Monday, March 03, 2014

UK: Applying for a British visa in the Philippines

British visa
Philippine passport holders are required to apply for a visa for visits to the United Kingdom. Applying for a British visa will require you to prepare quite a number of documents. And completing these requirements is the first step of the application process. You’ll need to provide the following:

1. Current passport with at least one blank page
2. Two (2) passport size colored photographs. Make sure to read the guidelines since they are very strict with the photos.
3. Evidence that you can support yourself during your trip such as total monthly income from all sources (employment, friends, family, personal savings or property). You can submit any of the following financial documents:
- Bank statements or bank books covering the past six (6) months
- Bank letter or balance certificate
- Payslips covering up to the previous six months
- Tax returns (business or personal)
- Business bank account statements
- Evidence of income from property or land (property deeds, mortgage statements, tenancy agreements, accountant’s letters, land registration documents or crop receipts)
4. Details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans. Note that you shouldn’t pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa. The documents you may submit include:
- Hotel booking confirmation (usually e-mail confirmation)
- Airline booking confirmation
- Travel agent confirmation of both
- Accommodation details with a supporting letter from the occupant confirming that you are able to stay there
- Planned itinerary including bookings or tickets for any excursions, trips and outings
5. Previous passports to show your travel history
6. Evidence of your marital status (marriage certificate, a civil partnership certificate, a divorce certificate or a death certificate)
7. Evidence of your current employment or studies
- For employees, a letter from your employer on company letterhead detailing your salary and the length of your employment, confirming that you have been given time off work, and stating whether this time off is paid or unpaid
- For students, a letter from your school on school letterhead confirming your enrollment and leave of absence
- For business owners, business registration documents confirming the business owner’s name and the date when the business started trading
8. Print out of completed visa application form filled-up online (see details below)

After you have completed the requirements, you should now proceed to fill-up the visa application form online. Avoid filling-out the form without completing the requirements because some of the questions will require answers from the other documents you will be submitting. Note that you have to accomplish the following steps:

1. Register for an account
2. Fill in the application form in English
3. Pay for the visa fee via credit card online (£80)
4. Print out your application form
5. Book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre. Note that this requires personal appearance since you’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at the visa application centre as part of your application.

Once you have printed out the application form, you can now proceed to schedule an appointment with the visa application centre. There are two ways to set an appointment. First is online by visiting the following link:

You can also contact the VFS call centre to make your appointment. Their number is 1-909-885-VISA (8472). Note that you are charged Php32.00 for each minute for landline calls (excluding VAT and applicable NDD charges for calls made outside Metro Manila).

Once you have made your appointment, bring all your documents to the visa application centre on the date and time of your appointment. Make sure to come at least thirty (30) minutes early. The application center is located at VFS Services Philippines Private Inc., Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Building, Unit 606, 2305 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. You can find a map here.

It takes a minimum of two (2) working days to get your visa, especially for frequent travelers, which was my experience. But most visas (if approved) are delivered between five (5) to fifteen (15) working days from the date of submission. So make sure to apply well in advance. You will be allowed to apply up to three (3) months before your trip.

Note also that VFS only collects the documents and the staff have no influence on whether your visa is approved or not. It will still be the UK Border Agency which decides if you are qualified or not.

Regular submission is from Monday to Friday between 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There is a prime time service from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, but this requires an additional Php2,100 fee. Collection of passports is from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. for regular submission, and 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. for prime time. You may also opt to have your passport couriered for an additional Php380.

There is also a VIP premium lounge service if you want privacy and to avoid the lines for an additional Php2,000 for each visa applicant. The VIP service also includes refreshment and snacks, personalized attention during submission and the biometric process, plus free passport photo and photocopying (up to 50 pages) if necessary. To book the VIP appointment, e-mail and request for an appointment indicating your name as it appears on your passport, your passport number, the visa category you are applying for and the desired appointment time or call (02) 5013217 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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