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Currency conversion – Rials/Pounds

February 12, 2019 74

In most cases a UK visa applicant has to show that they have funds available for financial maintenance. This may be an exact amount or it may be a “reasonable” amount depending on the length and the purpose of the visit.

Normally and traditionally the Home Office uses the “OANDA” exchange rate. This is a widely-respected currency conversion program that appears on the internet which provides current and historical exchange rates for all currencies. OANDA exchange rates may thus be taken as more or less “official” rates.

Most of the time this system works very well, and the Home Office has even incorporated the OANDA system into its published policy guidance for certain visa categories.

But in the case of Iran there are complications. Because of the EU/US sanctions against Iran and the associated restrictions on currency movements a strong currency black market has emerged. The black market value of the Rial – which may be taken as a “real” value – is very considerably lower than the OANDA rate.

We have very recently become aware that the Home Office, when considering visitor visa applications, is using the black market rate for Rial/Pound conversion calculations.

A visitor visa refusal decision we have seen states as follows:

“I am aware from information in the public domain and other currently conversion tools, such as www.bonbast.com, that while the OANDA website shows the official exchange rate, it is not possible to exchange currency at the official rate ”

And thus the application was refused.

So now we know the Home Office’s position. There is no mention of OANDA in the visitor visa rules or published policy guidance (as opposed to other visa routes), so it is presumably quite legal for the Home Office to adopt this position.

The issues about funds held in Rials can be very difficult, and visitor visa applications are frequently refused because of issues concerning this; not only the value of funds but also the source of funds.

A visitor visa application thus needs to be presented in a very good way to give it the best chance of success.

At Get UK Visa we have a lot of experience in this area, and we can help you provide the best possible application.

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