I’m not going to detail the requirements for the UK Visa since we had a different one due to my trip being sponsored by the company as it was for training purposes. Though I’m going to share some tips when getting a UK Visa.
When you apply online you need to:
- fill in the application form in English
- pay the visa fee online (in most cases)
- print out your form
- book an appointment at a visa application centre
How to apply:
- Register an account in https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/account/register
- Check what type of visa do you need
- Standard Visitor visa
- Marriage Visitor visa
- Permitted Paid Engagement visa
Apparently, UK government has made the visa application so much easier and they’ve also simplified the type of visas to just three.
For business and visit purposes, they’ve categorized it to Standard Visitor Visa. Since we were sponsored by the company, most of the requirements were provided for us like invitation letter, guarantee letter, employment certificate, itinerary, flight booking etc.
“You’ll need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test if you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of these listed countries.”
Note: The TB test will only be submitted if you have plans of staying in UK for six months or more. If less, there’s no need to submit a TB test.
Make sure to double check your application form and supporting documents to have the same details. Unlike the US visa, there will be no interview or whatsoever. Once documents are passed to VFS, they will forward it to the British embassy and you will have to wait a maximum of 15 days to get the result.
Note: The VFS is only an agency that works with the embassies. They aren’t the ones that decide on your visa status so don’t get intimidated by them.
Also, when applying around March – May, the visa result will usually take 15 days to be released. Other months, they said, it usually takes 7 days or so. There are more visitors around March-June since it’s spring and it’s probably the best time to visit UK and other European countries. It’s not too cold nor too hot and the days are longer so there’s more time to walk around and see places.
When I got my visa result, I wanted to see it inside one of the comfort room’s cubicle so if ever I get denied, I could cry myself without anyone judging me. But my colleague, who was so excited to know the result, opened the package while on our way to the elevator and he said he was approved. So we got excited and scared at the same time. We opened our packages and slowly peeked on our passports and when I saw my UK visa printed on one of the pages, I screamed and jumped for joy.
“This is it! There’s no turning back! In three days time, I will be seeing London! I’m finally flying! Omg!”
Our flights were then booked and we were scheduled to leave three days after we got our visa. I never posted on Facebook about me going to UK. I was scared that I’d get jinxed since there were still the immigration and security to get through. What if we were denied entry to UK? Those sort of thoughts. The only people who knew about me going to UK were my family, my devo group and my closest friends and it was so nice to see them genuinely happy for me.
Flight to London Heathrow (LHR) with Cathay Pacific via Hongkong
We left the Philippines last April 26, 9PM aboard Cathay Pacific. It was probably the most stressful flight I’ve ever been into.
We finished processing our allowances around 2PM and went to the mall to finish last-minute shopping. I arrived at the house around 4:30PM and continued to pack. I left the house at 6PM only to be stuck in traffic and had my hita and kili-kili sweating! I haven’t had a decent meal the whole day and I was close to passing out.
Thank God, I was able to check in around 8PM and the Cathay check-in ladies actually waited for the four of us and allowed our colleague to check-in even though they’ve closed the counters.
When it was my turn in the immigration counter, I was asked if I was a student and I’d study in UK. I almost laughed. I answered that I was going for training and she then asked for my company ID which thankfully I was able to bring with me.
We were running from the immigration to the gate as it was already boarding and passengers were already lining up. When we sat down in our respective seats, I wanted to scream and cry in relief. I was so stressed and so tired and I couldn’t wait for food to be served.
And as usual, the flight was an hour delayed. We left NAIA around 10 in the evening and our connecting flight was around 12:30 in the morning. The first thing that came to my mind was we’re going to miss our flight to London or…. we’re going to run as fast as we can to the boarding gate or whatsoever.
Upon arriving in Hongkong International Airport
I was amazed when the airline was able to make it just almost in the exact time we were supposed to arrive amid delays. Gladly, a ground crew was waiting and escorted us to the boarding gate.
I’ve never liked the Hongkong airport security, maybe because I got a little bit traumatized when I took a trip with my family to Hongkong and Macau two years ago and had repeated scans and was also stopped for temperature check because they thought I had the virus and all that. I had nothing to be guilty of but my heart constantly dropped every time and I never wanted that to happen during the connecting flight in Hongkong.
But it did happen. They had to scan my hand bag three times! And they had to take out everything! My makeup bag, my sanitary bag, the envelopes, etc. I got so worried but acted and looked chill since I wasn’t guilty of anything. But I was soooo stressed already that my spirit just wanted to leave the hell out of my body.
When they said that everything’s good, we ran up the escalator again to the boarding gate as we were the last ones to get on the plane. While we were running, the boarding gate ladies ran to meet us and asked for our passports. We were running side by side while they checked on the passport and the boarding passes and stamped on it and said in their Chinese tone, “Go, go, go, go!”
I breathed a sigh of relief when we took our seats inside the plane. I was so happy that they also gave me the window seat. I’ve always wanted to see London firsthand from the window seat when landing so I could cry and be emotional and all that.
It was the start of a long and quiet 16-hour flight from Hongkong to London. I was ecstatic!
Flight from Hongkong to London
Since this was my first time in a long-hauled flight, I didn’t really know what to expect. I actually thought Cathay Pacific would give out sanitary freebies like a toothbrush, a towel, etc. And an eye mask! But they didn’t. They just gave out a blanket and a pillow. So it was a 16-hr no brushing of teeth. Ew, I know.
When seated, I suddenly felt the tiredness, the starving, the thirst and everything. It was as if my body released all the tension that I started salivating over food and was badly looking forward to it.
So happy that the in-flight entertainment was good. Those movies that I’ve wanted to watch but never had the chance to, were available so I distracted myself until food was finally served.
We arrived in London around 7AM as scheduled. When I walked out of the airplane, the cool air slapped my face, like reminding me that I was finally in London, for real! We walked to the arrival area and we were the last ones to take our luggage. Our bags were actually taken off from the carousel and were left at the side. We also discovered that the luggage of our colleagues were offloaded and put on the next flight in Manila since they checked-in late.
So we decided to wait for it instead since it was scheduled to arrive at 3PM. Instead of waiting in the airport, we called up my friend Vince so we could meet up in the city and also experience London firsthand.
I would talk about it in the next entry. 😉