When faced with 3 U.K tourist visa applications for my Thai wife and 2 sons, the first thing I did was approach a visa agent. Not surprisingly, there is a huge number of visa agencies in Pattaya, some of which may be better than others, but I’m not writing a recommendation of the best visa services in Pattaya, I’m going to tell you why and how I handled the whole U.K tourist visa application myself. Firstly, the reason I decided to handle the process myself was purely a financially motivated decision, U.K tourist visas are not cheap, and I had to pay not cheap x3, that’s already well over 260 pounds. I did ask for a quote from one of the better known Pattaya visa agencies, and at 20,000 baht for 3 visas I believe they are probably one of the cheapest in Pattaya, but 20,000 baht plus the visa application fees of well over 200 pounds was looking a little expensive just to gain the privilege of taking my family to the U.K for a holiday.
Changes to U.K tourist visa application process.
The process of applying for a U.K tourist visa in Thailand has changed dramatically, the initial visa application is now made online, is processed by a private company ‘VFS Global’, and only online payments are accepted. This change, especially the online application process also swayed me towards handling the visa applications myself.
What am I paying a visa agent for ?
Go and inquire at any of Pattaya’s visa services/agents, tell them you would like a U.K visa for your Thai girlfriend and they will provide you with a list of documents and various items which you should gather together, they may also ask a few questions and evaluate your Thai girlfriend/wife’s chances of successfully applying for a United Kingdom tourist visa. In truth there are a host ex-pat forums where you can find the same information.
The visa paper chase
The most time consuming task is actually gathering together all your documents and photos, once that is done you must copy and print them. So what are you paying a visa company for, all the hard work is done by you.
What documents should be presented with a U.K visa application?
every visa application is unique, the required documents depend on many variables such as marriage status, financial status, employment status, current address, property ownership, length of relationship etc, I’m sure you get the general idea. You’re Thai partner’s visa application will be assessed by a ECO (Entry Clearance Officer). The ECO needs to be convinced that you and your Thai girlfriend have a stable relationship, that she or both of you can afford the trip, and that she will return to Thailand. The following documents (listed below) will help your case.
- Photos of you both together, with her family, your family, with your children if you have any.
- Copies of emails, phone texts, or any evidence of contact between the two of you.
- Letter from her employer, stating employment history, and future employment status.
- House Book (Tabien Bahn), or rental agreement, mortgage agreement.
- Proof of any other property, land, business or vehicle ownership.
- Records of any bank loans.
- Bank statement.
- Children’s birth certificates.
- Proof of divorce, if applicable.
- Copy every page of your passport to show proof of your visits to Thailand.
- Bank statements.
- Pay slips.
- Mortgage or rental agreement, if you are renting you may need to acquire a letter from your landlord permitting you to have a guest.
- Utility bills with your name on.
- An invitation/sponsor letter to the ECO, tell them about you and your partner’s history and the reason for the visit, duration of visit, where you intend to stay, who is paying for the visit, reasons you’re girlfriend/wife will return to Thailand.
- Photos of the place where you will stay.
Circumstances and your UK visa application.
Your circumstances will determine what documents you might need, my own circumstances are as follows. Me and my wife have been married for 7 years, we have 2 children, we both live in our house in Pattaya which was purchased in my wife’s name, I work offshore, my wife is a housewife. I do not own any property in the UK or have any income from the UK.
For the duration of our visit to the UK we would be staying with my brother and his fiancée, the house is in her name and they have a mortgage on the property. My brother would be getting married during our visit, and I was to be his best man.
Items I used for my families UK visa applications.
From my brother.
- Water bill.
- Community tax bill.
- Invitation letter.
- Wedding invitation.
- House photos (every room).
- Bank statements.
- Copy of every page of present and previous passport.
- 12 months payslips.
- 12 months contracts.
- Bank statement for last 12 months.
- Emails between me and wife.
- Sponsorship letter.
- Photos of us together, us and children together.
- Receipts with my current address, website and Google storage, offshore training courses.
From my wife.
- House Book (Tabien Bahn), copy of hers, and my 2 sons pages.
- I.D card.
- Marriage certificate (Thai and English).
- Children’s birth certificates (Thai and English).
- I.D card of oldest child.
- Passport copies, current and previous passport, plus photo page and any old visa stamps.
- Bank statement (6 months).
Start your UK visa application.
First thing to do is visit the UK government website https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/short-visit-visas, on this page you will see various different short visit visa types, in my case I selected the ‘Family Visit Visa’, make sure you read the information carefully to decide which visa you should apply for. Once you have chosen your visa type, be sure to READ THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED SECTION, once you are happy with your selection and requirements, click “Apply” and follow the links, you will be taken to the online application website https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/short-visit-visas.
Register an account, I registered the account in my wife’s name, simply because it is her visa application, and applied for all 3 visas from the same account. You can fill in the form in your own time, I suggest you start filling it in or read through the questions as soon as you can, the questions are extensive and some are a little tricky, even awkward. Once you have completed the form you can make an appointment and pay online, My appointment was for the following week. Take all your documents and printed application form to the VFS application center in Bangkok.
I separated documents such as emails, bank statements and passport copies into their own plastic folders, used sticky labels to itemize the contents of each folder and included an index page of all the included documents. When my wife handed the folders to the VFS clerk, the clerk removed all the documents from the folders, made sure everything was correct, and returned the originals and empty folders to my wife. Moral of this story is, don’t be too elaborate with you presentation, use paper clips and staples to group items together, and include an index.
Once VFS have processed your application they submit it to the ‘Entry Clearance Officer’ who then either grants or refuses the application. It took 3 weeks for them to grant our 3 visa applications. You have the option to collect the visa and passport yourself or have it sent by post, your documents will be returned at the same time.
As I already stated, every UK tourist visa application/applicant is different and will be assessed on it’s own merits. The circumstances and documents in this application are unique to me, my wife, and my children, it is your responsibility to establish which visa type you should apply for, and source the appropriate documents.
Most visa agencies offer a free or low cost consultancy service to advise you what documents are required, and how to process the application. If you are not in Thailand to help your wife/girlfriend with the application it could be worth investing in the services of a visa agent, otherwise, I really see no reason why you can’t do it yourself.