The Paperwork Quest.

All the stuff you know (and did NOT know) you need to get stuff done!


Across the River. River Thames, London, England. Summer, 2013.

I’ve discussed before the joys and woes of doing things, like traveling or moving half way around the world, with little extra forethought into the planning; give your life some spontaneity. This is great; the spice of life some say. It is also, however, quite troublesome when one has to deal with government agencies and paperwork. Not that I don’t understand all the hoops; I’m a 23 year old American—if life hasn’t taught me the dangers, all I have to do is turn on movies and television to be reminded of the world we all live in. Still, it would be lovely if you could look up a single list that would give you EVERYTHING you needed to get through your paperwork without scrambling for information part way through.

In this light, this week I received what I thought was the last of the documents that I thought I would need to sit down and work through my Visa application with a little more than a month to go before I want to be in country to settle before my program starts. As it turns out, however, I’m missing a document.

Perfect, right?

So this week, I’ve put together a list of EVERYTHING I could think of that the basic person filling out their visa paperwork would need; the stuff they tell you about and the documents they don’t.

Here’s what pretty much all the sites will tell you that you need:

  • Your up-to-date Passport,
  • Two passport photos taken within a month or two of applying for your visa, done to the specifications of the country you’ll be heading two;
  • Your Application fee;
  • TB test though this can be waved (mine was because of my American status, but there is a list of exemptions);
  • Funding Documents; ie. Loan papers; Bank statements with a letter of sponsorship if the accounts (cashable) are not in your name, ect. These cannot drop below a designated rate in the currency of the country you’ll be visiting for a full 28 days before you apply but also cannot be the only money you have (they want to be sure you will not be bankrupting yourself in the effort to travel).

If you are going for schooling you’ll also be told to have:

  • Your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number which you have to request from your school once you have secured your funding;
  • ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate, which is program based so looking up your specific needs online should give you this information;
  • The offer documents that will be listed in your CAS letter, ie. Official transcripts and certificates.

These are the listed documents that you can find listed on school websites and the visa website.

HOWEVER, these are not the only things you will be needing to secure your visa and get on with your preparation. While each type of Visa will have a few different requirements (as a student I am a Teir 4 Visa Applicant).

As I sat down to complete my application this week, all the above listed documents on every available surface around me, I discovered I needed more. AND, I didn’t have it, at least not all of it.

  • If you have held any other passport or travel documentation than your currently active one, you have to have that information on hand if it was active in the past 10 years. This includes old passports, visas, ect. If you no longer have these documents or the needed information from them (nationality, document number, date of issue, and date of expiry), you are request that information from, well basically the government.
  • Information wise, you will need an estimated day you plan on traveling to your location—however, it is not recommended that you buy a plane ticket until your visa comes through. If you feel it necessary, only buy a refundable ticket. If you don’t, there can be issues down the line with your documents.
  • Again, information wise, you’ll need an address and information for where you are staying in the country you are bound for. As a student without a current residence, I put down my school (also acting as my sponsor in name only) as my address but you have to change your residence and information as soon as changes occur.
  • Your travel history; your last five visits to the UK which will include you arrival and departure dates, and the purpose of the trip(s); and you travel outside of the UK and your country of residence for the past 10 years which will include the date you went, the country you visited, and the reason for said visit. If you don’t have the information for this, I’m not really sure how to retrieve it—check out your pictures, social media, journals, junk drawers, and scrap books; anywhere there could be date listed or old ticket stubs.
  • You’ll need access to your basic travel history beside those listed above because for every “yes” you answer, you will have to input information explaining that yes.
  • You will need your family information; parents’ information (names and dates and place of birth), dependence/ children’s information.
  • While they tell you need your funding information, you will need this in a few forms.
    1. Broken down into the country’s currency;
    2. Split into school fees (tuition); and
    3. Maintenance fees (housing, food, ect.)
  • There is also a section entitled “points claimed” which I did not understand. A quick google showed me that it’s a simple point system to see eligibility. It’s not a required fill (no asterisk) so if you don’t know quite what to do you could skip this section.

As always when you are filling out documents such as these, you should try to fill out as many areas as you can but if you really don’t know, it is always better to leave an area blank than guess or be caught in a lie. Lying is a sure-fire way to be denied your visa and have to scrub all your plans and forfeited any funds already paid.

While I was able to figure out the money stuff on my own, what I am missing is my old passport that definitely did not expire until after 2006. So today I had the pleasure of running down to the local postage store (which is never busy and always staffed by the nicest people, at least) to get my information request notarized and sent out to Dulles and, hopefully, a quick turnaround.

Until then, it’s all holding patterns here. So, for any of you going through this journey with me: good luck and safe travels.

In the mean time,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

(ps. Sorry all the links are aimed at travel to the UK)

The Paperwork Quest.

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