London Vacation 2015 (Part 1)

Visiting London has always been on my bucket list – when my boyfriend told me he wanted me to visit him for the Christmas holidays, it felt so surreal – I was literally jumping in excitement when he told me the news. I never thought I’d see London a lot sooner than I expected.I had so much fun most especially because I got to see my boyfriend again – after months of being on LDR!

On my first day, we went to Big Ben, London Eye and Madame Tussauds! We took the Tube going to Westminster Station where the Big Ben was located. London Eye was just 10 to 15 minutes away from the station as well.

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We walked going to London Eye after we took some pictures with Big Ben – we decided to buy London Eye ticket with another attraction (which was Madame Tussauds) because it was more practical – we spent GBP 39 per person.

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I was in complete awe while I was on top, I never thought London was this beautiful, it made me more excited to explore the city!

After London Eye, we knew that the night was still young (and I honestly didn’t want to go home yet) so we went to Madame Tussaud (you can use your ticket within 90 days from date of purchase). It was just a tube station ride from Westminster to Baker Street Station (Jubilee Line).

I highly recommend Madame Tussauds in London – it’s really big (compared to Hong Kong’s) and you really get your money’s worth!

UK Visa for Filipinos

This is not a step by step procedure on how to apply (as I think everything you need to know is already available in the website: VFS global, on the other hand, guidance on the documents to provide can be found in the UK’s website: UK gov), rather, this post is more about my own experience and some tips I think will be helpful for those who plan to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa.

The first time I applied for the UK Visa was already one and a half years ago, but the process really didn’t change much since then (I am currently helping my friend who will visit me next month to get her UK Visa as well – yes, I can confirm that applying for Visa is still basically the same).

I applied for the UK Visa because I wanted to visit my then boyfriend (now my husband) while he was on an assignment in London (he is also a Filipino and had a Tier 2 ICT Visa).

  • I planned on visiting him from December 19, 2015 to January 9, 2016. You have to keep in mind that the earliest time you can apply for UK Visa three months before your the travel dates (therefore, if I am traveling on December 19, I can’t apply earlier than Sept 19). You should also take into consideration the Visa processing time – according to them, it can take up to 15 working days before you could get your visa back.
  • I wanted to make sure that I had all the necessary documents before I apply and fill out the application form, as early as third week of August, I already started gathering all the documents (it actually took me almost one month before I got all the required documents from the bank and my company).
  • On September 18, I finally decided it was the right time to register online. It took me four days to fill out the form and submit my application. I was very OC, so I ensured all the information I provided were correct. I submitted my application on the 22nd and had my appointment on the 29th.
  • On my appointment date, I came 2 hours earlier. However, you can only enter the building 15 minutes before the schedule. I came early and just stayed at the nearest restaurant where I can double check the documents I will be providing.
  • It took me an hour to submit the documents and had my biometrics taken. I also availed of their text message services for 100 pesos (but I think I only got 2 texts from them, which didn’t really help much as I also received notifications via email which is free of charge)
  • On October 7, 2015, I have received a text message and email notifying me that a decision has already been made about my application and that I can get my passport on the next day (total processing time for my application was 7 working days – but it usually differs depending on the volume of the applicants, when we applied in October 2016, we got our Tier 2 Visa after 12 working days).
  • On October 8, 2015, I went to VFS Global at 2 PM. It took me 30 minutes before I could get my passport back. I was seriously shaking while opening the sealed bag where they placed my passport!
  • I got my UK Visa which had multiple entries valid from October 7, 2015 to April 7, 2016.

Documents Submitted:

  1. Application Form
  2. Current and Old Passports
  3. Certificate of Employment (which includes my start date, position, salary, and that my leaves were approved)
  4. Bank Certificate
  5. Payslips for 6 months
  6. My Boyfriend’s Letter of Invite
  7. A photocopy of my Boyfriend’s UK Visa and Passport
  8. My Boyfriend’s Bank Certificate
  9. My Boyfriend’s Proof of Accommodation
  10. My Boyfriend’s Certificate of Employment
  11. My Mom’s Sponsorship Letter
  12. My Mom’s Certificate of Employment
  13. My Mom’s Bank Certificate

I also made sure I had two sets of the documents (original and copies), however, when I submitted the documents, they only asked for the originals (but just to avoid any hassles, I suggest you bring another set, just in case they ask for it).

I honestly think that getting a Visa was not that difficult and stressful! The most gruelling part for me was when I had to wait at most 15 working days before I got the result – but the preparation part could be a little bit exciting.

Just be honest with your application and make sure that the reason of visiting UK is consistent with the documents you provided – you also have to show that you are coming back to the Philippines (a good evidence is if you are currently working or if you have a business. But if you don’t have either, do not worry, as long as you can prove other evidence there’s still a chance of getting a visa), they are very sensible. I also think its plus points if you’ve travelled to different countries in the past (part of the form asks you which countries you’ve visited in the past).

Also, my friend who just recently applied for the UK Visa told me TLS in now accepting walk in applicants for an additional fee of PHP 2,000. So just in case you’re really in a hurry – you have another option.

Good luck!

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