Visa requirements for United Kingdom (UK)
The current processing time for a visa application is on average 7 weeks, therefore please ensure you check and apply for your visa as soon as possible to avoid delays.
To determine if you need a visa, visit www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.
How long will my application take?
The aim is to process visit applications within 15 working days from submitting biometrics, but is recommend that applications are made as early as possible allowing at least four weeks. In many locations, for an additional fee, you may be able to use the Priority and Super Priority visa service.
Can I do anything in advance to make the application process quicker?
Yes. When an application is started you will be asked to supply an email address and create a password. You will then be emailed a link to return to the application at a later point. This means the form can be started more than three months before the planned date of travel.
Are there any other ways to make my journey easier?
Nationals of some countries may be able to clear immigration control faster through the Registered Traveller Service. To be eligible you must have a visa or have visited the UK 4 times or more in the last 24 months. For further information about the Registered Traveller Service, please visit www.gov.uk/registered-traveller.
Reminder: National ID cards are no longer accepted as a valid travel document to enter the UK, therefore a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay will be required. If you are a national who does not require a visa to visit the UK, you do not need to apply for a visit visa to participate in UK hosted events if what you are coming to do is permitted under the visitor route (learn more. You can apply for entry on arrival in the UK.
As a standard visitor you may attend meetings, conferences, seminars, and interviews. The full list of visitor activities can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-permitted-activities.
Full instructions on what you need to do before, during, and after applying for a visa, and what to do once you enter the UK, can be found at www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/what-you-need-to-do.
Business-Related Events and Conferences in the UK - Visa Requirements
UK visas and immigration has circulated a guidance document on visa requirements for those attending business events and conferences in the UK.
Who needs a visa?
Anyone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland will not need a visa. Nationals of certain other "non-visa" countries such as the USA, Australia, and Brazil can request a visa on arrival in the UK. All other nationalities must apply before travelling. If you are not sure, check www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.
What type of visa do I need?
It depends how long you will be staying and what you will be doing while in the UK. If your are just coming to attend the SEG 2023 Conference, it is likely you need a Standard Visitor Visa (Business route).
NOTE: The full guidance does not specify the business route, but that is the correct route to take. A normal route Standard Visitor Visa (i.e., a tourist visa) should not be used. General business activities may include:
- Attending meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews
- Giving a one-off or short series of talks and speeches (at non-commercial events which will not make a profit for the organizer)
- Negotiating and signing deals and contracts
- Attending trade fairs for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling
- Carrying out site visits and inspections
- Being briefed on requirements of a UK based customer, provided work for the customer is done outside the UK
If you are receiving payment for any work, you might need a Permitted Paid Engagement visa. If you are not sure, check www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.
What do I need to do?
After making sure you know what visa to apply for, apply online then book and attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC), taking your passport, printed application form, and any other supporting documents (including your invitation letter), to give their biometric details (photo and fingerprints).
How long does it take?
The guidance suggests 15 working days from receipt of all information (including biometric data) to decision. However, they recommend invitation letters should be sent at least 8 weeks before an event to be sure. Visa applications can be made up to 3 months in advance of the planned date of travel.
What information do I need to include in the invitation letter?
There is guidance and an example letter on pages 6 and 7 of the documents, but essentially:
- Full name, as it appears in the passport
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Details, dates, and location of the event
- Dates of arrival in, and departure from, the UK
- Details of costs that will be covered by the host e.g.
- Flights, accommodation, transportation etc.
- Contact details in case UKVI staff need to verify the authenticity of the letter.