British Immigration

‘British immigration’ covers all non-British nationals who want to enter the UK for any reason – it could be for a short visit, for a work assignment, to study, to live permanently, or a variety of other reasons!  For many, a visa is required before they can travel to the UK.  For others they can arrive in the UK and simply ask the Immigration Officer to let them in.  Whether or not you need a visa depends on two things:

  • Your nationality, and
  • The reason you want to travel to the UK.

A British visa is valid for the whole of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Whether you want to visit the UK, work, study or live with a British partner, the chances are that you will need a visa to do so.


Some nationalities need a visit visa whatever the purpose of their visit to the UK; other nationalities only require a visit visa in certain circumstances.

Visit visas can cover tourism, visiting friends or family, business trips, short courses of study, visiting entertainers, visiting professors, to name but a few.

Even when a visit visa is not required, there are certain times when it is recommended, such as when you have previously been questioned or refused entry on arrival in the UK, or if your circumstances are unusual.


In order to study in the UK and obtain a UK Student Visa (formerly known as a Tier 4 visa), a student must already have obtained an offer of a place at an educational establishment.

The educational establishment must be registered with the UK’s Home Office as a student sponsor, and will issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.  Once this has been issued you can apply for your  Student Visa.

To be eligible for a Student Visa you must score 40 points in total:

  • Having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies – 30 points
  • Having enough money to cover tuition fees and living costs (‘Maintenance’) – 10 points

See Student Visas for more detail.


There are various visas allowing work in the UK:

  • Global Talent visas
  • High Potential Individuals – graduates from certain highly regarded universities
  • UK Ancestry visas, for those from a UK Commonwealth country with a UK-born grandparent
  • Skilled Worker visas for Sponsored Migrants (those sponsored by a UK employer)
  • T5 is for Temporary Workers and the Youth Mobility Scheme

Family visas

If you have a partner or are a dependant of someone living permanently in the UK (they are either a British Citizen or have no immigration restrictions placed upon them), you may qualify to move to the UK to live with them permanently.

As a basic overview, these visas require the following:

  • Evidence of the partner being ‘settled’ in the UK (which just means they have permission to live there permanently, whether physically there just now or not), their immigration status, and that they support the visa application
  • Evidence of the relationship, and that it is a relationship that qualifies for a visa
  • Evidence that you will be sufficiently maintained and suitably accommodated in the UK without need for public funds to support you.

There are other requirements that are relevant for certain types of these applications, such as age, physical dependence, and length of relationship.

As some of the most expensive, lengthy and complex applications it can be worth using an immigration advisor to support you.  Don’t hesitate to contact de Prey Consulting  with questions – Nikki de Prey is happy to talk you through whether you are likely to qualify for this type of visa, and what the requirements are for your particular type of application.  She can talk you through preparing the application yourself, if it appears to be straightforward, or can prepare it with you from start to finish – she’s here to help in whatever way you need!

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About Nikki de Prey

de Prey Consulting is an immigration consultancy based in Edinburgh, UK. Nikki advises clients on the variety of visa applications for entering or remaining in the UK. For more information read about her background in About dPC.