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How to Get a UK Visitor's Visa for a Thai.

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Applying for and obtaining a UK visitor's visa for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is very stressful, particularly the first time. It is also harder for some people to get in than others. Unfortunately, here as elsewhere, money counts and people from poorer countries have to provide evidence that they will not be a burden on the state. This applies to Thais It may appear that the embassy staff are against you at times. This is not true, they are doing their jobs: they are looking out for the interests of the British people and it would benefit you not to get personal with them.

Note well: a standard UK visitor's visa for a Thai (or any other nationality) to the United Kingdom lasts 6 months and allows the recipient to enter and leave the country as often as he/she wishes. Usually, though, at least for the first visa, you will be asked to restrict the length of stay to what you specify in the interview. So, for example, if you say you want to go for two weeks, your six months visa will have a note pinned to it requiring you to leave after two weeks. You have to agree to this limitation in writing, although your UK visitor's visa is clearly valid for six months!

Your UK visitor's visa strenuously forbids you from claiming any money from the state, free help from the hospitals or doctors or working. It is not a work-permit! Many Thais are refused a UK visitor's visa because they dither if asked why they want to visit the UK. You must be clear about why you want to go there. If it is to visit a friend or lover, say so. It really is not a problem. But you must be prepared to prove your relationship. It must have lasted at least 6 months although this is not really 'official government policy'.

So, how do we provide proof of a 'continuous long-standing relationship'? well, it is not that hard if it is true. Keep photos, mementos, hotel bills, bus tickets, ATM receipts, phone cards, letters and such like. Don't exaggerate how long you have known each other besides the stamps in his passport there are other ways of becoming suspicious too. Do you know the names of any of his family? Do you know what he does for a living or where he lives? Is his father still alive? Get the picture? You must prove to a doubting Thomas that you are having a relationship (of over six months to be safe). They have seen many Thais try it on over the years.

After collecting the proof, it is time to get the Uk visitor's visa application form (VAF) from the embassy in Wireless Road, Bangkok or its website (Google it). Their website is very useful actually; particularly for detailing what you should enclose and how much the fee is (about 75 these days). don't forget the sponsor's letter.

So the sponsor is very important here. It is really up to your sponsor whether you get your first UK visitor's visa at the first attempt. He has to guarantee that he will take care of you and provide you with somewhere to stay and the embassy staff will have to be convinced that he is up the job.

Your friendly sponsor will have to make you an offer of a holiday with accomodation in the UK. Then he will have to back up his claims with written proof. If he says he has money, he will need a letter from his employer or the bank. If he says he has a house, he will need a letter from his mortgage provider, a contract, deeds or a letter from the council. Marriage is not an issue, but some odd reasons given for refusal are:

"the applicant for a UK visitor's visa has never been abroad before " this is a very simple matter to remedy, just go to Burma, Cambodia or Laos for a short trip.

"the Thai person applying for this UK visitor's visa does not have strong socio-economic ties to her country of origin" They don't believe that you have enough to return to Thailand for. A letter from your boss, doctor, solicitor or village elder, your house book; proof of children or living parents and proof of property are all very useful.

Don't rush into your application. If you get this wrong you will have to wait at least a month. Think about why you want to visit Britain. It may seem obvious to you now, but in front of an interviewer you may 'freeze'. Learn to prove everything you say. Treat it like a game and pretend you're a barrister for a day: provide incontrovertible, written proof.

Go over and over the details you have provided to the embassy until you really know them - as if for an exam. Your sponsor will not be with you, so get used to that. You will be asked some simple questions in English, but the main body of the interview can be in Thai, if you prefer.

Hint: apply for more time than you need as the UK visitor's visa runs from the day it is granted, but you may not be able to get a flight out of Suvarnabhum straight away. You will probably also be required to return to the Bangkok embassy if you arrive back to have the UK visitor's visa cancelled; after all, it is a multiple entry, 180-day visa that could be used to return to the UK without the sponsor's knowledge, so try not to arrive back on a Friday unless you want a holiday in Thailand's capital city.

The best advice you'll ever get is: don't lie in the embassy. The staff are trained to spot liars and you will be refused a UK visitor's visa point blank.

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