How to Apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa

Applying for a UK Standard Visitor Visa was not really part of my travel plans in 2018. However, when I purchased my Manila – Istanbul return flights on a whim (because Etihad Super Saver deals you know lol) on February 23, 2018, I miscalculated the dates when I needed to get my Turkey Tourist Visa. I was confident that I will be granted a tourist visa but I was not able to secure an appointment slot ahead of my departure date.

woman at the telephone booth
mandatory photo at London’s iconic telephone booth

The earliest available application slot according to the online application website of the Turkish Embassy was March 23, 2018, which was 5 days away from my flight. I knew the visa will not make it on time because standard TAT is 10 business days. So instead of panicking, I weighed my options. The only way to get to Turkey was to get an E-Visa, which is only possible if you have a valid visa or valid residence permit from the USA, UK, Ireland, or one of the Schengen Countries. I do not have any of those and I had to choose which one to get.

Getting a US visa requires a personal appearance and interview. According to the online forums I’ve read, the chance of getting a US visa is only 50% (not sure if this is true, though). I was afraid to risk my money for just 50% chance of approval. For the Schengen countries, one of the requirements is a Travel insurance, which I do not have. Sure I can buy a travel insurance but why would I buy it if I was not sure if I will be approved or not. Again, I do not want to risk my money. I already did that by purchasing flight tickets without a visa haha!

The Standard Visitor visa is usually for multiple entries and is valid for up to 6 months. You may use this visa in the United Kingdom, which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So why UK Standard Visitor Visa? Travel insurance and confirmed flight booking are not required in the application. Also, I have read online forums and it looked like there was a high probability of getting a UK Standard Visitor Visa, especially if you are employed and have a good travel history. By taking the UK Standard Visitor Visa route, I will risk my flight tickets and visa application fee. But this route would allow me to get a Turkey E-visa once approved and a chance to see the UK (if I can get another cheap airfare again).

When did you apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?

The earliest application slot according to the online application website of the UK Embassy was March 7, 2018, which was exactly 15 business days from my departure date. I know it was dangerously close from the departure date but I do not have any other choice at that point. I had to push my luck and hope that I will get approved in less than 15 business days. True enough I was approved in just 7 business days! Thank you universe! On that same day, I paid my Turkey E-visa, which was super easy to get online. Click here to know how to get a Turkey E-Visa online.

*The earliest date you can apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa is 3 months from your intended travel date. 

my UK Visa woohoo!

What documents did you submit for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?

  1. Cover Letter (sample cover letter)
  2. Completed online visa application form
  3. Valid passport (validity must be at least 6 months from the intended departure date)
  4. Previous passport + used/valid visas
  5. Proof of earnings (Certificate of Employment and latest ITR)
  6. Proof of funds (6 months bank statements and a bank certificate)
  7. Other financial documents (a copy of my VUL insurance policy and retirement savings plan statement)
  8. Day by day itinerary (sample itinerary)
  9. Hotel reservation (details of where I will be staying during my visit)
  10. Travel History (details of my travel history for the past 5 years – sample travel history)
  11. Approved Leave Letter from my employer (sample letter)
  12. VFS Global Appointment letter (proof you’re submitting your documents on the right day.

How to Apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa in the Philippines?

Step 1 – Know your visa type

Check this link to know your visa type and if you need a visa. A Standard Visitor Visa is for those who want to visit the UK on holiday or to see family and friends, study (up to 30 days only), take part in sports or creative events, do academic research or receive private medical treatment. Please note this visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

Please also visit this link to learn more about the UK Tourist Visa Requirements.

Step 2 – Complete your Application Account online

This is the website to fill out your online visa application form. Once registered, check your email to verify your account.  

Summary of the information you need for online application:

  • Travel dates to the UK
  • Hotel address and telephone number in the UK
  • Total estimated cost for the trip (airfare, accommodation and living expenses)
  • Present home address and how many years you’ve lived there
  • Parents’ names, birth place, and dates of birth
  • Family or friends in the UK
  • Annual income and other source of income (savings and investment)
  • Travel history for the past 10 years
  • Employer details including the address and telephone number
  • Criminal, civil or immigration offences your might have committed

*Be honest with your application and always input complete and accurate information as there is no interview for a UK Tourist Visa. If you aren’t sure about something, you can skip them and continue. Make sure to go back to the item you skipped to iron out all the details. Also, always save your progress.

Step 3 – Schedule an appointment and pay application fee

At the end of the online application, choose your desired application date and pay the application fee. A Standard Visitor visa costs 129 USD or 7,000+ pesos, which is valid for up to 6 months (single or multiple entry). For Long-term Standard Visitor visa, the fee is 484 USD (2 years), 862 USD (5 years) and 1,077 USD (10 years).

Step 4 – Attend your appointment at the UK Visa Centre (VFS Global)

This is the address of VFS Global:
VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building,
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231

Step 5 – Submit your documents and have your photo and biometrics taken

Prepare your original documents and 1 set of photocopies. The documents will then be counter checked by the VFS staff. Then, you will be called for the biometrics (fingerprints and photo). There is no need to prepare a UK Visa Passport Photo as this is not required.

Step 6 – Wait for the visa application result

Since the standard TAT is 15 business days, I was tempted to avail the Priority Visa Service, which aims to process applications within 3-5 working days. Aside from the fact that I hate waiting, my flight was scheduled on March 28, 2018, which was exactly 15 business days from my appointment date. This service costs around 10,000 pesos and does not guarantee approval. So, I decided against it and just prayed that I will be granted a UK Tourist Visa! Thank God I was approved in just 7 business days!

On the application day, you have an option to avail the SMS service (150 pesos), which will provide the status of your application. I’ve read other blogs saying there is also an email service for free but i did not get any emails from VFS Global.

Step 7 – Collect your passport at the UK Visa Centre (VFS Global)

Once a decision is made, you will receive an email or text saying ‘The decision on your UK Visa Application has been made”. You may collect your passport personally at the VFS Global office or wait for your passport to arrive if you availed the courier service.

Please visit this link to know more about VFS Global Philippines‘ Premium Services for UK Visa.

Some Useful Notes

  1. The visa application process is long and expensive. But I think the process was simple and easy to understand. The requirements needed were also easy to gather. 
  2. Check and gather the UK Visa Requirements ahead of your online application so you’ll have all the information ready. 
  3. Just like tourist visa applications in Japan and South Korea, there is no fixed amount required in your bank account. You just have to be detailed as much as possible in the ‘Employment and Income’ section of the online application. Make sure that your budget fits your itinerary. For example, I indicated in my application that the cost of this trip is £1,000 (around 74,000 pesos) but I have £1,300 (around 96,000 pesos). The cost of airfare, accommodation and other living expenses in the application should total to £1,000. (create your own budget breakdown that matches your itinerary. Do not copy this blindly)
  4. Submit a realistic itinerary. If this is a budget trip, you may indicated in the itinerary section that you will visit free museums/attractions or you will do a self-guided tour. If you need a sample itinerary, click this LINK.

Planning a trip to the UK? Check out London’s best hotels below!

Pan Pacific London
80 Houndsditch, The City, London, United Kingdom
Check Rates and Availability

209 Earls Court Road, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
Check Rates and Availability

The Resident Covent Garden (formerly The Nadler Covent Garden)
51 Bedford Street, West End Soho, London, United Kingdom
Check Rates and Availability

Redchurch Townhouse
25 Whitby Street Shoreditch, Tower Hamlets, London, United Kingdom
Check Rates and Availability

The Lincoln Suites
37-39 Kingsway, Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom
Check Rates and Availability

So, that’s about it! I don’t want this guide to look like a research paper so I hope this post will be easy to understand. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to comment down below! Good luck!

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