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.


Students coming to study in the UK come under the UK’s Points Based System.  In order to study in the UK and obtain a UK Student Visa (Tier 4 under the Points Based System), 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 Tier 4 sponsor, and will issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.  Once this has been issued you can apply for your Tier 4 Student Visa.

To be eligible for a Tier 4 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 Tier 4 Visas for more detail.


Most visas allowing work in the UK come under the UK’s Points Based System:

  • Tier 1 of the Points Based System is for High Value Migrants
  • Tier 2 is for Sponsored Migrants (those sponsored by a UK employer)
  • Tier 5 is for Temporary Workers and the Youth Mobility Scheme

For each Tier a minimum number of points must be attained; each Tier has set categories in which you can earn points.


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.

The Immigration Rules call this ‘settlement’ and, as a basic overview, require the following:

  • Evidence of the partner being settled in the UK, their immigration status, and that they support the settlement application
  • Evidence of the relationship, and that it is a relationship that qualifies for settlement
  • 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 settlement applications, such as age, financial dependence, and length of relationship.

See Nikki’s blog for top tips!

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 settlement 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.