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Update 1 Aug 2017

The question went live at I have been denied a visa several times in a row. How does one deal with such serial refusals?


We have covered visa refusals to about 85% with the existing canonicals. Lots of community members have read those articles and will refer to them when marking duplicates.

Recently it surfaced in chat that we sometimes get a corner-case of visa refusal: something I like to call 'serial refusals'. Serial refusals happen when you have an applicant who...

  • just
  • does
  • not
  • get it!

They tend to see the application process as a type of Vegas slot machine: drop your nickel in, pull the handle, and hope the cherries line up. If the cherries don't line up, reach in your cup, get another nickel, kiss it for good luck, and go to step 1. Repeat. And after a while, maybe try a different machine. And when you finally run out of nickels, start asking random people on the net.

Another type of serial refusal applicant tends to play 'connect-the-dots': here's an attestation from an uncle I never met in person and for home land ties, here's a photo of my tattoo that says "Loyal Forever", what more could they want?

All of these types of applicants: just. do. not. get. it.

I have usually mentioned in comments that the first remedy is: "STOP MAKING APPLICATIONS". But as mentioned, it came up in chat that perhaps a more professional (i.e., 'canonical') treatment might be in order. The source was an individual whose stature in the community is impeccable, and that means "game on!" let's play it by the book and put it to META.

Question: If we have a question like "What to do about serial refusals?", does it dignify the site? Is it likely to capture an audience that will broaden TSE's presence? And most importantly for me, is it likely to help lots of people?

Secondarily: I don't think such a question needs to be sliced and diced by nationality and personal circumstances. Is such a question a one-size fits all type of thing?

Finally, some of our canonicals suffer from attracting only a single answer, sometimes two. Bad IMHO. When this happens you don't get to see the process of one or two answers distancing themselves from the 'hoi polloi' in the way the SO model is supposed to work. Disappointing sometimes as I suspect it is for the casual drive-by question OP. So are we positioned to attract lots and lots of answers?

  • Totally agree, the answer is more likely to have suggestions, not on how to get the visa but how to change circumstances that may improve the chance of being granted one (with the first one being, stop applying). And, rather than migrate those that might better fit on Expats, might we just close them? To me, btw, two refusals is sufficient for serial. – Giorgio Jul 22 '17 at 17:00
  • Well it looks like we've attracted two answers, which is not quite lots-and-lots.... – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Aug 2 '17 at 23:12
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If we have a question like "What to do about serial refusals?", does it dignify the site?

Certainly. It's one of the top-10 repeating questions on this site.

Is it likely to capture an audience that will broaden TSE's presence?

Hard to predict as most visitors come from Google anyway, but it would make it certainly easier to close-vote new and existing questions.

Is such a question a one-size fits all type of thing?

Yes, the UK is not different from the Schengen or the US in this case.

So are we positioned to attract lots and lots of answers?

Impossible to predict. Only way to know for sure is to post a question and wait for answers.

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I have no answer here, but I can share an idea of where some of those refusals come from, as I grew up in a country affected by this.

In my experience there are three things leading to serial refusals:

  1. Scams. This is a big one, run by many unscrupulous companies posting visa articles in local newspapers. Usually the articles are in a form of "advise", "testimonials" or "expert opinion", and focused on specific aspects of getting visa, with a hint how the company would "help" (usually by providing fake statements, job references and even exit/entry stamps). They always have a few genuine cases when applicants succeeded getting the visa, so there's word of mouth support.

    There are PLENTY of those in countries like India, Nigeria, Russia, Philippines etc. Those companies keep operating because scammed people keep it to themselves (unlikely someone gotta come here and say "I used fake bank statements and got refused"). A lot of people also fall into the "second try" (which the company offers for free, but there are always "extra services needed" - like "a bribe to visa official" so it is never free).

    For those people we need to explain about scams. Scams exist, and they are highly successful. Don't be a target. If your case is good, do it yourself - a helper will only make it worse. And if your case is so bad that you are sure you need a helper, you're not going to get a visa anyway. This is, unless you use a legitimate helper such as properly licensed attorney, but those come up with a SERIOUS price tag, measured in thousands of dollars.

  2. Lack of trust in visa process based on personal experience with their own government. It might sound strange to you, but people in the countries listed above - and many others - cant really imagine a pedantic government official with no agenda, who just follows the rules in the book.

    So they assume UKVI/US Consulate employees works like their own government employees - who are unpredictable, depends on mood, and take it very personal. Such official might refuse your paperwork because it was not typed using a typewriter (no printers!). Or they can approve it without reading even if you submitted magazine cuts as evidence, because he's leaving for vacation tomorrow and doesn't give shit. @Gayot Fow explained the results of this thinking well in the post above.

    Here we might explain that yes, this may sound ridiculous, stupid and suspicious to you, but US/UK/EU visa government workers REALLY follow rules. Certain information is needed and must be present. If you don't have it, don't apply, you will be refused. And no, they do not refuse you because they hate you or want to insult you. And yes, a proper genuine application supported by genuine evidence WILL be approved.

  3. Naiveness. Finally some people genuinely do not understand how the process works, and try to learn it via trial-and-error method such as "what kind of evidence they'd accept which would make them believe I'd return back?". Those usually come from personal experience and anecdotes, such as "my cousin's friend got a visa and stated he's making $2000 a month; so I need to state I make $2000 a month".

    Here we need to explain that trial-and-error comes with the consequences such as the Consulate will assume you want to get into the country no matter what, and this will undermine credibility of your further applications, to the point that nobody is going to consider them seriously.

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    +1, so wonderful I can't believe it. You should answer this question on the main board so that it can enjoy the exposure it deserves. – Gayot Fow Aug 1 '17 at 5:20
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    I was at a user panel meeting with UKVI and spokesperson for the Asian Business Association said that 80% of refusals in pacrim and south asia could be traced to an unscrupulous operator. I don't know how to check the figures but accepted the statement based on their stature as the spokesperson for a very powerful lobby. – Gayot Fow Aug 1 '17 at 7:03
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    Please migrate your answer to travel.stackexchange.com/questions/99216/… where the question has gone live. thanks – Gayot Fow Aug 1 '17 at 7:24
  • Just did that, thanks! – George Y. Aug 1 '17 at 23:54

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