My visa woes

The scholarship covered all my expenses and I thought, ‘UK, here I come!’  Little did I guess what was in store for me after submitting my visa application and documents to the VFS office in Bangalore.

When I received the envelope containing my passport, I was surprised to find a letter saying something about an appeal. I had no clue what that was about and eagerly looked for a visa stamp. To my horror, there was none. Only then did it hit me — I had been denied my visa. The sole ground for refusal was “insufficient finance”! The Entry Clearance Officer had overlooked important portions of my scholarship documents, which stated that my tuition fees would be covered, and had calculated my living allowance as a one-time payment instead of a monthly one. On the one hand, one wing of the UK Government had afforded me an opportunity to study in the UK, while on the other, the UK visa office apparently had another opinion on the subject!

With just two weeks left for my course to start, I had no visa. Frantic enquiries revealed that the appeal process would take at least three months. The advice was “reapply”. But there was no way I was going to fork out another £100 for no fault of mine. I requested the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the University of Warwick, UK to contact the Commission but they got no response. The British Council suggested that I call the Deputy Commission or mail them.  Even here there was a problem, as the allotted time for the public to call is a miserable two hours in the morning. I mailed them without much hope.

To my surprise, in about three days, they telephoned, saying that my visa had been granted. They also suggested that I dash over to Chennai for my visa to save time. The onus and expenses of booking tatkal tickets fell to my lot. It was a three-hour wait before I got my passport with the elusive visa.

I suppose it was too much to hope for an apology. Though I was thankful, the attitude of the Commission was galling. I planned to file a grievance but could not manage the time.

After reaching the University, I found that all recipients of UK Government scholarships were entitled to a waiver of the visa fee. I had not only paid the fee, but had also incurred numerous expenses on train tickets, international and national phone calls. What a beginning! Thankfully, the Warwick exposure was wonderful.

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