Beating The Embassy
Although having spent a lot of time in Thailand it was not until this year that I found a particularly nice young Thai lady, who's name I will keep out of the story as we will be back in the Embassy in a few months time. So having decided it would be a good idea to take her home for a few weeks in the summer my attention turned to visas. At this point, I should say I don't think anyone with a British passport realises how lucky they are and how much freedom this gives you until you see the problems for Thai passport holders.
Now being a fairly methodical and thorough chap I set about researching everything before we applied to the Embassy. We decided we would go for a Visitors Visa as we didn't have plans to get married just yet.. (We later discovered this was probably the most difficult route of all). So before we started we compiled a complete dossier of everything (and I mean everything) we thought they might want. We asked peoples advice, read up on various Web sites and even asked some questions of the Embassy.
Eventual the day arrived where my girlfriend went to the embassy. Although in theory it is possible to get a Visa on the same day we had heard lots of report that this is a load of B*** S***. So we expected an interview date, what we did not expect was the form asking for additional information. While all this was going on I was still in the UK so it was not until I got to Thailand a week or so before the interview date that I had a good look at the form. To my utter amazement every single item on the form had been specifically ticked, including divorce certificate and letter of invitation from the company being visited. Seeing as this was a private visit and my girl friend has never been married (which they already new) this was going to be difficult to comply with.
Next day I called the embassy and to my utter disbelief this is exactly what I was told. quote " We are very busy sir and most people withdraw there application when they see the additional information required, you probably got a form that has been reused!" Well, what the F*** use is that to us. On the positive side we did manage establish what was actually required.
So a week later we turned up at the Embassy for her interview. Almost 1 hour she was interviewed. Then they asked me for interview which I understand is unusual. Then they asked my girlfriend back in a second time, by this time she was getting pretty irate and she doesn't suffer fools gladly. So it was with very little surprise that I watched her storm out of the interview room and out the door of the visa section closely followed by the interviewer. I thought to myself "we've blown this one", but to my utter amazement he actually followed her outside and said "OK OK you can have a visa". I genuinely think they were so surprised that somebody dared to question them that we actually got one.
When we came out of the Embassy we went across the road to one of the many small companies who do translation work so we could arrange some travel insurance. They said to us "how on earth did you get a visitors visa".
Well I think it comes down to preparation and determination.
I am happy to report she is now back in the UK for a second time (It's much easier once they trust you) and that we plan to get married next year and that I am going to be a Daddy!!
Finally If you want to bring your Thai girlfriend to the UK it will not be easy even if you give her your total support. We have been lucky as I have resources, time to commit to the issue and a strong determination. Without all of these we too would have fallen at the first hurdle.
If you want to go through this loop then make sure as a bare minimum you do the following:
– Before you go near the Embassy make sure you have all the supporting documentation. Especially where she will stay in England, your financial status, her employee and private references and try to make sure there is nothing to do with bar work if she is from that background. Make sure she has something to return to Thailand for (property, family etc) this is something they are keen to see. (I bought her a small house before we applied. It only cost around £800 and this was a big help I believe).
– Sit down and make sure she learns parrot fashion, all the important details , UK address personal details about you etc.
– Look through everything and make sure the whole story is consistent if there are any holes, fill them in or at least both learn what you will say when the questions are asked. (In our case she didn't have a job to return to.)
– Don't be afraid to complain or stand your ground. They see so many people they treat them all the same.
– Go and buy her a new dress so she looks presentable (It doesn't matter if she doesn't like it). First impressions count.
– GO TO THE EMBASSY WITH HER. Make sure they see you supporting her.
– In our case we also bought an ticket in advance with a return date to help force a decision.
– Having said all this I still think its pot luck, but you can shorten the odds a bit.
Good advice…and if the rumours about the British embassy are true, it is much needed.