I thought it would be useful to do an occasional series of blog posts about the experience of applying for a visa in different parts of the world.
This post is about making a SETTLEMENT application in PAKISTAN.
Preparation: It goes without saying that you should check the requirements for your UK visa category and make sure you qualify. Note that for SETTLEMENT applications made in Pakistan (that is, partner, parent and child applications under Appendix FM) you need to send your documents to UK Visas & Immigration in Sheffield, UK. In most cases your UK Sponsor should gather the documents you need.
If you need to take an English test, be aware that the only authorised test provider outside the UK is now IELTS. At the time of writing there are nine approved test venues in Pakistan, in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
If you are applying for a visa lasting more than 6 months you will need an approved TB test.
Check whether you need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. If you need to pay, you will do this at the same time as you pay your application fee online.
Application procedure: Go to the “Visa4UK” application site and create an online account.
When you start a new application, make sure you answer the set-up questions accurately so that the right form is generated. Complete the online application form (bear in mind that the postcode you give for the address where you and your Sponsor will live will govern where you have to pick up your biometric residence permit (“BRP”) from), and pay the application fee and IHS if you need it. Make your biometrics appointment.
Print your application form, appointment confirmation, and proof of payment. Sign the application form and send it to your UK Sponsor, along with your TB certificate and any other supporting documents you have such as photos, letters or cards, or local bank statements (for example, if you are relying on savings you hold in your own name).
For your biometrics appointment at the Visa Application Centre you will need your passport and another form of ID, appointment confirmation, proof of payment, and 2 passport photos.
Once you have been to your appointment your Sponsor has 2 weeks to send the supporting documents and a prepaid self-addressed envelope to the UK Visas centre in the UK. You should send a set of photocopies as well as your original documents, and keep a set of copies for yourself. The Visa Application Centre guidance says: “Only valuable documents such as marriage and birth certificates will be returned and only if you have supplied photocopies of these supporting documents. Documents such as photographs, records of correspondence, bank statements will not be returned and will be retained in UKVI only if directly relevant to the decision.” There are frequent reports of documents going missing so you might prefer to keep things like cards and letters with sentimental value out of the process altogether.
After submission: The service standard for decision-making for applicants from Pakistan is 60 working days (i.e. 12 weeks).
You should get a text from the VAC when a decision has been made and you can go and get your passport (and, hopefully, your visa!). Note that settlement applicants except for fiances/proposed civil partners now get an entry visa valid for only 30 days, and must then pick up a biometric residence card from the Post Office on arrival in the UK.
Please feel free to use the Comments section to share your experiences with other readers. The process and quality of service are bound to change over time, so if you are reading this post do please check the date!