17 September 2020

If you wish to visit the UK, you may need to acquire a UK Standard Visitor Visa, depending on what nationality you hold.  During the time of an international pandemic, we are routinely asked if foreign nationals can visit the UK and whether there are any restrictions placed on those entering the country from overseas?

As we enter into mid-Autumn, with winter fast approaching, the UK is set for a significant increase in Covid-19 cases and sadly, deaths.  The country’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer stated in a recent press conference:

“We have in a bad sense, literally turned a corner, although only relatively recently. At this point, the seasons are against us, we are now going into the seasons, late autumn and winter, which benefit respiratory viruses and it is very likely they will benefit Covid as they do flu.”

Unlike many countries, the UK’s border has reamined open.  Therefore, it has always been possible to enter the UK, even at the peak of the pandemic (so far) in March/April 2020.

What is a UK Standard Visitor Visa?

The UK Standard Visitor Visa is used by a range of people wanting to come to the UK, including:

  • Businesspeople wishing to come to the UK for a conference, meeting, or training course
  • Sportspeople/athletes
  • Musicians, actors, entertainers, performers
  • Academics, researchers, students
  • Doctor and dentists as part of a clinical attachment
  • Entrepreneurs seeking funding for a business venture in the UK

To get a Standard Visitor Visa, you will need to show:

  • you will leave the UK at the end of your stay (most commonly a return airplane or Eurostar ticket)
  • you can support yourself and your dependent family members (your spouse/partner and any children under 18 years) financially
  • if you do not have a return ticket home, you have the financial means to pay for one

There may be additional eligibility requirements depending on the purpose of your stay in the UK.

Do I have to quarantine if I come to the UK as a visitor?

The government guidelines state that if you are coming to the UK from any country, you must provide your journey and contact details in advance.  Failure to do so could result in it taking longer for you to enter Britain at the border.

Furthermore, if you are arriving from certain countries, you will need to self-isolate in the place you are staying for 14 days.  If you do not do this, you may be fined up to £1,000.   You can find a list of countries from which citizens/residence are not required to self-isolate here.

The self-isolation rules apply if you have made a ‘transit stop’ in the previous 14 days in any country that is not on the list linked to above.

If I become unwell with Covid-19, can I access healthcare in the UK?

If you are visiting the UK or any other country, it is imperative that you take out travel insurance that includes comprehensive healthcare cover.  However, overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for:

  • testing for Coronavirus (even if the test shows you do not have Coronavirus)
  • treatment for Coronavirus

Final words

The best way to protect your interests and ensure you are following the UK government guidelines regarding Covid-19 is to obtain the advice of an immigration Solicitor when applying for your Standard Visitor Visa.  They will provide up-to-date information on the current status of Covid-19 in Britain and any extra steps you may be required to take before or after you enter the country.

To find out more about applying for a UK Standard Visitor Visa, please call us on +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or fill in our contact form.

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