Entry Clearance process: How to apply for a visa from OUTSIDE the UK

Step by Step Visa Guides

If you are not currently in the UK you will need to follow the Entry Clearance process to make an initial visa application.

Check the VFS Global website to see the visa application process in your country. Some countries will process visas differently to others.

You might be asked to send all your supporting documents to Sheffield (UK) or you may have to submit supporting documents in the country you are applying from.

Once you have done this, you can complete the application using our easy step by step guide.

Step 2
Fill out the details page and create an account. An email will be sent with a confirmation link. Click this to confirm account registration.
Step 3
Log in and select “apply for myself”.
Step 4
Enter the applicant’s personal details and date of intended travel then the “select visa type” section should appear.
Step 5
“Reason for Visit” select “Settlement”
Step 6
Under “Visa Type” select “Settlement”.
Step 7

Under “Visa Sub Type”

  • Select “Husband” or “Wife” if applicant is applying for a UK Spouse Visa as the husband or wife of their UK Partner
  • Select “Civil Partnership” if the applicant is in a Civil Partnership with their UK Partner
  • Select “Marriage” if the applicant is applying for a UK Fiance Visa
  • Select “Proposed Civil Partnership” if the applicant is applying as a proposed civil partner
  • Select “Unmarried Partner” if the applicant is applying as an Unmarried Partner

Step 8
Now enter all requested information for both the applicant and the UK based partner. On the online form it is important to remember that questions that say “you” or “your” will be referring to the applicant who is the non-UK based partner.
Step 9

As you work your way through the application, each completed section will be highlighted in green on the left hand side.

Check over all the details you have entered a few times or get someone else to double check them for you as well.

Once you are happy with everything click confirm to submit the application.

Step 10
Now choose a location to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from after you have arrived in the UK
Step 11

Next you will book an appointment by selecting your local Visa Application Centre (VAC). The GOV.UK website has a list of Visa Application Centres here.

When you select a visa centre, instructions on the visa process will appear at the bottom of the page.

You may need to bring your passport and appointment booking confirmation to the visa centre and send all documents to Sheffield (UK). Make sure you read these instructions carefully.

Step 12

You should then pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fee. The Immigration Health Surcharge is £400 a year.

You do not have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge if you are applying for a UK Fiance visa.

For more information, read our guide on the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Alternatively, you can use this handy tool to calculate the Immigration Health Surcharge, if any.

Step 13

Next, pay the Visa Fees.

Use this tool to calculate the cost of your visa application.

Step 14
The completed application form can be downloaded and printed. Add signature and dates and add this to your application pack.
Step 15
Finally, print the Appointment Confirmation Form.

At the appointment…

The applicant should take all requested documents to their appointment at the visa centre.

We always recommend applicants to contact the visa centre or check the VFS Global website to confirm what documents should be taken along to the appointment.

Normally, it is just your passport and appointment booking confirmation but it is always best to double check before attending the appointment. .

At the appointment, you will provide your biometrics along with copies of your supporting documents. These must be originals.

You must provide the following biometrics:

  • Your Signature
  • A photograph
  • A thumb print and all four fingerprints on both hands

The applicant might be asked questions regarding their relationship like how they contact their partner, where they met their partner or details about their families.

This does not always happen but it’s always best to be prepared for any questions.

However, this should not concern you too much as the questions you will be asked are likely to be similar to the questions you will have already answered on the visa application forms.

Wait for the decision…

The Home Office can take anywhere between one and eight weeks to give you a decision after the appointment. This will depend on the type of visa application you make.

You can check visa processing times here. It is important to remember that these are only guideline processing times and it can sometimes take longer.

When you receive your decision and you are granted a visa, your passport will be issued with a vignette valid for 30 days.

This allows you to travel to the UK. When your application has been approved, we recommend you read our guide on “Arriving in the UK on a Spouse/Fiance Visa”.

Josh Lindsey
Josh Lindsey

Immigration lawyer with more than 20 years of consulting experience

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VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
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