Proof of ‘Intention to Leave’ Requirement for Visitor Visa Applications from Visa National Countries

Standard Visitor Visa

The purpose of visitor requirements imposed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)is to restrict certain activities for the visitor. Common reasons for applying for a UK standard visit visa are holiday, family visits or for a business transaction.

When applying, the duration of the visit must be specified and must be for no more than six months’ duration. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate that you can afford your accommodation, maintenance and return travel costs.

A key requirement is proof of your intention to leave before your visa expires. An application can quite easily fail at this hurdle.

What are the requirements to succeed in a Standard Visitor Visa application?

For a successful application, you will need your current passport; any expired passports that previously used to travel to the UK; and a passport sized colour photograph that complies with UKVI requirements. You will also need evidence that you have enough cash available to support yourselves, such as bank statements or pay slips for the last 6 months. Students, for instance, intending to come to the UK under a Tier 4 visa will need to show they have at least £1015 per month maintenance costs. Allowances are made if you are able to show you will be staying rent free with family or friends.

Importantly, you must satisfy UKVI that you intend to return to your country.

How can I prove my intention to leave the UK?

This will depend on your status and circumstances. If you are employed, you may have a letter from your employer stating the date on which you are expected back at work. If you are a property tenant, your tenancy or letting agreement may satisfactorily prove your strong ties to your own country. You may be able to show proof of strong family ties in your home country such a marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, and so on.

Note that you must also show that you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey from the UK. The purchase of the return or onward ticket is an obvious way to help prove your intention to return to your home country, though it will not be sufficient on its own.

If you cannot satisfy a UKVI immigration officer on the balance of probabilities that you intend to return to your home country, for example, you do not have regular employment there or you cannot prove any strong ties to your country, you may not succeed in your application because this could be seen as a risk that you will not leave the UK.

This means that the immigration officer (or immigration judge if your application goes to appeal) must decide that it is more likely than not that you will return to your home country. To meet this standard of proof, you must submit sufficiently strong circumstantial evidence to help the immigration officer in making this judgement. If you have a sponsor, ask them for evidence which will help you discharge your obligation to prove your intention to return.

The factors that will be considered include any incentives you have to return to your home country, including strong family, work or property ties and commitments. The stronger the evidence you can produce, the more likely you can satisfy this requirement.

However, the Immigration Tribunal has previously ruled that an apparent lack of incentive to return should not itself be treated as a reason to refuse a visit visa application. However, a lack of incentive can be taken into account if further requirements are not met – and to develop a fuller picture of an applicant’s overall intentions.

Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.