UK Visa and Immigration FAQs


A. What is the Immigration Health Surcharge and how much does it cost?

The Immigration Health Surcharge lets certain visa holders in the UK access the National Health Service (NHS) as though they were UK residents. All non-EEA nationals must pay this fee.

The health surcharge is £200 per year and the total charge is set by the length of time you are permitted to stay in the UK. Tier 5 applicants are only required to pay £150 per year due to the nature of the working holiday visa.

B. What is a BRP card?

A biometric residence permit (BRP) shows a person’s immigration status in the UK, their biographic details, biometric information as well as whether they can access public funds. You will be required to have this card as proof of your right to stay, work or study in the UK.

C. Where do I collect my BRP card and how long do I have to do so?

You must collect your BRP card within 10 days of your arrival in the UK or before your 30-day vignette expires, whichever is the later. If you fail to collect your BRP within this time, you may be subject to a fine or even the cancellation of your visa. You will need to pick up your BRP at the UK Post Office branch nearest to your intended UK address, as stated on your application form.

D. When should I start my visa application process?

We recommend that you begin working on your application 90 days before your intended date of arrival in the UK.

E. How long will it take for my visa to be granted?

UK visas can take anything from 10 days to three months to be granted after you have lodged your application with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Here are the issuing times for some of the most common visas:

  • Spouse visa: Two to three months
  • Ancestry visa: Two to four weeks

F. What is the visa priority service and should I use it?

UKVI offer a fast-track service that ensures your application will be processed within five days to three weeks, excluding postage time.

If you require your passport or documents that you submitted for your visa, then you may want to think about using the priority service to have these returned to you as soon as possible.

This service is available for an additional fee.

G. May I travel outside of the UK once I have entered the country on my visa?

You should allow at least 10 days in the UK to collect your BRP card before leaving the UK to travel elsewhere.

H. Can I use certified documents to apply for my visa?

No. The UK government requires that you submit the original documents for your application. If you fail to do this, your application will be delayed until the original certificates are provided.

Spouse (family of a settled person) visa

A. How much does the spouse visa cost?

UKVI currently charges an application fee of £1,195 for the spouse visa. 1st Contact Visas charges an additional fee, which will be quoted when you lodge your application with us.

B. For how long do I need to be in a relationship to qualify for a spouse visa?

If you can prove that you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or UK settled person, or have been in a de facto relationship for more than two years, then you may apply for a spouse visa.

C. How long can I live and work in the UK on a spouse visa?

The spouse visa allows you to stay in the UK for 18 months. During that time, you may work without restriction, whether you’re employed or self-employed. You may also exit and re-enter the UK multiple times.

D. How much money/income do I need in order to qualify for the spouse visa?

There is a minimum income requirement of £18,600 to sponsor a partner (fiancé(e), spouse, unmarried partner) for settlement in the UK. The British Citizen/permanent resident is called the ‘sponsor’. The partner applying is called the ‘applicant’.

Income can come from:

  • Salaried employment of the sponsor (or applicant, where the applicant is already working legally in the UK on another visa)
  • Self-employment of the sponsor (or applicant, where the applicant is already working legally in the UK on another visa)
  • Cash savings – only savings above £16,000 are considered as available to offset the minimum income; if no income, savings of £62,500 held in the sponsor and/or applicant’s name for 6 months would be required (this is £18,600 x 2.5 years, plus the first £16,000 which is not counted)
  • State or private pension of either the sponsor or applicant
  • Maternity Allowance and bereavement benefits received in the UK by either the sponsor or the applicant
  • Property rental income for property in the UK or overseas, in the sponsor and/or applicant’s name, where the property is not their main residence
  • Dividends or other income from investments, stocks, shares, bonds or trust funds in the sponsor and/or applicant’s name
  • Interest from savings in the sponsor and/or applicant’s name
  • Maintenance payments from the applicant’s former partner in relation to the applicant and former partner’s children that are cared for by the applicant
    Maintenance grants for UK students.
  • Certain combinations of the above are allowed, feel free to contact us if you wish to know whether a particular combination can be used.

With most of the above, the evidence of this income must cover the 6 or 12 months prior to the application. In some cases this will mean that the sponsor needs to be present and earning in the UK for 6 months prior to their partner applying. The requirements are slightly different for each income form, however, so if you want to know what your options are please contact us with your circumstances and we’ll clarify those for you!

Ancestry visa

A. Who can apply for ancestry visa?

You can apply for a UK Ancestry visa if you:

  • are a Commonwealth citizen
  • are applying from outside the UK
  • are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK
  • are able and planning to work in the UK
  • meet the other eligibility requirements

B. How long it will take?

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Example You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.

C. How much is Ancestry Visa fee?

Your UK Ancestry visa will cost £496.

You may also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

D. How long can I stay?

You can stay in the UK for 5 years on this visa.

You can apply to extend your visa.

You can also apply to settle in the UK permanently.

E. What is it that I can and can’t do?

You can:

You can’t:

  • change (‘switch’) into this visa if you’re already in the UK on another visa
  • get public funds

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