In my last few posts I mentioned that I had been to UK (just incase you did not see it written all over). This post is mainly about how to apply for a visa to get there. I thought this might be of help to a few of my peeps.
Note: Citizens of most European countries and USA do not need a visa to enter UK. The list is mentioned on the UK Visa site: http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/
This is for those unfortunate people who do need one. Luckily the process is not that drawn out, especially if as in my case you were applying in the US.
I applied online and for this you need to go to the above mentioned site, and click on the link for applying online. There is an online document which you need to fill, and the process of filling this may take from 1-2 hours. Keep your required documentation ready while filling this out. You can save in between and resume this process. This is quite handy.
At the end when you are done you can immediately pay online by using a credit card. Once you are done, a biometrics interview is set up for you ranging from within a few days to a week or two.
At the biometrics test which usually is at a centre in your city the fingerprinting and photographs are done/taken. After this was done I had to courier my stamped form, passport with US visa and I-94, along with all the supporting documents to the UK consulate in New York.
I was initially hesitant to this, but this looks to be a safe process. The embassy informs you when they receive the passport, and they also mail you when you either get approved or rejected. For me this was the next day, so I was very happy.
The passport is mailed with the new visa by overnight courier and thus as I said this process is quite smooth.
Usually the first time around you should apply for a 6 month visa, although a few of my friends did apply for a 1 year visa. This visa is multiple entry visa marked by ‘MULT’ on your visa.
Also while applying if you want the visa to start from a particular date (e.g.: date of travel) mention it at the end of the online form. Else, the visa will be valid from when it gets stamped.
The supporting documents are the usual - employment, salary, bank statements, flight tickets and either Sponsor letter (if staying with friends/relatives) with their passport and visa copy, or hotel accommodations if you are travelling by yourself.
This was the first tourist visa I applied for and it was a nice, smooth and painless process.
Drop me a comment if you need to know more, but I hope this should be sufficient.
And oh yeah, the 6 month visa should cost you around 130USD at the time of writing this post.