The costs and process of moving to the UK

Inviting friends and family to come visit you in the UK

In this chapter I’ll detail:

Standard Visitor visa

Your friends and family might wish to visit you in the UK so that you can spend time together as well as see and experience the various attractions around the country. If they are not exempt (this depends on their nationality), then they will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

The full requirements are available on the official UK Government page for Standard Visitor visas which also details what the visitors can and cannot do in the UK. The documents they will need to provide is extensive, as they will have to prove that (among other things) they have:

  • Valid reasons for visiting the UK
  • Proper and appropriate accommodations
  • Access to sufficient funds (either self-funded or by a third-party, such as you) to support themselves
  • Strong ties to their home country where they will return to after their UK visit (i.e. they will not illegally over-stay in the UK)
  • A genuine relationship with you

As a supporting document you should provide them a letter of invitation that they will include as part of their application. This is important especially if you’re helping them apply, as it establishes your relationship with them and makes clear what kind of support you will be providing them during their visit. A letter of invitation will strengthen their application, giving it a better case for approval.

I’m sharing the template I use; download the letter of invitation in support of a visitor visa application here. The template has placeholders for all the information noted above, and guidance on how to fill-out and print the document. Edit it accordingly, and send it (along with other required evidence from you) to the visitor so they can include it when they submit their application.

Valid reasons for visiting the UK

Visitors generally can perform tourist activities as well as business-related (not work – this is different) activities as outlined in the UK Government’s Visitor Rules. What they cannot do are:

  • Do paid work
  • Do unpaid work
  • Live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • Get public funds
  • Marry or enter into a civil partnership, or provide notice of marriage or civil partnership

A detailed guidance for visitors can be found at the official Visit Guidance by the UK Government.

You must ensure that the invitation letter clearly indicates the reasons the visitor is coming to UK, and that those reasons are valid.

Proper and appropriate accommodations

If you are accommodating the visitors in your home then you’ll need to prove that:

  • You legally live where you claim to live: this can be your lease agreement or your council tax bill
  • Your residence is physically sufficient to house you and your guests: this can be your lease agreement showing the number of bedrooms your residence has, or a letter from your agent or landlord

If your visitors will be staying in paid accommodations then they will need to show that they can afford this on top of the other expenditures for their trip as well as their other expenditures in their home country while they are away.

Access to sufficient funds to support themselves

Your visitors will need to show they have enough liquid funds to support themselves during their visit, and that they have had access to these funds for some time.

As the cost of living varies wildly in the UK depending on location, it is not prescribed how much these funds should be. The visitor should demonstrate that they understand what the costs are for where they are going and what they are planning to do, and that they have funds in excess of this, on top of the money set aside for regular expenditures (such as mortgage) in their home country. Additionally, they should be able to show that this money has been available in their account for some time; this duration is not prescribed but six months is a safe figure to use.

If you are paying for their visit then you’ll need to show that you can afford this on top of your own day-to-day costs of living in the UK.

Strong ties to their home country

The UK wants certainty that visitors will go back to their home country after their visit, and not stay in the UK illegally. Visitors thus will need to provide evidence that they have strong ties to their home country. This can be shown in a number of ways:

  • The visitor has a stable job in their home country
  • The visitor owns properties or businesses in their home country
  • The visitor has other relatives that depend on them, living in their home country

All of these will have to be evidenced and included as part of their application. You should reiterate in your support letter that the visitor will return to their home country after they visit you in the UK.

Genuine relationship with you

You need to show how you are connected to the visitor. If you are friends or colleagues, you need to provide more detail (as opposed to if you were family); for instance, how you first met, or how long you have known each other.

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