Mondays with Matthew: Visitors Welcome (2 of 2)

Post by Matthew Lodge

visa

Hello again. I knew that my post last week on why we need a visa system would prompt a lot of comments, and I was not disappointed! I have attempted to answer as many of them as I can – please take a look (especially if you posted a comment).. and let me apologise if we have fallen short on occasion. No system is perfect, but we are doing the best we can.

I am glad to say that the vast majority of visas are processed smoothly, efficiently and without incident. We need to make sure that happens all the time. It is obviously more challenging in busier times. But, for example, we are currently processing priority applications in 2 working days (against a target of under 5 days) and ordinary applications in 3-5 working days, rather than 15. On another point one of you has raised – we have updated the VFS website so that it now explains correctly the number of photos needed (thank you Khaled for pointing that out). And yes, the parking arrangements need to be better. We’re working on it…

For this week’s second part on visas (I promise I’ll move onto something more exciting next week), I said I’d offer some tips on how to make the process work as well as possible for you. Our responsibility is to make sure visa applicants are served courteously, quickly and efficiently and that you have all the information you require. Here’s a few pointers about how you can help yourselves (and help us!):

– Always apply as early as you can. Not only does this mean it is cheaper (you don’t need to pay for the priority service), it also allows more time to sort out any difficulties and should reduce any stress. Why not apply for your visa as soon as you have booked your flight?

– Make sure you apply for the right visa. Sounds obvious, but if you’re going for medical treatment, make sure you have a medical visa. If you’re going to study, get a student visa. If you do either of these things on a visit visa you risk getting into difficulties with the immigration authorities – and that will make it harder for you next time you apply or travel.

– Always provide the correct documents (details on the website)

– Fill in the forms yourself – don’t get someone else (like an agency) to do it for you to ensure you’ve input all the correct information

– Please provide a personal e-mail or mobile number so we can contact you if necessary – and we can then provide progress updates on how your application is going.

– If you’re a regular traveller, it may be worth paying extra for a multi-entry 5 or 10 year visa. They are expensive, but worth it in the long run.

Finally, please let us know if we are not doing what we say we will do. That way, I hope we’ll be able to do better in future. Now to more exciting topics, what would you like to talk about next week?

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge


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50 comments, add your own...


  1. Mouaz Alnouri says:

    Dear Matthew,

    I am Syrian and I’ve been working for a Kuwaiti company since 2007. My company has a branch in UK and as part of my job I was requested to go to UK for two weeks on August 2013. I decided to make my visit for three weeks and take my family with me to enjoy our time in UK.

    I did exactly what you mentioned in your post; filled the application and provided all the required documents but yet my visa was rejected. Although I’ve visited UK before.

    The reason as per the officer is that I don’t have enough money amount in my main account (although I provided a statement for saving account of 5,000 KWD) and because I was taking my spouse and children with me !! He said that he was not satisfied that I’ll leave the UK after my visit. Of course they stamped all our passports with the black stamp!

    My company owner and my manager, who is a UK citizen, were very disappointed, and they went to the embassy to clarify the situation. The person they met asked them to make me apply again but to leave my family in Kuwait to show stronger bonds.

    I didn’t want to apply again not to get another black stamp on my passport. However, in order to satisfy my employer I applied for the VISA; and yet it was rejected with another black stamp on my passport.

    Since then every time I try to apply for a VISA to any other country, the officer advises me not to do because I have two black stamps on my passport from the UK embassy!

    This unfair decision plus the unjustifiable black stamps has really negatively affected me… I suggest that you specify what nationalities are not welcomed in your country to avoid affecting them with your black stamps.

    Mouaz

    • 3azeez says:

      ” I decided to make my visit for three weeks and take my family with me to enjoy our time in UK.”

      We all know that you’ll end up applying for asylum and live off government benefits and taxpayers back. If you’re serious about your job, go there, finish what you were sent to do, and come back. God’s land is vast, if you can’t afford London go elsewhere. No need to write a essay about it.

      • S says:

        If you think that you KNOW that is what he is after, I don’t and not everyone else does (Maybe he is, but there’s always the other side where he could be honest and a LOT of people go through this not just Syrians).

        Let’s not generalize and judge because of a nationality and what that country is going through.

        • 3azeez says:

          I’m sorry if my comment felt specific to Syrians. Let me generalise it further. If you can’t afford your vacation then please don’t write an essay about it. People from around the world, particularly from unstable regions, are looking for opportunity to enter Europe to live off government benefits and taxpayers money.

          Sounds better?

          • Mouaz says:

            3azeez, it seems that you didn’t read my message carefully. I was going for work in UK and I had to go to UK. I decided to use my stay there to have a vacation. I provided all the documents proving that I’m going for work and that I have a good job in Kuwait to which I will definitely come back.

            If the embassy thought in similar way as yours they should at least interview me and investigate the documents I provided instead of simply rejecting my application.

            • 3azeez says:

              Yes I read your message carefully. You had a work to do… instead of applying for the proper visa and doing the work that you were asked to do… you decided to make it a holiday and take your family with you. You could not afford such a holiday (in the British visa term you did not show strong connections with Kuwait) and so they rejected your application.

              Why are you complicating the simple?

  2. Fahad says:

    Thank you Your Excellency for the further clarification of the visa system, and for listening to the feedback of the comments section. I had a comment regarding something you mentioned in your post:
    ” If you’re a regular traveller, it may be worth paying extra for a multi-entry 5 or 10 year visa. They are expensive, but worth it in the long run”. My family and I are regular travelers to the UK, but as you mentioned in a previous post that the UK is planning to do away with the current visa system, and switch to an online method of applying 48 hours prior to departure. Based on that I recently applied for a visa for my son, and I decided to make it 2 years rather than the 5 years (which I usually take for my children, and 10 years for myself). I do not know what kind of fees will be associated with the 48 hours visa method but I thought I’d wait and see how it would end up working.

    • Fahad, The short answer is that the visa waiver will be free. But you would need to apply at least 48 hrs in advance on each occasion. The benefit of a long term multi-entry visa is that you can travel at short notice and therefore don’t have to plan ahead quite so much. But the choice is yours.

  3. Kevin says:

    Your Ambassador, Welcome to Kuwait. Just to inform you that there is absolutely no way to check if our visa’s are ready online. Also, when we call VFS Global, nobody answers the phone. When we email them, no response. We were told, once our visas are ready, we would receive an email. No email, nothing. Finally we went to the VFS Global office and when we checked, the visa had been ready for nearly 4 days.

    In this day when technology makes things so easy and convenient, is it too much to ask for this company to ….

    1) Inform us by email once our visa is ready or alternately to update their web site so that we can check for ourselves.

    2) Employ a telephone operator to answer calls.

    3) Employ a secretary to respond to emails.

    4) Another issue is that there is absolutely NO PARKING available. When VFS Global shifted office, weren’t they aware that UK is a popular holiday destination for Kuwaities and that parking is of the utmost importance? It is very frustrating to park 20 mins away and walk in the heat /cold / dust to reach the place. Can anything be done about this? Work longer hours, in shifts, so that people can come a little later and find available parking?

    I would love to hear your comments on this and the course of action you plan on taking regarding these very real issues.

    Thank you.

    • 3azeez says:

      “4) Another issue is that there is absolutely NO PARKING available. When VFS Global shifted office, weren’t they aware that UK is a popular holiday destination for Kuwaities and that parking is of the utmost importance?”

      I don’t know where they’re located exactly right now, but I heard its in a new high-rise building. Per Kuwaiti building code, all high-rise and multilevel buildings are required to provide parking spots for the entire building. Because this is Kuwait, many building owners either rent the parking lots as storage facilities or restrict access to them.

      In any case, this is the Baladiya problem not the visa office. If your Baladiya has no respect to you, and the building owner has no respect to the country where they are making money, then why should the British care about you walking in the sun or parking illegally? You have your Baladiya representatives that supposedly you voted… go talk to them.

      • Kevin says:

        Yes, help the Company whom the British Embassy pay loads to to pass the buck. Thank you for nothing.

        For all the money we shell out, couldn’t they have atleast selected a place where parking was ample?

        Do people have to be so full of it and anti everything? I’d really like to hear the ambassadors views. Not your sermon @3azeez.

    • Kevin, Thanks. We’re tackling some of these things. We have recently introduced a notification system so applicants know how their application is progressing. That’s why I suggest people provide personal e-mail addresses or mobile numbers. And we’re talking to the Al Tijaria landlords to encourage them to follow up on their commitment to provide dedicated on site parking. Last but not least, we’re working to make telephone access easier through a dedicated Kuwaiti number.

      • Kevin says:

        Dear Ambassador, Thank you for taking the time to respond. But it seems to be a very politically correct answer. I’m talking of all these issues that took part in the last week of October. So unless your notification system started off this month, I doubt it works. I will definitely call VFS global on Sunday to see if someone actually answers the telephone. I do hope the parking issue resolves soon.

  4. anwar says:

    Hehe seems like the comment section of this post is going to be all complaints.

    Im just happy its easier to get a UK visa than it is to get an american one.

    • 3azeez says:

      UK visa is easier the American?! How is that?

      The only downside of the American visa is that you have to do the procedure online which is a little bit complicated but if you search the Kuwaiti forums you’ll find wealth of instructions on how to apply.

      As for the visa procedure itself, the only downside of the American one is having to line up outside the embassy for appointment. Once you get in there, the process is smooth and quick. Heck, they even tell you that you were granted the visa on the spot so you can go ahead and prepare your travel arrangements. The British visa they charge you a hefty fee, make you wait, and then reject you for whatever reason on the mind of the visa officer on that day.

  5. Kuwait says:

    Dear Mr. Ambassador:

    Are you a Manchester United fan?

    Better be :)

    (Football is the only exciting topic I could think of after your clarifications on visa issues)

  6. LRg142 says:

    High speed rail.

    :)

  7. MS says:

    Dear Mr. Ambassador

    I’m a British Citizen living in kuwait and i just had my first child and my question is can apply for his passport from the embassy here in kuwait?

    Thank You

  8. Ahmed says:

    Hi, Mr. Ambassador, Can you talk about interesting sights and locations in England?

  9. It’s great that you’re taking the time to clarify the visa issues early on in your posts to clear the air. A lot of what was said is pretty obvious, however, i totally agree that it should be re-stated (and maybe re=phrased and re-stated, translated and further disseminated) as you will quickly learn that there are many thick people who find it hard to follow simple instructions – no offence.

    I’m not sure what a good new subject would be, but please minimise the football talk!

  10. 3azeez says:

    You have to find more interesting subject to talk about cuz this getting boring.

    • SA says:

      I think it’s great that Mr. Ambassador is taking the time from his busy schedule to interact with us and I (and I’m sure others do) enjoy the posts and think they are useful. Thank you Your Excellency for doing this and i hope other ambassadors would see this and do the same. Keep up the great posts, I am looking forward to the next one.

  11. Sara Al-Ajmi says:

    Dear Mr Lodge,

    I have been looking forward to your post all week! I’m not going to rant on the issue of visas anymore, I think my essay of a comment last week sufficed.

    I’m aware that you have been in Kuwait for only a few months, but I’m curious to know what your first impression was when you were told that you were going to be based in Kuwait. I’d also like to know your impression of Kuwaitis and Kuwait itself. Your honesty is appreciated.

    Final note to 3azeez, you’re not hired neither by Mark as a blog-officer nor by Mr. Lodge to act as an embassy representative (YET) so please stop poking your nose into everyone’s comments, and mind your own business.

    -Sara

    • 3azeez says:

      Sara, you try to be civilised yet the way you attack my freedom of speech shows great level of incivility.

      That’s one of the unique things about Kuwait… everyone has a blog, instagram and twitter… everyone sharing something from their lives… but don’t you dare post a comment that does not compliment the poster or you’ll end up banned! lol.

      Anyway, I was bored, the people who I commented on were ultra silly, and you don’t really know whether I’m getting paid to make these comments or not. So I’ll just ask YOU to mind your own business and I shall continue posting comments in anyway that pleases me.

      • Sara Al-Ajmi says:

        3azeez,

        This is the last time I will be directly replying to you since you really seem like a “bored” person with nothing better to do than to reply to the comments everyone directs at the Ambassador.

        First, I don’t need to “try to be civilised”, nor do I need your stamp of approval for my civility. I would not have ‘attacked’ your freedom of speech if you were genuinely replying to people kind-heartedly. What’s annoying is that people are trying to have a dialogue with the Ambassador since this is probably the only chance they will ever get, and you’re hijacking this opportunity and this thread! I know you say that you think the comments are silly, but ‘silly’ is subjective. I find your comments annoying and silly, so let’s just drop it and give everyone a chance.

        -Sara

      • Kevin says:

        @3azeez : Nobody’s agreeing to anything you say. Infact, you’re spreading too much negativity with your bullying and snobbish attitude. You’re irritating.

    • Sara, Thanks. I’ll offer some personal reflections on Kuwait when I’ve got a bit more experience, if that’s OK. But so far, it has been great and everyone has been very welcoming. So, thank you Kuwait for a warm welcome!

  12. Next topic says:

    Next Topic: Tips on getting British Girlfriend

  13. MS says:

    3azeez please stop the a** licking and mind your own business .People are asking questions to the Ambassador and expect him to answer not you.
    Are you expecting a prize or job at the embassy proper cheap and low class replies seriously mind your own business

    • 3azeez says:

      Come on man, don’t ruin my plan of getting a three months visa and economy class return tickets. why uncover me this way… damn you ;_;

  14. Regarding UK Visas I have always got negative vibes from people. It seems to be the toughest visa to get in Kuwait & I sincerely hope that you could turn that around. I am going to apply for one very soon, so time will tell.

    Next Topic: I would be interested in knowing some important events that are taking place in UK,i.e., good for tourists to visit/take-part. I’m not asking for a list of must see places in UK. But some good, may be adventurous or out of the box things to do, apart from the major attractions.

  15. shabz says:

    Dear sir

    In your 1st post you had asked me to send email to you regarding my applications to have a look. but the email you provided auto replied me this

    UNCLASSIFIED

    Please note that the Visa Section at the British Embassy in Kuwait no longer operates contact services

    and all enquiries should be made using the information provided on the UKV&I website at

    http://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-outside-uk or by calling the helpline: +973 16195142 OR +44 1243218132.

    برجاء ملاحظة أن قسم التأشيرات بالسفارة البريطانية لم يعد يقدم خدمات الاتصال المباشر وأن جميع الاستفسارات يجب أن تقدم

    باستخدام المعلومات المتاحة على موقع ادارة التأشيرات و الهجرة البريطانية :

    http://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-outside-uk

    أو عن طريق الاتصال باللأرقام التالية :

    +973 16195142 or +44 1243218132

    ادارة التأشيرات و الهجرة البريطانية-الكويت

    مع أطيب التمنيات

    قسم التأشيرات

  16. Whistleblower says:

    Can’t blame 3azeez for hating on evryone, with all the bs and ass kissing comments.. Kudos @3azeez for keepin’ it real.

    • 3azeez says:

      You know very well that the the link you provided is using facts in misleading way. The idea is not to relocate biduns but rather secure citizenship for them so they can live and work in Kuwait legally. The fact that the Kuwaiti government took such a length should be praised. Other neighbouring countries packed everyone in buses and drove them to the borders… without tents or food or water!

      I don’t know you @MeerkatSteez, but we’ve been getting many people like you around this blog and other Kuwaiti blogs. You all appear to have similar agenda… with all the mess we have in Kuwait, its funny that you can’t find something serious to hold against us!

  17. MeerkatSteez says:

    With all the grammatical errors in your statement, its pretty clear you are not a very intelligent person. And if that is what you derived from reading that article, your reading and comprehension needs some work. Have fun trolling the comments sections.

  18. Daniel says:

    Good afternoon Mr. Ambassador.

    My wife is a British subject (Scottish to be precise), I am South African. You have mentioned on a number of occasions that online visa application – would I, as a South African, be able to use this online visa application, or would this be reserved solely for Kuwaiti/GCC residents.

    The reason I ask, is pretty much the same as everyone elses gripes – jumping through hoops to please VFS. Also, for some reason, VFS cannot tell me which visa I should be applying for, considering my wife and daughter are both British Citizens.

    Looking forward to your reply.


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