I’m going to start this post with a necessary disclaimer:
This information is based on my personal experience and in no way guarantees that your Thai partner will be granted a visa to visit the UK. Each application is decided on its individual merit by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) on behalf of UK Immigration & Visas.
I am not a licensed agent, and I have no privileged contact with the UKVI.
The information in this post is intended to help you complete the process correctly and submit what might be considered relevant documentation to support your application.
So you want to bring your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or husband to the UK for a visit but haven't a clue how to get started.
Well, myself and Mrs TTL have successfully been through this process over ten times, and I've also helped countless readers get visas for their partners too.
In this post I'm going to break the process down into 6 simple steps that you can follow one-by-one and make sure you get it right.
Let me just say at this point that you DO NOT need to hire a visa agent/service to apply for you.
There are a huge number of visa services out there that claim to be able to give you an advantage over those who apply by themselves, but these claims are false.
Such services charge you a large amount of money for a process that was designed for you to complete by yourself.
It's not difficult if you simply follow the instructions. As much as they might lead you to believe, these visa services have no “contacts” inside the UKBA. They too, like everyone else, are subject to refusal.
The one advantage they do have is the experience of submitting documentation for specific circumstances. They have a feel for what the officials want to see.
But don't worry, I’m going to use my experience to help you with that.
What Are Our Chances of Getting a Visa?
The process is NOT discriminatory. Each application is subject to the same investigation and processing and anyone can apply.
That said, you will have to follow the guidelines and meet certain criteria.
At a basic level, you will have to prove what I call the ‘BIG 3':
- Provide adequate evidence that your relationship is genuine and exists in the way you have claimed it does.
- Provide adequate supporting evidence for the details provided on your application form.
- Provide evidence that you have good reason to want to return to Thailand once your visit is over.
Of course, outside of these basics, they will consider your criminal record history and the outcome of previous applications (your visa history).
Let’s be honest here: If you met your partner last month on a 2-week holiday to Thailand and are now trying to get her/him back to the UK for 6 months, you’re going to have a tough time proving that your relationship is genuine and that you are going to guarantee his/her safety and financial needs while in the UK.
It might seem unfair, especially when you’re in “luuurve”. But consider that even though it’s frustrating, the application process is designed to protect your partner and the UK.
I mean, if it was really easy to get a visa for someone you know little about and have only known for a short time, it would leave foreign nationals open to exploitation.
Anyway, you get the picture….
Think You're Going to Need Extra Help?
The form your partner needs to fill out requires personal information and details on travel history. So before you start, make sure he/she has the following to hand:
- Work history and current employer details/salary
- Parent’s names and dates of birth
- Passport/travel history (current and previous – 10 years)
- Details of dependents (children)
- Details of funds available for the visit (financial)
- Details of partner/friend/sponsor
- Details of accommodation
- Proposed travel/return dates
You’ll notice in this post that I often refer to “you”, even though it is your partner who is applying.
The reasons for this are:
- I assume you are researching this topic for your partner, so I'm addressing you, the reader.
- It's perfectly legal for you to assist your partner in filling out the form if your partner’s English skills aren’t up to the task.
It’s also a good idea to sit down and do it together anyway (in person or on Skype). That way you’ll have two pairs of eyes to run over it and make sure you aren't missing anything.
Step 1: Apply on the Gov.uk Website
Click here and register an account on the UK Gov Visas & Immigration website. Follow the steps to set up an account. This is also where you will fill out your application form.
Step 2. Fill Out the Application Form & Pay
Once you’ve set up your account, you’re ready to start. Go back to the pre-considerations list above and make sure you have all that information to hand; otherwise you won’t be able to complete the application in one sitting.
Set aside two hours for this task. You may get it done faster, but it’s best to give yourself this time so that you don’t get stressed out.
Pick a time when you aren’t likely to be distracted and you aren’t tired, as you’ll want to get this right first time.
If you get stuck on a question, use the help prompts to guide you.
At the end of the process you will pay your visa fee, currently £95.
Once paid, you will be given a reference number that starts with GWF. You will use this in the next step.
Make sure you print a copy of the payment receipt to take with you to your appointment. Never leave anything to chance. You don't want any confusion over your payment or application.
Want to See Real Refusal Letters?
Step 3: Make An Appointment with VFS
Once you have paid, hop on over to VFS Global and register to make an appointment using your GWF number.
Now, consider that you still need to get your supporting documentation together, so give yourself ample time for that.
I recommend booking an appointment for a week’s time to take the pressure off; there’s quite a bit of documentation to get together.
Once you have your documentation together, you can upload it through your VFS account. Or, if you need a hand, you can have your documents scanned at the Visa Application Centre on the day. This is now a paid service that costs 460 Baht.
I recommend uploading the documents in the system, and also taking your documents with you to your appointment, just in case something was missed on the scan and you need to do it on the day.
You can choose from a range of services too, such as having the home visit service (they visit you), premium appointment service (an appointment outside normal hours), or VIP treatment package (get priority queuing and taken into a special room).
Try to avoid paying for such services, as some cost as much as the visa itself!
Step 4: Supporting Documentation
There is information on supporting documentation on the UKVI website here.
However, if you're wondering why the information isn't very detailed and specific, it's because they tell you only the fundamental basics to submit.
Every application is slightly different, and having the right documentation isn’t a guarantee of an approval, thus you will see the words “other documents you may want to provide” in the text.
So you need everything on this list plus whatever you think is necessary to support your situation.
Want a Comprehensive Documents Checklist?
As mentioned previously, you can scan your documents electronically on the VFS website or you can take them with you and have them scanned by the member of staff processing your application at the VFS centre.
If you chose to take the documents with you to be scanned, do yourself a favour and get a folder.
Buy one with plastic slip cases built in. This will help you present your documentation in an organised fashion.
I suggest you create a contents page that lists all the documentation inside the folder, and then number each page inside with the corresponding number on the contents page.
This will make it much faster to process, and help you ensure you have everything covered.
NOTE: Any document you submit in Thai should be translated into English by an accredited translation agency.
Remember, you are submitting this application to UK officials, not Thai officials. They will not be able to read anything in Thai.
On the UKVI website it states that all submitted documents must be originals and not photocopies. However, this applies to the documents it suggests you provide.
If you are providing documents outside of those listed by the UKVI, you may be able to provide colour or black and white copies.
Make sure you provide the original copy of all translations.
Essential ‘Must Not Forgets'!
- Print out your application: Even though you don't need to do this because it is sent electronically, I still recommend it, as you never know if you may need to refer to it on the day of your appointment.
- Take your documentation folder with you (if you want to have your documents scanned for sending by staff)
- Print out your payment confirmation document
- Print out your appointment confirmation document
- Take your Thai ID Card with you
- Take your passport! (This is needed to put the visa inside – if you pass)
Step 5: Appointment Day
On the day, make sure you arrive an hour in advance. This will give you some time leverage in case you have forgotten to print something out and need to visit a copy shop.
If in Bangkok, take the MRT/BTS. A taxi may get stuck in traffic and cause you to miss your appointment.
The closest station to VFS is Nana BTS.
Directions from the station:
- Get off the train and go to Exit 3.
- Walk down the stairs.
- Turn right at the bottom of the stairs.
- Go through the ticket barrier and bear off to the left.
- Take the stairs to your right (right in the corner).
- Once at the bottom of the stairs, walk straight.
- Sukhumvit 13 is about 2 roads down.
- Trendy Building is 125 meters down Sukhumvit 13, on your right-hand side.
VFS Address (Bangkok):
VFS Bangkok Application Centre
Trendy Office Building, 28th Floor,
Sukhumvit Road Soi 13,
Klongtoey Nua, Wattana,
*Note that there are some mobile Visa Application Centers in Bangkok located at the Crystal Design Centre, Thanya Park, and Siam Paragon. These cost 3,800 Baht to use.
Here's the address if you're using the branch in Chiang Mai:
231/12 1004, Thesaban Nakhon Chiang Mai 1004
Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
My experience is with the Bangkok VFS, so I'll walk you through that:
When you arrive at the Trendy Building, you’ll see a UK/Australia/Canada visa booth located on the ground floor. Your partner must hand his/her appointment paper to the official at this desk.
The office is on the 28th floor. This means you’ll need to head to the lift at the back of the ground floor. On busy days this lift can take ages to arrive, so allow at least 10 minutes to make the escalation.
If you accompany your partner to the visa office, you may not be allowed in the main submission room. It’s strange. Sometimes they let partners in and other times they don’t.
Step 6: The Decision: Collecting Your Passport
You'll be notified by email when your visa is ready for collection. Simply go back to the same building between the times and days given on your email, with the receipt you were given after your submission.
You will receive an envelope with your passport and decision inside.
Wait until you get back downstairs to the café before opening the envelope. I suggest this because if you are rejected you may be overcome with emotion and try to speak with the staff about your decision.
Remember: The staff at the visa centre have no influence over this decision. They are employed to organise and process people and applications, not to give out advice. No matter your plea, they cannot change this decision.
What to Do if You Are Refused a UK Visit Visa?
It does happen. It happened to us the very first time. We’d been together two and a half years at this point and still weren’t granted a visa.
But here’s the anomaly; the refusal wasn’t to do with my wife (then girlfriend). It was my fault (it always is, ha!).
The UKVI wanted proof of my travel to and from Thailand over the period we had known each other. I hadn’t provided my full passport history on my first application and therefore they could not verify our history together.
This was really annoying because all travel history is logged at UK and Thai immigration, but the onus was on me to prove this, not for them to go digging into the data.
So we reapplied, this time submitting my passport history and a document outlining a timeline of travel to and from the country. We also had to pay again (of course). This time we passed and had a wonderful Christmas in the UK.
Don’t get disheartened. Read the notes left by the Entry Clearance Officer inside your refusal, then get the documentation together you need to prove your case and apply again.
The lesson here is not to leave anything to chance, or to the imagination of the visa official processing your application. Be as comprehensive as possible.
Provide as much evidence of your relationship, of your ability to financially sponsor and take care of your partner in the UK, and as much of a reason for your partner to want to return to Thailand as possible.
Refused a Visa? Frustrated? Want to Apply Again?
What to Do Next – Once You Have Your Visa
1. Pay for Your Flights
If you pre-booked your flight (s) without paying, don't forget to pay for them before they expire or you might have trouble booking a ticket for the days you want to leave and return to Thailand.
Even though your visa is valid for 6 months, in my opinion it is best-practice to return to Thailand on the date proposed on your application.
This shows that you were truthful (on your application form) regarding your reasons to return and have kept to your word. This may bode well for future applications.
2. Get Travel Insurance
In the excitement of getting your visa, don't forget travel insurance! We almost did this last time but luckily my wife remembered and got it the night before.
The NHS will treat a patient without insurance, but there will be a cost decided by the hospital, and it could be pretty expensive.
Also consider personal accident cover, lost luggage cover and flight cancellation cover.
We always use World Nomads. It's great cover at a reasonable price:
Best of luck!
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No doubt you saw the headlines in the post adverting my visit visa guide. Well, I'm shouting about it because it's pretty awesome. It should be too: I spent 6-months putting it together!
It comprises my extensive experience of applying with my wife and advising over 200 readers on their applications and refusals, all rolled into one comprehensive and super-helpful guide.
There's nothing out there like it. If you need help, this is for you.
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