April 2014 in St James's Park London: a delegation from Mitoto Primary School in Kenya visits Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk District
April 2014 at the Eco-Lodge at Lodge Hill activity centre: a delegation from Mitoto Primary School in Kenya visits Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk District
April 2014: a delegation from Mitoto Primary School in Kenya visits Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk District
April 2014: a delegation from Mitoto Primary School in Kenya visits Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk District
April 2014: a delegation from Mitoto Primary School in Kenya visits Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk District

UK short-term visa

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Introduction
Most people coming to the UK for a short visit (eg. for an exchange) need a "general visitor" visa.

For those under 18 years of age, a "child visitor" visa is required, but the rules are similar.

More information about "visitor" visas can be found at the following address: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/tourist-short-stay-visas.

The application form
The first step in the application process is filling in the online application form. You can find the form by clicking on the link above.

The form doesn't have to completed by the visitor (although he or she will have to sign it) – this means that if you are a host, you can help your guest with their application or even fill in the form for them.

What the border official needs to know
A border official can only issue a "general visitor" visa if he/she is convinced of the following three things:

  1. the visitor will be able to financially support him/herself while in the UK;
  2. the visitor won't work while in the UK; and
  3. the visitor will go home at the end of their visit.

Making sure the border official has the right information
It's important that the border official has the right information so that he can make a positive decision and grant a visa.

The visitor can support him/herself
You can show this by demonstrating that the visitor has enough money to pay for the visit or by showing that the host has enough money to pay (or a combination of both).

Either way, it you need to explain on the application form and in the supporting documents how the visit will be paid for and evidence needs to be provided.

For example, if a visitor is coming for a Woodcraft Camp and for a stay with a host family, you might write on the form that: the flights and accommodation and costs during the camp are paid for by a Woodcraft District; and the accommodation and costs during the host family stay are covered by the host family. As evidence of this, it would be sensible to include letters from the District and the host family (ie. two letters), plus bank statements etc.

To make all this a bit clearer, it can be helpful to enclose a simple budget with the application form (see the example here).

The visitor will leave at the end of the visit
The main way to reassure the visa officer that the visitor will go home at the end of their trip is to show that the visitor or host (or both) have enough money to pay for the return flight. Making a preliminary booking can help as evidence of this but buying a ticket in advance might be risky since you could lose the money if the visa is refused.

Evidence of the visitor's home life and income is also important. For example, it will be helpful to set out the visitor’s salary or other income (such as support from their parents). Again, pay slips and bank statements for the visitor and their family might be necessary.

Evidence of links to employers, schools, charities etc can also be useful here (for example a letter of reference from an employer).

The visitor won't work
To reassure the visa officer that the visitor won’t work it’s important to show why the visitor is coming to the UK and to make clear that the event they are coming to is reputable. This can be done by, for example, providing a formal letter from national Woodcraft that explains what Woodcraft is, what the event is and why the visitor has been invited. Enclosing a simple itinerary for the visit can also help.

Evidence and supporting documents
You'll need to include supporting documents and evidence with an application. What exactly is needed will vary for different applications.

The UK government website (https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/tourist-short-stay-visas) provides information about what documents might be needed.

Some of the items you might need include:

  • Name and description of the visitor's organisation.
  • Name and description of event/exchange.
  • Address of host family or a list of possible host family addresses.
  • CRB details for hosts.
  • Flights details if you have them (a provisional booking is better than nothing).
  • Explanation of how costs will be met (eg. a simple budget - see example here).
  • Letter from applicant’s employer.
  • Itinerary of visit.
  • Evidence of income (guest/host).
  • Evidence of tenancy/home ownership (guest/host).
  • Character reference (e.g. from a community group).
  • Index of application documents like this or, for a child, this.
    • If you don't have enough room on the application form, you might need to include an extension sheet like this or, for a child, this.

      When a delegation from Mitoto Primary school in rural Kenya visited Chanctonbury Ring Woodcraft Folk in April 2014, each application had to be accompanied by around 30 supporting documents. The group was also required to visit Nairobi in person to provide their documentation and bio-metric data.

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