Visiting the UK for Medical Treatment
Every year, thousands of people from around the world come to the UK to receive medical treatment or medical consultations.
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In 2020, research reported by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health confirmed that the UK benefits greatly “from being home to world-leading health experts, who help position the UK globally in terms of thought leadership and networking in global health”. The report also highlighted that the UK is viewed as making important contributions across the field of medicine, including mental health, infectious diseases, dementia, genomics, nursing, surgery, family planning, palliative care, and patient-centred health outcomes, to name but a few.
At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, we understand the importance of securing the right visa for your medical care and have years of experience in helping people apply for UK visas for medical purposes in the UK. This article provides expert advice on what steps to take when making your application.
Can I get a UK Visa for Medical Treatment?
Yes, you can do this by applying for a standard visitor visa which allows holders to come to the UK to:
- Receive private medical treatment at a hospital or other medical facility
- Receive treatment at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital (this must be funded by the visa holder’s government under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement)
- Donate an organ to a family member or close friend as a confirmed donor match
Do I need a Visa to Enter the UK for Medical Treatment?
If you plan to come to the UK specifically to receive private medical treatment, you may need a Visitor visa. To check if you require a Visitor visa, it is advisable to use the Home Office’s visa online checking service; this will guide you through a series of questions, including your nationality and the reason you are travelling to the UK.
If you are from a UK visa-free country (e.g. Australia, Barbados, Grenada, New Zealand, United States, or Taiwan) and you plan to come to the UK for less than 6 months to receive medical treatment, you will not need a Visitor visa. On the other hand, if your stay will be longer than 6 months, you will need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa which will last for up to 11 months, regardless of whether you are a national of a UK visa country or not.
Do I qualify for a UK Standard Visitor visa for medical reasons?
To qualify for a Standard Visitor visa for medical reasons, you will need to demonstrate in your application to the Home Office that you:
- Have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires consultation or treatment in the UK
- Have made arrangements for consultations or treatment
- Have paid for or have the necessary funding for your medical treatment
- You do not pose a risk to public health in the UK (e.g. have an infectious disease such as leprosy)
- You genuinely intend to leave the UK when your medical treatment is completed
- You have enough funds to support yourself and your dependants while in the UK and to pay for a return or onward journey.
If you are coming to the UK to donate an organ, you will only qualify for a Standard Visitor visa if this is for a family member with who you are genetically matched or someone with whom you have a close personal connection. As part of the application process, you will also need to show that the person you are donating the organ to has the legal right to be in the UK.
How do I Apply for a UK Medical Visa?
After confirming that you are eligible for the Standard Visitor Visa for Medical Treatment, also reffered to as a UK Medicial Visa, you should fill online form with the correct details. Besides filling in your basic personal information such as names, contacts, date of birth, address, and national identification number, you need to disclose the full details of the personal information of your UK-based family members if you have relatives residing in the UK. Our immigration lawyers London can streamline this whole process for you.
Here is the application process outlined below:
- Book and confirm the medical treatment you require in the UK before you apply
- Complete and submit the online Visitor visa application form – you will need to confirm your intention to come to the UK for medical treatment and explain the arrangements in place
- Pay the Standard Visitor visa application fee: £100 for up to 6 months or £200 for up to 11 months.
- Provide any evidence to support your application. This must include a letter from your doctor explaining your condition, the estimated cost and likely duration of treatment, and where the medical consultation/treatment will take place in the UK.
You also need to attach numerous supporting documents to convince the Home Office that you indeed deserve the visa. On this note you need to provide:
- A valid travel identification document such as a travel passport
- A document from an authorized UK medical expert proving the medical arrangement made in regards to your treatment plans in the country, including the expected duration of the relevant medical treatment or procedure.
- Bank statements, payslips or any other financial documents to show your ability to meet your financial obligations regarding the treatment or procedure.
- Certified copies of translated documents in case there are documents that are not in the Welsh or English language.
- In case of an outpatient arrangement, you’ll be required to provide proof of your expected accommodation in the UK.
Can I Extend my UK Medical Visa?
If you are already in the UK on a Visitor Visa receiving medical treatment and need to extend your visa, you can do so for an additional 6 months for a fee of £1,000. The rules state that there is no limit to the number of times you can extend your visa as long as you continue to receive medical treatment, but you will need to pay the £1,000 fee each time. To extend your stay, you will need to show that you have paid for any treatment already received, you can fund the cost of further treatment, and you continue to meet all of the visitor visa eligibility requirements. Please note that all fees discussed in the article are subject to change, so please do contact us for the latest information if in doubt.
Can an Under 18 Apply for a Medical Visa UK?
People who are below 18 years of age may be eligible for the standard vistor visa for medical treatment, but their legal guardians or parents are supposed to give the Home Office additional documentation such as written consent to validate the travel. Additionally, if the under 18 applicant is to be accompanied by an adult, the full personal details of the adult must be provided.
Am I Eligible for NHS Treatment Through a UK Medical Visa?
Unfortunately, you may not qualify for the free medical services available under National Health Service (NHS) if you indicate that you’re going to seek private medical treatment in your medical visa application.
However, if your treatment is fully sponsored by your government through a reciprocal healthcare arrangement, you might be eligible for NHS services.
Considering the urgency that commonly surrounds visitor visa applications for medical treatment, it is crucial to ensure that everything is done right the first time to avoid delays that might lead to the deterioration of the relevant person’s medical health. Preferably, get professional guidance and help from a reputable UK immigration lawyers in London.
How Long is a UK Medical Visa Valid for?
A standard medical visa is normally valid for six months. However, if your treatment goes beyond this period and you can prove it with evidence, and you can afford to pay for it, and there is a finite period for which you require to stay, you can apply to extend the UK medical visa every six months until your treatment is complete (as decribed above). You have to apply for an extension of stay before your initial medical visa expires, and you must be able to prove that you will continue to cover all the costs and expenses associated with the extended stay and treatment.
Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that the visa extension comes at an extra visa fee; contact us for the most up to date figures.
The Standard Visitor visa allows overseas patients to benefit from the world-class medical expertise and treatment available in the UK. Given the importance of ensuring that your UK visitor visa is approved, it is highly recommended that you seek the support of a highly competent immigration law firm who can complete the application for you, giving you the peace of mind that you have the best possible chance of receiving a positive decision from the Home Office.
Gulbenkian Andonian specialises in the most complex and urgent immigration applications and appeals cases. Our immigration appeal Solicitors have successfully assisted many individuals and their family members in overcoming overwhelming odds to remain in the UK; let us do the same for you. Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below to discuss your matter with one of our friendly and empathetic team.
FAQs About UK Medical Visas
If you require medical treatment in the UK, you will need to apply for a standard visitor visa which can be used for medical purposes. You can make an application for this online, by providing evidence of your medical condition, details of the treatment you require, and proof that you can afford to pay for the treatment and your travel expenses. It is highly likely that your will also need to provide a letter from a doctor or medical facility in the UK, confirming that they can provide the treatment you require.
Many individuals who are seeking to travel to the UK think this is the case but unfortunately it is not. Medical treatment is not free in the UK for visitors, including tourists. If you are a visitor to the UK and you require medical treatment in the country, you will need to pay for the treatment you receive in full, and have a valid visa to satisfy UK border controls while you receive this treatment. There is a chance that some medical treatment, such as emergencies that take place while you are abroad, may be provided free of charge, but this will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and how it is handled on the ground.
Yes, as a tourist, you can visit a doctor in the UK for consultations or treatments. However, this will need to be handled privately meaning that you will need to pay for the medical consultation and any treatment you receive. Asa tourist, you are not allowed to benefit from or use the NHS system which is only for British nationals, people on a valid long-term visa or those with indefinite leave to remain. If you require ongoing medical treatment, you may need to register with a general practitioner (GP) and pay for any treatment you receive from them.
Yes, foreigners can go to hospital in the UK. However, they will need to pay for any medical treatment they receive, unless the treatment is covered by a joint healthcare agreement between the UK and the third country in question. If you are going to visit the UK and are now planning the logistics of your trip, it is advisable to have comprehensive travel health insurance to cover the cost of any medical treatment you receive or is required.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.