In terms of Appendix V, this explains the UK visa refusal reasons for general tourists, family, business and short-term student visitor visa in the rejection letter.

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UK General Visitor Visa Refusal Reasons 2020

Indeed, the common rejection reasons in the UK general tourist, family, student or business visitor visa refusal letter mainly relates to an applicant’s inability to meet the eligibility requirements. Therefore, if a UK tourist, business, family or student visitor visa application is rejected on eligibility grounds then the refusal letter explains the rejection reasons, with reference to the information and supporting documents provided by the applicant, which usually relates to:

  1. Doubtful Intentions
  2. Insufficient Funds
  3. Large Deposits in the Bank Statement
  4. The Purpose or Trip Itinerary is not Credible
  5. Limited or Doubtful Travel History
  6. Frequent Visits and Long Stays
  7. Doubts about an applicant’s activities in the UK
  8. Non-compliance with the UK Immigration Rules
  9. Failure to comply with the Immigration Laws of other countries
  10. Previous History of Deception of an Applicant’s Sponsor or Family Member(s)
  11. Discrepancies of Statements
  12. The ECO unable to Verify the Information

Suitability Grounds

If a UK tourist, family, student or business visitor visa rejected on general suitability grounds then the ECO needs to state the specific instance with evidence. Therefore, the decision maker can’t refuse a UK visit visa application on suitability grounds without a factual evidence. The details of UK visitor visa refusal reasons on suitability grounds are as under:

  1. Purpose Outside the Immigration Rules
  2. Applicant is subject to a deportation order
  3. Criminal Conviction
  4. Exclusion from the Refugee Convention
  5. Failure to Produce a Valid Passport
  6. Exclusion Order
  7. Deception Ban
  8. Previously Breached UK Immigration Laws
  9. Failure to Attend Interview
  10. Failure to give information in reasonable time
  11. Breached or Contrived Immigration Rules
  12. Failed to comply with conditions of stay
  13. No ability to return
  14. No written sponsor undertaking
  15. Child under 18, no written parental consent
  16. Non-Custodial Sentence
  17. Criminality, Persistent Offenders, Offending caused serious harm
  18. Applicant not conducive to public good
  19. Failure to pay NHS charges
  20. Litigation Debt

Reasons Not Stated in the Refusal Letter

In fact, the following underlying reasons not covered in the rejection letter may usually lead to UK general visitor visa refusal for genuine tourists, family, students and businesspersons:

  1. Lack of understanding of the Immigration Rules
  2. The risk perception of an applicant’s country of residence
  3. Lack of Proper Documentation
  4. Poor and Incorrect Advice

1. Doubtful Intentions

Perhaps, the UK general tourist, family, student and business visitor visa refusal reasons in the rejection letter due to doubtful intentions mainly relates to an applicant’s weak economic, professional, family and social ties in the home country. For instance, an applicant with most of his/her near and dear family members living in Britain with no full-time employment/study status in the country of residence may be deemed to have weak ties with the home country. If an applicant has weak ties then the ECO infers that he/she may intend to live illegally in the UK. And is likely to seek work or public funds. Accordingly rejects a visitor visa application under paragraph V 4.2 (a) and (c) of Appendix V. However, before making a refusal decision, the ECO usually takes into account an applicant’s:

  • employment history or business credentials and stability
  • net disposable income after tax
  • financial savings and bank balance
  • ownership of immovable assets
  • marital status
  • in case of a repeat visitor, the ECO also looks for changes in the circumstances of an applicant
  • in case of a student visitor, his/her educational record

Therefore, after a refusal under paragraph V 4.2 (a) and (c), in a reapplication an applicant needs to prove that he/she has strong ties in the home country.

Issuing a visa is not some kind of favour or act of charity, but is in our national interest

Tom Fletcher
British Ambassador to Lebanon

2. Insufficient Funds

Certainly, an applicant needs to provide evidence of sufficient funds for meeting the trip cost without recourse to public funds. However, an inability to do would likely yield a rejection under paragraph V 4.2 (e). Perhaps, most applicants get a refusal under V 4.2 (e) because the ECO doubts about the origination of funds in the account.

What to do after UK visa rejected due to insufficient funds?

Perhaps, in a reapplication an applicant needs to supplement the bank statements with information relating to:

  1. employment
  2. business
  3. income and assets

Accordingly, in a reapplication, can provide a letter from employer, payslips, tax returns, business registration documents, business bank account statements, property deeds and rental agreements to show the origination of funds. However, there is no need to to artificially augment the bank balance.

What if an applicant had recourse to public funds in the past?

If an applicant in the past has accessed public funds in the UK then needs to provide details of: why the applicant did recourse to public funds? Accordingly, needs to provide conclusive evidence that there will be no need of resorting to public funds.

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3. Large Deposits in the Bank Statement

In fact, there can be a number of different reasons of UK visit visa rejection due to bank statement such as:

  • an inability to clearly explain the origination of large unexplained deposits in the bank statement
  • the declared income or monthly salary not reflecting in the bank statement
  • transactions not commensurating with an applicant’s declared source of income
  • high number of debit and credit transactions with low average balance
  • very high account balance with no known or remote source of income
  • transactions in the bank statement not commensurating the income tax return
Unexplained Large Transactions in the Bank Statement

Nevertheless, in more than 80–90% of the cases, the UK tourist, family, student and business visitor visa refusal reasons in the rejection letter mainly relate to large transactions in the bank statement. Indeed, most applicants think that a high balance in the bank statement may enable them to get a visit visa. Therefore, they beef-up their bank statements usually with borrowed funds or undisclosed sources. However, these unexplained large deposits in bank statement create severe doubts about the overall credibility and intentions of the applicant. Accordingly, the rejection letter states that the applicant is not a genuine visitor and is not employed as claimed. Furthermore, the applicant is only seeking entry clearance for illegal work or employment in the UK.

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4. The Purpose of Visiting the UK is not Credible

In fact, the ECO carefully scrutinises whether the reasons stated for visiting or extending stay are credible. Perhaps, this means whether the reason for visiting the UK correspond to an applicant’s personal, family, economic and social background or not. For instance, family members such as parents applying to meet their son or daughter is a credible reason. Likewise, an avid traveller applying as a tourist is also a credible reason. However, an unemployed person with weak ties, intending to visit the UK for tourism is certainly not a credible reason. Therefore, if the ECO opines that the purpose of visiting is incongruent with an applicant’s background then rejects the application. Moreover, if the purpose of visiting the UK is not covered under the Immigration Rules then also rejects the application under paragraph V 4.2(c) of Appendix V for visitors.

What to do if UK visa rejected due to doubtful purpose?

If the rejection letter explains UK tourist, family, student or business visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 4.2 (c) then in a reapplication an applicant in addition to establishing strong ties, also needs to provide documents such as:

  1. tour details
  2. trip itinerary
  3. flight details
  4. letter of invitation
  5. evidence of sponsor’s immigration status in the UK

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5. Limited and Doubtful Travel History

Although, the travel history is not a conclusive consideration; however, provides useful information about the credibility of an applicant. For instance:

  • trips to other countries such as the USA, Schengen Countries, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, etc. increases credibility
  • a clean travel history also indicates that an applicant is a law-abiding person

In fact, the UK visit visa usually gets refused if an applicant has no or limited travel history. Therefore, it is better not to apply for UK visitor visa on a fresh passport with no prior international travels.

Doubtful Travel History

Certainly, the duration of past trips is an important consideration. Perhaps, the length of time, along with frequency, gives an indication of the purpose of visiting. And also the strength of ties with the home country. Moreover, for repeat visitors, the decision-maker may check for discrepancies between the formerly stated length of stay and actual details (from an independent source). If there are discrepancies then this may not necessarily yield a refusal decision. However, may raise questions about the overall credibility of an applicant.

Perhaps, it is not normal to visit for tourism on a very frequent basis and staying in the UK for a long duration. Certainly, this indicates that a person has not much to do in the home country. And also may indicate weak ties to the home country. Therefore, it is not expedient to reapply within a short span of time. For instance, if one has visited the UK during the summer holidays in August then can apply in November for Christmas and new year. However, an immediate application in September (for visiting UK in October) may not reflect positively on the overall credentials and intentions of an applicant.

6. Long Stays in the UK

Apparently, for repeat visitors, an ECO checks the frequency and duration of stay. And ascertains whether a repeat visitor is making the UK his/her main home or not. Accordingly, if there are doubts then the refusal letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons by citing 4.2 (b). However, for assessing frequency and duration, the decision-maker may consider the following aspects:

  1. the purpose of visiting the British Isles
  2. the intended duration of stay stated in the application form and the actual duration of stay during the previous visits
  3. the number and length of visits made during the preceding twelve (12) months
  4. the time period elapsed since the last visit
  5. is an applicant spending more time in the United Kingdom than in his/her home country?
  6. what is the purpose of the return journey that an applicant is making to his/her home country? Is this nothing more than just to seek re-entry to the United Kingdom?
  7. the ties of an applicant to the home country such as:
    • is an applicant is registered with the tax authorities of his/her home country?
    • are the children of the applicant attending schools in Britain?
  8. the information on previous applications. For instance, if the previous application to settle through the family route has been refused. And an applicant merely intends to enter so as to join the family in Britain.
So, how to mitigate UK visa refusal reasons under V 4.2 (b)?

In fact, a visitor can stay in the United Kingdom up to 180 days per visit. However, it is better not to unnecessarily prolong the duration of the visit. Moreover, if a visitor has a long-term visit visa then there is no need to unnecessarily trips. Perhaps, a visiting for 3-4 months on successive occasions just for tourism or meeting family certainly creates doubts about the intentions of the visitor.

7. Doubtful Activities

Apparently, if there are doubts that the applicant may undertake prohibited activities set out in V 4.5 – V 4.10 then the refusal letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 4.2 (d) of Appendix V. Perhaps, this means that an applicant will undertake paid work in the UK or other such prohibited activities. In fact, a refusal under V 4.2 (d) takes into account the personal circumstances such as age, marital status, employment or work status, travel history etc. For instance, a person with weak ties in the home country is likely to indulge in a prohibited activity in the UK such as:

  1. take full time or part-time employment
  2. do work for any organisation or business
  3. establish or operate a business as a self-employed person
  4. do an internship or work placement
  5. sell any goods or services directly to the general public
  6. provide any type of goods and services or elsewhere during the stay in the United Kingdom
Baggage Search at the Border

If an applicant’s baggage search at the border reveals possession of items demonstrating intentions to work or live in the UK then perhaps, a record of such an instance would greatly undermine the credibility of any subsequent UK visitor visa applications.

How to mitigate the UK visa refusal reasons under V 4.2 (d)?

Perhaps, fresh applicants with a limited travel history are more prone to get a refusal under paragraph V 4.2 (d). Therefore, applicants having limited immigration history can provide other types of evidence such as availability of funds, business details and family ties so as to substantiate their application. It is not necessary to be a frequent traveller to get a UK Visitor Visa.

8. Non-compliance with the UK Immigration Rules

For repeat visitors, a pattern of previous visits to the UK may indicate that whether an applicant has complied with the UK Immigration Rules. If an applicant has breached any Immigration Rules in the past then this may attract a refusal on suitability grounds.

9. Failure to comply with the Immigration Laws of other countries

Perhaps, if an applicant has failed to comply with any other country’s immigration laws in the past then this may negatively impact the outcome. For instance, if an applicant has been either removed from another country or refused entry to another country, this may lead to doubt an applicant’s intentions. However, it is not an automatic and sufficient condition for refusal but may reduce the balance of probabilities for getting a visa.

10. Previous History of Deception

The credibility of an applicant may becomes doubtful if an applicant or his/her sponsor (in case an applicant is applying for a UK family visitor visa) or sponsor’s/applicant’s immediate family members have used deception or have attempted to use deception in any of the previous applications – for entry clearance, leave to remain or leave to enter – submitted to HM’s Home Office.

11. Discrepancies of Statements

Certainly, the credibility becomes doubtful, if there are discrepancies in the declarations of an applicant and his/her sponsor. Perhaps, if the sponsor knows the information then the credibility may become even more doubtful.

12. Information Verification

If after several attempts the decision-maker is not able to verify the information provided by an applicant then this will surely create doubts about the credibility of an applicant.

13. Purpose Outside the Immigration Rules

If an applicant is seeking entry as a visitor for a purpose not covered under Appendix V of the Immigration Rules then the rejection letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V4.2(c).

14. Applicant is subject to a deportation order

If an applicant is the subject of a deportation order then rejection letter states UK visitor visa refusal reasons on general suitability grounds citing paragraph V3.2(b).

15. Criminal Conviction

If an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years then the rejection letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons citing V 3.4(a) with a 10-year ban. However, if an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of at least 12 months but less than four years, unless a period of 10 years has passed since the end of the sentence, then the rejection letter will state the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons under paragraph V 3.4(b) with a 5-year ban.

Moreover, if an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than 12 months, unless a period of five years has passed since the end of the sentence, then the rejection letter will cite the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 3.4(c) alongwith a possible 1-year ban.

16. Exclusion from the Refugee Convention

If the applicant is excluded from the Refugee Convention and humanitarian protection then the rejection letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 3.4A of Appendix V.

17. Failure to Produce a Valid Passport

If an applicant has not produced a valid passport then the UK visa rejected under paragraph V 3.12(a) of Appendix V. However, if an applicant does not produce a valid passport or travel document and the state is not recognised by the UK government then rejection letter explain the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 3.12(a).

18. UK Visa Refused due to an Exclusion Order

If the Secretary of State has personally directed that the applicant’s exclusion from the UK is conducive to the public good then the UK visa is refused under paragraph V 3.2(a).

19. Deception Ban

If an applicant has used false representation, false documents and/or not disclosed material facts then UK visa is refused with a 10-year Deception Ban UK under paragraph V 3.6). Perhaps, the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) may also consider whether paragraph V 3.7 of Appendix V is applicable. However, the ECO needs to refer the application to the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) before making a decision. Moreover, an extension application is refused under V3.6 or V.3.9(d) for the use of deception, material facts not disclosed, false documents and false representation.

20. Previously Breached UK Immigration Laws

If an applicant has previously breached UK immigration laws (and was 18 or over at the time or the most recent breach) then the UK visa refused with a 1-10 years Re-Entry Ban UK under paragraph V 3.7-11. However, the ECO needs to refer the application to the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) before making a decision.

21. Failure to Attend Interview

If an applicant has failed to comply with a request made on behalf of the entry clearance officer to attend for interview without providing a reasonable explanation then the rejection letter state the UK family, tourist or student visitor visa refusal reasons citing paragraph V 3.12(b)(i) of Appendix V.

22. Failure to give information in reasonable time

If an applicant fails to provide information, biometrics, medical report or to undergo a medical examination without reasonable excuse then the refusal letter states the UK visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to paragraph V 3.12(b)(ii-iv) of Immigration Rules.

23. Breached or Contrived Immigration Rules

If an applicant is an illegal entrant or has overstayed, breached a condition attached to their leave, or used deception in a previous application then the rejection letter states the UK visitor visa refusal reasons citing paragraph V 3.8.

24. Failed to comply with conditions of stay

If an applicant fails to maintain and accommodate without using public funds or comply with conditions of stay then the visitor visa is cancelled under V3.9(b).

25. No Ability to Return

If an applicant has failed to satisfy in the application that he/she will be admitted to another country after a stay in the UK then the application is refused under V 3.16.

26. No written sponsor undertaking

If an applicant’s sponsor refuses to state in writing that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant then the application is refused under V4.4.

27. Child under 18, no written parental consent

If an applicant under the age of 18, has not provided with the written consent of his/her parent(s) or guardian then the rejection letter states the UK general visitor visa refusal reasons with reference to V4.12.

28. Non-Custodial Sentence

If an applicant has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which they received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record within the 12 months prior to the date on which the application is decided then rejection letter states the UK visitor visa refusal reasons citing V 3.5(a).

29. Criminality, Persistent Offenders, Offending caused serious harm

If in the view of the Secretary of State the applicant’s offending has caused serious harm, or the applicant is a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law then the application is refused under V 3.5(b-c).

30. Applicant not conducive to public good

If an applicant is not conducive to the public good due character, criminality, behaviour, conduct or associations, security, travel bans, war crimes, criminal prosecution then the refusal letter explains the UK visa rejection reasons with reference to paragraph V3.3 of Appendix V.

31. Failure to pay NHS charges

If National Health Service (NHS) notifies the Secretary of State that the person seeking entry or leave to enter has an outstanding healthcare debt or cumulative debt of £1000 or more incurred between 1 November 2011 and 5 April 2016, or debts of £500 or more incurred on or after 6 April 2016, or further charges after 6 April 2016 bringing the total outstanding NHS debt since 1 November 2011 to over £1000 then the refusal letter states the UK general visitor refusal reasons citing V3.14.

32. Litigation Debt

If an applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office then refusal letter explains the UK visa rejection reasons with reference to V3.14A of Appendix V.

33. Lack of understanding of the Immigration Rules

Perhaps, the ratio of tourist visa refusal for 6 months multiple entry C-type visas is higher than any other type of visitor visa applicant. In fact, tourist visa applications are usually refused because of the inability of the applicant to make his/her intentions, circumstances and reasons for visiting the UK clear in the visa application. Indeed, most of the applicants applying for a UK visitor visa for the purpose of tourism are not very familiar with the nitty-gritty of the immigration rules, especially that of Appendix V for visitors.

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34. The risk perception of an applicant’s country of residence

Perhaps, this means the situation of an applicant’s country of residence and the degree of non-compliance to Immigration Rules. Apparently, the country risk means the overall political, economic and security conditions of an applicant’s country of residence. Indeed, an ECO has the necessary information relating to the situation of an applicant’s country of residence. Accordingly, during the assessment process, may raise questions such as:

  1. is the applicant’s home country politically unstable?
  2. is the applicant’s country of residence in a conflict zone?
  3. are there imminent risks that the country will become politically unstable in the near future?

Accordingly, these macro signals could lead to doubt the intentions of an applicant to leave the UK. Therefore, applicants applying from countries where there is social and political turmoil needs to prove their credential in a much more precise and robust manner than nationals of those countries where there are relatively better and stable economic, political and social conditions.

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The Overall Degree of Non-compliance

In the light of the empirical and statistical data, the ECO also assesses an application against the overall noncompliance to the Immigration Rules by the nationals/citizens of a country from which an applicant is making an application. Accordingly, this means that applicants belonging to countries that have a high rate of non-compliance are more likely to go through a rigorous assessment.

35. Lack of Proper Documentation

Perhaps, the disparity in the refusal rates is due to the Security Risk perception of the respective countries. However, on an individual level, it is the level of documentation that matters. Perhaps, this may mean that an individual is earning but there is no proper documentary proof to prove the income. Accordingly, in such situations, there is no plausible evidence available for establishing the earnings/income of the applicant. Therefore, the level of economic development and documentation have a correlation with the visa rejection rate.

In fact, applying for a visa application from a politically stable and economically developed country such as Singapore is much easier and usually successful. An applicant due to a well documented economic system can readily fulfil requirements. Accordingly, establishing income and employment through bank statements, income tax returns, suppliers’ contracts, rental agreements, salary slips etc are robust and authentic. Moreover, nationals of politically stable high-income countries are certainly not likely to live illegally in the UK.

36. Poor Advice

Additionally, tourist visa applicants are often ill-advised by family, friends and local consultants. Therefore, instead of making an application in accordance with the immigration rules, they only end up submitting an application on guesswork. Perhaps, there are quite a few posts (if not all) that seem to have incorrect information relating to UK general tourist, family, student and business visitor visa refusal reasons due to:

  1. Mixing up the UK visa rejection reasons for different categories in one post
  2. Providing information relating to frivolous refusal reasons
  3. Terming isolated instances as UK visa rejection reasons

Therefore, instead of guiding the applicants, such information has become a constant source of misguidance. Apparently, when we talk about UK visa rejection reasons, we actually mean to say UK general tourist, family, student and business visitor visa refusal reasons under Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. However, some posts mention refusal reasons relating to spouse visa such as relationship requirements as a UK general visitor visa refusal reasons, which is grossly misleading.

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Additional Notes

In the context of UK visitor visa refusal reasons, a frivolous reason is the one which is not covered under Appendix V, Immigration Rules and the refusal letter. For instance, apparently, some website states ‘wrong application’ and ‘payment of fee’ as a rejection reason. However, these are quite erroneous refusal reasons. Certainly, an applicant first needs to pay the UK visa application fee online before taking out the print out machine-readable (barcoded) application form. Therefore, there is no chance of refusal of a UK standard visitor visa due to the application fee. Moreover, the online procedure of filing is the same for all types of UK standard visitor visa applications. Therefore, it is highly improbable that an applicant could file a visitor visa application on a wrong application form! Moreover, the staff of the UKVAC has the responsibility to cursorily check the appropriateness of the application.

Isolated instances and overall circumstances

Certainly, the UK visa application requirements take a holistic account of the circumstances of an applicant. Accordingly, a decision is made on a balance of probabilities. Therefore, it is not expedient to mention isolated instances such as limited travel history, unclear itinerary, lack of salary deposits in the bank account, lack of detailed cover letter etc as UK General Visitor Visa Refusal Reasons. For instance, an applicant having a limited travel history, with strong family and business ties has a better chance in getting a visa than a person with frequent travel history but weak ties to the home country. Therefore, in order to get an entry clearance, an applicant should focus on his/her strengths rather than on weakness!

What to do after UK visit visa is refused?

In fact, after a UK family, tourist or business visitor visa refusal, an applicant can reapply or file a judicial review. However, there is no right of appeal or administrative review against a UK visitor visa rejection. Perhaps, after the first refusal, it is better to reapply. However, after 2-3 rejections, it is expedient to consult an immigration specialist for filing a judicial review.

Perhaps, quite a few applications get a deception ban on suitability (aka General Grounds), which mainly relates to false documents or making false statements in the application or during the interview. Please note: in case of a 10-year BAN, any future applications are automatically refused up-to 10 years. Therefore, if the UK tourist, family, student or business visitor visa refusal reasons in the rejection letter relates to re-entry or deception ban then judicial review may also help in removing the 10-year ban.

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