The general belief out there is that you require to build up your “travel resume”, just the way you will build up your “professional resume” in order to get visa from countries like United States Schengen countries (Italy, France, Germany etc) and United Kingdom, while this holds water for the earlier mentioned countries or group of countries, it is not entirely correct for the United Kingdom.
Just to be clear, a bit of travel history will always be invaluable…I’d rather say helpful. I said helpful because I have never seen a United Kingdom visa application that was denied solely for Lack of travel history, it is actually never mentioned (though you’ll be naïve to believe that it isn’t one of the Big factors) United Kingdom as a country tries really hard to play by the rules and that extends to the visa processes so all you have to do is to ensure that you play by the rules and you just might get the visa even in the absence of a “travel history”.
This is exactly why I’ll advise ambitious virgin passport holders to skip United States (which depends a lot on the Visa officer’s gut feeling) and Schengen countries (that are particularly not transparent about their processes) and apply for a United Kingdom visa, as a first time visa applicant, you stand the big chance to get it if you prepare a good application. Preparing a good application, however, is not that easy as there are common mistakes that people keep repeating. This article, therefore, tries to explain 5 of the most common mistakes. So without further ado, we’ll delve right into them.
1. Unexplained “Money Lodgement” – There is a general perception that you’re required to have plenty of money which is demonstrated by your Bank account balance, isn’t that why they ask for your bank statement? A friend who earns Eighty thousand Naira a month was applying for a UK visa, he got a family member to deposit two million Naira into his account so the balance will be impressive…terrible mistake!!! Lots of applications get denied based on this particular reason.
Yes, they need to know that you have a good bank balance, but these guys aren’t easily fooled, they need to know that you earned it so they’re more interested in the transaction flow, they’re interested in your salary, how much it is and how steady it is, a big bank balance is good only if builds up over time not when an unexplained lump sum is deposited. Such deposits look fishy, if for whatever reason you have an unexplained money lodgement, you need to add an explanatory note to your application to detail how you came to such lump sum.
I’ve seen folks get denied because their quarterly profit sharing payment came in without an adequate narration, irrespective of what the narration says, I’d strongly advice that you explain it. Folks with irregular salary (you earn 120k this month and the 280k the next month) can easily fall prey to this, so my advice is to explain, you can never go wrong doing that, get whatever support documents there is to corroborate your explanation, your pay slips, employment contract or whatever that can explain your irregular salary.
2. Non Corroborated Accommodation – You are expected to prove that you will visit UK and leave at the end of your stay without recourse to public funds, if you consider that one of the major items of expenditure is accommodation, you will understand why they are so heavy on this one. Whether you are staying at a hotel or a friend’s or a family member’s, you should prove beyond reasonable doubt that you can/are allowed to stay there, besides stating this on the invitation letter, you should show that this friend or family member actually owns the place and that they can actually accommodate you comfortably, this means that you will have to include ownership documents like rental receipt, mortgage document or title documents. Utility bills are a good addition, though not sufficient when presented alone. I’d usually recommend that this accommodation be provided by the inviting party, this actually suggests that if the relationship is not direct enough (brother, sister, maybe Uncle) then it’s probably not good enough. A friend or acquaintance inviting you is not fishy but however does not hold much water especially for a first time applicant so I will strongly advice against it. If you intend to use a hotel booking, there’s that temptation to book a room on
Utility bills are a good addition, though not sufficient when presented alone. I’d usually recommend that this accommodation is provided by the inviting party, this actually suggests that if the relationship is not direct enough (brother, sister, maybe Uncle) then it’s probably not good enough. A friend or acquaintance inviting you is not fishy but however does not hold much water especially for a first-time applicant so I will strongly advise against it. If you intend to use a hotel booking, there’s that temptation to book a room on booking.com, one that you can cancel free of charge after you’ve gotten the visa.
The challenge with this is that they know you can cancel the booking free of charge so they usually do not take such bookings seriously. I always advice to book directly with the property and make a deposit, even if the deposit is refundable, they tend to take that more seriously. If you are booking through a third party like a booking site, ensure you get a booking confirmation from the property as most times the booking detail is not relayed to the property until a few days before the intended stay, this will help you avoid a situation that the hotel is called (they actually call the hotels) and they deny having your booking.
3. Affordability of the Trip – Insufficient Funds – A client earns N90,000 per month, his monthly living cost is N40,000, he has no dependents and his bank balance at the time of application was a little above N600,000. The proposed UK holiday was supposed cost about N550,000, if you think about it, he can afford to pay for the trip and have more than his living cost remaining but then the entire trip will cost him a little more that half his annual salary. It gets you wondering, who spends half his annual income on a holiday? Clearly he’s embarking on a holiday he cannot afford. This is a no brainer but you’ll be surprised how often folks make this mistake, sufficient funds is not just about your bank balance, it is equally about affordability, it really has to add up.
4. Inadequate Ties to Guarantee Return after the Planned Visit – The client from above had a N90, 000 job and wanted to spend over half his annual income on a holiday to the UK, do you think he’ll think twice about staying back in UK if he gets the visa? He has no dependents, he’s not married and he has a 90k job, put in different words, he doesn’t have much to come back to. It is important to always seat back and analyse the big picture. As much as a super paying job is not required, it can be very important in establishing ties to your home country, even if you get it all correct, if they are not convinced that you will leave at the end of your stay, then there will be no stay.
5. Incomplete/Low Quality Documentation – For a first time applicant it is important that you present original documents where possible. From your invitation letter, through accommodation documents to proof of income documents (employment contract, payslips, bank statements etc). Plenty of folks falsify these documents, and they usually do so by providing copies and not the originals so you’ll be avoiding a lot of scrutiny by providing originals. The original documents will be returned to you so don’t let that deter you from using them. You won’t believe the amount of applications that are declined based on low-quality documents submitted
Guest Post By Chike Nwogu
A Travel Consultant at Bespoke Vacations