UK visa application is the most strict and highly scrutinized visa process. The UK Visas and Immigration receives thousands of visa applications every year that do not meet visa requirements.
Once you have a UK visa refusal, it remains permanently in the records of the UK Home Office. Each time you re-apply, your previous UK visa refusal comes up. It becomes an unavoidable hindrance to all of your future UK visa applications. Therefore, you must get approval in the first attempt at all costs.
According to national statistics published by the Home Office, the UK visitor visa refusal rate for 2019 was 13%. The countries with the highest refusal rates were Algeria, Ghana and Bangladesh with refusal rates over 40%.
This article walks you through the top UK visa refusal reasons. This list should also help if you are reapplying after your UK visa refusal.
The top reasons for UK visa rejection are as below –
- Long itinerary
- Unclear itinerary
- Lack of leave approval letter
- Lack of salary deposits in your bank account
- Large undocumented deposits in your bank account
- Exhausting all your savings or spending several times your monthly income
- Lack of travel history
- Lack of detailed cover letter
- Lack of proper documentation from the sponsor
- Not disclosing any previous visa refusals
- No change in circumstances since your previous visa refusal
Now, let’s take a deep look into each of these reasons and understand how to overcome these in your own UK visa application.
Go through and understand each of these reasons. Analyze your own visa application to figure what’s lacking and what needs to be done. It should help you build a strong case and get approval in your first attempt.
So, without further delay, let’s get started.
The visa refusal reasons in this article are actual reasons given by the UK visa officers in the visa refusal letters. After going through several visa refusal letters from my readers, I put this article together to help you all analyze your own applications and avoid future rejections.
TOP 11 REASONS FOR UK VISA REFUSAL
01. Long itinerary
“You have stated that you wish to visit the UK for 1 month”
Be realistic. The UK is small and you only need a few days to explore. A long itinerary looks suspicious. It looks as if you will be living or working in the UK rather than site seeing.
The UK is also expensive. You must have enough funds to justify your itinerary.
A 7-10 day itinerary works the best for the UK tourist visa. If you are only visiting London, probably less than 7 days is better.
02. Unclear itinerary
“You did not indicate what you intend to do or where you intend to stay. The plans for this trip are unclear and lacking in detail.”
Specify a detailed itinerary in your cover letter. The itinerary should include the dates, cities and your day-to-day activities in each city.
If your itinerary is too long, attach an additional page to your cover letter.
03. Lack of leave approval letter
“It is unclear if your employer has agreed for you to be away from work for the period of this trip, and therefore that you will return to this employment following this trip.”
Include a leave approval letter from your employer. A leave approval letter is the single most document that can strengthen your case. It indicates two things –
- You have strong ties with your country
- You have the obligation to return back to your country after your UK trip
Your leave approval letter should clearly mention that you have been granted leave to travel to the UK and you will return to your current job after your vacation.
This letter must be on the company letterhead with original HR or manager’s signature. You must have your HR or manager write this letter specifically for your UK travel.
If you cannot obtain a leave approval letter, have your employer at least mention your leave details in the employment letter.
I had my employer include my leave approval details in the employment letter for my UK visa. I haven’t seen a single UK visitor visa refusal from those who submitted a leave/vacation approval letter. In my opinion, it really is a strong document.
04. Lack of salary deposits in your bank account
“Your stated monthly income is not reflected in the history of the account”
It is not uncommon to have a UK visa rejected due to bank statements. Apart from your employment documentation, you must be able to show your monthly salary in your bank statements for UK visa.
Make sure your employer deposit your salary directly into your bank account. Your regular salary deposits indicate two things –
- You are genuinely employed and have a steady source of income
- You have genuinely saved up to travel to the UK and not borrowing money from someone
Have your employer deposit your salary directly into your bank account. It’s fine if you have to withdraw cash for expenses, family, etc. But, it is important to have your salary deposited directly into your bank account.
If you receive a physical paycheck, deposit the check yourself in the bank regularly every month.
05. Large undocumented deposits in your bank account
“Large credits have been made which are in excess of your stated monthly income”
“I am not satisfied with the origin of these funds or that they are genuinely available to you”
“The sources of these deposits are not demonstrated by the documents provided”
As I mentioned in the above reason, it’s not uncommon to have UK visa rejected due to bank statements.
Large deposits in your bank account indicate that you have borrowed money to inflate the numbers in your bank account. Visa officers will not be convinced that the funds in your account are your own and are available for you to use.
Make sure there are no large deposits in your bank account. If you already have large deposits in your account, provide proof of source of those deposits. Example –
- If you have received money from selling a property, attach the sales deed to the bank statement
- If you have received money from rents, attach the rental agreements from your tenants
06. Exhausting all your savings or spending several times your monthly income
“I don’t find it credible that you would exhaust nearly all the funds available to you”
“This amount represents over half your declared savings or over x months of your monthly expenditure”
If the total expenditure of your UK trip is more than half of your savings or several times your monthly salary, your visa will be refused. It’s not realistic to exhaust all your savings on one trip to the UK. You would need to preserve at least half of your savings for emergencies.
If your savings are low, your UK visa may be rejected due to insufficient funds. Taking chances and applying for your UK visa will lead to refusal and also affects all your future visa results. So, take a few months to build your savings first.
It is not wise to spend more than 2 times your monthly income on your UK trip. If your monthly salary is low, wait until your monthly salary improves. Ask for a raise or take up a second job. But taking chances will only lead to refusal.
If you have received a gift or bonus from your employer or your sponsor is taking care of your expenses, you are still REQUIRED to show a saving that is more than twice your UK trip expenditure. This is to make sure you can support yourself during your trip in case your sponsor or employer decides not to support you.
07. Lack of travel history
“I am not satisfied that you are a genuinely seeking entry as a visitor and that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit”
“I note that you have never traveled to the UK or anywhere else before”
Travel history indicates that you do not have illegal immigration intent. If you were to stay illegally anywhere, you could have done it so already in any of those countries you have been to so far.
If you do not have travel history, build your travel history first.
Travel to some visa-required countries. The more countries you travel, the better it is for your UK visa.
I have traveled to over 30 countries so far. I have been to some countries multiple times. I have plenty of visas and stamps in my passport. My travel history helps in my visa approvals.
08. Lack of detailed cover letter
“I am not satisfied that you have sufficient ties and would, in fact, leave the UK on completion of your proposed visit”
UK visa application forms may not ask all the details that you want to convey. Therefore, a cover letter is a way for you to convey that additional information and convince the visa officer that you are genuinely seeking entry as a visitor.
Write a detailed cover letter mentioning your proposed itinerary, your financial situation, your travel history, your intention to return back, etc.
Your cover letter should not exceed one page. Use bullets instead of paragraphs. The simpler, cleaner the better.
Keep in mind that the UK visa officers may not be familiar with terminology from your country. Do not use words, designations, addresses, etc that are not familiar to them.
Visa officers may have lots of work on their plates. So, your cover letter should convey what you want to convey clearly and quickly.
09. Lack of proper documentation from your sponsor
“I am not satisfied that your sponsor will be able to provide maintenance and accommodation during your sponsor trip”
If you are using a sponsor for your UK visa, you must have the following documentation from your sponsor. If you don’t have all of this documentation from your sponsor, you will be risking your visa.
- A letter from your sponsor undertaking that he/she would arrange your accommodation, transportation and other expenses while you are in the UK
- Your sponsor’s bank statements for the last 3 months (must indicate employer pay deposits and have no large undocumented deposits)
- Your sponsor’s British passport’s main page
- Your sponsor’s British postal poll card
- Your sponsor’s utility bill
Just having an invitation letter is not sufficient. An invitation letter is not legally enforceable and such letters will not help unless you provide additional documentation from your sponsor such as those mentioned above.
10. Not disclosing any previous visa refusals
“I am aware that you have been refused a US visa and you do not declare this on your visa application form”
UK Home Office may have information sharing with other countries. You must enter only true information and must disclose any previous visa refusals from any country, not just the UK.
Pretty much all the information you provide is verifiable these days. Therefore, not disclosing your previous visa rejections can lead to your UK tourist visa refusal.
11. No change in circumstances since your previous visa refusal
“I note that your were previously refused entry clearance”
“You are likely to be refused unless the circumstances of your application change”
If your circumstances haven’t changed since your previous UK visa refusal, your visa may be refused again. Multiple visa refusals can lead to blacklisting and permanent ban. It’s wise to not apply at all than dealing with a visa refusal again.
Reapply for your UK visa only if there is a considerable change in your circumstances.
The UK visitor visa refusal rate is very high these days. The UK Home Office has been handing visa refusals more frequently than ever before.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that you are eligible and meet the visa requirements. A UK visa refusal can be an unavoidable hindrance down the line.
The above 11 UK visitor visa refusal reasons should help you analyze your own visa application and overcome any hindrances that can lead to your visa refusal.
Have you had a UK visa refusal? If you did, what was the reason and how did you overcome in your re-application?
This article is meant for UK visa applicants with “tourism” intent. My knowledge and experience are only in tourist visas. I will only respond to comments from those seeking advice on UK visas with “tourism” intent. I will not respond to comments from those seeking advice for purposes such as study, work, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, immigration, etc. I don’t have expertise in those matters. You would need to seek advice from immigration lawyers.
WRITTEN BY THIRUMAL MOTATI
Thirumal Motati is a world traveler and digital nomad from India. He is on a mission to travel to every country in the world on his Indian passport. He believes that his weak passport cannot stop him from traveling the world. Through this blog, he inspires many to take up the life of travel despite their weak passports. His guidance has helped many secure their visas and fulfill their travel dreams.