Let me just start by saying that this isn’t a step by step application process for the coveted visa. There are plenty of articles about that all over the internet, and I want to give you something more different. So instead of boring you with a list of the required documents that you’ve probably memorized by now, I’ll give you my personalized tips and advice instead. What makes these tips so special? They’re not. But I know how much anxiety the application process can induce, so my goal is to help you calm the f*** down.
So first things first, before you even get started with the process: CALM DOWN.
I’ve been there, spending hours online looking for forums or blogs to get any additional hope and validation that your situation is gonna be okay. You’ve got to relax. The process is very easy and straightforward. You gather all the required documents, you turn them in personally, they take your biometrics, and then you wait. It’s as simple as that.
It’s not as simple as it sounds, I know. Being gifted with a third world passport, I know how dreadful it is to read through the required documents. It’s not as easy as shiny first world passport holders where they can literally apply for the visa online and print it out at the comfort of your own home, should they even need one. These documents they’re requiring are not only difficult to obtain to some, but they also cost money.
But here’s why you need to calm down; I kinda half-assed my application. Now I’m not saying you should too, and that you’d be granted one nevertheless. I’m saying it’s not as strict as you think it is.
I’m married though, so it was probably a lot easier for me.
I’ve heard the stories. Single Filipino women denials after denials. It’s like they’re being punished for someone else’s behavior. But that’s a different story. The point is, they view single Filipino women as someone who have less reasons to come back to their country. And I’m sure we’re all too familiar with the timeless Filipina charm. If I had a country with millions of thirsty men, I’d protect it from Filipino women too. It’s not just the fact that Filipino women are wifey material af, but well, the bad reputation continue to be proven by many even at this age. So your job? To prove to the consul that you’re not one of them.
So how do you prove that you’re coming back to the Philippines instead of going fishing for foreign men who will easily fall for your charm? Easy girl, get your shit together.
Get yourself a job, hun.
While billions of unemployed others are allowed to enter our country with just their beautiful passports in hand, Filipinos are required to prove their employment if they want a visa to most countries. Visa is obviously a privilege. If you want it bad enough and you know what you’re up against, a job is the surest way of getting that visa. That, or you could have a baby. But a job sounds easier if you ask me.
Even if I’m married, I did show proof of my lame ass job in my application. I thought it strengthened my chances. The thing is, days after turning in my visa application, I’ve left my job. Now my job had nothing to do with my plans to apply for a visa. It wasn’t a “show employment” just to fool the British consul into thinking that I’m an independent women with my third world salary. My plan to travel to UK was out of nowhere, and I was already miserable from my job before I even decided to go. I was already planning to leave, and if I would have stayed, they wouldn’t have approved me to go off on a two month vacation anyway. But nevertheless, I did turn in a certificate of employment because technically, I was employed at the time of my application. Did I lie? No. Was I being cheeky? Kinda.
Did they find out? Well I got approved for a visa so they never questioned my employment… but they did question me at the border control as I expected. I wasn’t worried because I had nothing to hide. The questioning went something like this;
Immigration officer: Where do you work?
Me: I no longer have a job but I was previously working at blah blah hospital.
Officer: But you had a job when you applied for the visa?
Officer: Why did you leave?
Me: Because they wouldn’t let me have a vacation.
Officer: Why would you do that?
Me: I wasn’t happy there to begin with.
Oh she was skeptical, alright.
Officer: Your husband might be coming to, you said. Did he apply for a visa?
Me: No, he’s American.
Officer: (less uptight by now) Okay why do you sound American?
Me: I grew up there.
Officer: Ok have a nice day.
And then hellooooooo UK!
So what’s the point of me telling this story? Simple. A reminder that everything you declare in your application matters.SO DON’T LIE.Don’t even attempt to fabricate the smallest things. Just be truthful and hope for the best.
Now if you really can’t get yourself a job or if you just can’t wait and you’ve gotta go to UK, then find yourself a reliable sponsor. You already know the drill, so let me not bore you with the details. Now even if I had my proof of job and our savings account with both our names in it, I still included my husband as my sponsor. Just kind of like an advance reminder that hey, if I fcuk up and spend all these money in the bank at Oxford St., my husband has a job and he can fly me back and get the satisfaction of yelling at me personally.
That was probably the most half-assed part of my application though. My financial proof were a bit messy. But we’ll get to that later.
So an employment is proof that you’re coming back, and it can also be proof of your financial capabilities, why need a sponsor?It’s always good to have backup proofs. If I relied on my sorry ass third world salary as my main financial source, even if I include my blog income, I would have cut my chances of getting approved in half. And because I was asking to visit UK for two months, I had to justify that I can afford to be there without being a burden to the government if shit goes cray. That is where my official invitation comes in handy.
Do you have any family or friends in UK? Now would be the perfect time to butter them up and ask them to write an invitation letter. If you’re lucky like me, maybe they’ll even host you. I was lucky enough to have an aunt in London who so kindly opened her home to me in return of babysitting her kids twice a week. Free accommodation in exchange of hanging out with two cute little Irish boys? I’m in! So because I have a host, that means I won’t be spending money on my accommodations, so the consul won’t be all over my savings account calculating if it will be enough to get my by. My aunt signed the invitation letter I composed, sent me a copy of her passport and proof of address, and I included all of that in my application. You want your application to be strong. The people analyzing your applications are trained to see if there’s anything at all that doesn’t makes sense in your papers. So anything that can help prove you’ll never be a burden to them, include it in your application. Some people also include their British sponsor’s bank statements, but because I’m already sponsored by my husband and I have sufficient funds in my savings, I skipped that. (READ: Beyond Buckingham And Big Ben: 10 Awesome Places To See In London)
So now for the most challenging part for most applicants: the money.
How much money you have is essential to getting a visa, though it’s not always the best determinant of how most travelers will support themselves. For instance, what if this birthday trip is specifically dependent on your credit card? Nope, that won’t do. You need to show the big guys that you’re an independent individual that has money saved up for this trip. And if you don’t, do what most people do– actually save up.
You thought I was gonna say borrow money just for show, didn’t you?! Well, most people do that too, although many do not believe this is a smart move. The big guys are intelligent people, if they’re already skeptical about your application and they see a one time deposit of a large amount in your bank account, that will send an even bigger alarm to them. But do they really care about how much you have and how it got there?
I can’t tell you what the answer really is, but I can tell you about my experience. In my application, how it got there didn’t matter. Like I said earlier, I almost half-assed this part of the application, mostly because I was extremely stressed out by work and everything else. I started off meticulously too, but shit got the best of me, and by the morning of my appointment, I kinda just included whatever documents I could get my hands on. So basically, my husband and I have three different bank accounts– I have mine, he has his own, and we have one together. Prior to learning about the do’s and don’ts, we thought we’d put everything in one place together for the sake of this visa application. Thats a couple of separate huge deposits. So in the end, I had way more than enough in our joint bank account. I also included copies of my husband’s bank statementsjust to prove that we really do have money coming in. I also explained it in my cover letter. I got my visa so, in my own experience, I don’t think they care so much about how it got there.
I really don’t think there’s a specific amount to show. It depends how long you’ll be there,how much you’ll be spending per day (consider your accommodations and food), and how your itinerary looks. In my case, I didn’t need much because I had free accommodation (and food) already. That’s why I said I had “way” more than enough. Just add up your planned daily expenses but be realistic about it.Include your budget for your plane ticket and every other transportation if you’re going around UK as well.
Should you go for “show money”?Many would not encourage this, but if it’s your last resort, just know that you’re doing it at your own risk. Keep in mind that they can question you at the border control and ask for proof of this money. What will you do if you don’t have that much money in your account anymore? I was asked how much cash I had on me, which was about $500, but there were no more question pursued about money after that. If they did though, I had proof to show that I do have money in the bank.
Now back to flights and hotels. Remember that you don’t have to purchase them yetwhen applying for a visa, but again, the money in your bank account must be able to show that you have sufficient funds INCLUDING the cost of the two. To be honest, whether you have your flights and hotel booked or not, I don’t think it makes your visa chances any stronger if the consul doesn’t think your documents are strong enough. So before making any impulsive decision to do that, do consider my advice. (READ: London For First Timers: Basic Things You’d Want To Know)
Itinerary. Is it necessary to make one?
It’s not necessarily required, but I think it helps. The more honest and realistic you are with your plans, the better the outcome would be. Think about it– if an officer read that you want to go on a big train travel around UK, or have a lot of paid tour attractions on your itinerary, don’t you think that will give him a reason to poke through your financials and see if you can truly afford it or not? They’re not stupid. My itinerary was a bit half assed as well, but that’s because I didn’t really have any concrete plans. So here’s what I did– I included a lot of “family gathering” and “family party” in my itinerary. It was around Christmas time so it was very believable. And I wasn’t really lying, I just kinda made a rough draft of what I intended to do. Some of my tours where paid for by my aunt, such as Stonehenge, and going to Ireland. I didn’t include that anymore just because I didn’t wanna be questioned about it and because I didn’t really had anything booked yet at the time of my application. So what exactly can you put in your itinerary without alarming the consul? Add a lot of free walking tours.Add the countless free museum around London, there’s literally so many– British Library, National History Museum, TATE Modern, etc. Make a rough draft of your city tour. Include dinner meet-up with friends. Keep it as realistic and stay honest. (READ: 10 Reasons You’ll Love Christmas Time In London)
Like I said earlier, I also included a cover letter to explain certain things such as my financials and supporting documents-– like, why my husband is getting paid in dollars, or why his work address is in California. Or why there are too many huge deposits in our joint account.Explain what needs explanation, but don’t bring up unnecessary things. What are some things you can consider including in your letter? Perhaps if family is paying for your trip, you can explain that, but make sure to accompany that with their financial proof as well. If you’re staying with family, you can include that in your explanation so they can understand that you won’t be paying for accommodation. You can also explain what you’re going there for exactly, if it’s other than tour. Maybe attending a wedding? Or like me, to visit family? Whatever you think will support the question marks of your application, it doesn’t hurt to explain.
So finally, how long does it take until you get the results back? It was advertised as 15 business day process, and that’s exactly what I got. Others had a better luck of course and received their passports back within 7 business days. I’ve read that it depends on the season as well, of course peak season being a busier time. If you’re really in a hurry, you can pay a heftier price to expedite the process.
While I was stressing in my head while waiting throughout those long 15 business days, Google has brought me to plenty of comment boards. People kept talking about certain “hints”.Whether it’s an approved visa if you got a text notification, whether it’s most likely denied if it took over 6 days, etc. etc. Most of them, I learned, are nothing but myths. One of the famous myth is the text hint. When you’re applying for a visa, you have an option to sign up for text notifications. If you do, you’ll be updated when your application has been officially sent, and you’ll get a notification once they receive it back. Remember that VFS is just a third party that arranges your visa application and they’re not allowed to pry through the final results. So there really are no hints, it’s pure myth. You will receive up to 3 notifications, and neither of them will tell you whether you’ve been approved or not. Many people didn’t seem to get a notification even when they paid for it– some of them got approved, some of them got denied. There’s no certainty to this assumption.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve pondered and read between the lines of those text notifications to see if there’s any hint that I can obsess over. But as I’ve said, you need to just calm the ffff down because no matter how much you google for the answers, you will not know the answer until you receive your passport back. Just relax, dude.
I applied in late 2016 so there are probably some changes for all I know. But I think when it comes to the bottom line, one thing remains the same– they’re not stupid. Don’t lie, don’t fabricate, and don’t look for any loop holes. Just send all the requirements, save up enough money, and be realistic with your expectations. Trust the process, and you never know, your dreams just might come true.