Do you have a plan to visit the United Kingdom?
As Filipinos, we don’t have the privilege to go in most of the western countries without a visa. Aside from the big amount of money that will be needed for a trip, you also have to gamble your luck to get the type of visa that you want. However, if you have all the requirements that an embassy needs, I should say, just be confident and there’s nothing to worry about.
This blog is about MY personal experience of getting my visit visa to the United Kingdom. This might be different from other visa applications in other countries or to other people’s experiences, but I hope this post could help you in some ways.
Now, let’s go through the process of visa application!
1. Research first.
It has been my habit to research about everything that I will go to or do the first time. Google almost has all the answers you need to know; maps, tutorials, definitions, illustrations, etc. Just be keen on reading every link that it will give you as it will help you to get what you’re looking for. Invest time to learn everything you need to know before you make your first move. Knowledge is really a powerful tool, and it’s for free.
First, I went over the site of British Embassy and went through the whole visa application site to know which kind of visa I will need and most importantly their requirements. You should pay attention to the restrictions in each type of visa as well.
Then I looked for blogs about visa application for the UK. As for Filipino like me, it was really helpful that there are some Filipino bloggers who posted about visa applications for tourists. I like Wild Spirit as she was very detailed about the online application form. I like Wanderlass as well because she also has a very good step by step procedure about the whole application. I will tell you, I did go back and forth reading their blogs until the day that I will have to go to VFS Global office for my biometrics appointment. There are other blogs that might be helpful for you just don’t get tired surfing the web.
I gathered every requirement that I needed before I fill out the online application form. Why? Some of the questions there will depend on the requirements that you will present. They must match!
In my case, since my boyfriend will sponsor my trip there, we need to gather all the required documents to show that he is capable of financing my trip there. But of course, I will also need to get my documents prepared as well so we were both busy gathering everything we need.
Requirements for the visa applicant:
– a current passport or other valid travel identification (if you have an old passport with a visa from other countries, it might help as well)
– evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, e.g. bank statements, bank certificate, payslips from the last 6 months
– visa picture
– printed visa application form
Requirements for the sponsor:
– proof of residency
– bank statements
– mortgage or land title
– certificate of employment
– letter of invite
3. Online Application Form.
Once you’ve completed your requirements, you can start to register your account here. Afterward, start filling out the application form. remember, it must match every document that you will present them. And be honest in answering every question there. in my case, I don’t have six-digit money in my bank account, so we emphasized on my boyfriend’s invitation letter that he will pay every expense I will have during my trip, as well as in the Additional Information Section, we placed that information. We also put the address where I will be staying the whole time I am in the UK. However, you will still need to present your bank statement and certificate and make sure you are capable of financing yourself during the tour.
There will also be a part of the application form where you will need to give the date that you plan to go to the UK. My mistake was; I put 29th of February because I was not sure when will my bf get back to the UK (so I just estimated the time around the end of February until the first week of March). The consul or the embassy officials will put the exact date that you will put on the application form. So if you don’t want to waste even a day during your tour make sure to put your intended date. Even so, don’t worry, visit visa is valid for six months (it’s just in our case, we want to use every second that we can be together… Lovers! Eeek!).
If you’re not ready to make an appointment yet, you are free to go back and forth the application form. Just remember to save every change that you made there. By the time you are ready to submit and make an appointment, make sure every detail is correct. So go through every questionnaire and double check everything. if you think everything’s fine, then you can now set up an appointment with them.
4. Appointment Date.
In the day before my appointment, I made sure that I’ve got every requirement that I needed. Don’t forget to photocopy them as well.
I went to VFS Global office in Manila, please be reminded, it’s not in the British Embassy. My schedule was 10 in the morning and knowing that the MRT (metro train) is not a reliable way to get there in time, I left home early. Be sure to be in the office 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment, or they might reschedule you if you’re late (you wouldn’t want that to happen). I arrived there an hour earlier than expected. Though they didn’t let me get in until five minutes before my scheduled time.
Getting inside was a very fast and smooth process! Surprisingly, I finished the entire application and biometrics for less than 30 minutes from the time I entered the office. First, I went to surrender my bag and phones to a baggage counter (please don’t forget to bring your wallet, you will need to pay for some fees). I paid Php100 for it the time I had to get my bag back; they will give you a receipt for it.
Once inside the office for UK application, I had to wait for few minutes for my number to appear on a queue board. Then during my turn, I submitted my documents. The officers or clerks asked some questions to verify my personal information and asked me if I would like to avail email and SMS updates of my application, as well if I want my papers to return via post. I really don’t remember the exact amount I paid, but more or less I paid Php500-600.
After the submission of requirements, I had to wait for few minutes again for my biometrics, which only took less than 5 minutes. Then off I go! I should say, my travel time from Bulacan to Manila took more time than the application and biometrics process.
5. Waiting Period.
I was told by the officers that the waiting period was 15 working days, and they will send me SMS and emails to give me updates about my application.
That same day around 5 pm, I received a text message from VFS Global that they have forwarded my application to the British Embassy and will give me a further notice about it.
After exactly a week, I received an email from the British Embassy stating that they already made a decision about my UK visa application. Sadly, they never told me what’s the result! By the afternoon, I received a message from the VFS Global office saying that they have the result and will send it via mail (again, they tried to kill me with suspense!)
The next day, the postman was knocking on our gate and looking for me! He got the result! I got approved for six months multiple entry visit visa to the UK!
6. Entry to the UK.
Getting the UK visa is not an assurance that you can enter their country. It will still be the immigration officers who will decide the final draw!
So, to make everything go smoothly, make sure you have a copy of you invitation letter with you and your round-trip ticket. I also had my bank cards with me, just in case they ask for it (but they didn’t).
When I arrived in the UK and had to go through the immigration, they asked me some questions that are related to what’s written in the letter of invite, how long will I stay, where will I stay and when will be my flight back to the Philippines. Then the rest is history.
I’d say that the invite has a lot to say about my stay as the immigration officer really took the time to read it before asking me questions. I am glad that my boyfriend did a vividly wonderful invitation letter which helped me go through the whole process.
I know there are similar cases as mine, who wanted to go to the UK just to be with their boyfriend /girlfriend. I have read loads of comments on some blogs asking about their situation of having as British partner and wanting to get there. I hope this post might help some of the questions that most Filipinos look for.
Just please be reminded, that visitor visa is different from fiance visa or family visa. If you were granted a visit visa, you will need to go back to your country of origin within the six months that was granted to you. You also can’t get married when you were only under visitors visa, if you’re planning to, then I suggest to get a fiance visa instead which is a different process.
Here are some helpful websites for your application: