Here are some general guidelines and some general advice which might help you, before you apply for a visa.
1. Your Story:
What you write in your visa application might be slightly different from what you actually do in the UK. I’m not saying that you will break any laws in the UK. You must abide by all laws at all times. You must not lie or be dishonest in your visa application. But your story for your visa application can be slightly different from what actually happens.
For example, you will mention a short duration of stay in your visa application. However, if you get a 6-month multiple-entry visa, you are legally allowed to go to the UK as many times you like. But you must always return within the specified amount of time on your visa (which is always 6 months, from the date of issue of your visa).
Here is another example. In your visa application, you might mention that you would stay at a hotel in Manchester. However, you’re not bound by law to stay at the same hotel. At the UK border, you can inform the UKBA about your accommodation. And since you would not be breaking any laws, they would have no objection.
Here, we’ll mostly discuss what you’ll write in your application. What you actually do, can be different, as long as you abide by all the rules and regulations.
2. Be Honest:
You’re a genuine candidate, who wants to go to the UK to take your exam and you deserve to get your visa. It’s very important to be honest. Do not tell any lies in your visa application.
3. Provide Documentary Evidences:
You have to provide evidences and proofs for whatever you write in your application, including proofs of your job, your salary, your bank statement, ownership of any property, your relationship with your sponsor, your accommodation booking, your exam booking.
You also have to prove that you’ve legally earned the money that’s in your bank account. If you’ve been given money as a gift by your parents or by anyone else, you need a signed declaration form from them.
4. Attach a list of Documents:
It would be best to attach a list of all the documents that you’re sending along with your application.You can go through my list of documents that I attached in my third and successful visa attempt, to have an idea of what to attach.
5. Keep Your Story As Simple As Possible:
Tell your story very clearly and in simple words. It’s okay if your story is very lengthy, as long it’s well organized. Do not make things more confusing or complicated than they are. I’ll tell you how to keep your story simple and short.
Remember that I’m asking you to keep your story short, not the length of your cover letter. I’ll tell you what I mean.
For example, do not write that you will go to London, from there you’ll go to another city to stay with your family/friend(s) and from there you’ll go to Manchester, to take your exam.
It would be best to just say that you’ll go to Manchester, stay at a hotel in Manchester, take your exam and come back the day after. That’s simple.
Go through my post Duration of Stay for PLAB 2 Visa to have a better idea of this.
It is very important to be employed when you apply for a visa. Because:
i) It adds to your ties back home.
ii) It shows that you’re serious about your career.
iii) It adds to your financial stability.
iv) It doesn’t make a good impression if you’re jobless and you talk about taking an exam in the UK to work in the UK.
The more money you have in your bank account, the better. If you don’t have enough money in your account, someone else can sponsor you. But you must show documentary evidence to prove that this money was earned legally. I’ve discussed finances in detail in my post Finances for PLAB 2 Visa.
9. How to Present Your Story:
Attach a cover letter. You can use your cover letter to explain your story. Your cover letter will make or break your case. The cover letter being absent from my first two visa attempts played a big role in my visa rejections, since I never explained my story.
I know someone who’s visa was rejected because the objection was, “if you can take PLAB 1 in your home country, why can’t you take PLAB 2 in your home country”. So explain every tiny bit of information, in detail and in a simple way, as if you’re explaining it to an 8 year-old.
Please go through my post How to Compose a Cover Letter to have a better idea of this.
10. Length of the Cover Letter:
There’s no restriction on this, as is evident from the response of the Entry Clearance Officer below. Explain every small bit of detail. Remember that you can never provide too much information. However, missing out on detail can lead to your visa being rejected.
For my third visa attempt, I was interviewed, by the Entry Clearance Officer, via Skype. At the end of my interview, I apologized for writing such a lengthy cover letter and for attaching so many documents, making my application very lengthy. This was the response of the Entry Clearance Officer interviewing me, “Oh! No! No! You have nothing to apologize for. It’s totally okay. It is my job to go through your cover letter and your application, no matter how lengthy it is. You don’t have to apologize at all. It is my job.”
11. Do Not Rush Things:
Do not rush things; specially after a visa rejection. I know people who got their visa in their second attempt, which was immediately after their first refusal. But these people are very rare. I know a lot more people who applied for a visa immediately and were rejected.
Even if it’s your first attempt, take your time, make your circumstances as smooth as they can be.
Look at it this way, when you’re 50 years old, it won’t matter if you waited an extra 6 or 12 months to start your career in the UK. But if you’re 50 years old and you’re still in your home country, because you didn’t wait a few extra months, it’s going to hurt you.
12. Good Planning:
Go through all the exam dates and check your academy’s schedule. Book an exam date only once you’re sure that all dates fit perfectly according to your schedule.
13. Early Reservations:
In this country, it helps if you’re a more organized person and if you make plans well ahead of time. If you make early reservations for your exam date, your course, your visa appointment, your airplane ticket, your accommodation, it’s going to help you a lot. Because everything costs a lot more at the eleventh hour.
14. Be Ready to Work Hard:
This visa is the last hurdle in your path to the UK. Passing your exam and getting a job is very easy. If you get your visa, it will change your life forever. Since this visa is so important to you, give it the attention and importance that it deserves.
A part of the reason for my two visa rejections was not taking my visa application as seriously as I should have. In my third attempt, I spent two months on writing my cover letter. Because I knew it would make or break my life. So I gave it the time that it deserved. I delayed my visa application by a month because I wanted to write a proper cover letter. And it was worth the wait.
You’re a genuine candidate who wants to go to the UK to take an exam. You deserve to get your visa. If you prepare your application properly, you should get your visa.
P.S. This post does not cover all the topics that you should be aware of. You must go through my post How to Compose a Cover Letter to have an even better understanding of how to apply for your visa.