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How can family or friends apply for a visa to visit you in the UK

The Immigration Rules state that a General visitor:

  • may be admitted to the UK for a period not exceeding six months;
  • must intend to leave the UK at the end of the period of visit as stated by him;
  • must be able to maintain and accommodate himself adequately while in the UK by resources available to him or by resources available to relatives or friends;
  • must be able to meet the cost of return journey;
  • must not work whist in the UK;
  • must not be a child under the age of 18 (those under the age of 18 need to apply for a child visitor.)

How can members of my family or my friends apply for a visa to visit me in the UK?


Family members or friends of Tier 4 Students need a General Visitor Visa before traveling to the UK. General Visitor Visas are for those wanting to visit the UK for leisure, tourism and for those visiting a family member or friend who is living in the UK but who is not a permanent resident in the UK. Your family or friends should not apply for a Family Visitor visa as this is only applicable to those coming to the UK to visit someone with settled status. Tier 4 students are not considered to have settled status. 

The application should be made in the country where family members or friends live or in their country of nationality. They can apply up to 3 months before their date of travel. The Home Office state they should receive their decision within 3 weeks. They need to apply for a visa online

Family members or friends need to:

  • Register for an account 
  • Select the 'General' Visitor category
  • Fill in the application Form
  • Pay for the visa fee online
  • Print out their form and sign it
  • Book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre to enrol biometric information and submit the required supporting document evidence.

To select the correct visa online please choose the following choices from the three menus: 

Screen shot of General Visitor Visa online application form finder


What documents will my family member/ friend need to prepare?

Your  family member/ friend should check the supporting document checklist at the back of the relevant application form for a full list of documents that they will need to provide when applying for their visa. All documents need to be originals. As a guide they should include with their application:

  • Passport and any previous passports
  • If they are applying in a country other than their country of nationality they need to include evidence of permission to remain in that country
  • Two recent passport sized photograph that meet Home Office requirements;
  • Visa fee in local currency;
  • Unless single, evidence of marital status e.g. marriage certificate;
  • Evidence that either they or yourself have enough money to pay for their accommodation and living expenses during their stay and also for their return journey e.g. bank statements and payslips for the last six months.  
  • If they or you have made deposits in your bank account that are not in keeping with the account history then you may wish to explain the origins and timing of these deposits in a covering letter. 
  • Evidence that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit, e.g. a letter from their school/ university/ employer;
  • Planned itinerary, including details of any flight/ hotel bookings (if applicable), but the Home Office warn not to pay for accommodation or travel until the visa has been issued.
  • Your family member or friend may need to complete a TB test depending on where they are applying from. For further information please click here

A photocopy of each document in addition to the original should be submitted

Please refer here to the Home Office's Guidance for further information on supporting documents that could be provided.

What documents can I provide to support their application?

You should provide the following documents to support their application:

  • A personal letter of invitation. On the right hand side of this page you will find a template invitation letter which you can use;
  • A copy of your own passport personal details page and a copy of your current UK visa either in the form of a sticker in your passport or a Biometric Residence Permit;
  • A student status letter. This can be requested either by contacting Registry or via your SIMS on-line account


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.