United Kingdom: Birthplace of Shakespeare, The Beatles and J.K. Rowling, made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Also, my unlikely gateway to the continent of Europe. But before I was able to visit this island nation, I had to apply for a visa because my passport is ever so weak and I needed to prove my worthiness to the UK Embassy. In this article, I’m going to recount the ways on how to apply for a UK Tourist Visa for Philippine passport holders, plus some time and money-saving tips.
The Schengen Visa is different from the UK Visa; the Schengen Visa mostly covers the countries in continental Europe whereas the UK Visa is only valid in visiting the UK.
Read more: London in 36 Hours
Steps in Applying for a UK Tourist Visa for Philippine Passport Holders
According to the VFS Global website, there are three simple steps to follow when applying for a UK Tourist Visa for Philippine passport holders. 1.) Know your visa type, 2.) How to apply and 3.) After submission
But the following steps paint a better picture of the UK visa application process:
- Know your visa type
- Check if you need a UK visa here.
- Fill in your nationality
- Select your purpose for visiting the UK
- Check if you need a UK visa here.
- How to apply
- Read the Overview and keep in mind the following details:
- Purposes of travel that fall under the “Standard Visitor Visa”
- Things you can do in the UK while holding a “Standard Visitor Visa”
- Things you can’t do in the UK while holding a “Standard Visitor Visa”
- The earliest date you can apply for your UK “Standard Visitor Visa” (3 months prior to your travel date)
- How long you can stay with your UK “Standard Visitor Visa” (usually 6 months)
- “Standard Visitor Visa” fees (£87)
- Read the Eligibility document
- List the Documents you need
- Current passport (valid for your entire stay in the UK)
- Evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, examples: bank statements or payslips from the last 6 months
- Ticket reservation (to show the dates you’re planning to travel to the UK)
- Hotel reservations (to show the details of where you’ll be staying during your visit)
- Income Tax Return (to show how much you earn in a year)
- Previous passports (to show the details of your travel history for the past 10 years)
- Certificate of Employment (to show your employer’s address and telephone number)
- Start to Apply
- Fill in the online visa application form.
- Pay your visa application fee online.
- Schedule your document and biometrics submission.
- Print out your form and schedule confirmation letter.
- Read the Overview and keep in mind the following details:
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early at VFS Global
- Decide if you want to avail the SMS update and courier service or if you would rather collect the documents in person
Check your email and verify your account. Then click “Apply for myself” or otherwise.
Fill in the applicant’s details. Select your visa type and answer the visa confirmation questions.
Fill in the online visa application form
Summary of information that you need:
- the dates you’re planning to travel to the UK
- details of where you’ll be staying during your visit
- how much you think your trip will cost
- your current home address and how long you’ve lived there
- your parents’ names and dates of birth
- how much you earn in a year
- details of your travel history for the past 10 years (as shown in your passport)
- your employer’s address and telephone number
- your partner’s name, date of birth, and passport number
- the name and address of anyone paying for your trip
- the name, address and passport number of any family members you have in the UK
- details of any criminal, civil or immigration offenses you have committed
Part 1: Passport and Travel Information – This part contains basic information about yourself, your passport and travel plans to the UK, such as whether or not you are traveling alone, date of planned arrival, intended length of stay, main address and contact details of where you will be staying at the UK.
Part 2: Personal Details and Travel History – The second part of the application form contains two portions, first is your personal details that mostly concern your residential address and the latter one is your travel history. There are a couple of questions here that might cause some concern:
1. Have you been refused a visa for any country including the UK in the last 10 years?
2. Have you ever travelled outside your country of residence, excluding the UK, in the last 10 years?
If you answer YES to any of these, then another field will pop up wherein you are supposed to add further details. For the visa refusal history, I would say that honesty is the best policy. I detailed my previous Schengen Visa refusals and they still granted me a UK Visa. For the travel history, I included all my previous international trips for the past 10 years, including those that only lasted for 1 day (like when I got stranded in Singapore back in 2015). So, it would be wise if you have all these details handy when you start filling out the application form.
Part 3. Family Details – Just some basic details on your parents and dependents.
Part 4: Employment and Income – Under the Employment tab, your current working status will be asked. Selecting anything that connotes employment will result into additional questions, the first of which would be What is your total monthly income from all sources of employment or occupation, after tax? I suggest converting your salary into GBP because in the Income and Expenditure portion, several questions (savings, property, cost of living, dependents allowances and trip costs like airfare, accommodations and pocket money) will be asked for in GBP.
Part 5: Family and Friends in the UK – This is the part where you will enter details of what you plan to do whilst in the UK. Me, I did not give a day to day itinerary, just some very general information like the places I plan to visit. Since I was also visiting a friend who is taking up her Masters in Scotland under a scholarship, I also included that, emphasizing that she’s under a scholarship and could not possibly sponsor my trip. I then entered her details on the next question. I’m sure they did some checks to ensure that I wasn’t lying. So, be truthful in answering your application form.
Part 6: Medical Treatment – This is for those who are seeking medical treatment in the UK.
Part 7: Additional Information – If there is any other information that you would like to add that you feel could help your application. I think I left this blank.
Document and Biometric Submission
After you have filled out the application form and confirmed your application, you will be asked to select a schedule for the submission of your documents and biometrics. This is the address of VFS Global:
VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building,
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231
For your documents, if you are not ready to depart with the original versions, prepare photocopies and show them to the VFS personnel together with the original copies. They will do the counter-checking. All the documents I submitted were original save for the ITR and they did not return a single one of them. I did not mind.
Photocopying service is available for applicants at VFS Global at a cost of PHP 5.00 per page (short or long bond size), so prepare your photocopies ahead of time.
For the biometrics, they will take your fingerprints and your photo. Because of this, save yourself some time and money and don’t bother printing or having a UK-sized photo taken. They will not ask for this and you do not need to affix this on the application form. As for the photo for the biometrics, note that the light they use is fluorescent/harsh/unflattering. So girls, put on your makeup accordingly. But stay on the safe side and avoid over-application. Also note that it could get cold at the VFS office so dress accordingly.
On the day of your appointment, try to arrive 15 minutes earlier than your schedule. Me, I arrived 10 minutes late and got disapproving looks from the guard. But the counter people did not mind, probably because it was a slow day and the system was actually down. I had to wait longer than necessary because of it, too. But had it been a normal day, I would’ve finished the entire thing (document and biometrics submission) in about 15 minutes tops.
Charges, Fees and Other Notes
A Standard Visitor visa costs £87. You can pay for this online. For this amount, you can get a six-month multiple entry visa. That’s what I got. For visas with longer validity, click here for the updated list of prices.
Meanwhile, you can avail a variety of other services from VFS if you cannot do the normal basic visa application (that is, schedule online, pass documents and wait for your passport). But remember, there is a corresponding price for everything. For example, if you can’t wait out the entire 15 working days of processing, pay PHP 9990 for priority processing, or if you need you to use your passport during these 15 days, pay PHP 2990 for passport passback.
If you need to get your passport before the 15 days of visa processing is finished, you can avail the passport passback. With this service, you can hold on to your passport for a maximum of 10 days.
- If you need your passport within Day 1-10 of the 15 day UK visa processing period, inform the staff at the VFS Global that you cannot submit your passport yet as part of the requirements, for example, because you have a scheduled trip. You will fill out a form then pay the corresponding fee.
- If you need your passport after submitting your documents, i.e. within Day 5-15 of the UK visa processing period, you have to go back to VFS Global, file your request for passport passback, pay the fee and return the next day to retrieve your passport. Before the 10-day period is up, you need to return to VFS with your passport for processing.
There is also the SMS service which costs P157.50. I did not avail this because all they will ever text was 1.) they received your documents, 2.) your documents have been forwarded to the embassy and 3.) the processing is finished, please pick up or wait for your passport. They will email you this information for FREE. For the entire list of other services that VFS Global offers, check out this website.
Then after at least 15 working days, be ready to weep or whoop. I sincerely hope for the latter.
Good luck, everyone! 😊
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