Saturday, 6 August 2011

Folder Layout & Document Presentation

***Amended 7th August.  Following advice from those in the know, I have changed the folder to a smaller more manageable flexible plastic one.  I have also removed all of the photocopies and will submit those in a separate folder in the same layout.  The reason being that if the folder is too large to fit inside the VFS jiffy bag used to send it to the embassy, then there is a chance the staff will remove the documents from the folders which could affect the order and presentation***

With five weeks to go until I return to Thailand.  The TB test and all of the legal requirements are taken care of.  There's not much more I can do from the UK, other than compile the documents and evidence which I have with me here and organise them into my wife's settlement visa folder.

For the layout I have decided to split the folder into eight sections.  Each section will be labelled, indexed and separated by dividers.  A main contents page at the front will make it easy for the embassy staff to find whatever they need.  At the beginning of the larger more detailed sections, for example the financial, accommodation and evidence, I have written an overview explaining what is included in that section.

No doubt there may be some changes made before submission and there are some things I have yet to complete e.g. my sponsor letter, on-line application, plus the addition of translations and any documents from Thailand.  But so far the layout is as follows:-

Section 1Introduction

  • Cover letter from applicant
  • Cover letter from sponsor

Section 2Application Form

  • Printout of completed online application form VAF4A

Section 3Applicant Key Documents

  • Current Passport
  • Previous Passport
  • ID Card (Photocopy)
  • Thai marriage certificate + English translation
  • Name change certificate + English translation
  • Tabien Baan house book (photocopy)
  • Financial status, Bank of Ayudhya bank book, Bank of Ayudhya applicant/sponsor joint bank account book
  • Employment history

Section 4Sponsor Key Documents

  • Copy passport certified by UK based solicitor
  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Thai marriage certificate
  • Copy of certified Affirmation of Freedom to Marry

Section 5TB Test & English Language Requirement

  • TB Test certificate issued by IOM Bangkok
  • BULATS English test certificates issued by Vantage Siam Bangkok (A1 + B1 levels achieved)
Section 6Sponsor Financial Status

  • Financial status overview
  • Six months salary slips + P60's dated 2010 & 2011
  • Annual bonus confirmation letter
  • Letter from current employer
  • Confirmation letter of 2011 pay increase
  • Savings account statements Feb '11 – present (Acc No 01196228)
  • Current account statements March '11 – present (Acc No 02432952)
  • Latest credit card statement showing balance & available credit

Section 7Accommodation

  • Accommodation overview
  • Photographs of accommodation
  • Land Registry Document
  • Floor plan
  • Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage statements 2008-2011
  • Council Tax Bill, City of Sunderland 2011/12
  • Northumbrian Water utility bill 2011/12
  • Npower Gas & Electric utility bill 2011
  • Home insurance policy certificate

Section 8Evidence of Relationship

  • Section overview
  • History of relationship
  • Photographs applicant/sponsor April '10 - Sept '11
  • Boarding passes from sponsors Thailand trips April '10 - Sept '11
  • Copy of sponsors passport pages showing entry stamps into Thailand
  • Boarding passes from joint trips made together applicant/sponsor
  • Hotel receipts
  • Skype sms records sponsor to applicant May '10 - Sept '11
  • itemised telephone invoices, sponsor to applicant
  • Orange home invoices
  • Orange mobile invoices
  • Copy of joint bank account book opened after marriage May '11
  • Western Union money transfer receipts sponsor to applicant June '10 - Sept '11
  • Copy emails, selection May '10 - Sept '11
  • Wedding Greetings cards from family and friends
Presentation of Evidence

Photographs - For the presentation of photographic evidence.  Rather than submitting full albums I have made a selection of pics spanning the duration of our relationship.  Some of the photos have the date digitally stamped in the corner which also helps.  I have arranged them into a kind of timeline format.  I have pasted three or four photos onto individual A4 pages and printed them out.  I will add more in September when I return to Thailand to include our village ceremony and more with the family. But in total I will include maybe twenty pages or around eighty photos.  I may also include the original prints but haven't decided if that is necessary.  

Evidence of contact - I have included copies of monthly Skype sms records, itemised telephone bills from land line and my mobile, money transfer receipts and emails.  For emails, due to the volume I have selected copies of a few from each month from the duration of our relationship but will also include a screen shot of my in/out box.  This may sound strange but in with my photos I have included a shot of me and my wife chatting on skype to show how we talk via webcam.  

Originals vs Photocopies - The Embassy state that original documents, plus one photocopy of each should be provided.  I have tried to do this for everything where possible including bank statements, pay slips, P60's, marriage certs etc.  I have also made photocopies of everything that will be included in the folder to keep here at home.  Just in case I need to refer to anything and also there is a chance that some documents will not be returned by the Embassy.
***Following advice and due to the amount of documentation I have decided to submit two folders.  One containing all of the original documents and a second for photocopies of all of the original docs to be kept by the embassy***

So again, that's pretty much where we're up to.  I imagine the next few weeks will feel like a lifetime, because there isn't really much else I can do.  I will start working on my sponsor letter soon but that shouldn't take too long.  Ideally I will submit the on-line application just before I leave for Thailand but I believe they won't allow you to make appointments for any longer than five days ahead.  So even that may have to wait until I land in LOS because we need to have an appointment for a week after I arrive.  The first week when I arrive will be spent in Isaan for the village ceremony and I'll also have to spend some time having translations done and finalising the folder.  

Cheers for now


  1. Steve, I thought why I would pop along to your blog to put my two pence worth in as well, although at more humbling level!

    An excellent blog, arguably one of the best on the subject I have seen, now that said I have put a few questions down that have come to mind.

    FYI how I handled my relationship at the start was not so dissimilar to your own, although I chose a local Thai wedding first, however when it came to "visas" and our future together my "path" has been the direct opposite to your own, even after more than 4 1/2 years and 6 visits to the UK and Europe my wife does not have a settlement Visa, and we are not looking at getting one even now I am a full time UK resident.

    Why the rush and why are you proceeding immediately with a settlement visa?

    Did you personally consider the emotional changes your wife, and her family, will face moving to a foreign country "outright", or have you only though of the immediate "needs" that will be satisfied having your wife with you?

    Do you believe your wife has an honest expectation of what life in the UK will be like?

    Does your wife intend immediately look for work in the UK, or will she study or be a "housewife", for want of a better word.

    Does your wife have Thai friends in the UK, and have you considered what will happen should she need assistance of her own whilst in the UK?

  2. Hi Steve,
    looks like you've got all the 'boxes ticked' there with your application.

    Nice of you to share it, I'm sure other people will find it very helpful.

    Interesting points there from Lloyd. Personally we're going for a Family Visit Visa, my wife's never been here before and I very much doubt that she'll want to settle here, we'll have to see (I hope she doesn't!).

    I'd be interested in your thoughts as to how your wife will settle in, it's easy to get wrapped up in the actual application process, but once that's done (I can't see them refusing you based on what you've given them) then the hard work starts!

    Wishing you all the best of luck with the application and for the future here in the UK with your wife.


  3. Hi Lloyd,

    Firstly thanks for your comments about the blog, much appreciated.

    Believe me, I have asked myself (and my wife) many of those questions. I have spent many a quiet hour churning over those fears. I'm not going to be naive and expect everything to be smooth sailing. But at the end of the day it comes down to personal circumstances and what choices we have to be together.
    What are the alternatives to the settlement visa? For us at this moment in time there aren't any. I can't make a living in Thailand. I don't have the funds to continue travelling to Thailand and even if I did, that would still mean spending long periods of time apart. Call me old fashioned but what's the point of being married only to spend the majority of that time in different countries?
    Some wives may be content with sitting at home in Thailand for months on end waiting for their husbands to make the occasional visit and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. But for us that's just not an option.
    There are also other considerations that have to be taken into account. Like starting a family for example. The basis for us to do that would have to be stability. Something not possible if I was either working in the UK and travelling to Thailand whenever the opportunity allowed. Or worse, if I chose to try and make a living in Thailand scraping together just enough to get by and not knowing where the next visa was coming from.

    All of the questions you raise are valid. There is of course a very real chance that my wife could come here only to hate life in the UK. My number one concern is that she will be so homesick and lonely that this will not allow her to give it a real try over here.
    Having said that we have to weigh up the pros and cons and my wife's life in Thailand is far from perfect.

    Its easy for those that have never attempted the move....and probably many that have, to say that it won't work. The cultural differences are too huge. She'll miss home too much. It'll be too cold fer her. But you have to look at the other side too. Yes Thailand is her home. But as above it's about personal circumstances and not everything in Thailand is as perfect as we might like to think.

    Yes she intends to work here. Even if she works part-time she will earn more in a week than she ever could in a month in Thailand which will have a knock-on effect for her family back home. If she becomes ill she won't have to worry about how to pay for treatment. The opportunities should we choose to start a family are so much better than we would have if in Thailand. There is also no reason why she can't have friends here. Not only from within the Thai community settled in the UK but also with farang.

    For every wife that comes here, hates it and heads back home, I would like to think that there are a lot more that make the move a success and go on to have much improved lives for both themselves and their families.

    If anything I hope this blog shows that we are by no means taking the move lightly. I am not forcing my wife to leave Thailand as a way of satisfying any of my own selfish "needs". We have considered the options from all sides and feel we are taking the best way forward.

    You ask the question "Why the rush and why are you proceeding immediately with a settlement visa?".
    Well, I don't understand why we wouldn't proceed with a settlement visa. Who would want to be separated from their wife or partner for any period of time?

    Yes there are a lot of "what if's". But if we don't try then what else do we have? Like I said it comes down to the choices we have available. Settlement in the UK is at this time our one and only choice to have a successful marriage. Simple as that.

    Thanks again for your input


  4. Hi Biff,

    Thanks for your comments and wishes. I think my response to Lloyds post above covers your question. You obviously know your wife and if you don't think she would settle here then I guess you're probably right. But everyone is different and I truly believe my wife will give it a real go. I have not tried to paint a pretty picture of life in the UK to my wife. If anything I've done the opposite.
    All going well she will be coming to the UK before xmas...not exactly the most welcoming time of year weather wise but maybe that will be a good thing. If she can make it through a harsh UK winter in her first few months without wanting to go home then things can only get better.

    I've been following your posts on Thailand-uk and through your blog. Hope all goes well with the visit visa over the next couple of weeks.


  5. Steve

    Everything is personal, even if two couples started out life following the same path it is unlikely they would end up at the same place at the same point in time. I don't have the same financial or emotional concerns as you and put lifestyle ahead of short term needs, for me it has worked out better than I expected, I have my wife here for me when I want, we have travelled extensively throught Europe and Asia and we are also building a future in Asia through business and property projects, that would never have been possible if I had applied for a settlement visa as the restrictions and limits it places on lifestyle were more than we were prepaired to accept.

    I get the feeling all will be as you and your wife have planned, its easy to see from your blog you have a goal and plan to get there which is far more than most people and admirable, the rest comes with the journey, which to me is the best part of a relationship with a Thai women.

    One point I will make is do not submit an application in a hard backed binder, use several paperback folders and label them clearly and seperate applications and required documents from supporting documents. My wife has now helped over a dozen "friends" she has met through her holidays and travels and they all follow a pretty standard procedure.

    During the interview, if you are present, they will first go through all the required application forms, medical and language certificates. They will then go through all supporting documents for each section in the application(s) starting with those for your wife and then you.

  6. Lloyd thanks again for your comments and tips on the folder format. Following yours, and others advice from elsewhere I have changed to a smaller plastic folder which is more manageable. I have removed all of the supporting docs photocopies which will be submitted in a separate folder for the embassy to keep. Blog has been amended to reflect this change


  7. Khun Steve, thought you might be interested in this. My wife flew into LHR on Thursday evening, on the flight was a 26 y/o Thai woman who was travelling to the UK on a Spousal settlement visa to meet her 38 y/o husband. The lady and my wife met at the customs entry que and got talking, when the woman was called up the UK Border officer started asking her the usual questions and a few "other" general English questions which the lady struggled to answer. My wife got involved because she can speak "good" English and another checkpoint officer recognised her from when she flew in a few weeks ago. For about 30 minutes my wife, the young woman and two UK border agency officers went into an interview room, the women was ultimately refused entry on the basis of her lack of English and doubts about her BULATS certification. The UK border agency officers explained to my wife they had been notified by ECO's in Bangkok that they were reviewing certifications from 2 or 3 centers in Bangkok.

    I met the womans husband in the arrivals terminal and he was not a happy chappy, when we had a beer and got chatting he admitted he had been surprised she passed the exam first time as he said her English was basic at best. Luckily they had taken BUPA insurance so they didn't have to pay for the return flight.

  8. Hi Lloyd
    thanks, that's interesting to know. Although I find it strange about the BULATS. There was a review completed in April this year and the new list of providers published on 6th April. BULATS remained on that list and more recently the new list of test provides based within Thailand was amended on the VFS website and again BULATS taken via Vantage Siam remained on the list. They are now one of only three providers in Thailand published on the approved providers list.
    There was a thread on one of the thai forums recently where a settlement visa application was refused based on (amongst other things) the English test supplied which was the BULATS. This was queried with the embassy and they confirmed (without admitting their error) that the BULATS is and always has been an approved test since the introduction of the requirement back in November last year. I find it strange that they would refuse her entry based on that alone. Especially after it had been accepted by the embassy processing her settlement visa.
    I've heard a few bad things about immigration at Heathrow. Luckily when my wife comes over I will be with her and we will be flying into my local airport avoiding Heathrow.


  9. Steve
    My wife was with the woman when the advised her that her settlement visa was rejected and it was on the sole grounds that the UK Border agency were not satisfied that the woman had passed the requirements and questioned that she had actually sat the exam as the young woman could not answer questions about the actual exam form etc. The young woman herself was not overly surpised apparently and commented to my wife "everybody get certificate"! My wife also has BULATS certification however it was for business level certification for a business entry visa into Singapore.

    Issuance of a visa is only one part of the equation, all persons entering the UK are subject to UK Border Agency validating the visa upon arrival. Whilst my wife was waiting in the interview rooms she said at least 3 people from the flight (SA, BKK-SIN-LHR) were refused entry.

    The first time my wife arrived in LHR she went through similar questioning and actually broke down in tears as she was directly asked if she was sure she was not or had not been a prostitute. Long story short, another woman heard what was going on and kicked up a fuss, I got paged and really kicked off, asshole border agent was not even born in the UK. A few weeks later my wife got a formal apology.

  10. Hi Steve, found your Blog via Biffs Blog.

    Its a small world, I've met Biff a few times , and I suspect I've been involved in conversations with Lloyd also on other blogs.

    I'm starting work in Sunderland next week hopefully so maybe you can buy me a Beer sometime

    Good Luck with the process, I went through it 15 years ago, wasn't so much paper work involved then, it was easier to fail us then at least the first time. It was a very emotional time and I still have deep seated Issues with the people involved. ;-)

    She will feel the cold, i believe it will be painful for a few weeks. but there's no reason she shouldn't settle . hopefully, you'll have family here that can gather around and make her feel welcome.

  11. Hi,

    Thanks for your comments and good luck wishes.

    She's certainly going to be cold and the heating bill will take a hammering I'm sure. All going well she will be coming over late November!! Nothing like jumping in at the deep end.

    As for family we are lucky in that respect. My mother, whom my wife talks with a lot online already, lives only a few minutes walk from us so she'll always have someone to talk to until she can settle and start to make her own friends. Not the same as having a good "yak yak" with her thai friends but there's always Skype for that.
    My wife lives away from her family in Thailand so I don't think it will be as much of a wrench to her as it is to some. But I know it will be hard until she settles.

    It would be interesting to hear how todays process compares with what was involved when you went through it 15 years ago? The UKBA seem to be constantly moving the goal posts and there are more big changes being considered for April next year. I'm sure when it's all done and in the bag we will look bag and say it wasn't that bad. But at the moment it's just total stress.


  12. can't remember much about it except for the distress. Wifes interview wasn't pleasant and we were both interviewed seperately As if Guilty of some Heinous Crime. got through on Second attempt. probably a year apart. I now know I am capable of Murder ;-)

    Sounds like Heathrow hasn't changed a lot, I could have swung for them too.

    People shouldn't get between a man and His wife.

    Bunch of C@##S !

    At the End of the day its your right to have your wife here with you. I'm sure with all the effort you've put into the paperwork she'll sail through.

  13. "I'm sure with all the effort you've put into the paperwork she'll sail through"

    Certainly hope so. I'm pretty sure we've ticked all the boxes. But there's always going to be that nagging doubt that we've missed something in the back of my mind until we get the answer.

    Luckily interview's seem to be rare these days and if there is one it's usually a telephone interview. Even so I'm pretty confident the wife could answer anything they ask about me.

    We'll be avoiding Heathrow like the plague. Flying into my local airport and I'll be with her so hopefully there won't be any issues at immigration either.


  14. Hi Steve,
    I`m following your blog for my own journey.
    At what stage did you apply for a new passport for you wife.

    Thanks Les.

  15. Hi Les,

    My wife applied for her passport a few weeks after we married.
    Firstly she changed her ID card & tabien baan (blue house book) the day after we married. This was done in her local amphur. We were not submitting my wifes visa application on that trip so there was no rush for her to change her passport immediately. I returned to the UK and she applied for her new passport a few weeks later. As she was living in Phuket it had to be sent away to Bangkok but only took a week to do.
    I then returned a few months later for another visit and to submit her application.