Having a Visa application refused can be a confusing, frustrating, and upsetting experience. It always feels personal, and always seems judgemental – as well as unfair. The truth is that a UK Visa refusal is a regular occurrence, and the Home Office have no problem handing them out.

After all: the Home Office keeps the visa fees from all applications whether is successful or not, so they make more money from appeals and further applications.

We are often asked how to “guarantee” that a visa will be accepted. The simple answer is: you can’t get a 100% guarantee, because the Home Office are final decision makers. What you can do, however, is make sure your application as strong it can absolutely be.

To help you in this, we have compiled a list 10 of the most common reasons* the Home Office give a UK visa refusal so that you can be more informed about how to avoid it yourself.

Top Ten UK Visa Refusal reasons

  1. Correct Documents NOT supplied: It is really important that you supply all the documents required for your application. Different visas require different documentary evidence, so it is important to make sure your application is specific to you, and that nothing is missed out. It’s no good listening to someone who tells you they got a visa with A, B and C when your application also asks for D, E and F.
  2. Documents NOT presented in the correct format: It’s not enough to simply send the documents in a bundle. They need to be placed in the correct, chronological order, and presented exactly as required. This includes even using the correct colour ink to fill in the forms This might seem like a petty reason to refuse a visa, but the best way to look it is this: make the Home Office’s job of reading your application as easy and simple as possible.
  3. Specified Evidence Missing: Visa applications might seem simple, and the advice given on Home Office website does make it appear so. However, the guideline notes only give a general outline, and do not go into enough detail. Even a single date, or an original of an official document missing can lead to a UK visa refusal.
  4. Following Advice from Non-UK “Advisers”: This is a very common mistake made by people all across the world. So many UK Visa refusal cases happen because the adviser is not qualified or experienced enough in UK immigration law. They might well know immigration law in general, or in their own country, but the UK is one of the hardest countries to get a visa for, so you do really need to get advice from experts.
  5. Following advice from Family and/or Friends: So many refusals happen because people seek advice from those closest to them who just don’t have the legal knowledge. Of course, they may know the applicant very well, but the Home Office is only interested in specific legal evidence and information. It might sound cruel, but they simply do NOT care about applicants as individuals. It’s all about the numbers, the statistics and the money.
  6. Believing the Home Office will be lenient or “understanding”: They won’t be. For example, some applicants might think that if the requirements for their Spouse Visa include a basic salary of £18,600 and they earn £18,500 that just trying to get around that should be “okay”. Not true. Even the very slightest error will not be met with flexibility. Treat your application like a fine, delicate Ming vase: there is simply no room for error.
  7. Non-Disclosure of Previous issues: Often applicants have had previous immigration or legal issues that they decide not to disclose, such as bans or certain criminal convictions already spent – especially if a long time has passed. But the Home Office miss nothing and question everything. Worse still, if they believe an applicant has attempted to mislead or misrepresent themselves intentionally (deception) a UK visa refusal might be the least of your worries.
  8. Applying for the wrong type of visa: A common example of this is when people from outside the UK wish to move to and settle in the UK. However, they mistakenly think they have to apply for a visit visa first, and then whilst the UK apply to switch to a settlement visa. “Switching” is not allowed from a visit visa, and any suggestion that this might be someone’s plan, the Home Office would also refuse the visit visa.
  9. “Saving” money on “cheap” advice: Using unqualified advisers is false economy as their lack of expertise in UK immigration law can easily lead to a refusal on the basis that they simply don’t know the intricate details of the laws, or how to apply the laws correctly. A substantial number of people who come to us with a refusal tell us “my adviser said…” Unfortunately, not all advisers are regulated, and even some who are regulated – even the good ones – simply don’t have the knowledge of how to apply law in the same way a trained, experienced and qualified Solicitor will.
  10. Relying on advice from Home Office/UKVI: It might seem like the best place to get advice is from the source itself. However, call handlers at the Home Office/UKVI are not trained or qualified to give legal advice, and at best all they will do is redirect you to their website, or give you the same general information. They will not be able to discuss merits of individual cases which might need specific expertise to carefully complete the application.

Of course there are many other reasons for a UK visa refusal, and it is always worth remembering that each case is unique. The UK has some of the most stringent immigration laws in the world, and with Brexit on the way no-one really knows what effect that might have on other parts of immigration policy.