The outcome of visa applications are mostly dependant on the economic ties of the visa applicants. Most at times, self-employed applicants get confused as to how to prove their employment and finances when making visa applications.
It is impossible to include documents on your finances and not adding those of your employment, and the vice versa. Once you have indicated in the application that are working, you are expected to support with documents and present bank statements to confirm that you are earning money from your job.
How then do self-employed applicants prove their employment and finances? Let’s group them under these two sub-headings; Employment and Finances.
Proving your employment goes beyond telling the consular what you do. Visa applicants who are self-employed are to support their claim with business registration documents and show that the business is running.
Business Registration Documents
Business Registration Certificate is the first document expected from a self-employed visa applicant. This document shows your business name and its activities. It is tough to convince a consular that you are self-employed without this document. Most business owners are not aware of the importance of registering their businesses despite making good monies. They see the need to register their businesses when it’s time for a visa application.
While all businesses should be registered, some can present other documents to show that they are self-employed without a business registration certificate. Cocoa farmers can present their Passbooks in place of a Business Registration Certificate. Freelance Journalists can present their journalism certificates.
Embassies are concerned about your business documents because they have to be sure of your claim of being self-employed and also assess if your funds were acquired legitimately. So it’s not just about the money you have, but how you got it.
Proof that business is running
Registering companies is one of the funny things that Ghanaians do because of visa applications, and the embassies are aware of this. So owning a business registration certificate doesn’t mean you have a running business.
If your business is running, you are excepted to have documents of business transactions. Applicants who are not self-employed but claim to be, do not get anything to show that their business is in operation. Businesses that are running have invoices, receipts, contracts, bill of lading, Tax receipts, Tax Clearance Certificate, etc. depending on the nature of the business. Include any other document of business transactions that show your business is running.
Some self-employed applicants have problems showing their businesses are running because of how they are run. Groceries shop, barbering shops, hairdressing salons and many others (in Ghana) do not give receipts to their customers. It becomes trouble for these people to prove that their businesses are running.
If you intend taking trips abroad in future, then have your business structured in a way that you can easily show in your visa applications that you have a running business. Issue receipts to your clients and keep the duplicates, accept bank transfer and cheque payments as the narrations on your bank statement can confirm that indeed a business transaction took place. Accept receipts for purchases you make for your business, keep records of advertising contracts, ship and receive shipments in your name or that of your business, and have an online presence.
Tax Clearance Certificates are only needed when travelling for business or the visa application is centred on the business.
The only way to show that your business makes money is by adding your Bank Statements to the application. A bank statement is required to enable the embassy to decide if you make money from your business and if you have enough funds to travel. A bank statement presented to an Embassy should only contain funds you have legitimately acquired. Inability to prove the source of the funds in your accounts would mean they were acquired illegally or don’t belong to you.
Depending on the reason for your trip, you can add your personal bank statements, business bank statement or both. You can always add statements from both accounts if you have them. Some self-employed people do not have a business account because of the accompanying charges. Once your business is a sole-proprietorship and a small one, it’s not a big deal if you don’t have a business account.
Any other savings and investments you have should be added to support your financial status.
Make sure that your application answers these three questions:
- What document shows that I have a business?
- What document shows that my business is running?
- What shows that I make money from my business and that I have enough funds for my trip?
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