With only forty days to go before I leave the country, I have finally received confirmation of my UK Visa. I am now legally allowed to work in the UK for two years under their youth mobility scheme. Watch out London- here I come. It is such a relief to have this box checked so now I can finally explain (to any potential travellers) on how to get the visa sorted for the UK.
1. Make sure that your passport is not going to expire whilst you are planning to be over in the UK. You do not want to have to apply for a new passport over there, as your visa will be issued to the passport you apply with.
2. Make sure you have at least $4000 NZD in your bank account. To apply for a tier five youth mobility visa, you must have 1600 pounds at the time of your application which is roughly $3200 NZD. To be safe, I would make sure you have over $4000 NZD. To check the exchange rate, simply click the following link: http://coinmill.com
3. Go to the bank armed and ready to battle. Make sure that you get them to print off a statement of your funds on an original letterhead and a further letter (on an original letterhead) that states exactly how much money you have in that account and how long you have been with that bank. Now you might get lucky and have a bank that is far more helpful than mine. In my case, it was not easy to get all of these documents and I ended up paying the bank three separate visits. If in doubt, print off my photo below and tell your bank that that is what you need. Signed, stamped and on an original letterhead.
4. Before you leave the bank, check that every single page of every single document is on an original letterhead, stamped and signed correctly. Note that the UK border agency only accepts bank statements from 28 days or less before the application is made.
5. Go and get four passport photos of yourself. You need two for your application but it pays to have a couple spare.
6. Now for the scary part: go online to http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier5/youthmobilityscheme/applying/ and read all the information available about the youth mobility scheme. Then when you are ready, fill out the online application form and the appendix seven form. You need to complete both. When you are doing your online application form, you will be told that you need to front up with 180 pounds (360 NZD) straight away and you will also need to go to a biometric centre within two weeks of completing the form. When you complete your online application, you will be told where your nearest biometric centre is (mine was not actually that near) and you will be forced to make an appointment then and there. I would recommed filling out your online application when you know that you have a few free afternoons coming up that you can go out and do the biometric.
7. What is this biometric business? It is not as bad as it sounds. You simply book an appointment online for a centre in your town, print off your completed application form and your appointment time and then literally spend five minutes whilst a lady stamps the form and takes your fingerprints. Done and dusted.
Once this is done, it is time to send off your application to the border agency. For New Zealand, you send off all of your information to an Auckland address. It is then sent on to Manila. - Strange, I know. When you complete your online application, you are told what address to send all your forms to.
At the end of it all, you should be sending:
1. As many bank statements that testify to the fact that you have over 1600 pounds in your account. Make sure you include both original versions and photocopies.
2. Your completed online application, printed and signed. This will be stamped when you do your biometric.
3. Your appendix seven documentation (found on the website.)
4. Two passport photos.
5. Your actual passport. Once again, make sure you photocopy it for the agency to keep on file.
Put all of this information in a track and trace envelope and voila! Make sure that you also put in a self-addressed track and trace envelope with all of your documentation so as the agency can send your visa and passport back to you.
To be honest, it is not as hard as it sounds and I received my visa within three weeks of applying (much to my relief). If you do have any concerns or questions, feel free to ask!