I am going to London for the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 World Premiere with Hotmail and Windows Live. For the Philippines, and us Filipinos, one of the requirements to enter London, United Kingdon, is a valid UK Visa. This post will attempt to explain the processes, and share my experience in getting my UK Visa.
It is actually easy to get a UK Visa, at least in my experience. I got mine hassle-free in 3 days! :) The British Embassy, and the UK Border Agency, has an accredited company, VFS Global, in helping Filipinos apply for a visa to enter the UK. First of all, keep in mind that their websites are of utmost importance to you, so read through them thoroughly! The VFS Global website is where you will be doing your online UK Visa application process.
I applied for a UK Business Visa (see Visa Information for the Visa Class you are applying for - Visitor/Tourist, Business, Transit or Special Visitor). I filled out the ONLINE APPLICATION FORM (see Application form VAF1C - Business visitor and VAF Guidance notes for more details). Make sure that your passport, itinerary, and all pertinent information are ready before your start. After filling out the UK Visa Online Application Form, you will be asked to print it out. You will be asked to attach a passport-sized photo, sign the document, and submit this during your UK Visa Application Appointment.
You will then schedule an appointment with the VFS Global to submit and process your UK Visa Application. You may schedule online, or through their call center*.
*Call Center: You can contact the VFS call centre and make your appointment - for PLDT / Smart Subscribers 1-909-885-VISA (8472); for Bayantel 1-903-VISAUK or 1-903-847285. PHP 32.00 for each minute for landline calls (excluding VAT and applicable NDD charges for calls made outside Metro Manila).
In my case, I called their VIP Premium Service Appointment, which we used before for my Boss' UK Visa application processing. It was just a breeze! They asked for my email address, and asked which day and time I would like to go have my appointment. It can be as fast as the day after your called. You will be emailed instructions as to how you would go about requesting for an appointment, the VIP Appointment Booking, and you're on your final steps to getting your UK Visa.
Once you are confirmed for your appointment, then you should already be well on your way. You just need to prepare all your documents (passport and application form) and supporting documents for your UK Visa Application. In my case, I prepared a.) The letters proving that Microsoft and Performance Entertainment will be sponsoring my trip and paying for all my expenses, and that I am attending the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows World Premiere. b.) Hotel Booking Confirmation c.) Certification from the Department of Tourism that I am employed with them d.) Contract with the British Council Philippines (that I am an Invigilator for the British Council Philippines) e.) Bank Statement and Bank Book f.) Birth Certificate - just in case.
UK Visa Appointment Day Steps and Reminders:
1. Print-out your appointment confirmation letter emailed to you.
2. Make sure you have already paid the Php 5,700* UK Visa Fee (VFS Global does not accept cash. It is advisable for you to purchase a managers check from either BPI, BDO, Union Bank or Standard Chartered Bank. Make it payable to the "British Embassy" and it should be the exact amount of your UK Visa Fee)
3. Have all your documents (passport, online application form printout, duly signed, with passport size photo) and supporting documents ready.
4. Make sure you've photocopied all your original documents. Or you may photocopy them while you wait in the VIP Premium Lounge.
5. Bring your VIP Premium Lounge Service Fee of Php 1,800 per applicant in cash or managers check payable to VFS Services Philippines Private Inc.
6. Submit all your documents and photocopy to the VIP Officer.
7. Have your biometrics (fingerprint scan and digital photo) taken.
8. Wait for your UK Visa to be delivered or if you want to pick it up, you may also do so. They will update you through SMS and E-mail of the status of your application. This is so cool!
*Check UK Visa Rates, as it may change and vary depending on the visa class, date, month, year you are applying. This is for the Business Visit Visa 6 months I applied for.
They said, I would receive my UK Visa after 10 days, but I was surprised that it arrived just after 3 days :)
NOTE: Your UK Visa will be decided upon by the British Embassy (UK Border Agency) staff and not by the VFS Global staff. They are merely the front-liners who accept and forward your documents/application to the UK Border Agency for appropriate action.
Have you tried applying for a UK Visa, tell me your story, how did it go? :)