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How to Apply for a UK Visa When You’re Outside Your Home Country: UK-centric Tips

Most online advice for applying for your UK visitor visa is aimed at those applying from their home country. This is because this is the most common

Most online advice for applying for your UK visitor visa is aimed at those applying from their home country. This is because this is the most common route into the UK. But since the earliest you can apply for your UK visitor visa is three months before your visit, there is a chance you could be outside of your home country when the application window opens.

What should you do in this situation? Is it better to return to your home country to start your application? While certainly possible, this is an expensive option. A far better option would be to apply for your UK visitor visa from wherever you are in the world.

While this might be more complicated, it certainly isn’t unusual. Read on to learn more about how you can apply for your UK visitor visa from outside the UK and increase your chances of securing your visa in time for your trip.

Do I need a UK visitor visa?

The first step before spending money on a visa is to check that you need one. The most common route to visit the UK temporarily is on a Standard Visitor Visa. With this visa category, you can visit the UK for up to six months. The purpose for your visit could include:

  • For tourism, such as a holiday or vacation
  • To visit friends and family
  • To volunteer with a registered charity for up to 30 days
  • To pass through the UK on your way to another destination (also known as “in transit”)
  • For certain business activities, such as a meeting or interview
  • To take part in a school exchange programme
  • To take part in a recreational course for up to 30 days
  • To study, complete a placement or to sit an exam
  • As an academic, senior doctor or dentist
  • For medical purposes

Provided the reason for your visit falls into one of the above categories, you should have few obstacles to securing a UK visitor visa. You can see the full requirements and restrictions for this visa category on the Home Office website.

Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa for your visit, or you may be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without applying for a visa. You can confirm your status here. 

This form will ask you for your nationality and then the reason for your visit. So, for an Australian coming to the UK to visit family, a visa would not be required. However, eligibility requirements still apply, and there are certain things you cannot do in the UK, such as claim public funds or carry out paid or unpaid work. 

Can you apply for a UK visitor visa outside of your country of residence?

Yes, you can apply for a UK visitor visa outside of your country of residence. The application process is completed online, you will simply need to state your location when you submit your application.

It’s important to note that you will need to be legally present in the country you are applying from. Before submitting your application, confirm the visa requirements of the country you are applying from.

Submitting false information on a UK visa application could lead your application to be rejected and you could also face a ban on applying again for 10 years. Even if you have misunderstood the question or forgotten to include information, this could be seen as an omission. It’s very important to disclose everything on your application to avoid issues.

Applying for a UK visitor visa while travelling

The most common reason that individuals will need to apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa from outside their home country is because they are travelling. If you will be travelling during the three months prior to your UK visit, you will have no choice but to apply from outside your home country.

Thankfully, the entire process is managed online. However, you will need to attend a visa application centre to prove your identity. The visa application centre may hold on to your identity documents, including your passport, while you await your decision. The decision process can take up to three weeks.

This can complicate things if you are travelling. It simply means that you will need to arrange to be close to a visa application centre as part of your travels if you would like to include a trip to the UK in your travels.

We would always recommend carrying a secondary form of ID, such as a driving licence, and also photocopying your passport so that you have a copy while you await the outcome of your UK Standard Visitor Visa application. 

How do you apply for a UK visa outside of your home country?

The first step is to apply for your visa online. You can use the UK Home Office online portal to create an account and begin the application process. You can save your application and return to it at a later date if you need to collect more information.

The application will ask for details such as:

  • The dates you plan to visit the UK
  • Where you will be staying during your visit
  • How much you expect your trip to cost
  • Your current home address and how long you have lived there
  • Your parents’ names and dates of birth (if known)
  • How much you earn in a year
  • Details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences you may have committed

You may be asked to provide additional information, depending on your circumstances. This could include:

  • Details of your travel history for the past 10 years
  • Your employer’s address and telephone number
  • Your partner’s name, date of birth and passport number
  • The contact details of anyone paying for your trip
  • The contact details of family members you have in the UK
  • A certificate proving you’ve had a tuberculosis (TB) test

Once you have submitted your application, you will then need to arrange to visit a visa application centre. There are visa application centres all over the world, but you may need to travel to reach your nearest centre. You can see a full list of visa application centres here. If there isn’t a visa application centre in the country you are applying from, this list will also tell you where you need to go.

How long does the process take?

Once you have submitted your application, proven your identity and provided the required documents, it will typically take around three weeks to get a decision. You will receive a decision by email or by post. The visa application centre might hold on to your identity documents until they reach a decision. A decision will typically take up to 3 weeks.

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