I’ve just applied UK Visa (Business Visa) few weeks ago in Qatar. UK Visa application is managed/ processed by a visa application center (VFS Global) in Doha, not by direct application to UK Embassy like for Schengen Visa in France Embassy.
Here is the process.
1. Understand if you need a visa
UK Border Agency http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/ and http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/countries/qatar/?langname=UK%20English are the first starting points to know which visa needed for certain type of visit (Visit, Study, Work, Join Family, or Transit). This page in UKBA website ask 3 questions to let you know the type of visa for your visit: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/do-you-need-a-visa/
Why do you want to come to UK? – What passport do you hold? – Where do you currently live?
Answer respectively with: Visit – Indonesia – Qatar, for my case, shows that Yes, I need a visa to visit UK.
2. Understand the type of visa
Another page in UKBA http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/ describes the different categories of visitor to the UK and helps choose which visa category is the most suitable.
If you want to visit the UK as a tourist, for an example, or to stay with friends in the UK, you should apply to come to the UK as a general visitor (or as a child visitor if you are under 18).
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. UKBA strongly advise not to confirm your travel arrangements until you have received your visa. To find out how long the visa processing time, visit this page http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/countries/qatar/processing-times/?langname=UK%20English
They have service standards for processing UK visa applications in Qatar. Their standards say that they will process:
- 90 per cent of non-settlement applications within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date; and
- 95 per cent of settlement applications within 12 weeks and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date.
Please note they define one week as 5 working days.
If their visa processing service is experiencing delays, they will publish a news story on their website to explain what is happening (see right tab on the website)
I was told that processing time is 10-15 working days but I’ve got business visa in 1 day (the next day!).
3. Prepare Required Documentation
Details of requirements, documentations can be found by clicking the respective visa categories on the same page. For general visitor: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/out-of-country/visitors.pdf
Typical documentation requirements are basically categorized into:
- Information about you: a valid travel document or passport, one passport sized photograph (this must comply with photo guidance – can be found at the back of application form), evidence of your permission to be in the country (i.e. residence permit), previous passport if any (had been granted US Visa, Schengen Visa may speed up and increase probability of getting a visa), evidence of your current employment (i.e. a letter from employer, salary slips)
- Information about your finances and employment: bank statement, bank letter or balance certificate, payslips, tax returns, evidence of income from property or land if any
- Accommodation and travel details: details of accommodation and return travel bookings
- Information about your visit to UK: Depending on the reason for your visit, you may wish to provide some of documents to help to show them what you plan to do while you are in the UK.
4. Complete and Submit Visa Application Online.
You must complete and submit the application form online through this page:
It is suggested that your supporting documentation come handy to facilitate completing the application form online. Even better, print application form, fill it and complete on hard copy, and you just copy what you have written.
Application form for:
General Visitor: http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/resources/en/docs/1903073/VAF1A
Business Visitor: http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/resources/en/docs/1903073/VAF1B
You will need to print out and sign your completed form. If you do not have access to a printer when you apply, you will be able to log in and print out the form later. When you have completed your online application, you will receive an email message containing your application number (also known as a ‘GWF reference’). Please make a note of this number.
5. Pay Online
The following page explain how much your visa application will cost.
From 6 February 2012 you can only pay the visa application fee online in US dollars by Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card. They cannot accept any other types of credit or debit cards. When your online payment has been taken, you will receive a confirmation email from their payment provider WorldPay. You must submit a printout of this email as proof of payment when you submit your application at the visa application center.
- General/Business Visitor, Short Term Visit up to 6months, Single or Multiple Entry: USD129
- General/Business Visitor , Longterm Visit up to 2 years, Single or Multiple Entry: USD446
6. Make an Appointment
Once you’ve done with completing and submitting visa application online, you need to book an appointment at visa processing center to submit visa application form and any supporting documentation. Submission timing is 08.00 – 15.00hrs and working days: Sunday – Thursday
You can book an appointment in 1 of the 3 following ways:
- Online using the link UK Visa Information –Appointment or
VFS website: http://www.vfs-uk.com.qa/ under “Book an Appointment” sidetab
2. Telephone: +974 4 4626291 (VFS operate contact centre).
3. Email: email@example.com
If you are part of a family or group, each member of the family or group must make an individual appointment. For example, if you are a family of 4 with 2 adults and 2 children, you must make 4 individual appointments.
There are three types of appointments that you can opt for:
- Normal appointments
- Premium Service Appointments In Qatar – Additional charge of QAR 275.00. (basically appointment with separate lounge, photocopy service, refreshment, and quicker submission)
- Prime Time Appointment In Qatar – Additional charge of QAR 180.00 (basically appointment outside office hours: 07.00-08.00am, or 15.00-16.00hrs). See details on Additional Services on VFS website
7. Visit visa application center NOT EMBASSY to submit application
VFS Global is UK visa application center. I found out that they also provide services for Australian Visa application.
Please arrive at the Visa application center not earlier than 10 minutes before the given time.
Please remember to carry: your current and previous passport if any, a completed and signed online visa application form, the right specification of your photograph, supporting documentation based on the visa category, payment receipt (payment for additional services is only in cash at the visa application center).
Sherif Building, 5th Floor,
Toyota Signals (C-Ring Road – Airport Road Intersection), Behind KEO Building
Please note that sealed packages and all battery operated gadgets are not permitted such as cameras, mp3 players, laptops.
There are 6 desks to serve applicant with 2 biometric counters. An applicant aged above 5 years must come in person to complete their biometric which is a 10 digit finger scan and a digital photograph at the visa application center.
Once done, you will receive reference slip that can be used to track the status of your application.
8. Track Your Application
You can track your application on the VFS website http://www.vfs-uk.com.qa (under “Track Your Application” sidetab) using the reference number DOH/xxxxxx/xxxxxx/x, which is on your original receipt, and your date of birth.
The center offers sms tracking service (at 8 QAR) to track the application. You may inquire from them.
9. Collect passport
Once you check that your passport ready you may collect it from the center at 15:00-16:00hrs. Please check if your visa information is correct and your previous passport (if submitted) returned, before leaving the center.