An Amazingly Easy UK Visa Experience
An Amazing Easy UK Visa Experience
April 2004. The time has come to move back to the UK. I have lived in Bangkok full time for 2 years now, part time for another year before that. My life has changed beyond belief. I got married to the type of women you only read about and to this day she is still the type of women you only read about.
“Move back to the UK, is this guy mad or what”? No, not mad, just realistic. You see, Thailand was great for the first 6 months or so but once the holiday period wore off I came to realize that maybe the West is not so bad. There were many things in Thailand that may sound very trivial but really got to me. For instance, not being able to stroll out and buy a decent Scottish newspaper, not being able to communicate properly with 99% of the population and worst of all, not understanding what they were saying about me. Praying I don’t have some (any) problem in Thailand because as a white farang I would be snookered. No decent TV. Nothing to do of any substance besides, eat, shop and drink.
I was not interested in the ex-pat booze circuit, which seemed to comprise of a bunch of piss heads trying to justify (and failing miserably) as to why they were here. The majority of these guys seemed to have taken the easy way out of life. Slouching around in shorts, vests and sandals looking like bags of shite basically.
Nowhere was this more obvious then that time I paid a visit to the “Bamboo Bar” in Buriram. These guys with their obvious ex-bar girl wives / girlfriends have dropped out of life and are content to act as big shots in an area where a wino from Scotland would be well off. No success story there in my book anyway.
Although this story concerns a UK visa, the content of it could I’m sure be easily be applied to other countries.
Right, on to the main theme of this submission. Getting a working visa for my wife.
After visiting the UK in Xmas 2003 then in February 2004 (3 weeks and 4 weeks respectively) we made the decision to move in April 2004. I downloaded the necessary forms from the internet and for this you need to go to www.ukvisas.gov.uk and download form VAF2 – Settlement.
Now, you need to fill this form out as accurately and concise as you can. You must include copies of bank statements, proof of employment, residency, marriage certificate etc. In short, you must be able to prove you are serious about taking your wife to the UK and that you have the means to provide a good future for your wife. They want to see proof that you really do intend to commit.
The form tells you everything you need to do and it is really not so complicated to fill in. If I remember correctly it cost something like 17,000 baht, maybe more. I remember it was a lot more expensive than the other visas anyway.
I did not have my own residency back in Scotland. My plan was for us to stay in my parents’ house while I built our own house. For this to run smoothly I got my parents to write an invitation letter. I had photos of my parents’ house and I had a mortgage “Certificate Of Lending”. I went to a bank in the UK to see about my prospects of getting a mortgage and after a few simple questions the lady printed off a headed letter saying that at the time of enquiry the bank would be prepared to consider loaning me xxxxxxx amount. This letter was to prove very useful when it came to the Embassy interview.
Once I had the form completed we went to the Embassy on a Monday I think it was. It was the week of Songkran so I was prepared for a long “many weeks” type of wait. We arrived at the Embassy at around 6.00am and there was already a sizeable queue. I think to beat this queue you should honestly consider going at 5.00am. No shit. After a wait that felt like hours (it was) we finally went through. Instant panic hit me as I saw a sign that said the next interview for settlement visas was June 16th!!!! Hold the bus, what’s going on here?? I really did not want to wait that long but there it was in black and white. The only person that seemed unperturbed was my wife. Did she know something I didn’t? Probably.
Anyway, we went inside and waited to be called. Once we were called we both went up to the window and handed everything over and were told we would receive a phone call as to when to come back again. And that was that. In and out in less than 1 hour (not including the wait outside). All very quick and, worryingly for Thailand, hassle free.
All that remained for us to do now was wait and enjoy Songkran. This was my first experience of Songkran and it was not really my scene but that is another story.
Come Friday and we get a phone call to visit the British Embassy this coming Monday. This is it we thought…..cracked it. Now all we had to do was make sure my wife knew what to say, talk openly and honestly and that should be it. Monday morning and we’re at the embassy at 5.30am. Not first in the queue but near the front anyway. We get in and are seen quickly. We are given a list of further documents to bring in, some of which we had included the first time, others we had not. We even had to produce my wife’s son’s birth certificate – even though he was part of a past relationship and was not coming with us. We enquired about this before we left and a photocopy would suffice. We got all our original documents back and were sent away.
When did they want us back…..how about 3.00pm the same afternoon? Not much time but we went at it full on and were back at the embassy for 3.00pm with all the required info and an interview ticket.
My wife got her interview at 3.45pm and we were out with a UK settlement visa by 4.30pm. That was that. Unbelievable. To say I was in shock was an understatement. This is Thailand, and during Songkran too??? Totally amazingly easy. I checked my wife’s passport maybe half a dozen times to make sure we had gotten the correct visa!!
Why oh why was this so quick and hassle free? I honestly do not know, despite the sign saying interview dates for Settlement Visas June 16th. A total mystery. However, the following are some observations and thoughts of my own:
– We had been married and living in Thailand together for 2 years. I did not need a visa to stay in Thailand as I was never in for more than a month at a time due to constantly travelling throughout Asia because of my work. The fact that I was married and lived with my wife for 2 years spells commitment.
– We had a joint bank account with a reasonable amount of money in it.
– We were the same age, 30 at the time of application with only 3 months between us.
– We were both very respectable looking. I was wearing trousers, shoes and a long sleeve shirt and my wife wore a pair of women’s trousers with a loose fitting long sleeve blouse. I saw guys in the queue wearing backpacker type garb and girls straight from last night’s bar shift complete with tattoos. Unbelievable what goes on in some people’s heads.
– Our paperwork was present and correct.
– We had a joint bank account. If this doesn’t show trust then what does??
– They had a good look at my Mortgage Certificate. This showed I did indeed plan to build a house.
– I genuinely met my wife out of the bar scene i.e at a bus stop <Be careful, there is a popular bar in Sukumvit Soi 4 called Bus Stop! – Stick> and then again in a Thai restaurant. There is a section in the visa form that asks all about this so you should have a believable story to cover this, if you need it.
– I had taken my wife to the UK on two separate occasions to see if she thought she could make a go of it full time. Again, a show of seriousness and commitment.
– My wife could speak a little English. Not a lot but enough to get by. There is an option to have a translator present at the interview and this we did. No problem.
Before I sign off, here are some things you should be aware of:
– Some people think you can get a visitors visa for the UK (easy enough) then try and apply for a Settlement Visa once you are in the UK. No, No, No. You WILL get booted back to Thailand. No exceptions.
– There are agencies that, for a sizeable fee, promise to get you a Settlement Visa by doing the leg work for you. Do not go down this route as inside the embassy there are signs discouraging this and the same signs say it may even be detrimental to the success of your application.
– Last but not least, 7 out of 8 applications are SUCCESSFUL, so do not worry too much. If the pair of you are genuine then you will be fine.
– If for some reason you are not successful and cannot get a Settlement Visa, contact your local MP back in the UK. He / she maybe able to help.
So that was it. No nightmare horror story for me anyway. As I have said already, a remarkably efficient and well worthwhile hectic week or so. I was prepared for months of waiting and far, far more hassle.
So, if you are thinking of going for it, then go for it. You will be OK.
Well done getting the visa. I have to chime in here and say that when I dropped by Buriram around 2 and a half years ago, myself and a friend were SO glad that we only had one night there. Goodness only knows what the Buriram locals think of farangs based on that lot.