When applying for a visit visa, applicants must demonstrate that they are a ‘genuine visitor’ to the UK. Here, we look at how applicants can meet this requirement and avoid their application being refused.
Who is a ‘genuine visitor’?
The Immigration Rules for visitors lists criteria that an applicant must meet to be deemed a genuine visitor, for the purpose of their visit visa application. To meet the genuine visitor requirement under paragraph V 4.2, the applicant must satisfy the Home Office that they:
- will leave the UK at the end of their visit;
- will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home;
- will not undertake any of the prohibited activities;
- have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to their dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment; and
- are genuinely seeking entry or stay for a purpose that is permitted under the Visitor route.
How is the ‘genuine visitor’ requirement assessed?
The Home Office guidance provides that caseworkers are required to consider the following factors in assessing whether an applicant is a genuine visitor. They include reviewing:
- previous immigration history, including visits to the UK and other countries;
- the duration of previous visits and whether this was significantly longer than originally stated on their visa application or on arrival;
- financial circumstances, as well as their family, social and economic background;
- personal and economic ties to their country of residence;
- the cumulative period of time the applicant has visited the UK and their pattern of travel over the last 12-month period; and
- whether the information and reasons for the visit are credible and correspond to their personal, family, social and economic background.
What evidence should be provided to support the genuine visitor rule?
Whilst the Home Office provides a guide on the supporting documents to assist with a visit visa application, unfortunately this provides fairly basic information on documentation. As the genuine visitor requirement is fairly subjective, with caseworkers having a large degree of discretion, we recommend providing a range of documents relevant to the following:
- the applicant’s intention to leave the UK at the end of their visit and strong ties to their home country (for example, evidence of a job, study or family ties in their home country);
- proof that whilst they are in the UK, they will have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependants; and
- evidence that they have sufficient funds generally to be able to afford the fairly high cost of a visit to the UK and for their return journey.
Visit visa refusals
Visit visa applications in general have a high risk of refusal. Often, refusals are on the basis that the decision maker does not believe the applicant is a genuine visitor.
The ability to challenge a visit visa refusal decision is extremely limited. It is therefore important that applicants review the relevant rules and guidance to prepare a successful application.
How our immigration solicitors can help
We have significant experience in assisting individuals with complex circumstances, including those who have previously received a refusal, to make successful visit visa applications.
If you require advice on an application for a UK visit visa, one of our team would be happy to have an initial discussion. Please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.