Why I know about visas:
I met a girl in Thailand once and she was a good girl. I really liked her and though she was much younger than me, one night while drunk she said she loved me and wanted to go with me to England.
I had no idea about visas and didn't have enough money to pay an agent so I had no choice but to learn. And what I learned was that nowhere on the Internet does anyone just give you a list of things to do to get your visa application together.
The visa process is daunting. And with so many experts out there who all give you different answers - they can't all be right.
But I did it. Have done it many times since. And so can you.
A lot of you are not reading this sentence because you have already scrolled down to the 'how to' and will fail. For those of you who are still reading however, the following is not a guarantee to success, but it does tell you what you need and where to get it.
Before reading how to; take heed of some ground rules:
• Do not take advice or listen to people who have failed in their attempt to obtain a visa. They have nothing to offer you and their advice will be about how not to do it along with stories of how they got ripped off. The visa process is not a scam and those who fail only have themselves to blame.
• Professional Visa Services or the VFS do not have any special skills or access to the Embassy nor can they influence the decision.
• Bribery, blackmail, or who you know will not get your visa approved so do not part with your money, it is not going where you expect.
• If you are not sure about which form is appropriate for you, you can email the VFS office at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call them on 0066 2800 8050.
• Do not expect your family to understand or share your happiness. My cousin asked me if she used to be a prostitute? A work colleague said she is only with me for the money. A good friend of mine has a son who no longer speaks to him because his father has denigrated his deceased mother's memory. And this is how it will be for you.
• If you are on State benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance or Incapacity Benefit, forget the idea. You are required to be independent and able to provide for this girl and you do not have the means without public funds. (This does not discriminate against disabled sponsors or applicants but you will have to fund it yourself until such time the applicant is entitled).
• Do not invent any of your application. Do not embellish, lie, exaggerate or any other deadly sin that might pop suddenly and unexpectedly into your head. If an answer sounds to you like a good idea then it is not. The only good answer is the truth. You will not be asked personal questions about your relationship nor will her occupation be stamped in her passport nor will you or she undergo an intimate physical examination despite the stories you will hear. If you choose to lie about her employment however, you run the risk of making the Consulate suspicious and the ECO will decline if they suspect underlying motives.
• Do not marry her before applying for a visa. It is the kiss of death. Many would disagree with that but Stickman Bangkok once wrote "She will make your apartment smell of fish, she will call her friends in Thailand for 8 hours a day to ask them how to cook fish, your TV will spend most of its time on porn channels and reality TV shows after which she will ask you to take her late shopping to get some fish. All your mates will want to shag her, your mates girlfriends will ignore her and he will no longer be allowed to go out for a beer with you. Sex will be no more. She will sleep at different times to you and after six months you will probably send her back home."
• Plan your application. Consider what you need and provide it. Do not try to get away with the minimum requirements. Buy a box file or hard plastic document folder to put your pack in and don't be afraid to fill it. Do not use a ring binder.
• When your application is approved, do not expect that to be the end of the hoop jumping and impertinence. And I will quote Stick (not that he is always right) for a second time: Join Thailand/UK Forums because they can answer all your questions.
How to get a Visa (The easy way):
How to get a Visa (The stressful way):
Find a reputable Visa service (and there are not many) ask them about success stories and ask for references. Do not hand over any money until they provide evidence of satisfied clients. Don't accept web page links or emails, they are meaningless and so are photos' of happily married couples. You want someone's name and phone number in the UK.
Most visa companies boast an impossible 100% success rate and cannot explain why the VSO rejects 97% of applications. If you choose to use one of these companies tell them you will pay the £1000 fee only if they guarantee to obtain the visa without asking for more money. Ask them if they are registered with the OISC. Ask them their average clearance time from taking someones application to being given the approval and for proof, anything more than one month is diabolical. Ask who they know at the Embassy and are they able to guarantee a successful application? Remember - they do not know anyone and they cannot influence the decision. I have not yet found a reputable or successful visa agent, so if you succeed this way in an appropriate timescale do please let me know.
How to get a Visa (The right way):
The form you require as of 13-12-2012 is VAF1f for fiancée and can be obtained from UKBA Visiting. If you are already married and in the UK you must use form FLR(M). If you are applying for a spouse visa in Thailand you need to use VAF4a. This is not categorical so please check which form you should be using (if you do not know how to check which form to use, scroll up and start reading from the top of the page). Also download the guidance notes and read them.
The UKBA is still advising applicants to apply online - Thai applicants cannot so go to VFS Global and book an appointment. Or easier still, tell your girlfriend to call them and make an appointment.
Write a covering letter outlining who and how you met and what is included in your application.
Write a reference sheet outlining where the evidence to support your statements can be found because if you want your visa processed quickly then make it easy for the VSO to find answers quickly.
The evidence you need is:
• Proof that you are a British Citizen, Passport and Birth Certificate are the minimum.
• Proof that you are a UK resident, a recent Utility Bill Telephone Bill and Council Tax.
• Proof that you can support her, Floor plan and description of your property. Your Tenancy Agreement or Title Deeds or a statement from your building society. Your last six months payslips (not any six months). Your last six bank statements and an up to date mini statement showing your current balance. If you use Internet banking get your branch to stamp each sheet and add a compliment slip to validate their authenticity. A reference from your employer. Your last P60, if you do not have it ask your employer for one or ask them for your tax office reference and ask them for one. note: there is now a minimum requirement for income of £18600.
• Proof that you did meet previously, 4 or 5 photographs with you both in the picture and write on the back where and when they were taken. If you travelled with a friend to Thailand get them to write a witness statement.
• Proof that you have maintained regular contact, your phone bills
(use a premium service to keep the cost down, try 0844 861 0001).
• Get her to go to an Internet cafe and get an email address, print out some of your emails both sent and received.
• Proof that you have been supporting her, receipts for money transfers and highlight her account number on your bank statements.
• Proof that you are available to marry, Decree Absolute or a witness statement that you have never been married.
• Ask your local registry office for a reservation and ask them to write to confirm the date.
Send this in your pack to show you intend to marry.
• Your lady will have to provide a birth certificate (bai gert or suu dti baat) she may not have one and she can get it from the District Office (Amphur). She has to prove she is single and can get that from the District Office as well. If she has changed her name at any time she also needs a certificate for that.
• She needs a passport which she can get from Passport Office Passport Division, Department of Consular Affairs, 123 Chaengwattana Rd, Laksi, BKK 10210, Tel: 02981-7171-99. Last time I had to get one it was 1200 Baht.
• She will need 4 passport photos' but get 6 to be on the safe side and she will have to get a chest x-ray certificate to show she is clear of T.B.. This can be obtained by going to the International Organization for Migration (I.O.M.), 8th Floor, Kasemkij Building, 120 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, tel: Tel: 0066 2234 7950. The fee was 2600 Baht but may have gone up recently. This x-ray must be done at the same time as the Visa application but you have to make an appointment before you go. This is supposed to be 24 hours beforehand but I have several times obtained it on the same day.
• There is a choice of hospitals that you must use; 1) Phyathai 2 in Samsennai or 2) Bumrungrad in Sukhumvit 3. Phyathai is the nearest but I think Bumrungrad is nicer. Both are very quick because paying customers are given priority. Once you have your x-ray, you have to go back to the IOM for your certificate of health.
• She has to take the a1 Level English test and obtain a certificate to send with her application (this does not apply to tourist visas). You can review details of the requirement at Pearson PTE. There is some confusion about the English test being scrapped. This is not the case and is a requirement. There are some useful links and practice material on my blog at Waitresses and English tests.
• Do not send alternatives such as ten photos' and no Utility bills. Do not send copies, scanned images or bits of notepaper, and a letter from your mum is not sufficient.
• Do not forge any documents. If you are discovered you will be prosecuted.
• You will need photocopies of relevant documents to send with the originals. Also official translations of Thai documents. If any documents are not the originals (such as your passport which you need) get a solicitor to photocopy it and stamp it as genuine. Someone pointed out to me that this is not a requirement. This is correct but it erases doubt on authenticity so do it.
• If you are missing any of the above documentation do not proceed with your application and do not assume using a Visa service will be easier, they will need exactly the same information to make your application.
• Take your application pack to the VFS Office in person at Regent House, 2nd Floor, 183 Rajdamri Road, Kwaeng Lumpini, Khet Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330. With a Bankers Draught or Cashiers Cheque from the Bank of Ayudhya to the value of (currently) 33930 Baht.
The exchange rate is available at Coinmill but it's upwards of £600. Conveniently, as you would expect from the British Government, there is a bank in the applications building.
• Be careful when you go up to the second floor as the vultures are there waiting to misguide you into their office and start the spiel about success rates. The VFS office is up the stairs, through the door and turn right. When you get to the balcony turn right and on your right is what looks like a glass screen with uniformed Thai personnel behind the counter. You'll know if you're in the right place because the security will not let you in - your girlfriend has to make the application in person and on her own. The VFS staff can copy all the necessary documents and these are permissible (takes all the pain out of it) and that's why you should go yourself with the originals of everything.
• If you do not have a tenancy agreement you can download this one and get your landlord to sign it. Can't help homeowners, that would be counterfeiting.
• If you are not sure how to layout a covering letter? There is an example here.
How long will the decision take?
All visit visas should take 5 to 10 working days. Settlement takes 13 weeks. VFS Global Thailand
The decision is often subject to an interview which can be held in Thai or English so get your girlfriend to practice and make sure she knows you. The questions are unpredictable but they are usually like these. Most girls fail the interview because they do not know the answers to simple questions or they get caught out lying.
Visa success is individual. You are not necessarily entitled under your circumstances and anachak is not responsible for your success. If you are unsure please email me with your concern. Do not assume following the above means you will succeed.