Here's a straightforward guide to obtaining your UK visa. Basically, you can apply for a UK visa in two ways: either do it yourself or ask for expert help.
Our best advice: At least four months prior to the expected departure, find a UK immigration lawyer you can trust and request a consultation. Some visas may take up to 3 months and the process is so complex that you risk being denied entry clearance and losing money.
Most people have difficulties when applying and the forms are filled with "trick" questions. If you don't know how to apply properly, ask for help; but ask a specialist. Don't rely on your friends' experience and (usually wrong) advice.
During consultation, explain your circumstances to your lawyer. Hide nothing. Better clarify now than regret later. Tell him or her when you intend to travel to the UK and how long you expect to stay. The lawyer will suggest the best strategy according to the information you provided.
Ask your lawyer for a To-Do list for the next steps.
If you still want to do it all by yourself:
1. Get a passport
2. Get 2 photographs, 2x2 inches (5 by 5 cm), similar to the ones used for the passport.
3. Make an effort to understand the different visa categories available.
4. Go to the official British Government website at www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk to find out if your country accepts online applications. Look for the supported countries page.
5. Complete the official application offered there. You need an e-mail address to complete the applications at visa4uk. Make sure you have the following information before you start filling out the online application:
itinerary (when you intend to enter AND leave the UK)
postal address of the hotel/house/school where you'll be staying in the UK.
6. Forms are in English only. If you can't understand something, save the application and return later with someone fluent in English. The official site will keep your records for seven days.
7. If you don't have all the information available, save the form and come back later that week.
8. Print the completed form. You must sign the printed form. Don't make the mistake of believing that the online application is all you need.
9. Pay the fee and make an appointment for the biometric data procedure.
10. Pass the Biometric scan at the Application Support Centre in your area. The inkless fingerprints scan takes a couple of minutes. For more information, find the "Thumbs Up for Biometrics!" video at YouTube.
Also, depending on the category you are applying for, you will need:
Documents showing your financial ability to support yourself
UK University/School admittance documentation
Other supporting documentation
Once again, we strongly advise you against applying for a visa without expert assistance. At the end, it will cost you more. Remember the old proverb:
"He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client".