A Brief Guide to Supporting Documentation for a UK Holiday Visa
I met my (now ex) Thai girlfriend towards the end of 2010. Although we've now gone our separate ways the whole period was great for me and didn't leave a sour taste in my mouth like so many other relationships I've read about on here. I didn't come to Thailand with the intention of meeting anyone – it was a 'lads' holiday at the end of a long year at work and the first time in a long while where myself and 2 of my close friends were single. It was all rather last minute, we decided that we wanted to go and a month later we landed at Suvarnabhumi. I barely slept for the first 4 days, it was pure adrenaline – being 3 young (mid-late 20s) guys all in good shape and relatively easy on the eye we didn't bother with the naughty nightlife areas and didn't have any trouble taking girls home from various nightclubs in Bangkok – knowing more now I'm guessing some were looking for something more long term but fortunately we didn't encounter any crazies.
Fast forward 10 days and I was burned out, due to unseasonal rain on Samui we flew back to spend the last 5 days in BKK and I spent most of the time with a waitress I'd met on the first few days there. She worked on the fringe of 'the industry', as a waitress in a beer bar where there were what she referred to as 'girls who work lady drink'. When I returned to the UK I wanted to cut contact – she seemed like a sweet girl but it's never possible to know the truth. We stayed in contact on Facebook and started speaking on the phone – I contacted a guy in the UK who was married to one of her friends (also a non-lady drink girl) to find out what he knew about this girl. He said he'd known her for more than two years and as far as he knew she was a 'good' girl. I also had some friends I know do some 'investigation' on the girl – something I feel guilty about now but it put my mind at rest – she was a waitress and that was all. Further conversations with her would hammer home her feelings about the industry, she felt that while some girls had no option to sleep with guys for money the vast majority were lazy and weren't willing to work hard. When she needed extra money she would just work a double shift. On more than one occasion she told me should would rather die or live in the street than sleep with a guy for money. In her words "I may only have small money but for me it is enough, I can feel proud of myself".
Anyway this is getting a little off topic, but the back story provides a little more information on why I stayed in touch with this girl and why I decided to bring her to the UK. When it got to this point there was a lot of varying information and misinformation and none of the visa or embassy websites were 100% clear on what needed to be done. I'll outline what I did, what I provided and how we successfully got a tourist visa on the first application without some things that people claimed were without doubt required.
I wrote two supporting letters outlining that I would like to be a financial sponsor. One to my girlfriend inviting her to the UK, saying I would pay for her travel and that I would support all her living costs while she was here. This goes into the pack provided to the embassy. The second letter wasn't advised on any websites but I wrote a letter explaining that I wanted to invite her to the UK, that I would support her and then gave a brief outline of everything that I had provided with any pertinent info (such as how I was paid as outlined below). I also outlined the serious nature of our relationship and that we wouldn't risk her breaking the terms of the visa and ruining the chance of any future visa applications being successful.
Before she visited me in the UK I never sent this girl money. She never asked once and she didn't want it. I'm not tight and when she was in the UK I paid for everything but after reading so many stories of farangs getting burned I wasn't willing to be just another sucker who got screwed over by a Thai girl.
Some friends would tell her that her visa would be rejected because they would see her bank account and see that I hadn't been sending her money. She still didn't want money and we took a risk.
I did have to provide 6 months' wage slips and bank statements. As I am a director most of my monthly payments are as dividends so aren't shown on the wageslip – it seemed sufficient that the money could be seen going into my account each month. I also explained the situation in the supporting letter.
A really big deal was made about this by both her friends and by various threads and resources on the net. To prove your relationship was genuine you should provide photos of you together. We didn't have any. Not sure why but I didn't really bother with my camera that much when I was in Thailand the first time. This didn't prove to be a deal breaker.
Evidence of Contact
This in my opinion is one of the two most important things (the second being a letter from her employer). You need to be able to prove that your relationship is genuine and that you're not just being paid to help her get a visa. Initially we spoke with me using a cheap mobile and a Lyca mobile sim. Lyca have an online account area where you can download evidence of all calls. It works out about 2p a minute, with the amount we were speaking it was getting expensive. I signed up to a Skype premium account, this allows calls to Thai numbers including mobiles for up to 10,000 minutes a month and has the same availability for downloading the calls. We provided evidence of 5 months of calls ranging from a minimum of 30 minutes up to 2 hours or more – every day. I think this really helped prove the relationship was genuine.
We also provided 80 pages of printed out chat from Facebook (quick note; if the chat ever gets a bit risqué, I'd suggest you delete those parts!).
Your living arrangements
I rent a house with 2 friends. A letter was provided from my letting agent. This was sufficient.
Evidence of you visiting Thailand
I'd only been once so I provided a photocopy of my passport pages with the visa stamp (I believe I needed to provide signed pages of the photo page too). I also sent evidence of booked flights for the next time I was visiting (the time we planned for her to come back with me).
What she needs to provide
She was asked to provide two things; her bank info and a letter from her employer. At this point it was suggested it would be looked upon favourably if she had 50k THB in her account. I 'lent' her this money – this was where the trust came in as she could have just cut contact. She didn't and we used this money to book her flights when the visa was approved.
A letter from the employer is key – stating they are willing to give the girl time off and that she will have a job when she returns. The embassy apparently(!) frowns on bar girls so if your girl is less than gainfully employed then her employer is going to need to lie or she's going to have to get someone else to write a letter for her (as far as I'm aware these letters aren't checked up on – I'm not suggesting you lie but if your "teerak" is or was a lady of the night you might not have much choice.
Things that we didn't have but would definitely help:
- Photos, of you and her but ideally of you and her family too. After her first visit you should have photos of her with your family too which makes things a lot easier
- Evidence of you having stayed together; if you stay together in a hotel in Thailand then book the room in both your names
- If she owns property then this strongly goes in your favour
I provided all this info in a smart box file split by dividers with header pages for each section. Doing this costs a small amount of money and I believe that it makes it look like you've really made the effort – it makes it clear where everything is and shows the time you've put in.
My brief points from my experience:
- A visa isn't dependent on you financially supporting a girl
- Having no photos isn't necessarily going to kill the application
- Provide as much evidence of contact as possible
- Get a letter from the employer – this is key
For the UK government there are two things that make the application strong – firstly the evidence of contact to prove that the relationship is genuine. Secondly the letter of employment is key to proving she has a job when she returns. These two points prove two things; firstly, she's coming to see you, not to potentially work as a prostitute, secondly that she has a reason to return to Thailand.
When she took all this info to the embassy she was told she had very little chance of getting a visa – the lack of photos and the fact I'd only visited Thailand once were apparently a huge issue. She put in the application 5 days before I landed in BKK. After I had been there 5 days she got a text message while we were walking round the Grand Palace – it simply stated that her passport was ready to collect. We went back to the hotel so I could catch up on emails and she went to the embassy – she came back and tried to fool it had been rejected. It hadn't – we got a 6 month holiday visa first time.
Although we've since broken up we've remained good friends and the 6 months she spent in England were fantastic. Her English which was of a good level went through the roof and she's now working in a hotel with Indian owners who treat her really well.
Hope this helps any UK guys who are wanting to have their Thai lady visit them in the UK.
Getting a visa for the UK (and the US too) can be an ordeal, I hear. You did well to get it as there are a lot of nightmare stories out there.
For those who don't have the confidence to put an application together, or who may have a more complicated case, get in touch with Mythai-visa.com, a UK visa consultant who specialises in visas for Thais.