5 Important Tips When Applying for a UK Visa
Applying for a UK visa for myself and Corey ranks very, very high on the list of most stressful things I've ever done - it even beats a 216m bungee jump during which I said more swear words than Kanye raps in a song. We applied for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa which allows us to live and work within the U.K. for 2 years. In hindsight, these are the things I wish I had known prior to applying.
It'll take longer than you plan
We planned on going in June.. and we got here in September.
Getting the visas approved or denied takes 5-15 BUSINESS days (for non-settlement visas from Australia). I had mine done in 15 and Corey had his done in 10. According to the website, 9% are sorted by the 5th business day, 79% by the 10th business day and 100% by the 15th business day. So plan for a three-week wait to avoid stressing out.
Getting a bank statement in the right time frame from an online banker can be a bit hit and miss too. Your bank statement needs to be dated less than 1 month prior to your application. Commbank gave me one in about 3 secs from the app that I could just email to myself and print out. ING required a few days wait to have one sent via email of our savings account (which only gets an automatic statement every 6 months).
We had to get documents sent over from New Zealand for Corey which in itself took 2 months (1 month for them to get back to us that our forms were "too blurry" and then another month to get the actual documents - thank you for that delay Ministry of Justice!). Get all the documents sorted out before you apply, it'll save you wasted time and grey hairs.
You can only apply for the visa no more than 3 months ahead of your intended date of travel, I recommend applying as soon as you hit that 3-month mark to give yourself the most leeway.
Don't guess your intended date of travel
They word it as if you're just putting in an approximate date, a good ol' guess or estimate. Liars. You get exactly 30 days to enter the U.K. from your chosen date of travel. So don't get confused like I did and pick a pretty much random date thinking that you get three months from when your visas accepted. THIRTY DAYS and if you don't get your butt to the U.K. within that period you better be ready to waste time and money on a vignette transfer, which leads me to my next piece of gold...
If you're applying for visas with your friend/family/lover - Apply at the EXACT same time.
I applied for my visa first and then we went to do Corey's and realised we didn't have all the documents necessary. Cue an extra long wait for that and by the time we got Corey's visa back and approved - my 30 day period to get into the U.K. had expired. That nightmare cost us an extra $430 for a vignette transfer and another 5-15 business day wait. I could have bought a lot of beers and burgers for that. Actually, I did buy a few beers to try and cheer me up.
Jump on the visa website, and you can both fill out your forms, saving as you go. Only once you've both reached the end and it's all green should you submit your application.
Money, Money, Money
Applying for a visa will drain your cash funds. Get your bank statement sorted just before you apply because on applying you'll have to shell out money for the visa (£230), the healthcare (£300 for 2 years) and extra money if you head to a user pay facility, like Brisbane, Canberra or Perth ($99 AUD). You don't show them your bank statement until your actual appointment, so get it printed out, then pay all the fees.
Sneaky tip: we know a couple that used the same money for their bank statements. They simply had the money in one bank account, got a statement and then transferred it to the other persons account for their statement as well. For this kind of visa you just need to show them that you have enough money in your account at the time of applying. I don't really recommend it (what if you run out of money over there?!) but if you're desperate to get over and lacking in funds this could be a way.
Also: you can use a joint account for your bank statement. The person who's applying for the visa just needs to be one of the owners of the joint account (i.e. Your name needs to appear on the bank statement).
It's all worth it in the end
It honestly was such a pain in the rectum to get our visas sorted, but now we're here in London and that rectal pain has receded (although it briefly flared while writing this post, I figured it was worth it to give someone else the chance to not grow grey hairs and possibly save money). Now that we're finally here, we're really glad we just went with the flow, extending dates where needed and taking a chance where possible. Yes, it's an expensive time suck, but it also made us so determined to make everything work over here (yet to see if it will all work out so stay tuned.)
Helpful links for aussies
Ultimate Reference Guide on the Youth Mobility Visa (this helped me immensely BUT remember it's not 100% up to date, so use it as a guide, not a bible and double check facts with the government websites).
If you're moving to London (or already there) and totally freaking out about it, The Essential London Guide by Runaway Kiwi will make you LOL and stop pulling out your hair.
So TELL ME, ARE YOU LOOKING TO APPLY FOR A YOUTH VISA?