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I'm a software engineer and working as a full-time freelancer since November 2018. I have long-term clients who pay me on monthly basis milestone. It just like a work from home job as well. I applied for the UK visit visa for tourism purpose during Christmas days. Below is the timeline of this whole process

  • Online Application submitted and fee paid (UK standard visa 6-months) -- 26 September 2020

  • Biometric collection and passport submission -- 3 November 2020

  • Email received from UKVI Abu Dhabi (Your visa application has been concluded) -- 15 November 2020

  • Refusal decision email received -- 16 November 2020

I'm attaching the refusal letter I received with all reason of refusal they mentioned.

The 3rd point they mentioned is not making sense because they don't know income tax ordinance of Pakistan. According to clause 133 of income tax ordinance of Pakistan, the income earned by any freelance working by selling the software development and maintenance services to foreign clients using by the freelance platform is exempt from the tax and I clearly mentioned it in my cover letter attached with my visa application. In my income tax returns copy the foreign income is also mentioned as well as the local income which I earned form my local clients. The local income for the fiscal year (2019 -2020) is 136,310. so this is the considered taxable income on the first acknowledge page of my ITR (Income tax return). And they are considering a conflict between the income I mentioned in my application, Upwork earning certificate attached and my income tax returns. How can it be justified?

Ok, the other point that a person who is a full-time freelancer and who can work from anywhere can't get a visa?

Please guide and help me, what was mistakes and what to do next to get the UK visa?

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    You want to visit the UK at Christmas for 6 days in the middle of the 2nd wave of a pandemic? Really? They think you can work from anywhere and they don’t think you have any compelling ties to home = they concluded you are an overstay risk. IMHO you won’t get a visa and you’d be wasting your money and time by reapplying.
    – Traveller
    Nov 16 '20 at 17:43
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    Small aside: nearly everything is closed on Christmas Day in London. No trains, no subway, not sure there are any buses, no shops, no museums, barely any restaurants... And that's in normal times. In Covid times, probably even worse.
    – jcaron
    Nov 16 '20 at 18:02
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    There are many issues in your application, and the confusion on your income probably isn't the biggest one. The biggest one is that you need to prove ties to your home country: a spouse, children, property... They want to be sure you go back home after your trip, and you just convinced them that you have no reason to. The next one is that your revenue, even if probably quite high by PK standards, is very low by UK standards, less than half of minimum wage. Even if they accepted your actual income, they'll probably consider that the cost of the trip is too much for you.
    – jcaron
    Nov 16 '20 at 18:06
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    And finally, the fact that you didn't do basic research about opening times and costs of tourist attractions makes them think you are not telling the truth about your plans. And then the fact that you would almost certainly have to spend your 6 days entirely in quarantine... Nov 16 '20 at 19:53
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    @JBentley most applicants will not give an itinerary with such a level of detail. I believe all that is expected is "London - 6 days - sightseeing and shopping - staying at hotel X". But if one goes into details, then it should be well researched and consistent. This part is a clear case of providing more information than needed, and being caught because of it. IOs love people who talk too much.
    – jcaron
    Nov 17 '20 at 10:57
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Let's consider the issues with your application.

  1. You are trying to be a tourist in a pandemic. If you were granted the visa you asked for, the reality is that you would spend most, if not all, of your six day visit in quarantine. That would render the visit entirely pointless, and makes them think you have some other reason for wanting to visit - specifically that you would "go underground" when you arrived and attempt to live and work in the UK illegally.
  2. You failed to do even minimal research into the costs and opening of the tourist sites you said you wanted to visit. This again leads them to think you are really intending to live and work illegally in the UK.
  3. The job you have is temporary and could be done from anywhere in the world. This means you have no reason to return to Pakistan after your visit, and puts you at high risk of failing to leave the UK.
  4. I can't comment on whether your freelancing income is really taxable. If you are right it is probably a simple mistake by the processing office. It is unlikely that this would have made a difference to your application.
  5. Your finances are such that it would be hard for the officer to believe you were genuinely spending six months of your income on something that is simply a tourist trip. This again leads them to believe that you have a different reason for your trip.

There is no simple fix that would get you a visa next time. Not only are there fundamental issues with finances and ties to your home, but you also have made an application that looks like it was not in good faith. (It doesn't matter whether it was really genuine, it only matters what it looks like to the officer.) This is likely to affect future applications, meaning you will need even better evidence of your intention to return to Pakistan. You would probably be better off looking to travel to somewhere else for your tourism.

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    @AhmedJamal that proves nothing. They may suspect you will want to work in the UK and send money home. The occupation is not important, the level of ties (income tied to location, and assets and family) in your home country, is important. Nov 17 '20 at 9:08
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    you also have made an application that looks like it was not in good faith It may not be that, exactly, but that the application was simply made in such a way that betrays a lack of planning or a fundamental failure to appreciate the true costs of the trip - particularly to the degree that the applicant seems unlikely to be able to pay for the trip with the funds they have. An application can be 100% in good faith and still be declined because it demonstrates an applicant without the means to support themselves for the trip.
    – J...
    Nov 17 '20 at 13:04
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    @AhmedJamal - If you're the main provider for your family, it's likely to make the IO even more suspicious that you're willing to throw 6 months of your income into a pointless 6-day tourism trip instead of using that income to support your family.
    – brhans
    Nov 17 '20 at 13:47
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    @AhmedJamal -- Sadly it might be easier for a freelancer software engineer to get a visa if they had a different nationality. One implicit reason for suspicion is that the visa office thinks that given the choice, anyone would prefer to live in the UK rather than Pakistan, and the onus is on you to convince them to not be suspicious. Sadly you're working against a racist system. See e.g. theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/29/… for someone else's experience.
    – The Hagen
    Nov 17 '20 at 16:55
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    @TheHagen nationality != race, and conflating them is rather problematic, and undermines your point. Profiling based on nationality is legal, done by every country, and pretty much essential when forming immigration law.
    – Tim
    Nov 18 '20 at 0:15
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As @DJClayworth already said: Your income is absolutely not the problem. Even if you "fix" or explain the numbers stuff, it doesn't matter.

The real reason is that they do not believe you will go back home again. And honestly: It's a very justified call. ALL the signs point towards you staying longer in the UK, very cliche even so. Your travel calculations are off, you're trying to tourist-travel during a pandemic, spending a significant amount of your income for mostly chilling in quarantine, it just does not add up. Remember that your true intentions don't matter, only how certain THEY (immigration agents) are that your intentions are purely tourist. And for that certainty (on THEIR part), all the signs are bad.

What do you need to fix? You need to show that you have definitive, impactful reasons to go back. You need to convince them that you are the tourist that you are planning to be.

That could be a good job in your home country.

"Your employment therefore does not demonstrate a tie to your home country". You have a good job, that is true, but it needs to be a good job that is keeping you in your home country, which is absolutely not the case with yours.

That could be a family or significant assets in your home country like a family and/or a house. Though I'm not certain how much that would count since leaving despite a family and visiting them frequently is not too uncommon.

And on top of that, your story of what you plan in the UK needs to be very plausible. As a Pakistani citizen, and especially as one with your background, you are on maximum suspicion level, a half-assed travel plan is the last thing you want. You need EVERYTHING to be 100% ´good, correct and meaningful. And that likely includes not traveling during a pandemic.

It might be as well that they're just denying all tourist visas at the moment anyway, and they just gave your application to a trainee to find good reasons, so he went overboard.

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    Agreed except the trainee thing. Nov 17 '20 at 9:10
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    @AhmedJamal it doesn't matter tho. The travel details are just icing on the "nope"-cake. You don't have strong ties (ties proveable and relevant to customs officers) to Pakistan, and it's a pandemic so any tourist is suspicious af. but the thing about the ties to your home country are the #1 problem. If that isn't met, the rest is irrelevant for a tourist visa because they won't let you in if they don't have strong reasons that you'll go back. And you've given them none (verifiable ones). Yes, the misunderstandings are annoying, but they dont apply to the main points of contention
    – Hobbamok
    Nov 17 '20 at 9:56
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    @AhmedJamal Note that (many? most? all?) public museums in London are free, including the British Museum. I believe here you went a little overboard, I don't think you need to give them a detailed description of everything you plan to do. By doing so (but without actually checking if any of it was actually plausible), you gave them more reasons to shoot your application down. But as described in the answers, the biggest issues probably are your ties to your country of residence, the adequacy of visiting during a pandemic, and the consistence between your income and foreseeable expenditure.
    – jcaron
    Nov 17 '20 at 10:38
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    Per championtraveler.com "The average price of a 7-day trip to London is $2,002 for a solo traveler, $3,596 for a couple, and $6,741 for a family of 4. London hotels range from $77 to $351 per night with an average of $148, while most vacation rentals will cost $280 to $590 per night for the entire home." Let's use $2,002 alone. That is £1509.94. That is PKR 316558.87. That is 25% of your annual income, based on your say, not the taxable income.
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 17 '20 at 14:39
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    @AhmedJamal The IOs would surely find your budget table suspect. You say it's £1520, and it's not a big deal for you. But that's 25% of the yearly income you claim. Spending 25% of early income a big deal for most people, so your willingness to spend 3 months of income on a single short trip during a pandemic is suspicious.
    – DUman
    Nov 18 '20 at 10:45

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