This time of the year tends to be a popular time to apply for a UK Visa, whether it’s to start your upcoming Spring semester abroad or attempt to spend the holidays with your English spouse or partner. I’ve put together a list of tips to making your visa process smoother. I don’t have any official qualifications, but I currently have 5 UK visas in my passport, so that must count for something. Let my previous stress and visa anxiety and meltdowns help you avoid crying on your bedroom floor because you forgot to pay for tracking. IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US.


  1. Don’t be complacent. This is not the time to think “That’s probably good enough” or not double (and triple) check your application. You’ll have a list of what documents you need to provide, and you should follow that exactly, as well as make copies of all of the documents to send along with the originals (this will also be listed as a requirement). Have a friend or family member take a look at it before you send it off to see if they can spot any problems or missing signatures or documents.
  2. Keep it neat. It’s 2015, but visa applications are still old school. An ECO (entry clearance officer) will likely be handling your application with their hands, not a computer screen. Make sure your documents are neat and tidy and divided appropriately. Flag the “original” pile and the “copy” pile. Don’t just shove everything into the envelope and hope for the best.
  3. Leave plenty of time. I cannot stress this enough. You can put together the perfect application and still find that there is a backlog of visa applications that prevents yours from being seen for weeks. There are also “peak” seasons and “off-season” for visa applications, but if you’re submitting your visa in the hopes of studying abroad the upcoming term, assume that hundreds or thousands of other students are doing the same. Likewise, there tends to be a pre-Christmas rush where partner visas start to take longer because everyone wants to spend the holidays together.
  4. Always pay for tracking. Pay for tracking for your application on the way to the consulate, and pre-pay for tracking for the return envelope you will provide. The one time I forgot to buy tracking for the return envelope, I did not stop worrying after I had an email to say it was on its way back to me. What if USPS lost it and there’s no record of it? What if the consulate said they sent it back, but an intern dropped it on his way to the post office? What if it goes to a house in another town over and they feed it to their dog? It came through in the end, but I lost about 5 years off my life as a result.