If you are successfully approved for UK immigration, you will receive what is essentially a literal UK Visa sticker, which will be pasted directly into your passport. In this sense, the visa acts as a UK entry clearance sticker inside the passport of those approved for entry to the UK, allowing foreigners to officially be allowed through customs and into the country post-arrival. The UK Visa and Immigration Service officially refers to these “documents” as UK visa vignettes. Your visa sticker is perhaps your most essential immigration document—throughout your stay in the UK, you will likely be asked to upload UK visa vignette information online, in educational or professional settings. In addition to your photo and biographical information, your UK entry clearance vignette will also include all of the basic information about your visa, including its validity period, number of entries, category, and conditions. If you have received a British visa, some of this information may be confusing to you. Today’s blog will therefore help you learn how to read a UK visa sticker, as well as address other relevant information about the UK visa sticker for 2021, including whether you can obtain a UK visa vignette extension for COVID. 

How to read UK visa sticker

  • Your UK visa will contain the following basic biographical information:
    • Full name 
    • Date of birth 
    • Sex (M/F)
    • Nationality
    • Passport number 
  • Your visa could also reflect the following visa conditions, such as whether you are allowed to be employed in the country (in which case your visa will say “WORK PERMITTED”, and whether you have access to UK welfare; if not, your visa will say “NO PUBLIC FUNDS”.
  • Please note, if your visa says either “Police registration” or “Register with police in 7 days of entry,” you will need to make sure you do that within a week of arriving in the country. 
  • Please note, you may have to upload UK visa vignettes information in order to register for school, apply for NHS benefits, or seek out other professional or educational opportunities in the country.

Questions your visa answers

  • When did my visa become valid?
    • Find out the specific date that your visa became valid by looking at the top right-hand corner. You should see text that reads “Valid from” alongside a date. That date is the date when your visa became valid for use in the UK. 
  • When is my visa valid until?
    • Parallel to the “Valid from” text on your visa, you will see text that reads “Valid until”, followed by a date. The date next to “Valid until” is the date at which your visa expires (i.e. the date your visa will no longer legally allow you to remain in the country.”   
  • What is my visa number?
    • Your visa number is listed under your date of birth. 
  • Where was my visa issued?
    • At the top of your visa, parallel to its validity date, you should see a city name in bold, next to a line of text that reads “place of issue”. This is the specific location where your visa was issued. 
  • How many entries do I have? 
    • Directly underneath the text reading “place of issue”, you will find a line of text reading “Number of Entries”. Next to that line, in bold, will be displayed the number of entries you have to the country. For example, if the text reads MULT, this means that you can enter and exit the UK an unlimited number of times throughout your visa validity period. In contrast, if you have a single-entry visa, you will likely not be allowed to return to the UK once you exit, even if you still have time remaining on your visa. 
  • What type of visa do I have?
    • Under entries, you will see a small line of text that reads “Type”. This will identify the type of visa you have (Student, Investor, etc). 
  • What are dependents and do I have them?
    • Depending on what category of UK visa you have received, you may be eligible to bring dependents with you to the UK. Dependents are close personal relatives (usually spouses and children. If you successfully applied to bring your dependents with you to the country, your visa will reflect this. This is why at the bottom of your visa, it will list text that reads “Number of dependents”, followed by “Dependent name” and “Sex”. If you have any dependents, their names and sex will be listed here, at the bottom of your visa. 

BRP Card vs. Vignette

  • Please make sure that you understand the difference between your UK entry clearance vignette and your UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP card). 
  • Your visa vignette is a kind of entry clearance sticker inside the passport, which grants you entry into the UK. You will receive your visa vignette prior to entering the UK (it will be pasted into your passport by whatever consular authority is processing your UK visa application). 
  • In contrast, the BRP card is what you will receive once you enter the UK, and is meant to confirm your identity while you remain in the country. BRP cards are automatically granted to valid UK visa holders, so you do not need to go through a separate application process in order to obtain one. The biometric information (fingerprints and photo) that you submitted as part of your visa application process will also be reflected on your card.  
  • In addition to your basic biographical information, your BRP card will state your immigration status and display whether or not you can receive UK welfare. 
  •  You will need to pick up your BRP within 10 days of entering the country. While your BRP card is for domestic use within the UK, it cannot be used to enter or exit the country. 
  • Contact the UK visa and immigration services for more information about extending your UK visa. 

UK visa vignette extension due to COVID-19

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business across the UK. If you are facing the expiry of your UK visa sticker in 2021, you may be wondering whether you can get a UK sticker visa extension as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Depending on what kind of visa you are currently in the UK on, it may be possible to apply to extend your visa. Here are some examples: 
    • If you are working in the UK healthcare industry, you will likely be able to extend your visa for free.  
    • If you are in the UK on a Start-up visa, you can remain in the country for an additional year so long as you can provide evidence that your company’s work was significantly disrupted as a result of the pandemic, and you apply and are approved for additional leave. 
    • If you are in the UK on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, and you have not been able to retain employees for the past year due to the pandemic, you may be eligible to extend your visa for two more years.

FAQs on how to read your UK visa sticker

  • How to find UK visa number on passport?
    • You can find your visa number on your visa. Most UK visa holders are granted a visa vignette; a physical visa, which is pasted into their passport. You can therefore find your UK visa number by turning to the page on your passport which contains your UK visa. Looking at your visa, you should be able to find your visa number located top right on your visa. The visa number is typically displayed in red font.
  • What is visa number in UK visa?
    • A visa number is an individualized number pertaining to your individual visa. When you are granted a visa to the UK, you will be granted a physical visa (i.e. visa vignette) which contains various information (date of birth, date of entry, nationality). Also known as a visa reference number, your visa number is yet another piece of information contained on your visa, which is used by the government to identify you and keep track of your visa within the system. You may be asked to enter this number when you apply for certain government programs or need to access various governmental, health, or educational services throughout the UK. 
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