Visa Information

Visa Requirements for Incoming Groups from Visa National Countries


Procedure to apply for entry clearance to travel to UK

Complete application form VAF1. Available from the Visa Service Directorate of the UK Border Agency, British High Commission / Embassy and Visa Application Centres. In some countries the British High Commission / Embassy / Consulate have agreements with commercial partners and have opened Visa Application Centres that accept applications on their behalf.

Biometrics have to be taken which involves scanning finger prints and having a full-face digital photograph. Biometrics are taken at the Visa Application Centre and, in countries where Visa Application Centres are not operating, at the British High Commission / Embassy / Consulate.

Supporting Documents

Please ensure that all the relevant original documents are attached to the Visa Application Form, it is better to have too much than too little. The list below is for guidance only. It is not a list of documents that should or must be supplied. The UK Immigration Rules make it clear that it is the applicant's responsibility to satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that they are genuinely seeking entry to the UK for the purpose and duration that is stated. Submission of particular documents does not guarantee that a visa will be issued.

It is better to explain why a document is omitted than to submit a false document. The application will be automatically refused and the applicant may be banned from coming to the UK for 10 years if a false document is used, lies are told or relevant information withheld.


  • A valid travel document or passport. (prompt your partners to obtain their passports as soon as possible - passports will be necessary to apply for visas and passports require birth certificates)
  • One passport sized colour photograph. This must not be more than 6 months old. This should be:
    • taken against a light coloured background
    • clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
    • printed on normal photographic paper, and
    • full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless worn for cultural or religious reasons (but the face must not be covered).
  • The appropriate fee in the local currency (this is non-refundable if the visa application is turned down)
  • If the applicant is working / engaged in employment - provide a letter (on headed paper) from your employer confirming the grant of leave, your salary slips, and a selection of the following: your bank statements, annual tax return, letter of appointment/contract of employment are types of evidence that should be attached
  • If the applicant is self-employed - evidence of his/her business and income from the business. This could be in the form of registration document of your business, your bank statements, your tax returns, membership certificates with any business chambers/organisations.
  • If a student, a letter from their school/college confirming you are undertaking studies, your attendance record, any upcoming holiday period and when the academic term is likely to resume following the holidays
  • Previous passport(s)
  • Previous visa applications, whatever the outcome, should be declared (including for other European countries and the United States) - some information is shared.
  • Evidence of how your trip is to be funded
  • A planned itinerary , if held
  • Supporting letter from sponsor
  • Details of flights and accommodation. (Do NOT purchase any tickets until you have it confirmed that visas have been issues. Evidence of provisional booking information may, however be helpful).


  • The visitor must show that he/she is only coming to the UK for no more than 6 months and they intend to leave at the end of the 6 months.
  • They have enough money to support themselves in the UK without having to work or needing help from any public funds unless you are offering to provide support and accommodation, in which case you must provide evidence of your ability to do so (please see bullet points below).
  • You must send any supporting documents to the person you are sponsoring so that they can include them with their visa application. Please do not send any documents direct to the visa application centre.
  • There are no hard-and-fast rules about what documents you should produce when sponsoring a visitor to the UK.

The following would be helpful.

  • A letter of sponsorship to your partner, inviting them to come to the UK on an exchange visit. This needs to be sent to the incoming visitors and enclosed with their visa application. Also enclose a copy of the agreed programme. (They should travel with this letter in case it is needed at Immigration control on arrival in the UK).
  • Confirmation of sponsorship of living costs in UK. Support your partner's application for visas by confirming that your organisation is responsible for meeting the costs of the formal programme in the UK. This is to provide reassurance that the visitors have the means to support themselves and will not become a burden to UK tax payers. If you are sponsoring airfares confirm this. To support this provide your organisations last six months bank statements.
  • A letter to the Senior Entry Clearing Officer, to confirm that you have formally invited your partners to the UK to participate in an exchange. Enclose a copy of the letter of invitation to your partners and the programme for information. It is important to establish the bona fides of the relationship. Therefore, provide some background context and history of the exchange. If your group had contact with the High Commission staff during your overseas visit make reference to this. In your letter clearly list the names, addresses, dates of birth and passport numbers of your visitors. If possible, provide brief biographical information on each individual participant. If an individual sponsor, give details of your occupation and salary or if an organisation is sponsoring give an outline of organisation and bank statements to show how you will provide support and accommodation for the applicant.

Arrival in UK - Port of Entry

It is advisable to do the following (but not mandatory):

  • Provide your partners with a letter addressed to the Chief Immigration Officer at the port of Entry (eg Heathrow/Gatwick). This should confirm the purpose of their visit to UK, the dates of their visit, and that your organisation will be responsible for visitor's living costs for the duration of the visit. Indicate that you will be at Airport Arrivals to meet your visitors and will be available to confirm any matters should the need arise at Immigration Control - and provide a mobile number in case Immigration need to contact you. Each member of the visiting group should carry a copy of this letter.
  • As a back up system, write directly to the Chief Immigration Officer at the UK port of entry a week before your visitor's arrival with the same information as the previous paragraph above.
  • If there are any problems at port of entry, visitors with prior entry clearance have the right of appeal.

If you are bringing over a group of people for a specific reason eg a large conference, it it is advisable to let the UK Borders Agency know and they will inform the Entry Clearance Officers in the country they will be applying for their visas to ensure that as many people as possible are granted visas. To alert the UK Borders Agency email Mark Walmsley or Charles Wilson outlining your organisation aims, the reason for the visit, the names of those who will be applying for visas, the duration of the visit.

To help with issues that arise please contact Mark Walmsley or Charles Wilson

If you need to obtain a visa very quickly ie 48hrs for an emergency, please contact Mark or Charles.