Many people have asked for the minute details of how I planned & executed this short trip to my dream destination, and so here I am breaking it down into 4 essential steps that I followed.
A. Applying for the VISA
B. Long wait for the VISA to arrive (but there are many things to plan for instead of sitting idle)
C. Book flights, ho(s)tel, and any other special tour you want
D. Reach London and take care of some basic requirements while you tour around
A. Applying for the VISA
VFS Global is a third-party company processing VISA applications to Immigration offices all around the world. While there wasn’t one in Patna, the Kolkata VFS office had an early opening. Booking an appointment is quite easy, just go to this website and start filling in your details: https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/alt-language-selection-skip-visa
The conversion rate is highly fluctuating, with the changing geopolitical situation of the UK. Check it out here before you pay your fees: https://www.google.com/finance/quote/GBP-INR?sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiBoOuezfX6AhV1cGwGHWSoCHwQmY0JegQIBhAb
Once you fix your application to a center, date, and time, all you have to do is take the print of your application form and show up at the center. In the form, you will have a unique barcode, which will be scanned while you complete the formalities and biometrics. There are payable services that you can use to scan your documents on the spot and purchase SMS/Email services too. But I had already uploaded the documents for free while applying online and only purchased for VISA+SMS/Email services before reaching the center for biometrics.
A passport is the most mandatory thing, and depending on your situation, you will need the documents in this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visitor-visa-guide-to-supporting-documents/guide-to-supporting-documents-visiting-the-uk
While I uploaded the following for a standard 6-month visitor VISA, all of the following are not mandatory, but the more you provide the better. What they need is proof that you have something to return for in India, i.e. a stable job, no reason to stay back in the UK, and a way to support yourself while there, especially your financial condition as evidenced by the payslips of the last 3 months, bank statement for the last 6 months, and ITR form of the previous year:
You will receive the payment receipt and application form in your mail. At the center during your appointment, your documents might be required to verify (not so in my case as it was already uploaded); your retinas, fingerprints, signature, and photographs will be taken for bio-verification, finally your form will be signed by the verification officer at the end.
Once you get the final mail that your application has been successfully submitted, you can rest in peace for the following 3-4 months for the decision to come. Yes, the standard UK visitor VISA is now taking so long to be processed till the final stage! Frustrating, but not unexpected. You have a lot of things to cover while you wait though.
Being a novice for international travel, that too solo, had me embroiled in a lot of thoughts. Spontaneity sounds good, but not practical. So check out Part B to arrange your thought processes on how to plan the trip!