General visitor, or tourist visitor, is the most common category of visitor’s visa. It is issued for purposes not covered by “special visitors’” rules. General visitors are allowed to come to the UK for a period of up to six months. They have to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to maintain themselves without working or taking recourse to public funds and to cover the cost of return trip. They also need to demonstrate intention to return to their country of origin on completion of their visit (this is normally assessed on the basis of the ties with the country of origin, such as close family, property, employment).
Visitors are not allowed to undertake any work in the UK, either for an employer or in self-employed capacity, voluntarily or for payment; to use the NHS (other than Accident and Emergency Unit or for treatment of certain infectious diseases) or to have assistance from public funds. A breach of these conditions may lead to cancellation of the visa and a ban from the UK for a period of up to 10 years.
Further, general visitors make a declaration that they are not going to engage in any activities of a business visitor, student visitor, sports visitor, entertainer visitor, receive private medical treatment, or get married or register a civil partnership. Special type of visitor’s visa is required for the latter activities and entry may be denied on arrival if the immigration officer determines that the visitor has been issued with the wrong type of visa.
General visitor’s visas can be issued for a single trip to the UK (single entry visa) or for an unlimited number of trips within a given time (multiple entry visa). Multiple entry visas can be issued for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years. Although there is no rule about the frequency of visits, visitors are not expected to spend in the UK more than 180 days in any 12 months’ period.
This type of visa cannot be extended beyond six months other than in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances, such as the illness of a close relative.
There is no right of appeal against the refusal of a visitor’s visa unless the visit was intended for the purpose of visiting a family member in the UK or refusal interferes with the visitor’s rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights(the right to private, enjoyment of property, etc).