I’ve decided to create a mini Moving to London Series for those of you who want to move to the UK and for those of you who are just interested in my experience. This post is about the Tier 5 Visa application process. It won’t be super technical, as I am no expert, but it’ll give you a glimpse at what you can expect to deal with when applying.
What is a Tier 5 Working Holiday Visa?
It’s a 2-year visa which allows you to live and work in the UK.
Who Can Get a Tier 5 Working Holiday Visa?
- Be between the ages of 18 – 30
- Be from one of these countries: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Monaco, Japan, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Taiwan
- Have £1,890 in savings
All this info is on the Gov.Uk website.
Should You Register Through a Third Party?
If you are Canadian, SWAP.ca is a good organization to help you deal with visa arrangements and all the post-arrival stuff. This is a pricey option at $395. I was initially going to go with them but the visa process seemed straight forward enough and I found another company to help with the post-arrival stuff, for less money.
I opted to sign up for 1st Contact’s Kickstart Package instead. In Canadian dollars, it cost me about $120. This package includes your National Insurance Number, setting up a bank account, a free money transfer, job & CV assistance, and more.
These third parties aren’t necessary but they do save a whole lot of stress! Decide whether it’s right for you – fully aware that sounds like a medical commercial.
Before You Apply
Figure out the day you want to move.
You will need to declare this on your application. Note that the day you state is when your 2 years will start. So make sure you can leave on that day to take full advantage of your time given. Also, I’d recommend picking a day based on flight prices (using Google Flights).
Gather all the required documents.
Make sure your passport is new enough (aka it won’t expire within the next 2-3 years). If it’s cutting it close, getting a new passport might be a safe bet.
The application does ask about all your old passports and where you’ve travelled in the past ten years (and when), so have all your old passports handy!
You’ll need a bank statement to prove that you have at least £1,890 in savings. It has to be obtained no more than a month before you apply. Make sure to have the document stamped and signed. I also added my latest tax return, just to be safe.
Online it says to provide UK passport photos that meet the UK standards. I did this but once I went to my appointment (discussed later) they said I didn’t need them because they take them there. I don’t know if all locations do this, so it’s a good idea to still get them unless stated otherwise.
The application process was long but fairly straightforward. The most tedious part was logging all my trips in the past 10 years, including the dates that I went (thank God I put my trips in my iCalendar).
When you reach the point where you need to give them your UK address for your Biometric Residence Permit, you can just give the address of your hotel or hostel. It will send your permit to the nearest post office and you can collect it there.
Once you submit everything online, you set up an appointment.
I will note the visa application does cost £230.00 with an additional health surcharge of £300.00. This covers your medical insurance for the duration of your stay.
Make sure to bring printouts off all the emails you receive after submitting your application (this includes proof of payment and proof of appointment).
You will also need to bring a printout of your online application.
At the appointment, I was given a checklist to organize all the required documents to send to New York.
After that, they took my fingerprints and a photo of me for my visa (they weren’t going to use the passport photos I brought in).
Then off my files went to the New York office to (hopefully) be approved.
The Waiting Game … Then Your Visa Approval
My appointment was on a Thursday and by the next Friday, I received an email that my visa was approved! Three business days later my visa arrived in the mail.
So it basically took two weeks to receive my visa after sending my application.
Once your visa has arrived and you officially know what day it starts, feel free to book those flights!
That’s it for the visa application process. If you have any questions about it, please remember I’m not an expert on the matter (I struggled myself) but I will try my best to help!