Depending on which part of the world you live in, securing a visa to visit the UK can be a very tricky process.
There is no longer a right of appeal against visit visa refusals (except on limited human rights grounds).
The only way to challenge a refusal is by way of judicial review, a very lengthy process that can cost you thousands of pounds.
It is therefore essential that things are done right the first time.
Many people become very confused when their visit visas are refused, particularly where they completed the forms correctly and provided all the required documents.
The problem is that refusals are often made on the basis of applicants not submitting additional documents above and beyond what is stated.
Here are 7 secrets to the visit visa application process that will increase your chances of success.
1. ASSUME THE ENTRY CLEARANCE OFFICER THINKS YOU ARE A LIAR
Most people who apply to visit the UK are doing so because they want to visit family, see the tourist sights, carry out some business, or attend a short course of study, before returning home to their families, studies and jobs.
Some people visit the UK with the intention of not going home.
Assume that the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) at the embassy believes that you are in the latter category.
It is in effect Guilty Until Proven Innocent.
This means that simply stating you intend to return home before the expiry of your visa is not enough.
You will need to provide evidence of your personal ties to your home country.
For example, this can be evidence of
- your family ties in your country
- a secure and permanent job
- your attendance at university
- land/property ownership
- elderly and ill parents who need you by their side
If you fail to provide this, the ECO is likely to assume that you are lying and that you intend to become an overstayer.
2. SUBMIT EVIDENCE THAT YOUR EMPLOYER OR COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY HAVE AUTHORISED YOUR LEAVE
While many applicants remember to submit letters from their employers or place of study to demonstrate their ties to the country, the ECO also wants to see
- That the employer/place of study are aware of your intended absence
- That they have authorised the absence
- That your job or place in the class will remain open for you upon your return
Ensure the above is contained in the letter.
3. SUBMIT EVIDENCE OF YOUR SPONSOR’S FINANCES
The days of just submitting a ‘sponsorship letter’ from a friend or family member are now long gone.
The ECO will again assume your sponsor is lying about his/her ability to support you financially for the duration of your stay.
Submit your sponsor’s
- Bank statements (last 3 months)
- Payslips (last 3 months)
- Employer’s letter confirming his salary, nature of his employment (ie permanent job), and length of time he has been with the company
4. EXPLAIN ALL THE ENTRIES INTO YOUR BANK STATEMENTS
Many people assume that by simply providing their bank statements showing a healthy balance, the ECO will be satisfied that they have enough money for their trip.
Unfortunately it is not so simple.
The ECO will check if the money going into your account corresponds with your payslips and the amount of salary you have said you receive on the application form.
If there is a discrepancy, you need to explain it.
Some applicants receive their wages cash in hand and only deposit part of their money into their bank account.
The ECO will want an explanation.
Others receive rental income in addition to their wages but do not mention this on the application form.
The ECO will not know where this money is coming from.
The Rules do not tell you to explain this but if you do not, your application is likely to be refused.
Hot Tip: If you do get paid cash in hand and are planning to apply for a visit visa, for the 3-4 months prior to making your application, lodge your full salary into the bank on the same day you receive it.
5. ANSWER EVERY QUESTION TRUTHFULLY
This may seem an obvious point but the consequences of not doing so are enormous.
If the ECO believes you tried to deceive him, you will be BANNED FROM ENTERING THE UK FOR 10 YEARS like has happened to my client Ashok, whose case I am now challenging.
Ashok is an elderly Indian gentleman whose son Vijay came to the UK many years ago and has since naturalised as a British citizen.
Ashok has not seen Vijay for many years and wanted to come to Birmingham to celebrate Diwali with him.
Ashok had made three previous applications many years ago to visit the UK which were refused. This was before Vijay had become British.
When asked whether he had previously been refused entry clearance to the UK, he mentioned two occasions but added that he was old now and his memory was not great so he could not remember the dates.
Not only did the ECO refuse the application but banned Ashok from entering the UK for 10 years on the basis that he used deception in his application.
6. PREPARE A VERY DETAILED AND THOROUGH COVER LETTER
A carefully drafted cover letter is essential.
Again, this is not mentioned anywhere in the Rules but it is your way to weave together all your evidence with the application form to persuade the ECO that you are not a liar and that you are indeed a genuine visitor.
Your letter should include the following:
- how you meet the Immigration Rules
- the reasons for your visit
- what you intend to do in the UK
- your personal ties to your home country
- any previous travel you or family members have undertaken to the UK or elsewhere
- how you have always complied with the terms of your previous visas
- details of your Sponsor’s financial situation and employment
- explanation of the deposits in your bank statement
- where the ECO can find the documents to support every aspect of your case
7. ORGANISE YOUR DOCUMENTS INTO A PAGINATED, INDEXED BUNDLE
Organise your supporting documents into a folder with different sections such as evidence of employment, bank statements, sponsor’s documents, etc.
Number all the pages and attach a cover index/contents page corresponding with the page numbering.
Although not necessary, it will aid the (overworked and bored) ECO to find the documents he or she is looking for and make the correct decision on your application.
I would love to hear about other people’s experiences (both good and bad) in applying for a visit visa to the UK. Please share your experiences in the comments box below.
Visadreams.com, Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, the director and principal solicitor of Riverway Law, a niche UK immigration and nationality law practice based in London. If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details here.