I would actually like to name this post:
“Applying for a UK visitors visa when it feels like the UK border agency is conspiring against you”
Passport Image link
Anyone from South Africa knows the absolute sheer pain and torment of attempting to obtain a visa to travel in Europe or the United Kingdom (or most countries in the world who take our buy-one-on-your-local-corner attitude towards passport control more seriously than our own government do.) Having travelled quite extensively through Europe, and visited London a couple of times, I know all about this. Hundreds of supporting documents to show that you really and truly just want to go on holiday kind of take the spring out of your step. And even when you do succeed against all the odds that are stacked against you, you get re-questioned at the borders of different countries as though you’re on Interpol’s most wanted list. (I’ve been whisked away for questioning at more borders than I care to reflect back on. Dingy rooms with bad-smelling men asking my flat mate and I what our fathers’ names are… really?)
The worst part is that the process of applying for a British visa makes you feel like you’re a criminal – like they are desperately trying to catch you out – cross questioning (“Is this passport yours, prove that it’s yours by stating your date of birth and full name, is this photograph of you, how long ago was it taken…?”) before you’ve even gotten inside to actually make your application. Finger prints, extra photographs, bank statements, proof of employment and a sweet R1600 for all of this – a price that’s risen dramatically in the last 2 years. The most laughable request is that they actually ask people in the official form “Are you or have you ever been involved in acts of terrorism?” oh yes – because Al Qaeda fills out these forms honestly. All I want to do is come on holiday!!!! This is bullshit. Plain and simple. But until South Africa’s government pull themselves together we’re only going to see stricter and stricter rules when it comes to international border crossings. Personally I would like to campaign for government officials to have to go through civilian visa processes and not be allowed instant access to other countries. Oh hey, Jacob Zuma, where’s your proof of income? Oh right, of course. That would prove that you actually couldn’t afford the Nkandla upgrades yourself.
I’ve gone through the UK visa process 4 times now. One of those times being declined for my 6 month holiday visa, due to insufficient supporting documentation (I had listed my cousin as my source of accommodation, but had failed to prove how I was related to her. Dude…. seriously?) however the other 3 have gone smoothly, or as smoothly as you can go when you’re scrambling around getting 80 pages of evidence together. I’m about to apply for another one – I’m taking a little trip up to London in April. Shoe shopping, art gallery hopping and Starbucks drinking – the usual. Now the Visa 4 UK service in South Africa doesn’t really help when it comes to explaining the supporting documentation that you need. So I thought I would go through what I have used in the past and plan on using for my visa application this time around.
|| Please note, I am by no means a travel agent, visa specialist or UK border crossing guru. The things I’ve listed below are simply a guideline – they’re what has worked for me, in my situations. I am not going to take responsibility for anyone who has had their visa rejected and they think it’s my fault. Don’t hate me, hate the system. Thanks.
Step one | Online application – Fill in your personal and travel details, book your appointment and pay R1600 online
Step two | Physical appointment at your nearest visa office. Here you hand in your supporting documentation and have you biometric details taken – fingers prints, photos etc.
Step three | You passport is sent to the British embassy in Pretoria, where they decided on the outcome of your application. You can check the progress of your application online, or opt for SMS notification for an extra R20 (payable by card at the visa office)
Step four | Collect your passport and hopefully your 6 month travel visa. You can also pay for a courier service to bring it directly to you. Upon collection you must produce your South African ID book as well as your visa receipt, which you get upon applying.