The countdown to our departure has officially begun! Our flight takes off in less than a week and yet, things are quiet and settled. A complete contrast to the whirlwind of preparations undergone only a week ago -this being a mad scramble to pack up my life in a neat little box, culminating in a stress detox at the homestead before hopping on a plane set for London. It’s all ready, however! Now, with the cat in jealous proximity (as I am in her favourite arm-chair) I wanted to write about my experience applying for the Tier 5 Youth in Mobility Visa.
As a Canadian under 31, I qualify for the tier 5 visa. This allows me to live and work in the UK for two years with access to health care and most amenities of a UK citizen. This visa is supposed to be very simple to attain as it is designed to enable young people to travel between the Commonwealth countries with relative ease, and this turned out to pretty much be the case for me.
In order to apply for the Visa you have to meet a few qualifications. Which, at the time of this post are fairly straightforward:
- Be 18-30
- Have £1890 in your bank account, this can be in the form of cash savings or a line of credit.
- Be from a qualifying country.
- Have a valid passport with blank pages for the visa
We completed the online application after setting up an account here. this took approximately 60 minutes to go through and included questions such as: Are you/have you been associated with a Terrorist Organization? Which made me wonder, would someone of malintent actually answer yes to that?
We paid the user fee of $78 USD, then paid the visa application fee of $338 USD. After THAT was done, we were required to pay the UK health care surcharge. The cost of which varies based on the time you anticipate spending in the country. We paid for the two-year plan which cost us each £300. This allows us to access the National Health Services while in the UK. We then had thirty minutes after paying this fee to return to our application. No dilly-dallying!
Once we finished the application, and the fees were paid, we were asked to book an appointment for the BRP data collection. This is the appointment where we get our fingerprints taken and someone reviews the application and supporting documents before sending it off to be approved. No problem…unless you’re like me and you book your appointment for Tuesday morning after applying online the Sunday evening before and you realize you have only one day to get ALL of the paperwork and photos together. Don’t be me, don’t do this.
The appointment ready checklist! What we brought to our application:
- Passport sized colour photo. London Drugs took and printed mine fast and easy with no waiting.
- A letter of verification from my bank certifying that I had the £1890 I claimed in my bank account. It turns out this wasn’t really necessary. Most banks charge a fee for this service, but you can just print a bank statement from your online account and that worked just fine for me.
- The application printed out.
- Appointment confirmation printed out.
- Visa application fee receipt
- VAC receipt
- Points form printed out. Even though some places on their website said they don’t use it anymore, I included it and it was sent as part of my application.
At the Visa Application Centre we arrived on time for our appointment and they showed us in together. Our security guard was helpful, but for a professional space that has probably done this countless times, I was surprised to find that I was expected to fill out the forms on my lap as no hard surface was provided. We filled out the last minute details under his guidance and he showed us one at a time into a separate office where our photo and hand prints were taken. We were asked to review the application once more before all our passports and documents and the biometric information was sent off in an overnight express to New York for processing.
Hurray! All done! I didn’t anticipate having any difficulties with the approval process, but I did not expect the amazingly fast turnaround I experienced. My application was sent out Tuesday morning, on Wednesday afternoon I received an emailing saying they had received it. Friday morning I had received the approval email and my passport was back on its way to me and was in my hands on Saturday afternoon.
I wish I could say Beverly had the same experience. Hers took an additional week to process, though we filled them out and sent them together. Then, once it had arrived, it was misprinted! They had filled out her departure date as March 11 not May 11! She had to get it changed and fast, otherwise she would have to refile (a very costly option) or leave within 30 days of March 11. She is going to detail her process on cleaning this mess up on her blog http://beeavixen.tumblr.com/
Now all the bits and pieces are together, me, my passport, my little bar code sticker -DO NOT LOSE THIS. Bring it with you when you go to pick up your Visa at the prearranged site. We are ready to go! Next up, packing.