Information for visa holders
This page explains what you should do when you collect or receive your visa, and answers some common questions about using your visa.
On this page
Checking your visa
Your visa contains the following information:
1. 'Valid from' date. You cannot enter the UK before this date.
2. 'Valid until' date. You must leave the UK by this date, unless you have successfully applied for permission to extend your stay. In some immigration categories, you cannot apply to extend your stay. We suggest that you apply for permission to extend your stay (if you are allowed to do so) at least 4 weeks before your visa's 'valid until' date.
You can arrive in the UK at any time up until the 'valid until' date, but remember that this is also the last day that you are permitted to stay in the UK.
3. Length of stay. This is the maximum length of your stay in the UK. If you have a multiple-entry visit visa, it will be the maximum length of your stay in the UK on any 1 occasion.
4. Entry terms. If your visa says 01, you may use it to enter the UK only once. If your visa says 02, you may use it to enter the UK twice while the visa is valid. If your visa says "MULT" (multiple), you can enter the UK a number of times while the visa is valid.
UK visas are normally valid for multiple entries to the UK, until the 'valid until' date.
5. Visa category. This is your immigration category while you are in the UK. You must meet the requirements of this category while you are in the UK.
6. Conditions. Any specific conditions attached to your visa are listed here. For example, if your visa does not allow you to work, it will say so here. If your visa says 'No recourse to public funds', you cannot claim most benefits, tax credits and housing assistance that are paid by the UK government. If you are in the UK as a visitor, you cannot use the National Health Service except in an emergency.
Your visa allows you to enter the UK for a specific purpose. You must keep to the conditions of your visa. If you take employment but you are not allowed to work in the UK, you could be fined, deported from the country and banned from returning here for up to 10 years. Your employer will be liable to a fine of up to £10,000 - remember that if you work for a family business, they will be liable. If you work illegally, you will not be protected by UK employment law and may face dangerous working conditions.
When you collect or receive your visa, you should immediately check that it:
- contains your correct personal details;
- correctly states the reason why you are coming to the UK; and
- is valid for the date when you want to travel.
If you think there is anything wrong with your visa, you should immediately contact the visa application centre that issued your visa to you.
Changes to your circumstances
If your travel plans are delayed, you cannot change the expiry date of your visa unless there are compelling compassionate circumstances. At the discretion of a visa officer, we can extend the expiry date of a visa for up to 3 months, if there has been no change in your circumstances. Otherwise you should apply for another visa.
If your reason for going to the UK changes before you travel, you should inform the visa application centre where you applied for your visa. A visa is normally issued for a specific purpose, so you may be asked to make another visa application.
You must inform us if your circumstances change while you are in the UK, as this may affect your entitlement to stay here. If you do not inform us, you may receive a future ban for breach of conditions.
Using your visa to enter the UK
When you arrive in the UK, an immigration officer may ask you to show evidence of your reasons for coming here. In your hand luggage you should carry copies of the documents that you used to obtain your visa.
You should not experience any problems when you arrive in the UK, if:
- you gave us all the information relevant to your stay in the UK when you applied for your visa;
- you did not, with or without your knowledge, give false information to support your application, and
- there has been no change to your circumstances, or your reasons for travelling to the UK, since the visa was issued.
If you have given false information to support your application, you will be refused entry to the UK and may be automatically refused a visa for 10 years for using deception on an application.
Transferring a visa from an expired passport
You do not normally need to transfer your visa to your new passport - you can travel with both passports, and show them both to an immigration officer when you arrive in the UK.
If you want to transfer your visa, you will need to pay a fee. The Transferring your visa page explains what you need to do.
If your passport and visa are lost or stolen
If you have lost your passport or had it stolen, you will need to pay the full fee for a replacement visa.
You must first apply to your country's government for a replacement passport, and then reapply to us for another visa. You will need to provide a police report as evidence that your passport has been reported missing or stolen.
If you have already come to the UK and have a biometric residence permit, but that permit is lost or stolen, the Biometric residence permit holders' responsibilities page explains what you need to do. If you are outside the UK when your permit is lost or stolen, you will need to obtain a Replacement BRP visa before you can return to the UK.