Over 3 years ago I posted about how to apply for a Tier 5 UK Youth Mobility Visa (previously called the working holiday visa) as an Australian. I’d struggled with finding the correct information so thought to share my experience with the world in the hopes it would help somebody else. The response to my posts has been nothing short of amazing since then so to all of you who’ve joined the discussing by leaving a comment and providing more information as the process has changed I can’t thank you enough.
With so many comments full of great information I’ve decided to pull the best bits out and bring them together into one easy to read Ultimate Reference Guide on the Youth Mobility Visa. If you have a question that’s not answered by the below please leave a comment and I’ll get it answered.
To get this underway lets run over the application process as a few things have changed and I want you all to understand whats required to apply for the Tier 5 UK Visa or working holiday as it was once called.
Youth Mobility Visa – Working Holiday Visa Guide
- Available to anyone from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Monaco, Hong Kong, Taiwan & Republic of Korea. (link)
- Must be over the age of 18 and under 31 years of age at the time of application. (link)
- Have £1,890 Pounds (Approx $3490 AUD as of 18th April 2016) in available funds at the time of applying. (link)
- You must apply for the visa outside of the UK or from a country where you have citizenship or a valid visa that allows you to live/work there (link)
- The Application cost for the Youth Mobility Visa is £230 Pounds (Approx $ 221 AUD as of 18th April 2016) (link)
- If applying from Brisbane, Canberra or Perth there will also be an application fee to pay of $105 AUD at the time of your biometric appointment
- To have your passport couriered back to you once it’s approved you can pay $24 AUD otherwise it needs to be collected from the office where you had your biometrics taken
Application Documents Required
- Complete application form online
or download and complete with a pen(offline applications are no longer accepted you must apply online)
- Passport sized recent color photo (link)
- Original proof of funds document. This is recommended to be an official bank statement but a letter from your bank printed on their letterhead and stamped will also be ok. It must included your name, account number, date, balance in excess of £1890 pounds and logo from your bank. (link and link)
Completed Appendix 7 Form (link)– Seems to have been made redundant with the new online application process
- Valid Passport for the duration of your visa period with a free page for the visa to be stuck on
- Completed IHS Healthcare form and paid the fee of up to £300 for 2 years in the UK. (link).
All the above needs to be original documents meaning no photocopies, eftpos receipts or falsified paperwork.
The whole process starts with filling out the online application form. Most of this is fairly straight forward asking for details about you. As part of the application process you’ll get to pick the start date for when your visa will begin. Keeping in mind that this date must be within 3 months of when you are completing your application. So if you intend to arrive in the UK on the 1st September you’ll need to be applying for the visa no earlier than the 1st June of the same year.
Once completed you’ll be given the option to pick a time to attend your biometric appointment. This appointment is required for them to collect a copy of your finger prints which will be used when arriving in the UK on your visa. You’ll be asked to give (usually one finger) them when being processed by customs. The entire appointment takes all of about 30-45 minutes ( be there 15 minutes early) and you will need to bring with you the following documents:
- Completed and printed online application form
- bank statement and other supporting documents required for the application
- Passport photo meeting above mentioned specifications
- Appointment booking confirmation letter
- IHS Reference Number
- A second valid form of ID like a drivers licence
Before you attend your biometric appointment you’ll need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS). This is referenced as an IHS form. The first step is to run through this checklist to see if you need to pay a fee or not IHS healthcare checklist. If you are from Australia or New Zealand as of the 6th April 2016 you now need to pay a fee if you intend to live in the UK for longer than 6 months. The total fee is £300 to cover 2 years living in the UK.
To get your IHS reference number you need to go to this application page and click start now at the bottom. Follow the prompts and upon completion you will be emailed an IHS reference number that you should write down on your printed visa application. I’d also advise you to print off the email and take it to your biometric appointment as well due to how new this option is, it may save you some stress that way.
The biometric appointment process changed in late March 2014 and is now handled by a 3rd party visa processing company called VFS Global (except for in Adelaide which uses the old system). On attending one of their centers you’ll collect a token and wait for your turn to be called.
When called you will have your paperwork checked, pay your booking fee if applying in Brisbane, Canberra or Perth and then given a receipt which you need to keep for pickup of your passport if collecting it. At this time you can also pay to have your passport couriered back to you instead of returning to the processing office to collect it.
The second step is to have your fingerprints taken and have a digital photo of yourself taken, before they take all of your documents send if off on your behalf for processing. There is no need to provide your own envelopes for processing as the visa office is responsible for sending off and getting your passport back.
If applying in Adelaide then please follow the steps below, all others are to abide by the above.
You’ll leave the biometric appointment with a stamped application form and documentation on where to post your completed application and supporting documents off to. At last check you have 14 days from your biometric appointment to get your documents in the post to be processed.
It is advised to post your documents off in a platinum express post envelope and to included a second one for posting back to you. Take note of the tracking numbers on the envelopes for your own reference.
The above is a general overview for the entire application process. There have been major changes to the process this year (2014) with a revamped UK visa website and new processing options for applying. While I do my best to provide the most accurate information it is not always possible. If you notice a mistake or have details that can help others please leave a comment and I’ll update my records.
The Youth Mobility Visa FAQ
To make life easier I’ve also hand-picked a selection of questions and problems others have experienced and outlined them all below to save you trawling through over 500 comments.
Is the online application process confusing you?
In the last few weeks of 2013 the UKBA office rolled out a beta version of the new online application process. This has been met with quite a bit of confusion as sections of the application process have changed or aren’t being accepted correctly, which can be confusing if you’ve been researching the process online.
The problems I’m currently aware of are:
You receive an error when clicking Book Appointment – This error seems to have no solution other than to try and lodge your application again with a different email address.
UK Phone number being listed where your Australian one should be – This seems common and an obvious bug in the system, you can either leave it as is or hand write in the correct number. I imagine this will be fixed soon.
Your biometric appointment time is booked for say 2pm but it shows at 1pm on your letter – A fix seems to go back in and pick it again otherwise just turn up early so you don’t miss it.
I don’t have a UK Address or Phone Number
The new application form now ask for a UK phone number and address of you when applying. As you are yet to arrive in the UK I think this is beyond stupid to ask for but there you go. My advice is to put down the address and phone number of the place you intend to stay on arrival in the UK. This address will also form part of the where you will collect your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) from so be careful putting down just any address.
Not sure what a question is asking?
The Youth Mobility Visa form can be confusing so be sure to read the Guidance Notes provided by the UKBA office for help in deciphering exactly what they are asking for. This document lists notes for all questions asked on the forms to help you complete them.
How many points did you score for Attributes, English, and Maintenance?
On the application form you are asked for the number of points for Attributes, English and Maintenance. The English section does not need to be completed as it does not apply to this visa type. To calculate the numbers for the other box’s use the points calculator on the UKBA website or refer to your Appendix 7 form and get the numbers from that.
Can I fast track or get priority processing of my visa?
With the new changes to the visa process you can now apply to fast track your visa application. Costs to get priority visa processing are £100 for non-settlement applications and £300 for settlement ones. I believe this visa falls under the non-settlement category but can not confirm this.
To order priority processing of your visa you need to purchase it before attending your biometric appointment. To order the service you need to do so on this page. Then take the receipt of payment along to your biometric appointment for processing.
They aim to process all non-settlement applications within 5 days and settlement applications within 10. Again I believe this visa falls under the non-settlement category but can not confirm.
This service is not available to people attending an appointment in Adelaide.
Is there a biometric appointment office near me?
Processing offices for the biometric appointment are as below. Of note that all but Adelaide are run by VFS Global.
The address’ for these offices can be found here. If you don’t live near one of these offices then you’ll need to make the trip by land, sea or air to have your visa processed.
Do I post my application form off before the biometric appointment?
No you do not, even though the application form seems to suggest you should. You no longer post your application at all unless applying from Adelaide. All other applications are left with the visa office after your biometric appointment.
Where do I post my completed application to?
You only post your application if applying from Adelaide, all other applications are given to the VFS Global staff. The address to send your application to is:
UK Border Agency
GPO Box 2718
Sydney NSW 2001
It will then be forwarded to the processing hub in Manilla.
How long does the visa take to process?
Given my experience and feedback from others it takes anywhere between 1 – 4 weeks (usually within 2 though) from the time you post it. The processing times do vary depending on the time of year as well so recommend you check with the UKBA website here for a detailed listing of processing times.
However it seems with the new visa processing procedure a 2-3 weeks estimate seems correct at the moment.
I’ve not received any confirmation from the processing center, I’ve received one email, I’ve received nothing from the processing center?
The visa processing center has a history of not updating you on the process of your visa. Some people have reported getting emails to say their application was received, processed and shipped back while others have received nothing at all. You need not fear, there has never been a case of someones application form getting lost that I am aware of and most find their passport arrives the day after they freak out. All I can suggest is a little patience.
I have a question about the visa process who can I call or email?
You can contact the visa authority on 1300UKVISA ( 1300 858 472) but keep in mind this is a charged call of $3.50/minute and only payable via credit card. There is also an email address at email@example.com that advises you’ll receive a response within 10 days. Full details on calling for help can be found here.
Can I cancel my visa application?
If you’ve applied for your visa early or simply don’t want to go ahead with it you can cancel under certain circumstances. Refunds only seem possible if you’ve not attended your biometrics appointment yet. To cancel your visa go to the refund request page on the UKBA website and complete the form. You then wait 14 days to find out if you were successful.
Can I apply outside of Australia?
This seems to be possible but appears to be something new as previous documentation I’d read suggested you couldn’t. By visiting this section of the UKBA website you can select different countries around the world that accept visa processing. From what I can tell it will allow you to apply for a Tier 5 UK Youth Mobility Visa wherever there is a processing center providing you have a valid working visa with at least 6 months validity on it to be in that country.
When does the visa start?
You can pick the start date for your visa yourself during your application online but keep in mind it must be within 3 months of your application date. If you intend to travel around Europe before the start of your visa then you will be applying for your visa closer to the time in which you intended to fly out of Australia or allowing it to start before you get there meaning you miss some of the 2 years it is valid for.
When should the bank statement or letter be dated?
Your bank statement needs to be dated within 30 days of applying for the visa. So if you were to apply for the visa on the 1st of June your bank statement or letter must be dated after the 1st of May. The statement or letter must also show you have the total amount of funds required to meet the application requirements for the youth mobility visa.
The application form asks for my previous passports but I’ve lost it?
If you’ve had a children’s passport or an adult one and can no longer find it just state that on the form. If you have the passports great otherwise noting its lost seems to be perfectly acceptable.
Is this the same as the working holiday visa?
The working holiday visa was renamed to the youth mobility visa. During that change they also adjusted the conditions of the visa allowing you to live and work for the full 2 years of the visa where as before you could only work for 1 year.
What does family name mean?
The application will refer to your mother/fathers family name, this is asking about their maiden name.
Do I need a UK address or itinerary to apply?
Previously you did not need an UK address but on the new application form you are required to give one. You do not however need an itinerary when applying for the youth mobility visa. You will need to give a UK address to the customs officials upon entry into the UK. It is a requirement for all people entering the UK when completing the landing card.
Do I need to buy a return ticket?
There is no need to buy a return ticket when entering the UK on the Tier 5 youth mobility visa. With this visa you are essentially considered a citizen of the UK for the duration of the visa.
Will this visa let me stay in Europe for longer than 3 months?
The visa is only valid within the UK which encompasses England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. When travelling to Europe and in particular the countries that form the schengen zone you are only permitted to visit them for a period of 90 days within a 180 day period.
Will this visa let me work in Europe?
You will not be able to work for any company outside of the UK on this visa.
Can I enter the UK before my visa starts?
Yes but you will be entering on a tourist visa and as such are restricted to its limitations such as not being able to work. After your visa start date you should look to leave the country and re-enter on your youth mobility visa.
What if I have a DUI or criminal conviction?
During the application process you will be asked if you have any criminal convictions, this does not included fixed fines such as speeding or parking tickets unless you were required to attend court. If you have had a drink driving conviction or similar it is advised you included all paperwork when sending off your documents.
The visa office does perform criminal record checks so failing to document your record could be a reason for denying you a visa or them deferring your application until you offer more documentation to the entry clearance officer. To save potential problems it is recommended to get a print out of your court documents/extract, police reports and other supporting evidence including proof you’ve paid any fines associated with the incidents.
You are only provided a short time to provide this information if they request it so its better to have it all before you apply to save on missing out.
What is the BRP (biometric residence permit) and how do I get it?
From the 31st of May 2015 the visa office changed the visa permit process and introduced a biometric residence permit you collect once you’ve arrived in the UK. Full details on the BRP can be viewed on the UK website here
The short(ish) version of what this means is you now must enter the UK within 30 days of your noted start date for the visa. This is instead of being issued a sticker in your passport valid for the full 2 years. Now you now get issued a 30 day vignette which allows entry to the UK under your visa for a period of 30 days to collect your BRP card. If you arrive after that initial 30 day period you need to apply for another 30 day vignette (unsure of any fees or process to do this at the current point in time).
Once your visa is granted you’ll be provided with a decision letter stating at which post office and when you can collect your biometric residence permit card from. This is likely to be the closest post office to your noted address you used on the application. Please note the UK website states that you may get a penalty or your leave can be cancelled if you don’t pick up your BRP within 10 days of your arrival in the UK.
If you have queries about your BRP card or misplace documents needed to collect it you can refer to the following site for details https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/need-brp.
At this point in time I’m yet to speak to anybody who has obtained their visa and collected a BRP card so am unable to verify any of the details above and provide it as reference only. There has been some great discussions in the comments below so if you have been issued a visa under the new process I’d love for you to leave a comment below to help others out that are looking to apply.
An amazing follower named Mirabai has done some digging on the BRP process and found out what you do if you are unable to claim the permit within the 30 day window and received the following details from the United Kingdom Visas and Immigrations International Enquiry Service.
If the applicant has been granted a 30 day vignette and fails to enter theUK within the 30 day validity period, they must make an application for a replacement 30 day vignette by applying for a Transfer of Conditions, not as a new application for leave to enter. Application can be completed online on Visa4UK and it costs £122 to transfer your visa.
On Visa4UK website at: https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk, you need to select the Visa Type accordingly:
Reason for Visit: Other
Visa Type: Others
Visa Sub Type: Vignette Transfer
Further information regarding biometric residence permit can be found on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/biometric-residence-permits-overseas-applicant-and-sponsor-information.
So it seems if you don’t enter within that 30 day window your visa can become quite the bit more expensive. A real issue for those of you applying to get in before the age limit or those unable to travel over as planned.
Do you have a question not already answered above? Then leave a comment below and I’ll try and find the answer for you as soon as possible.