Inviting your Family to Congregation
If you want to invite a relative or friend to come and visit you in the UK and they do not hold EEA nationality, they may need to apply for a General Visitor Visa before they can enter the UK. To find out if Entry Clearance is required and how to obtain it please visit the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website.
When to apply
The application can be made up to three months before the intended visit date. It is usually best for the friend or relative to check the website guidance provided by the visa processing service in their home country for any specific guidance about when and how to apply and, what types of documents need to be provided.
At busy times it can take much longer for applications to be processed overseas, so where possible they should follow the guidance issued by the visa application centre and allow enough time for the application to be prepared and processed. Click here for more UKBA guidance on the processing time for applications.
How to apply
The relative or friend should apply for a General Visitor Visa at a British Embassy, High Commission or other Visa Application Centre. For details of your nearest Visa Application Centre, requirements and how to apply, choose your country from the Visa Application Centres Overseas page.
- If the main reason for visiting the UK is to come as a tourist or to visit friends the correct application form is VAF 1A
- If the main reason for visiting the UK is to see family members the correct application form is VAF 1B.
Evidence needed for application
The person applying should provide the documents detailed in the application form and guidance notes (and guidance issued by the Embassy or Visa processing service). The following documents are normally required:
- 3 months’ bank statements, payslips, or some other evidence to show that they can pay for the trip and have enough money to support themselves without assitance or working.
- Evidence that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit (for example, letter from an employer, or evidence confirming commitments returning to to at the end of the visit).
- Proof of your enrolment at Durham University (see below).
- A letter of invitation from you (see below). (This is not always required - check by contacting the Embassy or Visa Application Centre.)
- Copies of the photograph page in your passport and your UK visa or Biometric Residence Permit (ID card), if you have one.
You must provide the person applying with an invitation letter from yourself, addressed to the Entry Clearance Officer at the Embassy where the application is being made. It should include the information set out below and you should send your invitation letter to your friend or relative (NOT the Embassy), with the following documents:
- A copy of your passport page and UK visa or identity card (if you have one)
- A letter from the Ceremonies Unit which confirms the expected date of your graduation ceremony (see below)
A letter from SPA confirming that you are an enrolled student (see below)
Details to include in your invitation letter:
- The full name and date of birth of the proposed visitor(s) and their relationship to you (parent, friend, etc)
- Details of why they want to come and visit you (for example to attend your graduation and a holiday, etc.)
- How long they want to stay in the UK and, if possible any dates of the proposed arrival and departure dates
- Where they intend to stay during their visit- for example if they are staying in hotel accommodation you could provide any details of the accommodation booking. If they plan to stay with you, give your full address, but remember to check that you have consent from your accommodation provider first!
- Details of your own immigration status in the UK (for example student visa until 31st January 2012)
Confirmation from the University
A formal letter of invitation from the University is NOT required or necessary. The only letters that the University can provide you with are letters which can either confirm your enrolment on your course or expected date of graduation.
Durham University Ceremonies Unit can provide an official letter which confirms that you have been invited to attend a graduation ceremony and you can include this as a supporting document for your letter of invitation. To request your letter, click here and complete the online request form.
The Student Planning & Assessment (SPA) office can provide you with a letter to confirm that you are an enrolled student: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Immigration & Financial Support Office
The Student Immigration and Financial Support Office (SIFSO) is based at the Palatine Centre, Durham City Campus and has dedicated teams providing students and staff with support in both areas of responsibility.