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Immigration and visa advice

Inviting your family to visit you in the UK

Many students are visited by their family or friends from home while they are in the UK. Depending on where they are from, they may need to obtain a visa in order to come to the UK to visit you.

If your family/friends would like to visit you while you are in the UK, then first of all they need to check if they need a visa in order to visit. If they are a visa national and are able to obtain entry to the UK at the airport without applying for a visa in advance, they should still ensure they have documentation with them in their hand luggage to show the immigration officer.

How to Apply


There are two different application forms:

VAF1A - for tourism or visiting friends in the UK.

VAF1B - for visiting family in the UK.



Your visitors should read the immigration guidance carefully before applying. There is no specific list of documents they must show to get this visa, nor is there a specific amount of money that you or they must hold.

Your visitor will need to show UKBA that s/he:

• wants to visit the UK for 6 months or less

• intends to leave the UK at the end of their visit

• has enough money to support themselves

• does not intend to work in the UK

The embassy is also likely to require evidence that they have somewhere to stay during their time in the UK, and will want to see evidence of their reason for visiting, so will need additional evidence from you (see below).  Your visitors should check with the embassy/consulate if there are any further documents they need before they apply.

Please also be aware that visitors are not eligible for NHS health treatment. Your visitors should arrange their own travel/health insurance and have evidence of this when they make their application.

If your visitors are non-visa nationals and intend to obtain entry to the UK on arrival at the airport they should still have these documents with them in case the immigration officer wishes to see them.


Invitation letter

To help your visitor to get a visitor visa you can write them an invitation letter and provide them with some supporting documents. Post these to your family or friends and they can submit them with their visa application and other documents. Each person you invite will need their own original letter and documents from you. 

If you are financially supporting your visitor you will need to send an original bank statement, to demonstrate you have enough funds to do this. If your visitor is staying with you then you will need to state this in your letter and must send your accommodation contract/tenancy agreement as confirmation of your address and to show you have enough room for them. If they are staying in a hotel then you can submit a hotel booking, or they can book their own hotel or show evidence of their booking. 

You will always need to send them a copy of your passport details page and visa page or copy of your Biometric Residence Permit.

You will also always need to send a letter from the University confirming you are a student. You can request an invitation letter for this purpose from the Compass. The letter will be made out to the embassy at which your friends/relatives are applying for their visa.


 Visiting to attend a graduation ceremony

If your relatives/friends are coming to the UK to attend your graduation ceremony then you will need to obtain a visa assistance letter from the Graduation Office for them. You will need to book graduation tickets for yourself and your guests before you can request this letter.


Visiting London

If you're looking for things to do with your visitors in London, Visit London and Time Out have tons of tips and suggestions which you may find useful!


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