Applying for my UK Visa was no doubt stressful. But looking back, it needn't be. Ten weeks before we leave I had a panic attack about it. The what if's about getting rejected and and not having it ready before we go was freaking me out! Kevin, being the calmer and more rational one assured me we'd be fine and there was no reason at all why we'd be rejected. And he was right, 10 days after our applications were sent off we got the confirmation email saying we were approved and passports with Visa within was making its way back to us. What a relief!
So, to make a slightly annoying, very stressful and time consuming process a bit easier for you I've made a 'How to Apply for a UK Visa as an Australian' cheat sheet (please note that this is general advice only and anything more specific you probably should refer to the UK visa website.
Youth Mobility Scheme
One reason I had to the itch to go to the UK sooner than later is that the 2 year working visa 'Youth Mobility Scheme Tier 5' has a 31 year old age limit. You also have to be over 18. Also you need to show that you have at least $1800 pounds (around AUS$3000) in your bank account and you need to have an Australian passport. To see if you can apply you can just this points based calculator on their website but if you have all those things you should be right. Also, being Australian they allocate 35 000 places so your odds are pretty good.
Applying for a Visa
1. Apply online with the VAF9 form at the visa4UK website.
2. Go get your biometrics taken at one of the British Consulates.
3.Send off your application with a self addressed envelope.
4.Nervously wait til it comes back (which if you've done steps 1-3 should be pretty soon).
5. Receive confirmation email.
6. Do happy dance.
|Cats can't appy for Visa's - sorry Amelie.|
1. Online Application
OK so before you start make sure you have your passport (and any old passport) details ready. They will also ask you about your parent's birth city and birth date so if you are a bad child like I am, call your parents up quickly. Guidance notes HERE. Also you will have to print out your finished application once done so make sure you have access to a printer (though it is saved in the system so you can print it any time and anywhere with internet access once done). It pretty much just checks your vital information and that you don't have any nasty intentions for going there. My favourite question was 'Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate you may not be considered a person of good character?'. Does dressing up a cat in Christmas clothes and making her dance for food count?
You will also need to roughly outline all your previous trips overseas which can be a bit time consuming. Once done, you will need to pay your application fee which is AUS$310 with a credit card and will then be asked to book a time to have your biometrics taken. As an Australian you have to submit your application by post only. Note: The form should have a barcode on the first page and the last page, if it doesn't print out that way then they say it could delay your Visa processing. Kevin's didn't so he re-printed it at a different place and got his biometrics taken a second time. You cannot save and print this form as a PDF so if you do need to print it elsewhere you have to log into the UK application website to access it.
2. Biometrics Exam
Our nearest British Consulate is in Circular Quay in the city and its easy to book and change your time online. They are pretty relaxed there so just make sure you have a printout of your online application, passport and your confirmation letter. I got there 15 minutes early and they just processed me on the spot. Kevin got there when there was a bunch of people waiting and the officer was just coming back from lunch so they just when by a first come,first serve basis rather than the appointment time. It takes 2 minutes, you just need to scan your fingerprints and have your photo taken. They will then stamp your Visa application form and you're on your way.
3.Posting your Application
Once you do your biometrics they will give you a summary sheet of where and how to send your application through.
In a registered or express post envelope you will need to enclose:
- Your stamped Visa application
- Passport sized photo
- Passport + copy of the ID page
- Appendix 7 form found HERE
- Bank statement with proof of funds (if you print it out online like we did then you have to get every page stamped by the bank). Also the statement cannot be more than a month old from the application date.
- Self addressed envelope so they can send your passport back to you. To ensure the fastest and most safe passage for this very important document I bought a Express Post Platinum satchel and sent it to my work place. Kevin and I lodged our Visa's in the same envelope but I bought two separate envelopes for the home journey, just in case.
4. How Long Does it Take to Process the Visa?
Account for the time it takes to get the GPO box in Sydney (1 day) then 4 days in transit to the Manila processing office and then back again. We got our confirmation emails sent to us exactly 10 days after we sent them off and our passports back 5 days after that. Here is some data from the website about average processing times for Australians.
|Points Based System Visas||2 days||3 days||5 days||10 days||15 days||40 days||60 days||90 days||120 days||Total decisions made|
|PBS Tier 1||0%||0%||0%||75%||75%||75%||100%||100%||100%||4|
|PBS Tier 2||0%||0%||9%||99%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||107|
|PBS Tier 4||0%||0%||5%||96%||97%||100%||100%||100%||100%||88|
|PBS Tier 5||0%||0%||3%||96%||98%||100%||100%||100%||100%||721|
When Should I Apply?
They say you can only apply within 3 months of entering the UK, however since Kevin and I are travelling beforehand for 6 months and we need to be in Australia to get the Visa, we applied for it 7 months ahead of time. I put my entry date as 1st September then had a panic attack they won't accept my application as it is outside the time frame. After a frantic email to the office (you can also call them but it is crazy expensive to do so) and a week later they assured me that this will be fine as long as I have a good reason for applying earlier. So I also lodged my flight itinerary to South America and a letter saying I will be travelling there beforehand. Kevin just put his entry date three months from now to make things a bit easier. Both ways were fine and our entry date started 3 months after the application date.
So next up, once we get our passports back, applying for Brazil Visa's. 6 weeks to go!