Before you head off on your ‘O.E.’ (if you’re a Kiwi the classic adventure is working in the UK), the first and most obvious step is to obtain the legal right to live and work in that country. As an Australasian or Commonwealth citizen one way to obtain this is via the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, which allows a member of the commonwealth to work in the UK for 2 years.
If your parents or grandparents were born in the UK you can obtain a 5-year Ancestral visa. Of course, if you or your parents were born there, you most probably can get citizenship.
I successfully got my Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa back in June and have now successfully managed to get set up in London. I feel therefore I can be of some help sharing my experiences.
Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the Tier 5 visa, you must be between 18 – 31, from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Monaco, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Republic of Korea and have not secured the visa in the past. You must have proof of funds of £1,890 Pounds and apply outside the UK.
Also, you can only apply for this visa within 3-months of when you plan to enter the UK. If you submit the application and pay the fee, your visa will start from the date you set, within that three months, regardless of whether you’ve entered the UK or not. It therefore pays to apply for the visa once you have a definite date of arrival.
You can not get this visa more than once. So make sure you’re ready to go before you apply.
In saying that, it is relatively easy to obtain the right to work in the UK. These are the steps I took to gain the Youth Mobility Visa.
Filling out the visa
Start an application online: https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/
Fill in your personal details. You’ll need this information:
- Current passport number and details
- Previous passport details if you have them
- An address and contact details to give of someone in UK
- Your past UK and international travel details of the last 10 years
- Details of your parents, their DOB, etc
- Details about children/dependent’s you may have
- Past UK medical treatment details
- Proof of funds for £1,890 Pounds
There are a few tricky questions within the application, one of these I encountered was regarding your passport. Place of Issue I was initial confused about as there wasn’t a section on the passport that stated that. I eventually decided to put New Zealand for Place of Issue, and Issuing Authority as DIA WLG. My visa got approved so it must have been correct.
You have to claim points towards the visa, to show you’re of the correct nationality, the right age, and have enough funds. You can work out the calculation for this here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/pointscalculator
If you can’t be bothered doing the calculations – fair enough. The points as you list them on your application are:
- Age Requirement = 10 points
- Maintenance Requirement = 10 points
- Nationality Requirement = 30 points
After filling out your form, you sign an online confirmation and then proceed to choose a date to get your biometrics taken. Biometrics are a scan of your finger prints. Once you have chosen a date, you have to pay for the application. This costs $426NZD
You can generally get an appointment within just a couple of days. When you head off to get your biometrics taken, make sure you have these documents:
- your current valid passport
- a passport sized photograph of yourself taken to UK passport specs (wise to get this done professionally)
- a bank statement showing you have at least £1,890 in savings
- the print out of your application
- a print out of your biometric appointment confirmation
- Two courier bags with postage pre-paid, one to send off to UK immigration, the other you send with you application so that they can send your passport back (hopefully with the visa inside)
You must at this stage check if you have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge. This is a recent addition to the application process, and citizens from New Zealand do not have to pay this surcharge. You do however have to include an IHS reference number, confirming that you’ve either payed or are exempt from paying. This can be obtained here: https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/pay
The IHS reference number is then written on the front of your application, which seems odd to me, but that probably shows how new this addition to the application is, the fact they haven’t included a section in the application for it.
In New Zealand the options of where to head to do your biometric appointment are:
Immigration New Zealand
39 Paramount Drive
Immigration New Zealand
110 Wrights Road
Immigration New Zealand
Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Level 2 Kordia House, 109 – 125 Willis Street
Because I lived in Auckland, it’s probably no surprise that I headed out to the Auckland Immigration office. Being out in West Auckland, it’s a fairly out of the way from where most of us live and work in the center of the city and it took a good hour commute to get out to the appointment. The appointment itself was very quick and painless. The man there had a look at my documents, took my finger prints and then stamped my application front page.
At this stage I headed straight off to the nearest NZ post store, double and triple checked that I had all the documents correct, made sure I had a courier bag with postage paid for include inside for them to send the passport back to me with, and then I sent it all off, crossing my fingers and my toes.
Biometric Residence Permit
Also, as of the 31st of May, instead of straight given a sticker in your visa that states you are able to work in the UK for two years, you will be given a vignette that allows you to enter the UK within 30 days of the date you gave as your start date. Once there you pick up your biometric residence permit, or BRP from a post office near to the address you gave on your application. You can apply for another 30 day vignette to pick up the BRP if you enter the UK after the initial 30 days have expired. I did not have to go through this as I applied before the BRP came into effect, and my man Chris from Aussie Nomad is a lot more knowledgeable in this than me, so head over to his site for more information. Alternatively email the UK immigration department in charge of all this, if you need any more information: BRPCollection@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
The visa arrived relatively quickly. These are the dates of my process:
- Sent application off: 6th May
- Biometric Appointment: 11th May
- Sent documents off: 11th May
- Received email from UK immigration station decision had been made: May 25th
- Received visa: May 29th
I had put on my visa the start date of 8th of June, although I was quite worried about it arriving in time for when I actually left the country, which was the 15th of June. Turns out I needn’t be, as it all arrived well before when I needed it.
Living in London
I’ve now been living in London for nearly two months, so I can probably offer some advice for how to get prepared moving to this city and country. I will do a larger guide later but the one thing I can stress for now, is that it is EXPENSIVE. People say that London is one of the most expensive places on the planet, and they’re not lying. I would recommend taking well above the amount required for proof of funds. Depending on your situation when you arrive, if you are traveling or sight seeing first, make sure you have enough funds to cover your adventures. I brought some where roughly around $10 000 NZD and I have chewed through most of this, perhaps somewhat due to attending music festivals. The exchange rate is also not great, as I write this something like 2.4 New Zealand Dollars equal one British Pound Sterling. In saying that, I didn’t spend a lot on accommodation when I arrived, having had a family member to stay with for the first few weeks. I would recommend greatly finding a friends couch to doss on for a few weeks at the very least, until you find a job and have some sort of income rolling in.
Accommodation isn’t hard to find, but it is overpriced. Jobs likewise, there are plenty of them, but most are low paying bar or cafe type jobs. London can be hard on a low wage. Once you start earning pounds, I’m sure it gets easier, but as I write this I’m still awaiting my first pay – a month into the job.
Not to put anyone off, London is great and if you want the adventure, come along. But be prepared for this place to leave a nasty hole in your wallet though, at least at the beginning.
There are many guides already available on the internet that give exhaustive information for what this involves. The best of these, or the one I referred to the most, was by The Aussie Nomad. Chris who runs the site is a great guy, spending a lot of his own time and effort answering questions in the comment section of his Tier 5 Youth Mobility guide. He’s answered many of my questions – so I suggest you head in the direction of his website for extra advice.