Notes on applying for a UK visa in Cebu

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Image by Laszlo Ilyes (CC BY 2-0)
Image by Laszlo Ilyes (CC BY 2-0)

Because I had a semi-traumatic experience at the US embassy, and quite a few there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I moments at the French embassy, I always think of applying for a visa as just slightly more enjoyable than going to the dentist. My UK visa experience a few days ago wasn’t so bad though. I won’t know if they’ve approved my application till July — and if I find out I’ve been denied, it’s possible I’ll be singing a different tune — but the process itself wasn’t so stressful. Here’s a few notes for the benefit of those who want to get a UK visa.

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Preparing Your Application

  • Read Getting a UK Visa in Cebu: What You Need to Know for a step-by-step guide to visa application.
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  • You’ll have to answer questions like:
    So much for spontaneous, let-the-wind-take-you-where-it-will trips :)
    So much for spontaneous, let-the-wind-take-you-where-it-will trips 🙂

    I don't know if they've ever given a visa to anyone who's answered "my plan is to have no plan" -- but I wouldn't bet on it
    I don’t know if they’ve ever given a visa to anyone who’s answered “my plan is to have no plan” — but I wouldn’t bet on it
  • The new list of requirements in the GOV.UK website said you should not submit documents such as flight and hotel bookings unless specifically asked to do so. I prepared and brought them along, just in case, and when I got to the VFS office, the VFS’ checklist of documents included flight and hotel bookings, so I just submitted them too. Not sure if I should have done that but, well, what’s done is done. (Does one get minus points for not following instructions, I wonder.)

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Submitting Your Application

  • This is the Keppel building where the VFS office is:

    Image from Google Maps Street View
    Image from Google Maps Street View
  • When you schedule your appointment (right after you fill up the online application form), you can choose what time you want to submit your documents. If I remember correctly, the choices ranged from 7 AM, and every 10 minutes thereafter, till 12 NN. I chose 11:50 AM and finished at around 1:40 PM. The UK website says submitting your documents will take 10 minutes, but that’s more the exception than the rule, because there will be tons of people who haven’t thoroughly prepared and organized their documents, and some of them take half an hour or more. When that happens, though, just take a chill pill and don’t vent your frustration on the VFS people because they’re sure to have been there longer than you have, and they don’t get to eat their lunch until the last application has been processed, so.
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  • Processing time for the usual tourist visa is 15 working days, but if you’re visiting family, it’s 15-30 working days — or so I heard the VFS lady tell a couple of applicants — so make sure you take that into consideration when you schedule your appointment. An elderly lady planning to attend her daughter’s wedding on July 3rd was aghast to learn she would have to pay as much as PHP 42,000 (~USD 930) for her application to be super-prioritized, plus another PHP 42,000 for the niece who will be accompanying her.
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  • The process was otherwise smooth. There is no interview; the VFS lady just makes sure your documents are in order.

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And now let the waiting begin. 🙂



Qatar Airways HQ 300x250

Update, August 2015

  • I got a visa! Yay!
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  • I signed up for SMS updates but actually they send you an email at the exact same time they send a text message to your mobile phone, so if you have internet access and can regularly check your email, there’s really no need to sign up for SMS updates.
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  • If you choose to personally claim your passport at the VFS office — I did; it’s only a PHP 7 jeepney ride from home — they won’t let you open the package inside the office. (It’s for security reasons; apparently, in the past, some people didn’t take rejection very well.) But when they hand you the package, and it only contains your passport, no other paper, that’s a good sign. That probably means they didn’t give you a rejection letter. Yay!

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Notes on applying for a UK visa in Cebu
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