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.
Okay, so you want to bring your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or husband to the UK for a visit.
We’ve (myself and Mrs TTL) have been through this process successfully ten times, so I’m going to break this down into 7 simple steps that you can work through systematically 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’s a huge number of visa services out there that claim to be able to give you an advantage over those who apply by themselves. This is not true.
Such services charge you a large amount of money for a process that was designed for you to complete by yourself.
It is not difficult if you simply follow the instructions. As much as they lead you to believe, these visa services have no “contacts” inside the UKBA, and 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 and 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, one would assume they consider your criminal record history and the outcome of previous applications.
Let’s be honest: 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 super 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 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 will need to fill out the form.
The reasons for this are:
1) I assume you are researching this topic for your partner, so I'm addressing you, the reader.
2) It's perfectly legal for you to assist your partner in filling out the form if your partner’s English writing 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 don’t miss anything.
Step 1: Register An Account On The Visa4UK Website
Go here and register an account on the UKBA website. You will have to apply online and this registration will provide you with a password to log-on and fill out the form.
The email address you provide will also be used as a point of contact to notify you of your appointment confirmation, payment confirmation and notification to pick up your passport and decision.
Step 2. Fill Out The Application Form
Once you’ve set up your account, you’re ready to start. Go back to the pre-considerations 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 quicker, 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. You’ll want to get this right first time.
If you get stuck on a question, use the form’s “?” help pop-ups to guide you.
Want to See Real Refusal Letters?
Step 3: Make An Appointment
Once the application is done, you’ll be taken to view your progress on the home page of your account.
At this stage, you can choose an appointment day and time to submit your application. If you are in Bangkok, this must be done in person at The Trendy Building in Sukhumvit (all the details are in Step 6).
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.
Step 4: Make Your Payment
Do this as soon as you’ve booked your appointment. It’s not worth leaving until later because if you forget you won’t be able to submit your application.
Make sure you take a copy of the payment receipt and appointment letter with you on submission day (see the reminder list in Step 5).
At the time of writing, the price of the application is quoted in US dollars and works out at $130. I have no idea why they don’t let you pay in GBP. I have complained because it works out more expensive this way, but no reply, as yet.
Once you’ve paid, you’re all set. Now it’s time to get that supporting documentation together.
Step 5: Supporting Documentation
There is information on supporting documentation on the UKVI website here.
If you're wondering why the information isn't very detailed and helpful, it's because they only tell you 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 “any other documents in support of your application” 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?
NOTE: As of late 2018 you can scan and send your documents electronically during the application process, 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. Please see my checklist for further advice.
Make sure you provide the original copy of all translations.
Essential ‘Must Not Forgets'!
- Print out your application (As of late 2018 you no longer need to print your application because it is sent electronically. However, I still recommend printing a copy as you never know 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
- Print out your appointment confirmation
- Take your Thai ID Card with you
- Take your passport! (This is needed to put the visa inside – if you pass)
Step 6: Appointment Day
On the day, make sure you arrive an hour in advance. This will give you some leverage should you have forgotten to print something out.
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.
- Walk down the stairs.
- Turn right at the bottom of the stairs.
- Go through the ticket barrier 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 on your right-hand side.
VFS Address (Bangkok):
VFS Bangkok Application Centre
Trendy Office Building, 28th Floor,
Sukhumvit Road Soi 13,
Klongtoey Nua, Wattana,
231/12 1004, Thesaban Nakhon Chiang Mai 1004
Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
My experience is with the BKK 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 7: 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 and are there to organise and process, 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 2.5 years at this point and still weren’t granted a visa.
But here’s the anomaly; it wasn’t to do with my wife (then girlfriend), but me.
The UKVI wanted proof of my travel to and from Thailand since a specific period. I hadn’t provided my 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 on central computers in the UK, but the onus was on me to prove this, not for them to go digging into data.
So we reapplied, this time submitting my passport history and a document outlining a timeline of travel to and from the region. 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. Go home, get the documentation you need together and apply again.
The lesson here is not to leave anything to chance or 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, Upset? Want to Apply Again?
What to Do Next – Once You Have Your Visa
2. 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 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 regarding your reasons to return and have kept to the word of your application.
This may bode well for future applications.
2. Get Travel Insurance
In the excitement of getting your visa, don't forget to get 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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There's nothing out there like it. If you need help, this is for you.
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