Things To Consider Before Applying for a UK Visitor Visa

In August 2014, I applied for a UK general visitor visa to visit my boyfriend in England (I’m Indonesian, He is British). I didn’t apply the visa through a travel agency and prepared all documents by myself. I mentioned on my online application that I was going to visit my friend in the UK and stay at his place. I didn’t prepare my application well enough by not researching adequate information about UK visa and didn’t even bother to check the documents recommended to include in the guidelines provided on the UK Gov website! I was over-confident to believe that my good travel history on my passport will give me high chance of approval without needing to prove too many documents to the ECO (Entry Clearance Officers). I was wrong. I forgot how strict United Kingdom’s boarders are.

My biggest mistake was, I didn’t submit any evidence of my relationship with my boyfriend (which on the application, I only mentioned as a friend). Aside from the personal data, sponsor letter and financial proof, I only submitted copy of my boyfriend’s passport and a printed email from him saying that he is inviting me to the UK and will let me stay in his place (he wrote his address). I didn’t have any hotel booking as a back-up plan, so the email was the only proof of accommodation I had and it wasn’t really proof in ECO’s eyes. Four weeks later, I had my passport back with a letter of refusal.

Here is the reason of the refusal from the ECO :

Refusal Letter

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That was my first visa refusal ever. I was so gutted but I have learned the lesson. Immediately I browsed every forum on the internet about UK visa rejection and studied the most common reason of the refusal. I collected all necessary information, read everything about visitor visa on the UK Gov website (twice!) and prepare my second application right away. Some people advised me not to re-apply straight after the rejection but according to the information I read, there is no time restriction on when you should re-apply after your visa had been refused. As long as you can prove what the ECO has doubted, you are ready to go. The ECO has a list of everything you need to follow to satisfy them that you wont overstay your visa if it is granted. If they have a doubt, they have the power to refuse your application and its a fast way to lose the application fee!

If you are visiting someone in the UK, you have to provide some kind of evidence of your relationship. It can be photographs, flight tickets, letter, email, skype log, phone call history, postcards, and other things you can think of. Just submit everything, the more hard evidence the better.

So after my refusal letter on September 16th, I submitted my second application on November 5th. Within 15 working days I got the visa approved!!

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Here are the list of documents I have submitted for the second application :
A. Proof of employment
1. Sponsor letter from my employer stating my employment status, how long I have been working in the company, my salary, the length of the leave given, and the guarantee message that I will return to the company after I finished the trip as per working contract.
2. Certificate of company registration & my boss’ bank statement
3. Pay slips, bank statements (from April to October, with last balance around USD5100) and bank reference letter.
4. Explanation on each deposit in the bank account (my previous saving before working in current company, how I make deposit each month because I received the salary in cash, and attached all proofs of the origin of money which I receive from other source)

B. Personal information
1. Copy of Birth certificate, family card, ID card, taxation card, life insurance card, IELTS test result (expired), copy of my bachelor degree and transcript (I know that the ECO didn’t require the last three documents but I wanted to submit everything I could to support my application)
2. Travel Insurance (has been issued and paid, stating the dates of intended travel)
3. Return Flight ticket (issued and paid). ECO actually advises not to issue tickets before visa approval but part of the previous rejection reasons included not being able to prove that I could afford to buy an outbound ticket. Luckily I found a deal which had a small cancellation fee if my application failed.
4. A personal letter explaining my intention to travel to the UK, how I met my boyfriend, how our relationship has been going, explaining my jobs, salary and saving I currently have, and how I can prove all of ECO’s doubt on the refusal letter. I also enclosed list of our relationship proof (I made a summary of all evidence I submitted to make it easy for ECO to check on each paper). 

C. Accommodation and Relationship
I stated in the application that I will stay in my boyfriend’s house in Bournemouth (belong to his mother’s name) for a month.
So we submitted proofs of the eligible accommodation, such as:
1. Invitation email from his mother.
2. Credit card bill stating his mother’s name and full address.
3. Photos of the house, bedrooms, bathroom, and living room.
4. His scanned driving license, which has his address on it.
5. Invitation from his brother to stay in his apartment in London, along with his electricity bill which has his name and full address.
6. Two hotel bookings in Bristol and Newquay from Booking.com (matching the travel itinerary we wrote in the application)  

For the relationship proof we submitted:
1. My boyfriend’s scanned passport
2. Copy of Indonesian visas he had when visiting me in Indonesia
3. Supporting letter from him stating that he is inviting me to stay in his place, explaining our relationship, our travel history, and the itinerary of my one month visit to the UK
4. Letter of declaration that he will be responsible for my support, maintenance and accommodation in the UK. Completed with his signature.(He is not sponsoring me in this application so he didn’t submit his bank account. I use my personal bank statement only.)
5. Email from my elder sister and my best friend (separate email) acknowledging our relationship (they have met before) along with their photo together as a proof.
6. Printed photos of us since we first met until the most current (all photos are printed with automatic time stamp and/or geotagged location from our smartphone)
7. Scanned boarding passes, flight & train tickets of our previous travel together
8. Screen capture of my Facebook which has relationship status with him
9. Scanned postcards he sent me
10. Print out our conversation in Whatsapp and LINE app since we first met until the most current. 

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It was a thick collection of documents which took time to organise, but worth all the effort as I finally got the visa. The ECO sent back my documents except listed below (which I assume the most essential documents that ECO need) :
1. Sponsor letter from my employer
2. My bank reference and my bank statement from May to October
3. My personal letter and the summary of relationship proofs
4. Supporting letter from my boyfriend and his declaration letter
5. My explanation letter of the origin of the money I deposited to the bank 

I hope the information above can help anyone who wants to apply for the visitor visa to the UK with similar reason. Cheers!

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5 thoughts on “Things To Consider Before Applying for a UK Visitor Visa

  1. nice post. thanks a lot for your clear instructions on documents. it would be more helpful if you could have provided the format of your letters and acknowledgements.

  2. OMG, THIS IS THE ANSWER I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR.

    Thank you so much for the post. I just received my letter of refusal today in the mail and my problem is just like yours was. Since my dad was funding my trip, i gave my dad’s bank statement. My boyfriend is also from Dorset and I just put in his address and email in the application. (I am a student in Tokyo). I am planning to reapply three days from now because we were suppose to spend christmas together and its less than two weeks away. Do you think I would need a letter from his father, (because I m planning to stay at his place)?

  3. Hi there – thanks so much for the great blog post – this has been really helpful in helping me prepare documents as I am sponsoring my South African friend to come and visit me in the UK. I am covering costs so will also submit my financials.

    A question – when you submitted the signed letter from your boyfriend saying he would support you and was inviting you to visit, was it the original signed copy? Or were you able to print a scanned copy of the original and submit that?

    The reason is that I am unsure as to whether or not I need to potentially get a courier company to transport my documents with signatures and financial information from me here in the UK to South Africa.

    Thank you in advance for letting me know how you did this in your application!

    1. Hi Kathryn, when i was preparing for my documents, my bf was still in Indonesia with me so I managed to submit an original signed letter. I’m not sure about the recent visa rule, whether they accept scanned signature or not. I assume if you have enough time to send original documents to South Africa it would be better & stronger 🙂 Hope this helps!

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