Whether you’ve always wanted to soak up the rich British culture and history by way of a trip to London Bridge and Stonehenge, or if a shopping trip at the notoriously luxurious Bond Street has always been on your bucket list, a visit to the United Kingdom always seems like a grand plan–one that’s hindered by the preconceived notion that the UK visa application process must have a low approval rate.
However, according to the British Embassy Manila, 89 percent of Filipino applicants are granted UK visas. Start planning your big vacation with your own “Royal Family” and follow this guide to a successful UK visa application.
Applying for the right UK visa type
First, you need to determine the most appropriate visa type for your trip. A general visitor visa is for applicants planning a leisure trip, while the family visitor visa is specifically for those who are hoping to visit family members residing in the UK.
On the other hand, a business visitor visa is for applicants with work-related purposes of visit, such as conferences, meetings, and training. These visa types are multiple entry and permit applicants to stay for up to 6 months on every visit. Visit the UK visa website to further check your eligibility.
Application timeline and requirements
The earliest applicants can start the process is three months before date of travel. Standard processing period is 15 working days from time of application. The UK visa application process does not accept walk-ins. Thus, application and appointment should be rendered online, and applicants need to wait for their invitation for a scheduled appearance at the visa application center.
Do not forget to provide an original and photocopy of the following documents:
- Appointment letter and printed application form
- Previous and current passports (6 months validity within travel period)
- BIR Registration and most recent Income Tax Return
- Certificate of Employment and Company ID
- Sponsor’s Bank certificate and ID photos
- Letter of invitation from sponsor
- Two valid IDs
- Latest photo (passport size)
- Financial statement (Pay slips for the last 6 months, bank statements)
- Personal identification (NSO birth certificate, NBI Clearance)
- Proof of payment of visa application fee
Applicants are required to make an appearance at the UK embassy to submit required documents and go for a biometric scan (i.e. fingerprints, photograph). While visa applications such for the US and Schengen are dreaded for the nerve-wracking interview with consuls, applicants need not worry as UK’s process does not include such. Below are the steps to follow:
Step 1. Log on to the UK government website. Accomplish the application forms and pay visa fee online via credit card or bank deposit.
Step 2. Attend an appointment at the nearest visa application center. Applicants must book an appointment prior to submission.
Step 3. Applicants must arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time, with appointment letter and application pack, valid passport, and two valid IDs. Keep the receipt as this will be presented before you get your documents. Note that no more additional documents can be submitted once submission is done. Make sure that all requirements and supporting documents are complete.
Step 4. You will be asked for biometric information collection. Ensure that your fingertips are free from any form of decorations, cuts, abrasions or other markings.
Step 5. To collect your documents, you may choose to collect in person at the center, or have them delivered via mail.
Notes on filling out the application form
Thoroughly check the information you wrote on the form, and make sure all details are clear and true. Remember that you can no longer go back to the form pages and edit details once you’ve already confirmed and digitally signed the form.
As there is no interview, you have to be detailed in presenting your itinerary and ensure that your financial statements are crystal clear–especially if you have a sponsor.
Notes on money matters
One of the top concerns when applying for a UK visa is how much money you actually need to have for your application to be a success. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need six to seven figures of ‘show money’ to get approved.
There is actually no specific amount to guarantee application approval. As per an interview by ABS-CBN with an official of the British Embassy Manila, the main consideration is how the applicant plans to work around his savings and annual income. “It’s hard to understand how one person will spend half of his annual salary on a very short trip,” one of the officers explained.
Therefore, you need to make sure that the itinerary you declared suits your financial capacity. The activities you indicated on your itinerary form should be reasonable and fitting to the amount of money in your bank account. It’s better to declare you’re staying in a hostel and going to free museums than lying about booking a five-star hotel on such a limited budget.
It’s also noteworthy to mention that third party funds are acceptable. The applicant just needs to provide complete and detailed information of the sponsor’s financial statement.
A Standard Visitor visa costs £89 (around 5,900 pesos). The fee for long-term visit visa depends on its length:
- 2 years – £337 (around 22,100 pesos)
- 5 years – £612 (around 41,000 pesos)
- 10 years – £767 (around 50,300 pesos)
If you need a UK visa straightaway, you can avail of the 24-Hour Super Priority Visa Service with a processing time of one day. The service costs P45,000. However, you must note that this 24-Hour Super Priority Visa Service still does not guarantee approval of your application.
Applicants who are not available during the regular business hours of the agency can avail of the Prime Time Appointments service, which allows visa applications outside of “normal hours,” for a fee of P3,750.