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UK Visit Visa: How to Prove That You Are a ‘Genuine Visitor’

The UK visit visa route is one of the most frequently sought after categories of visa, with data recently released by the Home Office showing that there were a total of 1,914,778 visitor visas granted in the year ending September 2023, with visit visas accounting for almost 57% of all entry clearance visas granted during this period. In that same report, the Home Office also confirmed that the Visitor Visa ‘grant rate’ for the year ending March 2023 stood at 77%, representing a decrease from the 87% grant rate in March 2020.

Given the popularity of this route, and the decline in grant rates compared to previous years, it is crucial that individuals ensure that their applications are completed as accurately as possible in order to avoid disappointment. Therefore, in this article, we will be exploring one of the most important visit visa requirements, namely how to prove that you are a ‘Genuine Visitor’ and the type of documents that might assist in evidencing this.

An Overview of the Visit Visa Route

A standard visit visa allows an individual to visit the UK for the purposes of Tourism, Business, Study (Which lasts up to 6 months) and other permitted activities for a period that usually lasts for 6 months. A full and detailed explanation of each of these visit visa sub-categories is beyond the scope of this article and, in any event, is explained in depth on various pages of our website which can be accessed here.  

It should also be briefly noted that citizens from certain countries (referred to as ‘Visa Nationals’) will need to have made a visit visa application prior to travelling to the UK. A list of the countries that this requirement applies to can be found here. However, there is also another category of individuals (called ‘Non-visa Nationals’) who can apply as a visitor when they arrive at the UK border.

What Is the Genuine Visitor Requirement?

The essence of the genuine visitor requirement is that an applicant must be able to demonstrate to the Home Office that they satisfy the following requirements under Paragraph V 4.2. of Appendix V: Visitor, namely that they: 

(a) will leave the UK at the end of their visit;

(b) will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home

(c) is genuinely seeking entry or stay for a purpose that is permitted under the Visitor route […]

(d) will not undertake any of the prohibited activities set out in V 4.4. to V 4.6;

(e) must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to their dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment. […]

The relevant Guidance specifies that caseworkers should assess the applicant’s personal circumstances, as a means of determining whether they are a ‘genuine visitor’ and, in particular, should consider an Applicant’s:

  • Previous immigration history, including visits to the UK and other countries; 
  • The duration of previous visits and whether this was significantly longer than originally stated on their visa application or on arrival – (this is not determinative but may be a reason to question the applicant’s overall intentions); 
  • Financial circumstances as well as their family, social and economic background;
  • Personal and economic ties to their country of residence; 
  • Cumulative period of time that they’ve visited the UK for, their pattern of travel over the last 12-months, and whether this amounts to ‘de-facto’ residence in the UK; 
  • Whether, on the balance of probabilities, the information and the reasons for the visit provided by the applicant are credible and correspond to their personal, family, social and economic background.

Likewise, the Guidance also sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors which may cast doubt on whether an applicant is a ‘genuine visitor’ including if they:

  • Have few or no family and economic ties to their country of residence, and has several family members in the UK;
  • Have attempted to deceive the Home Office in previous applications;
  • Have discrepancies between statements made by them and statements made by their sponsor, particularly on points where the sponsor could reasonably be expected to know the facts but does not;
  • Provided information that the Home Office has not been able to verify, despite attempts to do so;
  • Provided information or reasons for their visit that are not deemed credible;
  • Have had their baggage/vehicle searched at the border and that reveals items which demonstrate they intend to work or live in the UK.

What Documents Can Help Show That I’m a Genuine Visitor?

As a preliminary point, documents which are not in English (or Welsh) will need to be accompanied by a certified translation. Applicants will also need to provide a valid passport or travel document which “must have at least 1 page blank if you use it to apply for a visa”, according to the Home Office’s Guidance.

Home Office’s guidance also helpfully outlines documents which could be provided in order to demonstrate genuineness. The exact documents which might be helpful will differ depending on the personal circumstances of each applicant, and on the specific type of visit visa that they are applying for. A general overview of the different types of documents which could be submitted is as follows:

  • Letters from any people or organisations that have invited you, or are sending you, to the UK. These letters should explain: 
    • What you will be doing in the UK;
    • The reason(s) for your visit; 
    • Whether any costs of your trip are being covered by them. 
  • Documents demonstrating your circumstances in your home country. As an example, this could include:
    • A letter from your employer on company headed paper, explaining your role, salary and length of employment;
    • A letter from your education provider, on headed paper, confirming your enrolment and leave of absence;
    • Any business registration documents or recent invoices that confirm on-going self-employment.
  • Copies of previous passports showing evidence of travel to other countries;
  • Confirmation of your legal residence, if you are not a national of the country in which you are applying or your right to reside there is not included in your passport;
  • Financial documents, such as bank statements, building society books or proof of earnings (Such as payslips or a letter from your employer) which show that you have access to sufficient funds to cover the costs of your trip.

It is worth emphasising that neither the rules nor guidance state that these are mandatory documents which must be provided. In fact, the guidance actually says that submitting these documents “does not guarantee that your application for a visit visa or entry at the border will be successful”. Thus, satisfying the ‘Genuine Visitor’ requirement will depend on the quality of documents that you will be able to provide rather than simply providing a set of pre-specified documents.

The Guidance also gives an indication of documents that are considered “less useful” as evidence in visit visa applications. These include:

  • Bank statements or letters issued more than 1 year before the date of application;
  • Credit card statements;
  • Driving licence;
  • Educational certificates that are not listed as required for your visa;
  • Evidence of car ownership;
  • Personal photographs;
  • Notarial certificates;
  • Business cards;
  • Hotel bookings;
  • Flight bookings (unless transiting);
  • Photocopies of bank cards;
  • Certificates relating to leisure activities, for example sports trophies;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Sponsor’s utility bills;
  • Sponsor’s council tax bills.

Again, it is worth emphasising that the rules and guidance do not expressly prevent any of these documents from being provided. Rather, this should be taken as a guide to the types of documents that might not be as helpful (especially on their own) in demonstrating genuineness. However, this does not mean that they cannot, or should not, be provided alongside the stronger types of evidence discussed earlier.


As will hopefully have been seen from this article, the ‘genuine visitor’ requirement represents one of the most important criteria needed to successfully obtain a visit visa. As has been explained, there are several factors which the Home Office will consider in determining if a visitor is ‘genuine’, as well as a range of evidence that could be submitted to evidence this. Therefore, careful consideration of an applicant’s individual circumstances, and the supporting documents that they can gather, will be needed to maximise an applicant’s chances of success.

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