Applying for a UK visa in China
This page explains how you can apply for a visa to come to the UK if you are currently in China.
If you currently have temporary permission to stay in China (for example, as a student or a visitor), you can only apply for some types of UK visa - see 'More information' below.
Business visit visas
If you are a regular business traveller, see the Business Service . This gives information on our select business scheme (SBS) and premium services, which may be available to you. It also gives information on our long-term visit visas of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.
Tourism visit visas
If you are applying for a visa to visit the UK for tourism an independent traveller, please see the independent travellers guide on the right hand side of the page. This is a step by step guide outlining how to apply for a general visit visa to visit the UK.
Approved Destination Status (ADS) group travel
If you are applying for a visa to visit the UK for Tourism and you are applying as part of an ADS group, please see the ADS guide on the right hand side of the page. This is a step by step guide outlining how to apply for an ADS visa to visit the UK.
Approved Destination Status
The Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme is an agreement between the British Government and the National Tourism Administration of China (CNTA) to facilitate the visit of Chinese tourist groups to the UK. The Approved Destination Status scheme is unique to China and is the only route for group tourism from China to the UK. Over 90 Chinese travel agencies are currently accredited to submit ADS visa applications to UK Visas and Immigration through the VFS Visa Application Centres. ADS visas are valid for 30 days and require successful applicants to enter, leave and travel within the territory of the UK as a member of a tour group.
If you are a travel agent and would like further information about the ADS scheme and how to join, please email Beijing.ADS@fco.gov.uk.
Summer and winter school visas
If you, or your child, are applying for a visit visa to travel to the UK for a short summer or winter school course, you will need to apply through a registered agent. For more information on becoming a registered agent, please visit the British Council website . If you would like information on finding a registered agent, please contact the British Council directly.
Visas for parents of students
If you have a child studying in the UK, and you would like to visit them you can apply for a general visit visa. You can find more information on how to do this on the supporting documents page. You may be eligible to apply for a long-term visa if you have previously travelled to the UK, please see the addtional services page for further information on long-term visas.
All visa categories
When to apply
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. We strongly advise you not to confirm your travel arrangements until you have received your visa. To find out how long we usually take to process your type of visa, go to the Visa processing times page.
Before you apply
Before you apply, you must:
- prepare the supporting documents that you will need;
- be ready to submit your visa application and enrol your fingerprints and photograph (known as biometric information) at one of our visa application centres; and
- be able to pay the visa application fee. The Visa application fees and guides pages explain how much your visa application will cost.
How to apply
To apply for a visa, you must:
- complete and submit a visa application form online; and
- visit one of our visa application centres.
From 30 April 2012 we will not accept any handwritten application forms. You must complete your application online following the directions below.
You can find the online application form under 'Do it online' on the right side of this page. To apply online, simply follow the link and enter your details as requested.
Once you have completed your online application form, you must print and sign your completed form. If you do not have access to a printer when you apply, you will be able to log in and print out the form later. If you have used our new optional service of paying online, please also print off the confirmation email which you will receive from WorldPay as proof of payment and take this along with you to the visa application centre.
When you have completed your online application, you will receive an email message containing your application number (also known as a 'GWF reference'). Please make a note of this number.
Making an appointment
As part of your online application, you should use the online appointment system to book an appointment to attend the visa application centre. You can book, change or cancel your booking online. Your appointment must be no more than 90 days after the date when you completed and submitted your online visa application form. Your appointment should take no longer than 30 minutes.
Summer School and Approved Destination Status (ADS) groups must complete an online application, but should not make an online appointment. The group leader should contact the local UK visa application centre to make a group appointment.
Visiting the application centre
To complete the application process, you must visit one of our visa application centres in person. You must submit:
- a signed print-out of the online application form;
- your passport; and
- your supporting documents
- if you have paid online, please also bring along the confirmation email you will receive from Worldpay as proof of payment.
At the application centre, we will collect your biometric information (digital photograph and fingerprints).
Please remember to submit your application early. Our target is to process 90 per cent of non-settlement applications in 15 working days (3 weeks).
Booking biometric appointments
If you are applying for a visitor, Tier 1, Tier 2 or settlement entry visa you must not choose the option of 'Tier 4 applicants' in the visa category when booking an appointment. Booking an appointment under the incorrect category or block booking appointments can lead to delays for yourself and other customers.
Paying your visa application fee
You must pay your visa application fee online using a MasterCard, Visa, China Union Pay card or Alipay. We do not accept any other types of cards.
When your online payment has been taken, you will receive a confirmation email from our payment provider WorldPay. You must submit a printout of this email as proof of payment when you submit your application at the visa application centre. If you would like to withdraw your application and have your visa fee refunded, please use our refund request form.
If biometric information has been submitted and/or your application has been processed, you are not entitled to a refund either from UK Visas and Immigration or your card issuer. For more information, please see the terms and conditions of service.
If you have applied for the wrong visa category, you will need to withdraw your application and reapply. Please follow the guidance above to request a refund, and then begin a new application.
Will you need to be interviewed?
In most cases, our staff will make a decision based on the documents you submit with your visa application. Therefore it is essential that you submit all relevant documents with your application.
In a small number of cases, you may be asked to attend an interview or take part in a telephone interview. If asked to attend an interview we will offer you the first available interview date.
We will not interview child applicants under 10 years old. If a child is travelling alone, we may interview a responsible adult (such as their parent or guardian). We may interview children aged between 10 and 14, but only in the presence of a responsible adult. Children aged over 14 may be interviewed alone.
Tier 4 student interviews
You may have to sit a short interview when you attend the visa application centre to submit your application and biometric information.
The interview will focus on your reasons for coming to the UK; this is known as a credibility interview.
A report of the interview will be sent to the visa officer who will consider it alongside your visa application and supporting documents. You may be called for a further interview if the visa officer needs more information.
It is a serious crime to make false statements, or submit false information or documents, when applying to enter or remain in the UK.
Before you sign your application form, you must ensure that the information on the form is correct and your supporting documents are genuine and unaltered. Our officers in the UK and overseas are highly trained to detect fraud.
If you provide false information, documents or passports, or if you lie or withhold information in support of your application, we will refuse the application and you will face serious consequences. You could:
- be banned from entering the UK for 10 years;
- be removed from the UK, if you are already here;
- be charged with a crime, which could lead to a prison sentence or a fine; and
- receive a permanent record of fraud on the UK Border Agency database.
It is better to explain why you do not have a document than to submit a false document.
Assistance from friends, travel agents, immigration agents or consultants
You may decide to submit your visa application using an independent travel agent, immigration agent or consultant, or with the help of a friend. They can only help you complete the form and advise you which supporting documents to include. They cannot make the application for you or attend the visa application centre.
Remember that the visa application is your application. You are responsible for the information given and any supporting documents. You must check that the information is correct and sign the application.
A genuine agent should only charge you a small and reasonable fee for their services. If an agent makes unrealistic claims or charges high fees for their services, they may be overcharging you or supplying you with false documents and statements.
If you are approached by someone who claims that they can guarantee you success with your application in return for a fee, please inform staff at the visa application centre immediately.
Applying for a UK visa if you have temporary permission to stay
If you have temporary permission to stay (for example, as a visitor) in the country where you are currently living, you cannot apply for most types of UK visa in that country. You can only apply for:
- a visitor visa
- a Tier 5 (Temporary worker - creative and sporting) visa
- an EEA family permit
Your application may be referred back to your country of residence, which may cause delays.
To apply for any other type of UK visa, you must apply under the procedure for your country of residence. You can find this procedure by selecting your country of residence in our country finder .
If you are not working or paying for your trip
If you are not working, you should include the original financial documents of the person who supports you.
If someone else is paying for your trip, you should explain why they are paying and include their original financial documents.
Travelling with someone who does not have a passport yet
If you are travelling to the UK as part of a group, please do not apply for your visa until everyone who must travel with you has a valid passport. If you are issued with a visa before everyone in your group has a valid passport, your visa may expire. If this does happen, you will have to reapply for your visa.
Do it online
News & updates
- Guidance for ADS applicants - Chinese PDF 2.5MBopens in a new window