MY UK VISA APPLICATION EXPERIENCE

MY UK VISA APPLICATION EXPERIENCE

Soon I’ll be leaving Australia to try my hand at living abroad in England. I’ve very publicly shared every step of this journey so far through various mediums of social media, and there is a reason why.

The reason is because I went through the whole process without anyone to guide me. I had to figure out and make sense of everything on my own. Trust me, I searched every social media channel looking for someone in a similar situation as me who could answer the plethora of questions I had… I found no one.

I knew that the frequency in which I shared my experiences could breed mixed emotions from others- some may be annoyed, but some may be excited for me- but one thing I didn’t expect to come from all this sharing was the amount of questions I would get asked from others who were interested in also moving to the UK; questions about the visa application process, in particular.

Obtaining a UK working visa seems to be a process that increasingly gets more difficult as each week passes. For example, it was only 10 days ago that the UK parliament doubled the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) that visa applicants outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to pay as part of their visa application. However, for applicants who are still keen on relocating to the UK, the process is stressful no matter the costs.

Therefore, this blog post will tell the experience I had while applying for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa (YMV) as an Australian passport holder. Please, please, please keep in mind that everyone’s circumstances are different and I am in NO WAY a professional; I strongly recommend that you consult the gov.uk website before taking any steps towards applying for a visa of any kind. This is simply a re-telling of my application.

Step 1: Ensure that the Tier 5 YMV is the right option for you
There are strict guidelines around what you can and can’t do as a Tier 5 YMV holder. You are allowed to undertake study, work in most jobs and be self-employed, or set up a new company as long as your premises are rented, you do not have more than £5000 in equipment, and you don’t have any employees. Alternatively, you cannot receive public funds, you cannot bring family members with you, you cannot work as a professional sportsperson, doctor, or dentist in training (unless you can show that you qualified in the UK), and you cannot extend your stay. The length of the Tier 5 YMV allows you to live, work and travel in and out of the UK for 2 years, and the earliest you can apply for a Tier 5 YMV is 6 months before you travel. Visa processing times take approximately 3 weeks.

Step 2: Check your eligibility
In order to be eligible to apply for the Tier 5 YMV you must be aged 18 to 30, you must be able to prove that you have £1890 (or approximately $3400 AUD) in savings after you pay for the immigration health surcharge (IHS) and the online visa application, you must have certain types of British nationality or be from a certain country such as Australia, and you must not be financially responsible for any children, you must not have children who live with you, and you cannot have already been in the UK as a former ‘working holidaymaker’.

Step 3: Have all your documentation ready
There are a number of mandatory documents that you must submit as apart of your Tier 5 YMV application; these being, a current and valid passport with at least one blank page (or other valid travel ID), a bank statement proving that you have at least £1890 in savings (which will need to be provided on the day of your visa appointment), and depending which country you’re from you may also need to provide tuberculosis (TB) test results. If any of these documents are not in English or Welsh you’ll need to provide a certified translation. You can also submit other forms of documentation that you feel may support your application; details are listed on the uk.gov website.

Step 4: Ensure you can pay the associated fees
When applying for the Tier 5 YMV you will be changed two main fees during the online application process. The first fee is the visa application fee itself which currently stands at £244 (or approximately $440 AUD). The second fee is the immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS) which currently stands at £600 (approximately $1080 AUD) for the full two year visa (£300 per year; approximately $540 AUD). The IHS gives visa holders access to the National Health Service- or the NHS- which is the UK’s system of healthcare. By paying this surcharge, you will receive heath care that is free of any other charges (apart from certain other services, such as dental services, eye tests and prescriptions). The IHS and the visa application fee are the two main fees associated with the Tier 5 YMV, but it is important to be aware that, depending on your circumstances, there may be other fees involved.

Now that all the specifics are laid out on the table, I would like to share some of the nitty gritty that I wish I knew that may have made the whole application process a little less stressful.

EXTENDING YOUR STAY
If you’re wanting to continue to work and live in the UK for more than two years, the Tier 5 YMV may not be the right option for you. From what I’ve gathered (and again, I’m not an expert, this may not be correct information), bridging visas are quite difficult to come across, especially for Tier 5 YMV holders, and as mentioned above, you cannot extend your stay on this visa. From my understanding, the only way to continue working in the UK after the duration of your Tier 5 YMV and without getting any form of spouse or ancestry visa is to be sponsored by your employer (and this can be quite tricky to obtain). You need to be aware that two years is most likely all the time you’ll get in the UK on a Tier 5 YMV.

PROVING YOUR SAVINGS
As mentioned above, you’ll need to prove that you have £1890 in savings. It is important to mention that this amount needs to exclude your application and IHS fees, and that you must have £1890 after these fees have been paid. The way you prove you have sufficient savings is through the form of bank statements.

I would highly suggest calling your bank and asking them to set your latest statement release date at least 3 business days before your visa appointment (e.g. if your appointment falls on the 15th, ask your bank for your statement release dates to be moved forward so that your latest one is released around the 12th); doing this gives more proof that you do in fact have a sufficient amount of savings at the time of applying.

I was told by one person that you need to get the bank to print them for you, but someone else told me that you can print them from home off of your internet banking portal. If you’re a stress-head like I am, I highly recommend physically going into one of your bank’s branches and asking them to print the statement for you. This will save you the stress of tossing up between what to do.

ONLINE APPLICATION TIPS
Once you’ve decided if the Tier 5 YMV is right for you, the first step is to complete an online application through the uk.gov website. The online application process is very straightforward, although there are some questions that will stop you in your tracks.

For example, the application will prompt you to provide your travel history for the past ten years, right down to the specific dates. Luckily, I’ve kept record of every single time I’ve travelled from one country to the other, but most people aren’t that anal about this sort of thing. Approximate travel dates should be fine, but also consult your passport pages with stamps to help you out.

The application also asks you where you’ll be staying and what you’ll be doing once you arrive in the UK. Most people, myself included, do not have this figured out at the time of applying, so don’t stress it. Simply answer with where you plan on staying when arriving in the UK (e.g. hotels, hostels, family/friends). I answered with something along the lines of…

“I have enough savings to be able to stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks while I attend viewings to find a flat to rent”

As for the job aspect, it’s perfectly okay to answer “NA” when the applications asks the title of the job you’ll be doing. Towards the very end of the online application, it also prompts you to provide any extra information you would like to include to support your application; this is where you could give extra reasoning for past travels, reiterate in depth your living and working circumstances, and anything else you may find crucial for the application office to know.

THE NEXT STEPS
At the end of the online application, you be asked to pick a visa appointment time and date in the city closest to you. This is the interview you’ll attend where you supply all your documentation (including your passport to be sent away to the processing office), be asked to give finger prints for your biometric residence permit, get your photo taken, and the interviewer may ask you a couple of questions. Don’t stress this interview. Have all the possible documents you can think of, be prepared and you’ll be fine!

Once your application is processed, you will get your passport with your visa vignette stamped inside along with other documentation either sent to your home address (you’ll need to pay extra for this), or you’ll need to go back to the visa appointment office to collect it.

LAST WORDS
Your passport will be taken off you and sent to the processing office during your appointment; I would ensure you have no upcoming international travel for the next couple of months after your appointment takes place, just in case of any delays with your application. Also, make sure you take screenshots, print off and make copies of literally EVERYTHING and store these copies in one place (e.g. a manilla folder).

Once again, I’m not an expert, I am merely speaking from my own experiences. I highly suggest and recommend that you read everything possible on the gov.uk website and that you use this blog post as only a retelling of my story, and not as a guideline.

If you’re thinking of moving abroad and you’re in the middle of, or about to apply for a working visa, I wish you all the best! Don’t stress, read up, and you’ll be fine! Good luck.

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Racquel Hardie
Racquel Hardie

A twenty-something Aussie girl with a love for exploring this world and telling her stories.

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