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:
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/
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/