Requirements for long-term UK Standard Visitor Visa (2, 5, 10 years)
For how many years or months can multiple entry visa can be given for a couple who have already visited UK?
The Standard Visitor Visa can be issued for lengths of 6 months (the normal case), two years, five years, and ten years. Regardless of the length, the person must leave the UK such that they are never in the UK for longer than 6 months on any visit. They must also satisfy the Immigration Officer on each visit that they will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home.
Normally the length is 6 months. They do not publish the exact criteria on how to qualify for the two, five, and ten year visas but there's a consensus that there are several basic requirements...
- the applicant can show a premise that warrants a long-term visa; and
- the applicant's personal circumstances are stable and likely to remain stable for the duration of the proposed length; and
- the applicant can show a performance history or otherwise demonstrate their bona fides.
Motivation. The applicant can enjoy a slight savings on visa fees and and the lead time for planning visits can be reduced. Sometimes, for a given flight, LHR or LGW may open a dedicated queue to help ease congestion.
Example. The last one I represented personally was a semi-retired grandmother (stable personal circumstances) whose grandson was a born and bred Brit (good premise for repeat visits) and who had been visiting her grandson on 6 months visas for the previous 8 years (performance history). There was also a balanced history of both sponsor (the grandson) and applicant (the grandmother) travelling to visit each other. The Entry Clearance Officer likes to see a combination of things like that. In this case the grandmother got a 10 year visit visa.
They also like to give them to business visitors who can meet the same general requirements.
I have also seen cases where the ECO noticed that an applicant asked for a 6 month visa but met all the above requirements and so the ECO issued a two/five year visa (and UKVI 'ate' the fee differential). Example. A Russian woman was in a long-distance relationship (LDR) and had 3 back-to-back visitor visas in a row. On her 4th application, the ECO noticed that everything seemed in order and issued a two year visa with a verbal advisory that next time she would need to pay the full fee for a two year visa.
To apply for one is really easy, just poke the appropriate button...
Downside. The fee for a 10 year visitor visa is slightly more than GBP 800 (or about 9 times the fee for a 6 month visa). If the ECO thinks the applicant doesn't qualify in one of the requirements above, she will issue a 6 month visa and keep the difference in fee. It means the applicant has paid GBP 800+ for something that costs GBP 87.
Any applicant can ask for a length of 6 months, two years, five years, or ten years and pay the appropriate fee to have their application considered. The decision-making criteria is not published and there is downside risk for the applicant.
A friend once applied for a 5 year visa but the VAC only asked for a 6 month fee. She got only a 6 month visa. The next time she did it right and got the full 5 years. :)
I noticed that the rate on the Fee for a 10 year visa is significantly lower than the 5 year one. If an applicant mentions on the application that although they wanted to request a 5-Year visa but have opted for a 10 year request because of the benefit it has in terms of visa fee, specially if its an application for 3 people, do they stab themselves in the foot mentioning that?
@HankyPanky I don't see stabbing yourself in the foot at all! When I was doing it for people, I would tell the ECO right off the bat that part of the motivation was to enjoy the fee reduction that the applicant had qualified for. It's the truth, right? We always say to tell the truth and this is no exception. But you really have to be sure you have made a tenable case for it.