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New rules for immigration visitor visas

Taking effect from 24 April 2015, various changes have been made to the visitor visa categories of the UK’s immigration regulations, known as the Immigration Rules. The rules find themselves in the newly coined “Appendix V” of a larger volume of all of the Immigration Rules.

The gist of the changes has been to simplify the visitor category. “Visitor” now acts as a broad rubric for a number of permissible activities, instead of having visitors apply for different visas for each type of activity. This will be of particular interest to people regularly travelling to the UK for work or business purposes.

Some guidance can be gained from the introductory paragraph, which states that a visitor is a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity. It should be noted that visitors as defined are not permitted to study or work in the United Kingdom unless specifically authorised to do so under one of the sections of the Immigration Rules.

Part V1 sets out the differences between visa nationals and non-visa nationals and the permission required to enter the United Kingdom. It describes how the fifteen previous visitor types have been replaced by four new simplified categories. As it happens, the majority of the categories have actually become subcategories of the new visitor (standard) category. Part V1 contains guidance and notes on multiple entry. There have been no changes in the maximum permitted length of stay for a visitor coming to the United Kingdom.

Visitors cannot study or work in the UK unless specifically permitted to do so by the Immigration Rules. As the rules now stand, there are four new visitor categories, refined down from fifteen previously. These are:

  1. Visitor (standard);

  2. Visitor for marriage or civil partnership;

  3. Visitor for permitted paid engagements; and

  4. Transit visitor.

Under the visitor (standard) category it is now permissible for all visitors to perform permitted activities which were not originally required to be declared on the visa application for the visit. The complete list of permissible activities is located towards the end of Appendix V. The list of permitted activities now includes for example Employees of a non-UK company delivering global training to staff of a multinational corporation based in the United Kingdom. Notably, Employers may be asked to provide undertakings requiring them to accommodate and maintain their “visitor” for the duration of the visitor’s stay.

In essence there has been a reorganisation and update of the former Appendix 1, which has been removed from the rules. Visitors Appendix 2 to the Immigration Rules for visitors outlines the visa national countries, listing the exceptions for nationals of particular countries and updating some country names to reflect any new status. Some aspects which have been deemed not to be visitor related have been shifted to a different part of the rules.


Mr. Sanjeev Bakhshi
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