People wishing to visit the UK must apply in the category which applies to them individually. The Immigration Rules currently provide for the following twelve categories: general, child, business (which includes "academic visitors”), sports, entertainer, student, prospective entrepreneur, visitors in transit, visitors for private medical treatment, visitors for marriage or to enter a civil partnership, visitors as the parent of a child at school in the UK, permitted paid engagements for specified categories of fee-paid workers on short-term assignments outside the points based system. Family visitors are included in the general category.

The Immigration Rules additionally provide for applications for visas from spouses, civil, unmarried and same sex partners of British citizens or of people who have indefinite leave to remain who wish to join them in the UK. Similar provisions are made for children of parents and relatives who are British nationals or who have indefinite leave to remain.

Nationals of the countries comprising the European Economic Area (citizens of the countries comprising the European Union as well as those of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and their family members (whether or not they are themselves EEA nationals) are not subject to the UK’s Immigration Rules. Instead their admission into and stay in the UK is subject to European Union law, implemented in the UK by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

A separate regime applies to nationals of Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the European Union relatively recently. There are no restrictions to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals establishing themselves in business in the UK or if they are self-employed, but those who are working for UK employers are subject to the Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006. These regulations were amended in December 2011, extending the employment restrictions until 31 December 2013.

For further information please call 0207 654 3797 or email