It is very easy to think any visa application you make after having been issued visa(s) by other foreign countries is a no-brainer. You have a travel history. A clean one at that because you’ve never over stayed, committed a crime in any of the destinations or even your own, or been blacklisted for any reason while on your travels. Any official who looks at your passport and searches your records should find you to be an upstanding global citizen. Right? This is what I used to think. It’s also what I used to be told in times when I was anxious about an application. “Well you have a clean travel history, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being denied”. Until August 2017.
Exhausted and worn out from a year of classes, projects, and exams, it was time to take a vacation. Australia seemed the perfect destination. Cousins I absolutely missed, new nephews and a sister-in-law to meet, home-like weather, and of course lots of places to explore. I put myself to task gathering all the necessary information and obtaining every single required document. It all came to over a hundred sheets of paper before I could tick off all the boxes on the visa application checklist.
Dear Australian Embassy of Bangkok, I just wanted to be here, doing this and more with these lovely cousins of mine and the rest of my Aus based tribe. Photographer: Old Time Photos : Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
Submission day started slow. I was a 5-minute walk from the Bangkok VFS Global office in Trendy building, along Sukhumvit Soi 13, so I saw no need to hurry. Huge mistake. I must have arrived at VFS around 11 a.m. and after a long afternoon of waiting in the crowded room, was done just before 5 pm. The advantage of submitting Australian Visa applications via VFS rather than the embassy is the ten-day response period as opposed to one month through the latter. I picked up mine much later though because the VFS website was down, which made online tracking impossible.
My heart was pounding when the officer handed me a sealed envelope with a response to my application. The words VISA REFUSAL glared at me like a ghost from 2003! Click here for what had happened in 2003. My heart sank, and my stomach turned, right before a hole formed within it. I dragged myself home and didn’t read the whole document until my cousin asked me why the visa had been refused. They feared I would not return from Australia but instead stay there illegally. Again, with this statement. If only they knew I can’t duck and dive to save myself, and I am way too afraid to be found on the wrong side of any law. I don’t have the guts, nor bravery required to put up with being hounded by immigration police or home office people. I am just a young girl, hungry to see the world with my own eyes, and have stories from beyond the birth place to tell my grand-kids when I’m old and grey.
March 2018, The French embassy issued my second schengen visa!
So, I’d say, while a clean travel history might not matter to some visa processing offices, it does to others.
Apply. Win some. Lose some. Just don’t give up.
In retrospect, I realise that if I had been employed at the time I lodged this Australian visa application, I probably would have been granted it. It would have shown the embassy that I had plausible reason to leave Australia at the end of my vacation. I may have known without a doubt, that I had every intention to return, but authorities work on proof, and to them that means paperwork. If it's not on paper, they can't see it, so it's not real. So when you make your application, make sure your ducks are in a row, and on paper.