible to use a Short-term study visa for a stay of up to 11 months.
  • A general study visa is suitable for a longer course of study in the UK as long as the student has a confirmed place on a course and is sponsored by a licensed university or college.
  • 4 to 17 years old wishing to study at an independent school should apply for a child student visa.

Apply for the appropriate student visa by three months before you intend to enter the UK. Once you have attended your appointment, it will generally take three weeks to receive a decision.

Entrepreneurs & Investors

There are two main routes for people coming to the UK to do business:

  • The Start-up visa is suitable for persons wanting to establish a business in the UK who are from outside the EEA and Switzerland and are endorsed by an authorised body.
  • The Innovator visa is for persons who wish to start or run a viable business in the UK that has been endorsed as innovative. It is a new idea from outside the EEA and Switzerland, with a minimum of £50,000 to invest.

Processing for business visas can take longer than other categories due to the application documentation and evidence complexity. Again, the earliest you can apply is three months before you travel.

Joining family in the UK

The Family visa enables individuals to join their family members already residing in the UK, provided they intend to stay for more than six months.

If the visa application is submitted outside the UK, the typical processing time is approximately 12 weeks. However, applications made within the UK usually take around eight weeks to process.

To get Married in the UK

If you intend to visit the UK to get married, you should generally apply for a Marriage Visitor visa. This visa is also suitable for civil partnership ceremonies in the UK.

This visa doesn’t allow you to remain or settle in the UK after the marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

Once an appointment has been attended, processing should take no more than three weeks.

Travelling through the UK

If you intend to travel through the UK to a non-UK destination, you may need to apply for a Transit visa unless:

  • Do you have a Standard Visitor or Marriage visa
  • you are from a European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • you hold an EEA family permit

There are two types of Transit visas. If you pass through UK border control and stay in the UK for no more than 48 hours, you should apply for a Visitor in Transit visa. You should apply for a Direct Airside Transit visa if you do not pass through UK border control.

If you will be staying in the UK for longer than 48 hours, applying for a Standard Visitor visa will be necessary.


In conclusion, the UK offers various types of visas to cater to different purposes, including work, holidays, study, business, joining family, getting married, and transit. Each visa has its own eligibility criteria, conditions, and processing times. It is essential to carefully select the appropriate visa based on the purpose of your visit and the duration of your stay. The processing times for visa applications may vary depending on the type of visa and current demand.

Different types of UK Visa Application FAQs

The processing time for a UK visa application depends on the type of visa and current demand. Generally, it can take up to 3 weeks for most visa categories. However, some visa types may have longer processing times, especially during peak periods or when there is a high volume of applications.

You can apply for a UK visa up to 3 months before your intended travel date. It is recommended to submit your application well in advance to allow sufficient time for processing and to account for any potential delays.

Under the Standard Visitor visa, you can typically stay in the UK for up to 6 months. However, it is vital to check the specific conditions of your visa as there may be limitations on the duration of your stay, depending on your circumstances.

If you apply for a Family visa from outside the UK, the processing time is generally up to 12 weeks. The processing time for applications made within the UK is typically eight weeks. Submitting your application well in advance is advisable to allow for any unexpected delays.

If you are transiting through the UK and will stay up to 48 hours, you may need to apply for a Visitor in Transit visa. However, you should apply for a Direct Airside Transit visa if you do not pass through UK border control. If your stay in the UK exceeds 48 hours, you must apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

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