Foreign citizens who wish to travel to the UK to have medical treatment may be able to do so under a visitor’s visa. The entry rules which apply to citizens of non-European Union countries who wish to travel to the UK to have privately-paid medical treatment are set out below.
Travelling to the UK as a Visitor
In order to come to the UK to have medical treatment a foreign citizen will first have to be eligible to enter the UK as a visitor. Visitor’s visas can only be used by people who intend to stay in the UK for less than six months. Applicants for a visitor’s visa have to be able to prove that:
- They can afford to support themselves financially whilst they are in the UK;
- They do not intend to work or study whilst they are in the UK;
- That they intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit.
Travelling to the UK for Medical Treatment
In addition to the general conditions for visitors to the UK, people who wish to come to the UK to have medical treatment will also have to prove that they have arranged specific medical treatment, which will last less than six months, and that they can afford to pay for it. Some applicants could be asked to formally declare that they will pay for the medical treatment.
If an applicant has a contagious disease they may be asked to prove that it does not present a threat to public health in the UK.
Applying for a Visa to the UK
Applications for visas to come from abroad to the UK for medical treatment are made on the standard visitor visa form VAF1. If applicants have family members in the UK this will have to be declared on the form and full details of the family members’ personal information will have to be provided.
Applicants will have to supply documents to support the information they give in the form. Examples of the types of documents that will, or may be, required include:
- Letters or other documents from a registered UK medical practitioner proving that genuine medical treatment has been arranged and stating how long it will take;
- Documents, such as bank statements, which prove that the applicant can afford to pay for the medical treatment;
- Documentation confirming the applicant’s intention to return to their own country at the end of the treatment. This could include letters from employers confirming that the applicant is expected to return to work after the treatment and documents proving that the applicant owns property or has family ties abroad.
As at July 2008 the fee for a visa to come to the UK for medical treatment was £65.
Applying to Extend the Stay
If it becomes apparent, once the foreign national is in the UK, that the scheduled medical treatment will take longer than six months, an application can be made to extend their stay. Any such application must be made before the visitor’s visa expires.
Applications may be made by post or in person at a Public Enquiry Office. The application is made using form FLR(O) – the form can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website. The guidance notes to the form contain the addresses of Public Enquiry Offices throughout the UK.
Applications made by post could take from four to fourteen weeks to be concluded – the fee for this service is £395. A premium rate service is available for people who make an appointment to attend in person at a Public Enquiry Office. It is anticipated that a decision will be made within 24 hours on 90% of premium rate applications. The fee for the premium service is £595. The premium service may be unsuitable for applications which are not straightforward.
Applicants will have to prove that ongoing treatment is required, that they have paid for the treatment which they have already received and that they can pay for future treatment.
Visitors to the UK and NHS Treatment
Foreign nationals who enter the UK under a visitor’s visa in order to undergo private medical treatment are not eligible for free medical treatment under the National Health Service regardless of how long they are permitted to remain in the UK as a visitor.