Saturday, October 3, 2015

How I Got My UK Visa for Philippine Passport Holders

This visa was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but it sure was pricey! HAHAHA!
How frustrating it must be to have to apply for a separate visa just to visit UK apart from all the other beautiful countries in Europe. Let it be known that with a Philippine passport, majority of the countries outside of Southeast Asia will require you to get a visa to go visit there. Quoting from blogger Wanderlass Travels: "Every person who has gone through the experience of applying for visas to Japan, US, Australia, and Europe (Schengen, UK) can relate to this agony." I have gotten used to doing sometimes the mountain pile of paperwork and documents required for the visa application. I always have a photocopy of my birth certificate, passports and license ready in case needed. I do realize that a lot of people tend to ask questions such as "How did I do it?" or "What are the requirements you need for the visa?", and most of all, "How much was the visa?" I will try to make this as easy to understand as possible. So here is my personal experience on getting the visa for UK, thanks to blogger Wanderlass Travels.

The UK is composed of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. UK is no exception when it comes to a hectic visa application. The visa application that I will be focusing on is the TOURIST VISA for Philippine Passport holders. This is no longer done directly at the British Embassy, but at UK's official partner agency for visa processing: VFS Global Agency.

If you plan to study, work, intern, get married, or visit family in UK, then you will have to apply for a different visa and also look elsewhere for the information on how to get those visas. Sorry about that.

I'm grabbing my chance to explore UK and all of Europe while I'm young! Go see the world!

Restrictions in visiting UK as a tourist:

  1. Visit to UK cannot be for more than six (6) months;
  2. Leave UK at the end of your visit;
  3. Have enough money to support yourself during your stay in UK without working or needing help from public funds.
  4. Will not take paid or unpaid employment.
  5. Will not marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership.
  6. Will not get private medical treatment.

When Should you Apply for UK Visa?

Like most countries, UK Visa can be applied for a maximum of 3 months before intended entry.

Where do you Apply for UK Visa?

There are two parts in UK Visa application. The first is Online Application. The second is Appointment to submit biometric and supporting documents.

You will need to have in hand your passport, UK address (hotel, hostel, or friend's address), and email address. After that, you will begin your Online Visa Application. You will need to go through the following:

You will also be required to provide:
  • All the supporting documents you need for your visa, arranged in order of their list
  • Translate any supporting documents and include them in the originals if they are not in English

What to bring to the Appointment?

  • A printed and signed copy of your online visa application form
  • Your current valid passport  Note: The UK Border Agency will retain your passport until they have reached a decision on your visa application. Bear in mind if you have travel plans before going to UK.
  • Previous passports
  • Original supporting documents, with photocopies and translations
  • Payment or proof of payment of visa application fee.
  • 1 recent photograph (not more than 6 months old) according to below specification.

Photograph Strict Specification

  • Taken against a light grey or cream background;
  • Clear and of good quality;
  • Printed on normal photographic paper;
  • 45 mm high x 35 mm wide in size
  • Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or a head covering unless worn for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eyebrows) and the applicant should be facing forwarding, looking straight ahead.

What are supporting documents?

Simply put, these are documents to prove that you have ties in the Philippines and that you are coming back–job, family ties, properties, etc.
Also documents that shows you are capable of supporting yourself while in UK without the need to find employment–Bank statements, certificates, employment payslip, credit cards, etc.
You also need to submit details of accommodation plans and trip itinerary. Just a reservation is fine. However, please don’t pay for your accommodation until visa is issued.
All these should be submitted during the appointment. No further documents will be accepted after. Now, while the absence of these documents may result in unsuccessful visa application, submission does not guarantee visa issuance. More info on UK Visa Supporting Document.
If you’re not paying for your own way, or have friend(s) in UK who will support you, you should provide them with the following documents:
  • Valid Citizen/Residence ID or Passport
  • Bank Statement
  • Address and contact details
  • Invitation letter stating their support
How much is UK visa for Philippine Passport holders? Where do you pay for UK Visa?

As of September 2, 2014, Tourist Visas (short term of up to 6 months) costs $136USD or approximately PHP6,350+, or £89GBP. Costs varies, depending on the Embassy's decision.

Since December 17, 2012, visa fee can only be made online. It will form as part of an online application process. When all items are filled up, you will be directed to the website of WorldPay where you have the option to pay with Visa or Mastercard. If you do not have a credit card, debit is suitable as long as it's Visa or Mastercard. However, if you have neither, then I suggest you apply for one as soon as you can or use another family members debit or credit card. UK Embassy and VFS Global Agency no longer accept payment in cash OR in person like they did back then.

How long do you wait for your results?

If all the proper documents are submitted and biometric scans and fees are completed, and there is no documents lacking, you should have results within 10-15 working days. Sometimes it can be as early as 4-5 days. You can collect the documents personally at the application centre, or for an additional fee, you can delivered to your home by paying Php 500. There is also a charge for receiving an SMS text saying that your passport is on its way, but we opted not to do that.
In my situation though, we waited for approximately 15 days since we had our passports delivered to our house because it was a hassle for us to go back all the way to the application centre. My advice is that if you plan to visit in the summer such as March or April, apply as soon as you can because it will be hectic. Most definitely if there is a national event happening in UK. 

UK Visa Application Centre

VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc., MANILA
Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building, 2305 Pasong Tamo Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231

VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc., CEBU9th Floor, Keppel Center, Unit 905, Samar Loopcor. Cardinal Rosales Avenue, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City 6000

Note – Applicants who wish to lodge their UK visa application at the visa application centre in Cebu will be required to pay an additional service fee of Php 4, 425 in cash at the visa application centre. 

For more information, please check out these links regarding the UK Visa:
UK Tourist Visa
UK Visa Application: 10 Things You Need to Know

How My UK Visa Application Got Approved

Filling up the application online, scheduling the visa appointment, and paying for it was the most difficult part. The rest of the process when we got to VFS Global Agency in Makati was actually pretty smooth and easy. My group and I had decided to schedule our appointment for 9am since it was a convenient time for all of us because we had to be in the office by 11am. Make sure to be there at least 10 MINUTES before the scheduled interview. If you are more than 20 minutes late, then you will have to reschedule your visa appointment. We had breakfast at a cafe nearby the place so we all got to meet there to finalize all the documents.

When we arrived at VFS Global Agency on the second floor of the building, we fell in line at the entrance, left our bags and stuff at a baggage area with a charge of Php 100, and then got our number. We went inside the UK Visa section and filled up the payment slip. Make sure to bring your supporting document checklist as you will need this because some applicants tend to not bring that. You need it to show the agency what documents you have submitted for them, and you must arrange them IN ORDER of what the list says. There were not much people ahead of us that day so we managed to do finish everything in less than 2 hours.

I noticed that aside from UK Visa, VFS Global Agency also helps process visas to Australia, Spain, and Netherlands just to name a few. So if you plan to visit those countries, you know where to go! You do not need to submit the photocopy of your application form and passports as they will ask you to take it out. Make sure that the photo that you have for the application form is PASTED and not stapled or taped. Make sure to bring all original supporting documents (eg. land title, lease document, business registration, bank statements, financial statement, etc.) with you, along with your current and previous passports in the past 10 years. They will return it to you along with your visa.

Lastly, they will only accept your application when it's inside an envelope. We were allowed to bring our phones inside but we were not allowed to use it at any point during the visa appointment. After they accepted our documents, we asked to them along with our visa and previous passports delivered to us for a fee of php500 per person. You will then be given a reciept with a barcode attached to it, which YOU MUST show to the delivery guy when claiming your passport with visa along with a valid ID for proof. If you will let someone else get it, you must give them an authorization letter with their signature and then their valid ID.

After submitting the documents and application, we were asked to sit down and wait for our names to be called for biometric scan. I was the last one who got called from all of us. When I got inside, the guy asked me to scan my thumbs on the scanner, put my signature on the scanner, and then to look at the camera. He asked me to take off my hairtie since my top knot hairstyle was too big for the photo! Then asked me where I work because their employees do not allow them to have that type of hairstyle. HAHAHA! But everything went by very well. We got our visas 10-15 days later, and we are excited to visit London, UK and other parts of Europe! Thank you to my family for keeping up with the hassle and paperworks and to Wanderlass Travels for all the help and guidance with both the Schengen (France) and UK Visas!

*At the VFS Global Agency office, there are sales ladies selling sim cards that you can use while in Europe. The sim card appears to be a local Philippine number, but is actually a European phone number. The cost is almost the same as the average cost for a sim card in Philippines. The sim card will help you contact friends or family during your stay in UK and other parts of Europe at a more affordable price. Thank you!


  1. Sometime it takes lot of times on visa approval, having no knowledge of visa process make it more difficult. So I always encourage people who keep sharing their experience on visa process. Thanks for sharing your great opinion which relate to visa process.
    Best Regards, Ale Rossi
    Australia Tourist Visa

    1. No problem! Nice you handle Australian Tourist Visas. Hahaha! I may actually try visiting there one day since I keep hearing it's nice there! Cheers!

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