If you’re a Philippine passport holder like myself, the journey to the United Kingdom begins with the visa application. There are different types of visas such as Work Visa, Student Visa, Family Visa, but I will only be discussing about the General Visitor Visa, which my daughter Bea and I applied for.
The first step involved finalizing all our travel plans including the dates and arrangements for our accommodations during our short visit to the UK. Once we’ve decided on the dates, I started filling out the online application form. As a rule, one can apply for a UK visa up to three months before the proposed date of travel.
The following is the simple step-by-step process of applying online for a UK visa:
- Sign up at Visa4UK.
- Once you’ve registered, completely fill out the application form.
- After completing the form, it will prompt you to sign the declaration.
- Next step is to choose your appointment date. (This is the day you will submit all the documentary requirements in person.)
- Make an online payment. The visa fee is GBP 83 or USD 142 (roughly PHP 6,400+ depending on the prevailing exchange rate) per application. This amount is non-refundable whether your visa is granted or not.
- Print your application.
The following are the documents you need to submit on your appointment:
- current and valid Philippine passport
- two (2) pieces passport-size colored photos (with white or cream background)
- all previous passports
- evidence of your marital status (this can be a marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, divorce certificate or death certificate)
- evidence of current employment or studies (when applicable)
- proof of financial capability (this can be in the form of bank statements or bank books, bank certificates, pay slips, income tax returns, business permits/bank account statements, property deeds, and the like)
- airline booking confirmation
- hotel booking confirmation
- a planned itinerary (can be travel agent bookings)
- supporting letter from friends or family in the UK who will be your host family (when applicable)
- completed visa application form (printed)
(1) The UK Visa Application Centre is managed by VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc. in partnership with the British Embassy Manila.(2) The Centre is located at the Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building, 2305 Pasong Tamo Extension Makati City. (3) Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointed time. Get a number from the reception desk. Proceed to the specified room and wait for your number to be called.
(4) Bringing of bags and cellphones is not allowed inside the UK Visa Application Centre. There is, however, a cloaking service for a flat rate of one hundred pesos.
(5) If you are in a rush to get a visa, you may opt for the priority service and pay the extra fee (about USD 100). This will get your visa application processed in 2 to 3 days.
Once your number is called, you need to submit all the required documents to the person at the counter, who will then issue a claim stub that you will need when you return to get your passport. Before leaving the premises, you will have to wait for your turn for the Biometric Enrollment. This is where you will have your fingerprints and digital photo taken.
My personal experience was very satisfactory. It took me about 45 minutes from the time I arrived at the Centre to the time I finished the biometrics. I did not avail myself of the priority service and was told that I can come back to get our passports after 15 working days. I submitted all our documents on August 26, 2014 and I was expecting to get the result on September 17th. However, I received an email dated September 2, 2014 that our visas will be ready for dispatch shortly. So I picked up our passports with our 6-month multiple entry visas on September 8th.
To be honest, I was a little proud of myself for having obtained our visas on my own. Previously I had sought the help of travel agents and/or other government agencies for my other visas (US Visa, Schengen Visa via the German Embassy and Chinese Visa) but now I know that I can do it myself. A clean, decent travel history coupled with a lot of prayers can really help in obtaining a UK Visa.
I am so grateful beyond words.