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There seems to be a consistent pattern on TSE, with scores of questions about what documentation best accompanies a visa application, posed not just by those reapplying after a refusal, but by first-time applicants prior to submission (and a few with post-submission anxiety).

What is being overlooked, lost in translation, missed? Why is this question even being asked here, when the UK government publishes its own straightforward information?

  • This is a useful question and answer pair. However, I think the tone here is a bit condescending, implying that people just fail to read the "straightforward" instructions. In fact, guidance that you "may want to provide" this or "could include" that is hardly definitive. It leaves many applicants (myself included) with questions like "What is the real requirement here?" "How much evidence is enough for X?" It's no wonder that people end up asking questions about this topic. – user35890 May 4 '17 at 15:30
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While most visa applicants understand that they have to include basic information, activity here suggests that many fail to notice an important link in the overview on how to apply for a UK visa, that for supporting documents:

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, such as bank statements or payslips from the last 6 months

Read the full list of supporting documents you can provide.

You might need to provide additional documents if you’re visiting the UK:

  • for private medical treatment
  • to apply as an organ donor
  • as an academic on sabbatical and want to stay for 12 months
  • as a prospective entrepreneur
  • to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

First published in 2012, annually updated (and with a added Chinese translation), this seven-page guide responds to many, if not all, of the most frequent queries.

In just one page, it outlines fundamental documents:

Section 2: other documents you may want to provide – all visitors

This section provides guidance on the types of documents that you may want to provide to help us consider your application against the Immigration Rules.

Previous travel documents/passports, which show previous travel.

Financial documents showing that you have sufficient funds available. These must clearly show that you have access to the funds, such as:

  • bank statements
  • building society book
  • proof of earnings such as a letter from employer confirming employment details (start date of employment, salary, role, company contact details)
  • where a third party (who is either in the UK or who will be legally in the UK at the time of your visit) is providing financial support to you e.g. a business, a friend or a relative, documents to show they have sufficient resources to support you in addition to themselves and any dependant family should be provided

Confirmation of legal residence, if you are not a national of the country in which you are applying or your right to reside there is not included in your passport.

Details of employment or studies where you have stated in your application that you are either employed or in full-time studies. This could include:

  • a letter from your employer on company headed paper, detailing your role,
  • salary and length of employment
  • a letter from your education provider, on headed paper, confirming your enrolment and leave of absence

If self employed: business registration documents confirming the business owner’s name and the date the business started trading.

Business activities – where you are coming to the UK in order to undertake activities relating to your occupation/employment outside the UK you should submit documents showing what you will be doing in the UK, including any letters from inviting organisations. For example:

  • any business activities, e.g. letter from your employer outlining the reason for your visit, who you will be meeting and details of any payment/expenses
  • for performances and entertainment visitors, whether you work in this area as a professional or amateur , and what and where you will be performing

Under 18s – we strongly recommend you submit the following information otherwise it may delay consideration of your application.

  • a Birth Certificate or legal document (such as adoption papers) showing the relationship between you and your parent or guardian If travelling unaccompanied or with someone other than your parent(s) you should provide:

  • a signed letter from your parent(s) confirming details of anyone accompanying you, and details of care and accommodation arranged in the UK

  • a copy of your parent(s) or legal guardian’s biographical page of their passport, which includes their signature and passport number if your parent(s) do not have a passport then you must provide another official document which bears their signature

What follows (Section 3) are additional documents for specific visitor types:

  • academics coming to undertake research (12 month visa)
  • family accompanying academic coming to undertake research (12 month visa)
  • private medical treatment
  • organ donors
  • prospective entrepreneur
  • work related training
  • performers at permit free festivals
  • Approved Destination Scheme
  • permitted paid engagements
  • visitor (marriage/civil partnership)
  • transit

And, most satisfyingly, Section 4 lists documents that should not be sent to support applications.

Failure to read instructions in advance of a task is something many of us do, even with so simple a project as asssembling an IKEA LACK table. With something as complex, and important, as visa application, wisdom suggests a thorough read of Guide to supporting documents: visiting the UK might avert the most common errors and oversights.

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