A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Being a student of European Law, I am well aware of the status of the United Kingdom as an exceptional member of the European Union. For one, they are located on an island aloof from mainland Europe and secondly they still stick to British Pounds as their currency. What I didn’t know was that for a third Country national like me, visiting the Kingdom will involve some major headaches which I really didn’t foresee before.
A call from my friend in November brought me happy news when he informed me that he was inviting me to his house in London for the winter holidays. This was something I was really looking forward to as London is one city which I really find fascinating. But honestly looking back now there is a good chance that I might have turned the invitation down had I known the difficulties I had to endure for the Visa application process! I was under the impression that since I already have a residence permit for Holland, I would be able to go to the United Kingdom without any hassles but a rude shock awaited me when I found that the procedures for obtaining a British Visa would be even tougher than the whole process of the Schengen Visa which had I obtained earlier on.
Firstly, the process involves filling an application form which one can obtain from the Worldbridge website . This was a process which was so tedious and exhaustive, not to mention it asking some of the most silly questions, that it took me a couple of days just to fill in every detail. The next step involved getting a bank statement which meant that I would have to wait till the end of the month to obtain the new Bank statement, this alone cost me a week’s time! However the only option available for obtaining a Visa was to schedule an appointment in Dusseldorf which is a good 200 Km away and 4 hours away by train.
I had to provide every single document in the check-list including my flight tickets, which was booked a good one month beforehand, and the letter of invitation from my friend and all his details including even his electricity bill for a month! After somehow managing to obtain all this, I set off for Dusseldorf on the 2nd of December. My miseries were not to end there as my train was late by a couple of hours which saw me arriving just in the nick of time at the application center. After some not too healthy arguments with the guard I was fortunately allowed to attend the interview scheduled. After submitting my forms the only formality left was to take my Biometric information which was also duly done. The one good part of the whole process was that I was able to discover the charming town of Dusseldorf which hitherto was unfamiliar to me.
I really thought that all my troubles were over once I waved goodbye to Dusseldorf. But a rude surprise awaited me still, after continually being assured that I would get my passport back on time, the courier company politely informed a couple of days before my flight to London that I would get my Passport a day late, this involved in canceling my flight ticket and booking another one for the following day. To make matters worse they would not deliver the passport to me but I would have to go to Den Haag to collect it.
Moral of the story: – Finally I did get to go to London after all my travails and ended up having an awesome time over there. But if you are a TCN and want to go to the UK please keep in mind you have to make sure that you are done with the application process at least 2 months before your visit, else you could be taken on the most unwanted of rides!