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I wish to apply for a visa for my Thai girlfriend (of 3 years) to accompany me on a business trip lasting 5-7 days to the United Kingdom. I am a UK national by birth, but have been resident in Hong Kong for the past 10 years.

She currently holds a 10 year US B1/B2 visa, and were able to use this to gain a 24 hour concessional entry to the UK on a previous trip that involved an 8 hour layover in London. She also has previously been granted an Australian tourist visa, but she was refused a visa for Canada.

The Canadian visa was disapproved on the grounds we provided insufficient evidence that she would return to Thailand after her visit. This came as quite a surprise considering she held a 10 year US B1/B2 visa and we had provided a fair amount of supplementary information.

We have travelled together extensively over the past 12 months, as my work frequently requires global travel.

We have a house and a car in Thailand (although both are formerly registered in her mother's name since we are not married, and she is unable to access sufficient credit). She has a 4 year old son that lives with us. I spend around 30% of my time co-habiting with her family in Thailand, 30% in Hong Kong (where I am separated from my wife but have 2 children), and 40% of my time on the road.

My girlfriend does not work, but I have been making regular payments over the past 30 months. She also has a credit card sponsored by me with a limit in excess of GBP 10k.

I have zero ties in the UK, and I can count the days I have spent in the UK over the past 10 years on my fingers. However, I am nervous that this application may be viewed as an attempt to circumvent the stricter fiancee / marriage visa formalities, even though I am still not legally divorced.

My questions are as follows:

  • what to declare as the purpose of the trip - tourist, visiting friend, visiting family or business (we will be visiting friends and family on this trip)?
  • what information to provide to avoid any possibility of being suspected of not returning at the end of the trip?
  • will a copy of the credit card statement with the available limit qualify as adequate funds?
  • as I will be sponsoring the trip and am also her principal source of income, what information should I provide about my personal circumstances?

I don't want to over-engineer the application with information that will be largely irrelevant, but equally, I don't want a refusal or a drawn out back and forth process. I have had no qualms about previous visa applications, but the Canadian refusal, and the fact that I am a UK Citizen have made me cautious about how to approach this one.

Additional Info

Over the course of previous applications, we have been asked to provide (and are able to provide again) the following:

Thai House book
Car purchase documents
Son's birth certificate
Girlfriend's divorce certificate
Girlfriend's passport and travel history
Girlfriend's family details (Mother, Father, siblings)
Joint boarding passes for previous trips
Photos next to prominent landmarks
Photos with Thai family with house, car, etc.
Statement of all support payments made over past 2 years
My employment verification
My Thai Bank account (currently around GBP 6k)
My Hong Kong bank account (showing monthly salary exceeding GBP 10k)
My passport showing over 60 entries to Thailand in the past 3 years
Provisional itinerary / hotel / flight bookings

Joint trip history over the past 12 months:

Japan (5 days)
Singapore (3 days)
Hong Kong (2 days)
London (24 hour concession in transit to USA)
USA (10 days)
United Arab Emirates (4 days)
Hong Kong (2 days)
Macau (1 day)
Hong Kong (2 days)
USA (9 days)
Hong Kong (3 days)
Australia (5 days)
Hong Kong (2 days)
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what to declare as the purpose of the trip - tourist, visiting friend, visiting family or business (we will be visiting friends and family on this trip)?

The application should be filled out according to the applicant's perspective, so she would enter "tourist" as the purpose of her trip. "Family" is taken to mean the applicant's family, and the same for business unless she is accompanying you for a social function related to your business. Based upon what you wrote, the screen should look like this...

enter image description here

what information to provide to avoid any possibility of being suspected of not returning at the end of the trip?

Bear in mind that it is her application, not yours and they are likely to discard evidence that you provide that is irrelevant to her circumstances. She should study the guidance and provide the things that she is able to. Since she does not work and has no credit she would be assessed in a higher risk category. Evidence of travel to the USA is quite strong however (along with Singapore), and this should be included. She should include an itinerary like the form asks for. She will need to disclose and explain her prior refusal from Canada.

will a copy of the credit card statement with the available limit qualify as adequate funds?

No, credit card statements are not proof of capacity, they do not show the regular movement of funds and more importantly they do not show that the funds have been lawfully obtained.

as I will be sponsoring the trip and am also her principal source of income, what information should I provide about my personal circumstances?

You can prepare a letter explaining your relationship and why you are sponsoring her. You should then include your employment contract, 3 - 6 months of bank statements (with irregular movements documented), evidence of your living arrangement in Thailand, and a photograph or two showing the relationship is subsisting. Plane tickets and hotel reservations are not required.

Sponsorship, when supported by evidence of a subsisting relationship, will allow her to clear the finance and accommodation hurdles. Prior travel to the USA will mitigate some, but not all of the flight risk associated with Thai nationals.

In addition to the guidance, it makes sense to study Appendix V of the rules. You can also have a look at this answer posted earlier this year.

I don't want a refusal or a drawn out back and forth process.

There will not be a drawn-out back-and-forth process, if your friend does not qualify on what they have she will be refused; do not expect them to call and ask for more stuff. The British Consulate General in Bangkok will turn applications around in 10 days normally or 15 days max.

Note: Avoid the appearance of 'owning' the application.

  • Thanks so much - this is exactly the information I was looking for. – Dave Morgan Oct 24 '15 at 10:39
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    Curious why you singled out USA and Singapore as strong factors, but not the other destinations (HK, Japan, Australia, UAE)? – Dave Morgan Oct 24 '15 at 11:04
  • @DaveMorgan they are the ones I think an ECO would pick up on for a Thai applicant – Gayot Fow Oct 24 '15 at 23:18
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Visit Visa (Tourist Visa) Bear in mind a Visitor visa refusal can not be appealed. Look at ThaiVisa.Com for detailed information from people who have gone thru the same Visa process.

1, Write letter inviting girlfriend to UK and say you will be her sponsor and confirm you will pay for all expenses during her stay. Include her and your most recent bank statement or balance.

2, Include any evidence that she has close family ties in Thailand. Mom dad example.

3, Provide evidence of you sending or giving money to her.

Good luck

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