The Extra Mile
Which is better for multiple visits to the UK: a standard or long-term visa?
Our travel expert has the answer
Q. Our daughter lives in the UK and we plan to visit her soon. Since we do not know how long she will remain there, we are undecided as to whether we should apply for a basic or longer-term visa. It would be great not to have to go through this rigmarole again if she ends up staying for a few years and we want to visit her again. What are our options and what are the cost implications? - Lindy Uys
The standard visitor visa is valid for six months and allows multiple entries to the UK during that period - or you can stay for the full six months, as long as you leave before the visa expires.
The longer-term visa, for those who can demonstrate a reason to travel there regularly, is available as a two-year, five-year or 10-year. All of these allow multiple entry for up to six months on each trip.
The standard visa costs £95 (about R1,780). The fees for long-term visas are substantially higher: two years, £361 (R6,800); five years, £655 (R12,200) and 10 years, £822 (R15,300) so you'll have to decide whether you're willing to spend those amounts on the off-chance that your daughter will stay.
If you do go for a long-term option, you must prove that you'll only ever go to the UK to visit, and that you plan to leave. If you fail to do this, you may be granted a visa for a shorter period than requested, in which case you will not be refunded the application fee. Find more info at gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa.
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