Another interesting and very important topic: keeping your passport when applying for a British visa. I don’t know what’s the reason for it, but Brits TAKE your passport and send it to Sheffield where it stays until the decision is made. Lovely huh? For the time unknown. I would have tolerated this more if I knew that I would have to stay without a passport for x number of days. At least I could have planned something.  But the ‘up to 60 working days’ perspective didn’t inspire me at all. For the starters, I was living in Germany and my permission to be in the country was glued into my passport. In case of whatever I wouldn’t be able to prove my legal status in the country. Neither would I have been able to go to the bank or deal with any kind of official stuff. But the most important to me was: I wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity to travel. I saw waiting time as an opportunity to visit my mom, stay for a while with my husband, or simply go to the seaside and breathe out after all the paperwork nightmares. 

A few weeks before the predicted application date I decided to change the centre and apply from Dusseldorf. For some funny reasons, it is the only centre in Germany which provides the ‘Keep my passport’ service. I knew I would be flying from Edinburgh (we flew to Scotland after the wedding in Denmark to finish paperwork for the visa together). I had to lose my return flight to Berlin and book a new one to Dusseldorf, as well as the hotel and then a train back to Berlin. It was quite a hassle and a few extra expenses but totally worth it. The TLS Contact centre in Dusseldorf also has a super-duper speedy scanning system, so all of your documents ‘arrive’ to Sheffield within a few hours, and you keep ALL the originals. The whole application appointment took me about an hour, the staff were very friendly and helpful. The service of keeping your passport costs about €60. You will have to pay for it before attending the appointment (and print the receipt just in case).

Now, can you travel to the UK while you are waiting for your visa? Yes indeed, if you still have days left with your visitor visa you are free to wait for your spouse visa together with your partner:) It was the best decision!

The downside of applying from Dusseldorf is that I had to go back there to pick up my visa. But, oh well, it was totally worth it as I got to spend 2 months of waiting with my husband and then another few weeks with my family. My visa was ready in 59 days.

When I came back to Dusseldorf (after receiving the email from the Home Office) I handled in my passport around 10 am. I got a message that my passport was ready for collection in about 30 min! Note! Bring any other photo-ID with you, a copy of it and your checklist (I forgot to bring it, but showed the guy the email – worked fine). The real torture was during those 10 mins when I saw my passport but had no idea if it had a visa sticker in it.

I can’t think of any time in my life when I felt more relieved! 

Once again: the best of good luck to everyone who’s applying for your UK visa! Keep calm, prepare all the papers carefully and you will have no reasons to worry!

I’ll be more than happy to arrange a private consultation in English or Russian if you’d like some help to go through your paperwork. I have years of experience in applying for all possible kinds of visas. Even though I’m not a lawyer and I can’t give you any 100% guarantee (nobody can), I’m confident that my services will be very helpful! To arrange a session, please drop me a message through the contact form <3

Showing 7 comments
  • Olga Chernykh

    Здравствуйте Лиза, подскажите пожалуйста, а когда вам пришло письмо с просьбой привезти паспорт, там стояло в течении какого количества дней это нужно сделать? Мне нужно подавать сейчас на визу, но в это же время нужно будет уехать, и я боюсь, что если в письме будет стоять что-то типа “принесите паспорт в течении трёх дней, иначе ваш визовый запрос пропадает”, будет крайне неудачно.
    Спасибо заранее!

    • Liza

      Ольга, ваш комментарий затерялся в спаме! Дико извиняюсь! По вопросу, я честно говоря, не помню. Но точно не “прям щас вот все несите”. Я тоже была в разъездах и смогла принести паспорт только через неделю.

  • Shirin Dora

    Thank you for the informative post on your experiences.
    I am also planning to avail the Keep my passport option while applying for UK visa in Amsterdam. But, I am not sure how long will I have to submit my passport once they reach a decision? Do you have any idea about this?
    Thank you,

    • Liza

      Hey there! I do not remember, but I think it is ok to pick it up during the dates on your entry visa. I got a message that the decision had been made on Tuesday, and the entry day on the vignette was from Tuesday the following week. I would suggest you are definitely safe within a few weeks after the email! Good luck!

      • Shirin

        Thank you for your reply.


    Just to be clear, did you get the visa the same day you went to submit the passport after getting the email? And how soon can you go to collect it after getting the email?

    • Liza

      Yes, at 10am I handed my passport, at 11:30am I got an email saying it was ready to collect. Just checked the initial email about the decision, it said I had to bring passport within 10 days. Hope it helps!

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