Visas & Passports

Organising your Visa is the most important pre-departure task that you have. Without a valid visa, you will only be able to travel for 6 months in the UK on an Australian passport, and you’re also forbidden from working there as it’s strictly a tourist visa only.

There are a few different ways that you can go about this and it is dependant on your circumstances – how long you would like to stay, your age and profession, etc.
This can be a daunting process to start with, so don’t get put off because of it, it’s not as hard as it first feels. Think of it as a personal challenge or test, if you like. If you’re really serious about moving to the UK, then this will all be worth it!

*Please note that this information has been obtained from the official UK Border Agency website in May 2012. Please check the website to ensure that this information is still relevant at your time of departure.

Do I need a Visa?
First thing’s first – you need to check if you actually need a visa before travelling to the UK. To confirm, you can complete this quick questionnaire on the UK Border Agency website. If you have an EU passport, it is likely that you do not require a visa to live and work in the UK.

When to Apply?
You can apply for a UK Visa from Australia up to 3 months before your travel date.

How long does it take to receive my Visa?
Once you have applied, it usually takes about 2 weeks for your Visa to be issued, however this can vary from anywhere between 2 days to 2 months, so the earlier that you apply, the better.
To get a better indication for how long your application will take, visit the official government website which has the recent processing times listed and is updated monthly.

How much does it cost?
Every Visa has a different price so to get a good indication of how much to expect your visa application to set you back, check out this table.

Types of Visa’s:

Ancestry
Australians (and all Commonwealth nationals in general) who have a grandparent or parent who was born in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man can apply for an Ancestry visa. This allows you entry for 5 years, and you will have no working restrictions. To apply for this visa, you will need to prove your relationship which can be fairly time consuming if you do not already have some birth certificates on hand.
You must apply for this visa from the country of which you are a citizen.
At the end of your 5 year stay, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency, or reapply for another 5 year ancestry visa if your circumstances have not changed.

Youth Mobility Scheme
This is the most popular option for young people from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Monaco who want to go and experience life in the UK. You have to be aged between 18-31 years to apply and you need at least £1,600 in available cash funds upon application. This visa application will set you back £194 and will allow you to live and work in the UK for 24 months. If you reach your 31st birthday during that time, you can stay in the UK while your visa remains valid.
Here is a great blog post that I found which covers loads of Q&A about this Visa which you may find useful when applying (last updated 2014) – http://www.theaussienomad.com/travel-tips/youth-mobility-visa/

Student Visa
There are a number of different categories that you can apply for, depending on your age and how long you intend to study for. Please refer to this table so that you can decide which student visa is the most appropriate for you.

Tier 1: High Value Migrants
There are three categories for this Visa –

  • Exceptional Talent – for people who are recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science and the arts.
  • Entrepreneur – for people who want to set up or take over, and be actively involved in running, a business or businesses here.
  • Investor – for people who want make a substantial financial investment in the UK.

Tier 2: Skilled workers
The skilled visa is for skilled workers who have been offered jobs in the UK.
To qualify for this visa you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and a valid certificate of sponsorship, and you must also pass a points-based assessment.
There are 4 categories –

  • General – If you have an offer of a skilled job that cannot be filled by a settled worker. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. To check if your profession is on the UK Occupation Shortage List, click here.
  • Minitser of religion – If you are a Minister of Religion undertaking preaching and pastoral work, Missionary, or Member of a Religious Order, taking up employment, or a post/role within your faith community in the UK.
  • Sportsperson – If you are an elite sportsperson or coach whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level.
  • Intra company transfer – If you are an employee of a multi-national company and are being transferred to a UK based branch of the same organisation either on a long-term basis or for frequent short visits.

Tier 5: Temporary Workers
To be able to apply for a visa under most Tier 5 categories, you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor, and you must pass a points-based assessment. There are different requirements under the Youth mobility scheme.

  • Creative & Sporting- For people coming to work or perform in the UK for up to 12 months as sportspeople, entertainers or creative artists. Sportspeople must be internationally established at the highest level in your sport, and/or their job must make a significant contribution to the development and running of sport at the highest level.
  • Charity Workers –For people coming to do voluntary (unpaid) work for a charity in the UK. The work must be directly related to the sponsor organisation’s work.
  • Religious Workers – For people coming to the UK for preaching, pastoral or non-pastoral work, or work in a religious order such as a monastery or convent.
  • Government Authorised Exchange – For people coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice, and to experience the UK’s social and cultural life. This category must not be used to fill job vacancies or to bring unskilled labour to the UK.
  • International Agreement – For people coming to the UK under contract to do work that is covered under international law. This includes workers under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and similar agreements, employees of overseas governments and international organisations, and private servants in diplomatic households.

For more useful information you can visit http://ukinaustralia.fco.gov.uk/en/visiting-uk/visas/

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27 Responses

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi Kamila, I’m thinking of moving from melbourne to london in early 2015. Do you know when most companies start recruitment again following the Christmas holidays? M 🙂

    • Hey Michelle,
      They tend to pick it up again after the first week of Jan when people get back from holidays, but sometimes Jan can be a little slow in general as quite a few offices close over the Christmas/NY period.
      K x

      • Michelle says:

        Thanks K! 🙂 it’s so good to read your take on things, and makes me feel a lot better about a scary but exciting move. Keep it up! X

  2. Samantha says:

    Hi
    so glad I discovered your blog! I’m eligible for a british passport by descent (my mother was born there) so having this passport will mean I don’t need a visa to work and can stay in the UK indefinitely? The gov.uk websites are so confusing!!
    🙂

  3. Samantha says:

    Hi
    so glad I discovered your blog! I’m eligible for a british passport by descent (my mother was born there) so having this passport will mean I don’t need a visa to work and can stay in the UK indefinitely? The gov.uk websites are so confusing!!
    🙂

  4. bec says:

    Seriously loving this blog, every time I’m feeling a little anxious about the to do list before the big move I just have a little read here until I feel at ease again so a very big thank you 🙂

    I do have one quick question which you may/may not know the answer to – when applying for the youth mobility visa it requires a UK address/phone number/ and email details.

    How do I go about answering this question, if I’ve yet to find a place to live and don’t plan on doing so until I get there? Do you put a hotel address?

    Any advice would be appreciated 🙂

    Bec

    • Hey Bec,
      Happy you’re finding the blog helpful & de-stressing! 🙂 I know it can definitely feel overwhelming sometimes in the lead up to the move, but it’ll be worth it!

      This address question has been added to the application only recently and it seems a bit silly but what can you do. My best suggestion is to put down the address at which you’ll be staying in when you arrive – so hotel/hostel will be fine. Think of it as a landing card that you get when you travel overseas, where they make you write down the address where you’ll be staying during your stay (half the time it changes anyway).
      I hope that helps a bit!
      x

  5. bec says:

    Seriously loving this blog, every time I’m feeling a little anxious about the to do list before the big move I just have a little read here until I feel at ease again so a very big thank you 🙂

    I do have one quick question which you may/may not know the answer to – when applying for the youth mobility visa it requires a UK address/phone number/ and email details.

    How do I go about answering this question, if I’ve yet to find a place to live and don’t plan on doing so until I get there? Do you put a hotel address?

    Any advice would be appreciated 🙂

    Bec

    • Hey Bec,
      Happy you’re finding the blog helpful & de-stressing! 🙂 I know it can definitely feel overwhelming sometimes in the lead up to the move, but it’ll be worth it!

      This address question has been added to the application only recently and it seems a bit silly but what can you do. My best suggestion is to put down the address at which you’ll be staying in when you arrive – so hotel/hostel will be fine. Think of it as a landing card that you get when you travel overseas, where they make you write down the address where you’ll be staying during your stay (half the time it changes anyway).
      I hope that helps a bit!
      x

  6. Kirra says:

    Hi,

    I love your page! Its great!
    I’m planning to move to London next year would it be possible to send a private email to you about visas? Ive been getting confused lately about a few things and cant seem to find the answers anywhere.
    Would that be ok?

    • Hey Kirra,
      No problem. I’m not a Visa expert but I can see what I can do to help. I’m living here on an EU passport, but I have a few friends on visas and have done a lot of research 🙂
      K.

  7. Kirra says:

    Hi,

    I love your page! Its great!
    I’m planning to move to London next year would it be possible to send a private email to you about visas? Ive been getting confused lately about a few things and cant seem to find the answers anywhere.
    Would that be ok?

    • Hey Kirra,
      No problem. I’m not a Visa expert but I can see what I can do to help. I’m living here on an EU passport, but I have a few friends on visas and have done a lot of research 🙂
      K.

  8. Breana says:

    Just wanted to let you know how much i am loving your blog! I was wondering does the 2 years start from when you recieve your visa for the youth mobility visa or from when you enter the country?

    • Good question! I’ve had to look this up, hence my delay in replying, but basically you need to state a date that you want it to start on the application. The latest that you can start is 3 months after applying for the visa (so you can’t apply more than 3 months in advance of you leaving). If you arrive over 3 months after your date of application, then the 2 year timer starts ticking, regardless of whether or not you have entered the UK yet.
      Hope that helps!

  9. Breana says:

    Just wanted to let you know how much i am loving your blog! I was wondering does the 2 years start from when you recieve your visa for the youth mobility visa or from when you enter the country?

    • Good question! I’ve had to look this up, hence my delay in replying, but basically you need to state a date that you want it to start on the application. The latest that you can start is 3 months after applying for the visa (so you can’t apply more than 3 months in advance of you leaving). If you arrive over 3 months after your date of application, then the 2 year timer starts ticking, regardless of whether or not you have entered the UK yet.
      Hope that helps!

  10. Sharni says:

    Hi there,

    I’m a little confused as to what visa you got. I assume you got the youth mobility visa but all the options have to have a job offer, special skills, etc. What would I do if I was going to London without a job offer and with no particular skills?

    Thanks very much, p.s I absolutely love this blog, I’m obsessed!

    • Hi,
      I actually have an EU passport as well as an Australian one, so I don’t need a visa.
      Where are you from? Your visa options all depend on what passport you currently have.

      K.
      PS I love that you love the blog 🙂

      • Sharni says:

        I live in Australia 🙂 How did you get an EU passport?

        Sharni 🙂

        • My parents and family are all Polish 🙂
          If your parents or grandparents are from the UK then you may be eligible for an Ancestry Visa.

          • Sharni says:

            Oh okay! If this is too private don’t answer but how much did you take to London? I’m saving now and I should have enough but i just want to know roughly and was it enough? 🙂

  11. Sharni says:

    Hi there,

    I’m a little confused as to what visa you got. I assume you got the youth mobility visa but all the options have to have a job offer, special skills, etc. What would I do if I was going to London without a job offer and with no particular skills?

    Thanks very much, p.s I absolutely love this blog, I’m obsessed!

    • Hi,
      I actually have an EU passport as well as an Australian one, so I don’t need a visa.
      Where are you from? Your visa options all depend on what passport you currently have.

      K.
      PS I love that you love the blog 🙂

      • Sharni says:

        I live in Australia 🙂 How did you get an EU passport?

        Sharni 🙂

        • My parents and family are all Polish 🙂
          If your parents or grandparents are from the UK then you may be eligible for an Ancestry Visa.

          • Sharni says:

            Oh okay! If this is too private don’t answer but how much did you take to London? I’m saving now and I should have enough but i just want to know roughly and was it enough? 🙂

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