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Getting a UK visa for PLAB is a mammoth task for many International Medical Graduates (IMGs). It is very confusing sometimes regarding what financial sponsorship documents you have to gather and how should you present your case. Let's try to break it down!
Let's look at the IMMIGRATION RULES
Financial sponsorship documents in your UK Visa application is one of the core things to get straight. Before commencing, let’s have a look at a few paragraphs of Appendix V: Immigration rules for visitors:
V 4.2 The applicant must satisfy the decision-maker that they are a genuine visitor. This means that the applicant:
(e) must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment.
And also for people who may not have sufficient funds of their OWN:
V 4.3 A visitor’s travel, maintenance, and accommodation may be provided by a third party where the decision-maker is satisfied that they:
(a) have a genuine professional or personal relationship with the visitor; and
(b) are not, or will not be, in breach of UK immigration laws at the time of decision or the visitor’s entry to the UK; and
(c) can and will provide support to the visitor for the intended duration of their stay.
V 4.4 The third party may be asked to give an undertaking in writing to be responsible for the applicant’s maintenance and accommodation. In this case, paragraph 35 of Part 1 of these Rules applies also to Visitors. An applicant will normally be refused where, having been requested to do so, the applicant fails to provide a valid written undertaking from a third party to be responsible for their maintenance and accommodation for the period of any visit.
In plain English, a visitor, if a visitor can't support own self, can have a financial sponsor and the sponsor will have to give an undertaking in writing that they will support the visitor financially. And on top of that, naturally, the sponsor will have to provide proof that they themselves have enough funds for maintenance of any costs that may arise for the visitor during the entire trip.
Who can be my financial sponsor?
To reiterate the rule - “a third party where the decision maker is satisfied that they have a genuine professional or personal relationship with the visitor”. Yes, the relationship with the third party is important. But, nowhere in the rules, it is stated that it has to be an immediate family, as parents or sibling. So, it can be anyone who you can prove that you have a professional or personal relationship. It can be a business even, not a person if you can prove you have a professional relationship with them. But, that being said, it's easier to prove that you have a personal relationship with your immediate family.
It's always better if you, yourself can be your financial sponsor. But for you to become your own financial sponsor there are a few tick-boxes to fill.
What makes a financial sponsor suitable?
The sponsor should have the ability to prove that they are financially stable. I can't emphasize enough on financially stable. It doesn't mean the amount of money they have in the bank account, it is not only the amount of money they earn every month. It's the proper balance among money in the bank, money spent and money earned. The whole nine yards!
To break it down:
- [Important] They have a stable income (from a job or pension or business)
- [Important] They have ‘enough liquid asset’ i.e readily withdraw-able cash in a bank / financial institution which is being maintained for at least 6 months.
- [Optional] They have other forms of assets (Land/ house/ car - fixed asset) to put more emphasis on their statement of being financially stable.
How much should the sponsor have in their account?
The burning question.
It depends on how much you've shown your total cost of the trip will be. Your cost of the trip again depends on how many days you are showing your visit will be.
The more days stay you state in your application, the more expenses you will have to show. The more expenses you show, the more you will have to have in your/your sponsor's account.
In my opinion, your whole expense should not be more than 1/3rd of the liquid assets your sponsor has to show in their bank account. That being said, the question remains- how do I calculate how much money I'll need to show?
How can I calculate my cost of the trip?
Let me just show you my breakdown of the cost of the trip. I showed my stay of 30 days, and the cost of my trip was broken down as follows:
|Airplane Ticket (round trip)||800 GBP|
|Accommodation (for 30 days)||500 GBP|
|Living Expenses (food, transportation and all)||500 GBP|
|Others (emergency need)|
(In my opinion, this addition gives a positive idea about how you plan your finances)
Now I want to make some more points:
- It is highly discouraged by the UK Visa office to pay for a plane ticket or any accommodation before obtaining your visa, so logically these should go into your expected expenses during your stay in the UK.
- And if you haven't paid your PLAB 2 course yet (i.e you will pay on arrival), I would suggest to not add that to your expenses. Ideally, you should’ve paid ahead of time as you’ve already booked a spot (as in the PLAB 2 exam itself). Some academies take cash, but you shouldn’t add as I said before, since it is expected that you’ve already paid for it.
- If you provide any provisional booking for your plane ticket or accommodation (e.g booking.com, kayak.com), make sure the cost in the breakdown matches as it is in the booking.
You can just put your expected dates (as you’ve mentioned in your travel itinerary in your cover letter) in skiplagged to find out a reasonable price for air-tickets. You can round it up. And for accommodation, the cost is variable, and it depends on where you have shown you're going to stay.
Just remember one golden rule, things should be similar as per the papers you’re submitting.
What financial sponsorship documents should I provide?
If you are self-sponsoring the trip
If you state in your visa application that you ARE EMPLOYED, you MUST explain your own financial circumstances with the following papers:
- Proof of regular income [Important]
- Bank Statement for the last 6 months [Important]
I can not emphasize enough how important this is to explain your own financial circumstances if you state that you are employed.
You still can add a third party as a sponsor if you are employed. It is very acceptable as your financial circumstances may reflect that you yourself are not capable of funding this trip, even though you are employed.
If you are NOT sponsoring the trip
If you are NOT EMPLOYED, you still can add your work experience certificates which mention your termination date, if you had worked before. If you are not earning anything now, your financial circumstances hardly matter. Be careful when putting this info in the online application. They should make sense.
What financial sponsorship documents should my sponsor provide?
Here also the uniqueness of every case makes it quite impossible to give one single guideline on financial sponsorship documents. But let’s talk generally what a sponsor should provide-
- [Important] Bank statement for the last 6 months (6 months isn’t mandatory but highly recommended)
- [Optional] Solvency Certificate
- [Important] Proof of regular income
- [Important] Letter of support
- [Optional] Affidavit declaring financial sponsorship
- [Optional] Papers related to proving fixed assets (If any is mentioned)
The rule to follow - always adds up what you’re stating, with official papers. Just because you mentioned and explained something in your cover letter/letter of support doesn’t mean anything, if any official paper doesn't back it up.
Here, UK Visa Guidance: Supporting Documents, you will find my cover letter and see what other papers I attached with my visa application.
1. Bank Statement for the last 6 months
Most of the banks have their automated system of providing their customers with the bank statement. Previous 6 months statement is needed and as I have mentioned earlier, this should be the money that is readily withdraw-able i.e liquid asset. If the money is not in any conventional bank rather in any other type of financial institution, that can also be shown, as long as proper papers with accurate explanations are made. For example, savings can be in bonds/saving certificates. They are seen as readily withdraw-able cash at any moment, and thus a copy of the said bond/saving certificates along with a letter from the financial institution should serve the purpose too. And, importantly, any big transaction in the aforementioned account should be explained in the letter of support by the financial sponsor, which is discussed below.
2. Solvency Certificate
This is a letter issued by the bank or any financial institution stating explicitly how much money the account holder has, in which accounts, and how the institution thinks he is solvent enough to sponsor you for your UK trip. This letter comes along with the bank statement if you ask the bank officials about this. Here is an example.
You can download a PDF copy of this here.
DISCLAIMER: The above template of a solvency certificate is what my financial institution agreed to follow. For different banks, they have their own template and they may not be willing to follow exactly what it is here. It's alright. As long as they are providing a "Solvency Certificate" or a "Certificate of Investment", that serves the purpose. Make sure the paper has the following things:
- Logo of the Bank / Institution
- Contact details of the Bank / Institution
- Official Memo no with the date the certificate is being issued
- Account holder's name
- Date of opening of the account(s) (Since when it was active)
- Amount of money in the account(s)
- Signature and details of the authorized individual.
3. Proof of regular income
This can simply be an income certificate in the official letterhead. Or, again, a letter from the bank ascertaining monthly flow in an account from a source like pension, business, investment or anything that brings money into the account regularly. Or if it is evident in the bank statement, there’s no need of letter from the bank, but the income certificate from the source, in that case, will be required.
The income tax return will also serve the purpose of proving regular income if the monthly/yearly income is mentioned there. This is useful if the monthly income is irregular like in a business. Bottom line, any official paper which demonstrates the monthly flow of money under the name of the sponsor, will do.
Note that, the amount of regular income shown should reflect the circumstances of the sponsor’s and his dependents. For example, if someone earns £50 per month and runs a family of 5 people and says they are capable of giving you £3000 for your visit- it doesn't sound believable without further explanation of their previous employment and how they have accumulated their savings. And these explanations of circumstances should be explained in the letter of support.
4. Financial Sponsorship Letter
This letter is basically your sponsor discussing their circumstances to the entry clearance officer regarding the financial base they have, and how they can provide you with the sponsorship for your UK visit. Most of the explanations about money should be here to make your cover letter less cluttered. Here is my father’s letter of support -
My Sponsor's (Father) Letter of Financial Support
Entry Clearance Officer
UK Visas & immigration
Re: Letter of support for my son, —–Full Name—-, DOB –/–/—-.
Dear Sir/Madam,I, —SPONSOR’S NAME—, am a —–occupation—–. My son, —-YOU—- is intending to sit in PLAB Part 2 examination in Manchester, UK on —–PLAB 2 DATE—–. I will be his financial guarantor for his visit to the UK for this purpose. His details are as below:
|Name||Date of Birth||Passport No||Visa Application Reference No|
|(You will get this after completion of your visa application online)|
Here my dad explained his sources of regular income and the number and relations to the dependents on him. (In my case it was dad, mom, and me)
|Type of Income||Bank/ Financial Institution||Account/ Registration No||Total Income per year (in BDT)||Total Income per year (in GBP)|
|Total Regular Income per year=|
Here my dad explained his sources (e.g. savings) of his liquid assets (deposit in a bank/ saving certificates).
|Type of Deposit||Bank / Financial institution||Account/ Registration No.||Date||Amount in BDT||Amount in GBP|
|Total Liquid Assets=|
Please note that I can withdraw this amount any time I want as per the bank rules. A Solvency Certificate with the details of the account is issued from the bank and attached for your consideration.
I also own the following land assets. The translated copies of the record of rights/deeds of the land assets marking the type and amount of land is attached to the application. The present market value of the land assets in the locality is added for your kind perusal.
|Location||Plot no.||Type of land||Amount of land (Deci)||Present market value in BDT||in GBP|
|Total Fixed Assets=|
I have already paid the booking fee of —Yours—- PLAB Part 2 examination along with the course fee for PLAB 2 preparatory course in —-Your course’s name and address—. For his visit to UK, he intends on spending a total 2300 GBP (I showed my duration of stay for 30 days) which includes:
|Plane Ticket||800 GBP|
|Living Expenses||500 GBP|
I am capable and willing to provide my son, —Your name—-, financially for his UK trip. I have attached the following documents for your consideration.
1. Affidavit of Financial Sponsorship to my son.
2. Solvency Certificate.
3. Income Certificate.
4. Translated copy of the deeds / record of rights of the land assets that I own.
P.S. All BDT to GBP conversions were taken from the rate in https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ on DATE [1 BDT= 0.0___ GBP].
Please note that the conversions are to be done from the www.oanda.com. Make sure wherever in your application you talk about any amount of money, you don’t forget to convert that to GBP according to the current rate in that mentioned website.
5. Affidavit of financial sponsorship
Having an affidavit signed in the presence of a notary is NOT mandatory. But some are of the opinion that it solidifies your application, even though there is no documented proof.
The abridged version of the letter of support, excluding the explanations of the transactions and other circumstances, including the number of assets and their values, written in legal stamp papers, signed in the presence of an advocate will serve the purpose. Remember to take 1 copy passport-sized photos of you and your sponsor’s for the affidavit.
6. Papers related to proving fixed assets
A fixed asset can be so many things- land, house, car, jewelry, etc. There are professional evaluation services who can evaluate the asset for you and give you the proper documentation to prove how much it is worth. These can then be attached with your visa application. Or if you present other documents like deeds/record of rights of land assets, the price will be mentioned there or you can put an estimated value in the affidavit as it will be signed in the presence of an advocate, thus making it legal.
And all the documents you are submitting, if any of it is NOT in ENGLISH (even a single seal, NOT logo), you have to translate and notarize it. These translation centers will be able to provide you with the affidavit of financial sponsorship too according to the pattern of your country's own.
Common ERRORS & FAQs
My sponsor has transferred all the money after printing the statement before even I got the visa. Will it be a problem?
Yes. The visa officer may check with your financial institution and when they are considering your application the bank account will have no money then. If you have already done it, the best solution would be to deposit it all back and stay hopeful.
I transferred the amount I need from my sponsor’s account to my account
There is no absolute harm if you do that. But the problem is not explaining the credit in your account from your sponsor's account. Both statements have to be explained well in this case. On the other hand, if the financial sponsor has stated they will support you, they can even not transfer the money. Just follow the above guidance to prove their sponsorship.
I am unemployed now, but I will travel liquidating all of my savings
That also doesn’t portray that you are financially stable. If you say that you are unemployed, it is always a good idea to show a financial sponsor for your trip.
I will sponsor my trip completely, but my father/someone else will pay for my ticket
Well, he can. But in that case, his circumstances should be explained too. He can add a letter of support stating as to how he can pay for that and also how he supports other dependents on him with documentary evidence of his income and savings, as stated above.
What if I do not add a letter of support?
It’s always a good idea to add a letter of support from your sponsor. That makes your cover letter less cluttered, and explanations of things are easier this way.
What is 'Funds Parking'?
Making a large deposit in a bank account just prior to your application is a big red flag. Even if the money comes from a well-explained source, chances are it will be seen as "funds parking" which proves little to no connection to the local economy, thus not a genuine visitor. It's always a better idea to wait for a few months after the transaction has happened.
Do I have to explain my OWN finances?
If you state in your application that you are employed, you MUST explain your own financial circumstances with your income certificate/payslip and your OWN bank statement. If it's evident that you can't support this visit by yourself from your financial circumstances then comes the sponsor and explanation of theirs.
Applicants make this mistake often thinking my sponsor showed so many things why do I need to show mine? No. As you are an employed and earning member of your society, your contribution to the economy speaks volumes about how much of a genuine visitor you will be according to the UK Visa office's concern.
Can I show my uncle/father-in-law/family friend as my financial sponsor?
I think I have already answered that. Just a statement about how he is close to you i.e personal relationship and show all the things that are stated above.
How do we explain the transactions that are in the bank statement?
Simply explain the big transactions one by one, where it came from or where it went and provide the evidence of that. For example, if someone bought a car, obviously there should be documents to prove how much was the car, thus the debit from the account can be explained. In the same way, if someone sells anything, the appropriate documentation to prove that credit should also be added.
If I have the money to sponsor myself, do I need to show a financial sponsor?
That’s the best case if you are employed, taken a leave from your workplace for the purpose of taking PLAB 2, have your own account that you have to maintain for a quite a long time, and have sufficient balance in it. But still, you can add a sponsor to strengthen your case. Absolutely no harm in that.
My sponsor’s account is there for a long time, but there’s no activity in the account.
No problem at all. If the source of the money can be explained by the sponsor - savings from a job, business or earned by selling property, jewellery, etc then it is well and good.
In the end, the basic thing is to prove to the entry clearance officer that you have access to enough funds for your trip to the UK for the time you have mentioned in your application. And all the papers you have added accounts for the claims that you made in your cover letter or throughout your application. Despite this long discussion, if you have any queries, there is always a helping community in social media. ASK AROUND. You will definitely find someone who was in your shoes and can give you proper guidance.