Visit visas


01   Applying for a visa

Since the immigration rules for visitors were changed in April 2015, we have seen a huge increase in refusals for people trying to bring family members to the UK. You are now required to show much more evidence to prove that the person visiting you has an intention to return home. See below for more information.

All information on coming to the UK for a visit can be found

Each individual travelling will be required to make an online application (including children) and will also need to attend your nearest visa application centre for an appointment to submit biometrics.

Supporting documents 

The supporting documents are very important; the visitor will need to show that they meet the main requirements of the rules listed below:

  1. They are able to support themselves financially whilst in the UK
    e.g Bank statements and proof of earnings – a letter from their employer
    **There is no set level of funds required for an applicant to show this.
    If you are the sponsor and you are providing financial support, then you will need to supply a letter confirming your relationship with the visitor and you will need to provide bank statements and payslips to prove that you have enough money to support them.
  2. They have somewhere to stay
    The sponsor (soldier or spouse) will need to provide proof that the visitor can stay in the quarter. See below for further information.  If you live in your own house, you should provide the address and a letter confirming that they are able to stay with you.
  3. They intend to return home at the end of their visit 
    This is a tricky one and is the reason most visit applications are refused. They will need to provide as much evidence as possible of their personal circumstances in their home country e.g. family/employment/studies/financial circumstances. If they have stated on the online form that they have an income in their home country, they will need to provide evidence to prove this. If they don’t, the application will be refused. We strongly recommend that you read the guidance about ‘genuineness and credibility’ on pages 15-18 at

Whilst not a requirement, we would recommend that the visitor provides a supporting statement/covering letter with the application to explain the purpose of travel and to give detail of their circumstances in their home country. However, it is essential that anything you write in this statement can be backed up with evidence in the form of supporting documents. Download a template supporting letter.

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02   What do I do if the visa is refused?

There is a limited right of appeal for visit visas, you may re-apply at any time (unless the application was refused under general grounds, which restricted your return to the UK). You must ensure that the reasons why your previous application was refused are fully addressed, either through written explanation and/or submitting additional documents.

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03   What can AFF do?

We are happy to provide advice when making initial applications, but we do not have the resources to assist with complex refusal cases. In such circumstances, we can refer you to an immigration advisor we trust who will not charge an unreasonable fee.

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04   Staying in a quarter

Changes to rules on visitors staying in your quarter mean that you are able to apply for them to stay longer than 28 days in any 93-day period with permission from DIO in consultation with the Local Service Commander.

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05   Access to healthcare

You should ensure that all visitors are covered through medical or travel insurance prior to travel. A few recent cases have highlighted the huge costs involved for treatment if something goes wrong.

Further information can be found at

GP/primary care treatment
GPs have discretion to accept any person, including overseas visitors, to be either fully registered as a measure of an NHS patient, or as a temporary resident if they are to be in an area for between 24 hours and three months.

No registration application can be refused on the grounds of race, gender, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, diversity or medical condition.

In reality, this means that the practice’s discretion to refuse a patient is limited. There is no minimum period that a person needs to have been in the UK before a GP can register them. Furthermore, GPs have a duty to provide free of charge treatment, which they consider to be immediately necessary or an emergency, regardless of whether that person is an overseas visitor or registered with that practice.

Hospital treatment
If you are visiting England from a non-EEA country, even if you are a former UK resident, you need to ensure you are covered for healthcare through personal medical or travel insurance for the duration of your visit. If you need NHS treatment and you have not arranged insurance, you will be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless an exemption category applies to either you or the treatment.

If you are a non-EEA national, failure to pay this charge may have an effect on any future immigration application you make, and you risk being turned down.

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06   Visitors for childminding

The visit guidance states:

“Where a family member is coming to look after a child in the UK, this is permitted provided it is for a short visit and does not amount to the relative being employed as a child-minder. You must be satisfied that the visit is of a short duration and the relative is a genuine visitor.”

So it is possible to come to help look after a child during a soldier’s deployment, for example to provide emotional and practical support to a spouse, but it is unlikely that the Home Office will allow family members to come over on a regular basis to look after the children of single soldiers.  It would be expected, in such circumstances, that the soldier would have made other UK-based arrangements for the care of their children.

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07   Extending visit visas

(a) Visas issued for less than 6 months: A standard visitor and a visitor for marriage or civil partnership, who was granted a visit visa or leave to enter for less than six months may be granted an extension of stay as a visitor so that the total period they can remain the UK (including both the original grant and the extension of stay) does not exceed six months. An application will need to be made using form FLR(IR) and the full cost paid. See Application to extend stay in the UK: FLR(IR).

(b) Extending stay on medical grounds: the threshold is set very high, leave is only granted in exceptional circumstances. UKVI guidance ‘Human rights claims on medical grounds‘ explains the decision making process but you are advised to seek qualified immigration advice. AFF cannot advise on these cases.

(c) Extending stay on other compassionate grounds: again grants of leave are rare and you are advised to seek qualified immigration advice as AFF cannot advise on these cases. See Leave outside the Immigration Rules

For all other cases, it would not be advisable to make an application to extend, you should leave the UK and return at a later date.

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08   How many times can I visit in a year?

Information taken from the Visit Guidance page 21 ‘Frequent or successive visits’ states:
“There is no specified maximum period which an individual can spend in the UK in any period such as ‘6 months in 12 months’. However, if it is clear from an individual’s travel history that they are making the UK their home you should refuse their application”.

The caseworker will check

  • The purpose of the visit and intended length of stay stated
  • The number of visits made over the past 12 months, including the length of stay on each occasion
  • The time elapsed since the last visit, and if this amounts to the individual spending more time in the UK than in their home country
  • The purpose of return trips to the visitor’s home country and if this is used only to seek re-entry to the UK
  • The links they have with their home country
  • Evidence the UK is their main place of residence, for example
    • if they have registered with a GP
    • send their children to UK schools
  • The history of previous applications, for example if the visitor has previously been refused under the family rules and subsequently wants to enter as a visitor, you must assess if they are using the visitor route to avoid the rules in place for family migrants joining British or settled persons in the UK.

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