Update on How to Obtain a UK Visitor's Visa
The last time my wife, a Thai, went for a UK visitor's visa, it
was done completely through the UK embassy in the embassy itself. However, the system changed a few years back
and now most, if not yet all, British embassies around the world, employ an agency to collect and check the
initial paperwork and applicant's data.
This article is about the new system and how we experienced it in Bangkok in September 2012.
The first thing to make clear is that the basic principle of how to obtain a UK visitor's visa has not changed
in that you still have to prove a long-standing, deep relationship with your sponsor or you have to have proof of
sufficient funds for your trip..
However, the similarity stops there. The process or at least a large part of it has been automated. The
applicant should now start by locating the British Embassy in his or her country's capital city by searching online
for "British embassy in xxxx" and click through to the visa section.
As always, it is a good idea to read the various forms and other advisory paperwork that it recommends before
checking the box to say that you have done so and proceeding. Then click the "Continue" button.
On my computer nothing happened so I clicked several times. It was only later that I found several copies of the
visa application form (VAF) 'under' the other windows on my screen, so it is a good idea to close all other
programmes before you start.
It is very simple to work your way through the VAF either in English or your mother tongue and, although you can
pause the process for several days if you don't have all the necessary paperwork to hand, it is best to get
everything together first (eg current and expired passports, parents' ID cards, etc).
There are a few 'trick questions' thrown in like 'Are you a terrorist?', but the most confusing one is 'Home
telephone number: (if you have one)', but it won't let you proceed unless you enter a number! (I put our mobile
number in there as well as in the mobile number box and it did not check for duplicates).
At the end of the form, you can file it with the agency for safe-keeping there and then, which is best, if you
have a printer attached, because you need a hardcopy of the form. I did not have a printer, so I went back a stage
or two until I could save my application, then I went to an Internet cafe, resumed, filed the VAF and printed it
There is another way of doing it if you go too far to save your work by copying the URL to a flash drive and
transferring it to a computer with a printer.
You are then required to make an appointment with the agency to check your VAF before it is sent to the embassy,
because you haven't got that far yet. This again is easy, but you may have to pull the same stunt with the landline
phone number and area code.
When you get to your interview, be early because they insist on punctuality. Take all supporting documentation
and your print out with you, because it will be sent from here to the embassy and you cannot add anything
You will have had to pay the fee first too (in Bangkok this is done in the bank in the building, so arrive 30
You will not get the results there and then, because the paperwork is sent to the embassy (across the road, in
Bangkok), but they will send you your passport back in two weeks if you pay the postage - this helps if you live
far from the embassy.
This is a better system than the old one in many ways, but it is open to abuse. My wife forgot to take my bank
statements, but she was told 'not to worry about it'. She failed and everyone knew she would, but the agency
presumably wanted the double commission.
A friend's wife in the next village applied four times before she got a visa, whereas in the 'old days', the
embassy staff would tell you to go home and get the missing papers without it having cost you anything.
If you fail, you can re-apply immediately, but let's hope you don't have to because it is heart-breaking and
by Owen Jones