A visa-national needs to make an application for ‘leave’ (permission) to enter before they are allowed to travel to the UK. This is commonly known as obtaining ‘entry clearance’ or ‘visa’.
Visa-nationals must also obtain entry clearance before travelling from a British Embassy or High Commission whatever the purpose of their travel, and they may require a transit visa. A current list of visa nationals can be found on the Home Office website.
Non visa-nationals must obtain entry clearance before travelling to the United Kingdom if they intend to come to the UK for a period of over 6 months and, in certain circumstances, it may be advisable to apply for entry clearance even if the trip is for less than six months.
To apply for entry clearance you will need to make an application at a British Embassy or High Commission. You will need to complete the necessary application forms and you will be charged a fee. You will also be asked to provide biometric data (fingerprints and photographs).
A visa will show the purpose of your travel and how long you can stay in the United Kingdom. You will normally be able to enter and leave the United Kingdom as often as you like during the period in which your visa remains valid, unless your visa was granted for a period of six months or less.
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