A substantial amount of supporting documents must be submitted to support a visa application, especially for certain visa categories. If you apply online, the supporting documents will need to be submitted at the time you attend the biometric appointment, along with the printed application form.
Although applying for a visa may seem relatively straightforward, the statistics on the number of visa refusals show otherwise. Please pay extra attention to the documents you attach to support your visa application.
Documents you must provide
The documents that you need vary depending on the type of application you are making.
Certain documents are mandatory: if missing, your application would be refused. These will be the official documents or statements that confirm that you meet the visa requirements:
- supporting documents provided by your sponsor in the UK, such as letter of invitation, bank statements, evidence of immigration status etc…
- your personal supporting documents, such as property deeds, evidence of employment, bank statements, savings book or long-term deposits etc… together with their certified translations.
- Your Dependants’ documents, if you plan to travel accompanied
You must also submit:
- A passport or travel document (the passport is required for the whole process of the application). This must be the original document.
- A recent, passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), colour photograph of yourself:
- taken against a light coloured background
- clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
- printed on normal photographic paper, and
- full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless you wear this for cultural or religious reasons.
- Your biometric details
- The visa fee. This cannot be refunded.
Optional supporting documents
Other relevant documents in support of your application, although not mandatory, should be included if they would allow the Entry Clearance Officer to make a fast and fair decision on your application.
Include all the documents and information that can convince an Entry Clearance Officer that you qualify. It is up to you to decide what documents are relevant and which best support your visa application, but guidance is generally provided for each category.
Some visa application centres may have specific local document requirements: make sure you have their list as well.
All documents must be originals and not photocopies.
In exceptional circumstances, a photocopy that is certified as an accurate copy by the body or authority that issued the original, or by a notary, may be accepted instead of the original.
Certified copies of some documents may also be acceptable, but original documents are preferred.
To certify a document as a true copy of the original you need to get it signed and dated by a professional person or someone well-respected in your community (‘of good standing’), such as a bank official, councilor, minister of religion, accountant, solicitor, teacher, dentist. The person cannot be related to you, in a relationship with you or living at the same address.
Copies of documents that can be certified include:
photocard driving licences
letters from a government department
bank/building society or credit card statements
gas, electricity or council tax bills
letters from a hospital/doctor
Take the photocopied document and the original and ask the person to certify the copy by:
writing ‘Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me’ on the document
signing and dating it
printing their name under the signature
adding their occupation, address and telephone number
Check with the organisation that needs the certified copy: they may have specific rules you need to follow to certify a document.
Make sure you keep a photocopy of each document and its translation for your own records.
If you submit a document that is not in English or Welsh, it must be accompanied by a full certified translation that can be independently verified by the Home Office.
Each translated document must be certified. The translator or translation company must confirm in writing on the translation:
that it is a ‘true and accurate translation of the original document’
the date of the translation
the full name, signature and contact details of the translator or of a representative of the company
Submission of these documents does not guarantee that your application will be successful.
All supporting documents submitted with visa applications must be originals and in English. Some documents can be submitted in the local language as long as they are accompanied by a summary in English. Most documents however will require a full certified English translation, signed and dated by an official translator, to be accepted. Ask your visa application centre or visa section for advice.
False or misleading documents
If you fail to provide the required supporting documents, in original form and with translations and a complete set of photocopies, you are likely to have your visa application refused.
Remember: only documents submitted with your application will be considered. You will not be able to submit documents after you have submitted your application at the visa application centre.
If you do not have a required document, you should explain why you do not have it.
It is better to explain why you do not have a document than to submit a false document. Your application will be automatically refused and you may be banned from coming to the UK for 10 years if you use a false document, lie, use deception or withhold relevant information.
At the Border
Once you arrive at the border (‘port of entry’), an immigration officer may ask you questions for your reasons for coming to the UK, despite you already having been granted a visa.
To this end, you should carry in your hand luggage copies of documents that you showed to the Entry Clearance Officer (e.g. evidence of funding, letters from your sponsor or businesses you are visiting, etc…).
Travellers to the UK who produce a false travel document or passport to UK immigration authorities for themselves and/or their children are committing an offence. People found guilty of this offence face up to two years in prison or a fine (or both).