Everything you need to know about moving to the U.K. on the Youth Mobility Tier 5 visa.
So, you’re a young Canadian and looking to try living abroad? Perhaps in the U.K.? If you’ve been following my journey on my Instagram then you already know I’ve recently moved to the U.K. from Canada. A huge decision I made earlier this year. Now that I’m here, I definitely do not regret it one bit! I want to write more about my experience so far and my thoughts on the British, specifically London lifestyle but for now I just want to focus this blog post on how I got my Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa (at the age of 30!) and specifically for a Canadian citizen.
When I started looking into this visa there weren’t too many guides or aids to help you through the process. I found a blog of another Canadian who managed to get the same visa. The comments from different candidates in the blog post were thoroughly helpful. However, this blog is currently charging for their help guide. I feel this should be free information as the entire process is VERY EASY and no one should worry about it at all. I’m happy to help!
If you’re in the position I was where I was already 30 and wasn’t sure if I still qualified for the visa, then you’re in the right place! As long as you apply for the visa BEFORE you 31st birthday, you are just fine. You can even apply 2 days before you turn 31, turn 31 during the visa decision process, and you will still qualify. Obviously, don’t wait until the very last minute. But rest assured, I know many have managed to get this visa days after they have turned 31 while waiting for their visa approval.
What is this visa you ask? In a nutshell, it’s a working holiday visa available to any individuals between the ages of 18 to 30 from a qualifying country. As a Canadian, you may work and live in the U.K. for up to 2 years. For more details, you can visit the government here. For now, I will talk about the process and share my experience hoping this will help someone in the same situation out there.
I basically started thinking about the idea with my now fiance at the end of 2016. Being in a relationship we first thought of the going the spousal way, thinking it will be an easier route – obviously not. Then we stumbled upon this youth mobility visa and noticed that I had less than a year to make a decision and apply! After only a few weeks of thinking about it, I impulsively applied – I had nothing to lose!
Before you start anything else – READ AND RE-READ this entire post. You may find the answer to your questions after reviewing it again.
- The first thing I needed to do was renew my Canadian passport. This process took about 10 working days. Before you apply, make sure your passport is valid for the entire duration of your stay in the U.K. It will just make your life easier later on.
- Also, before you proceed with the process you should have a pretty good idea of when you want to arrive in the U.K. on the Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa. You can apply up to 6 months prior to your desired date of entry. For example, I wanted to arrive September 1st so the earliest I can apply is March 1st. Don’t start the application process if you’re not sure of your date of entry because then you have to re-do the entire process. Once you select a date, it will be the permanent date throughout the entire application even though there’s a section later on to re-select the date. It’s not accurate. SO BE SURE OF YOUR DATE OF ENTRY!
- Documents you should get sorted before you apply:
- Current and valid passport
- Official bank letter from your bank with date stamp, bank account number, bank address, bank logo, your full name, and confirmation that you have the funds required (the balance must be at least £1890 or ~$3000 CAD).
“Letter from financial institution regulated by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the home regulator confirming funds.The letter should state your name; the account number; the date of the letter; the financial institution’s name and logo; confirmation that there are sufficient funds present in the account (the balance must be at least £1890). The home regulator is the official regulatory body for the country in which the institution operates and the funds are located.”
- Bank statement (no older than 30 days)
- Old expired passports (specifically ones with travel stamps/information from up to 10 years prior)
- A list of all the countries you’ve been to within the last 10 years. It’s okay if you don’t remember every single one. Having your old passports will help fill in the gaps.
- Parents birthplace and birth info
- Need ~$3000 in your bank account
- Need a UK address (i.e. hotel you may stay at, family member etc.). Visa centre needs this in order to mail your Biometrics Resident Permit (BRP) card to the nearest post office to that address. Pick a place that’s easy to get to because you only have 10 days to pick it up.
- Visa application fee – $299 USD
- IHS (health insurance) – $390 USD
- SMS fee at Visa Centre for notification – $4
- Register your profile online prior to filling out the Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa application – VISA4UK
- Have all of your paperwork and documents ready.
- Fill out and submit Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa application
- After you’ve completed and submitted your application, you’re ready to book your appointment to the Visa Centre. You will be prompted to BRP location selection
- Book an appointment with visa centre. You do not need to go to the actual Visa Centre website to book your appointment. You will be able to book your appointment within the application site (VISA4UK website).
- Then you will be prompted to IHS payment. Ensure all the information on your application is correct or else it does not pull the right information over. You have to redo the entire application. No chance to make adjustments here. I found a mistake in my application and had to painstakingly redo the entire application again. You have 3 hours to pay this. You will get a confirmation email with your IHS #. There isn’t a chance to put this on your application. Even though it says you have to – don’t worry !
- Then go back to the application and pay for the visa fees.
- You will get a confirmation email that your visa has been submitted. The email will list all of the paperwork you need to print out – application (with barcode), BPR appointment confirmation, Supporting documents (bank letter/statement, photo, all passports). READ THIS EMAIL CAREFULLY PRIOR TO YOUR BIOMETRICS APPOINTMENT
At your Biometrics appointment:
- Arrive at least 15 minutes prior. You will be greeted by a security guard who will check your bags. You cannot bring any large bags or food in the visa centre. They will provide lockers.
- Note, nowhere in the visa process will it tell you to print and bring this checklist with you to your appointment. Make sure you bring that with you. Check with the security guard that you have the more up to date checklist (I didn’t know this step so my appointment got delayed but luckily it wasn’t busy so they waited for me)
- Once its your turn, the rep will put together all your paperwork and give you a number ticket for the biometrics room. They will ask if you would like to pay for SMS notification (optional)
- During the biometrics processing, they will take your photo and finger prints. Note, you do not need to bring an extra passport photo at the Toronto Centre.
- Whole process took 10 to 15 minutes only. Book early in the morning to avoid any crowds.
Now, it’s the waiting game! In my experience the entire process was fairly simple and quick. My only annoyance was how much paperwork was required but they were all easy enough to find.
- March 14: submitted Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa application
- March 15: Biometrics appointment at Visa Centre 9:20 AM
- March 15: Application shipped to Decision Making Centre in New York City 7:00 PM
- March 16: application acknowledged by Decision Making Centre
- March 28: Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa approved!
- March 29: Passport with Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa vignette arrived in Toronto 6:12 PM
When you land.
Activating your visa when you land in the U.K. is quite simple. Ensure you bring your passport and vignette, as well as the confirmation letter with your visa approval. Now, I wasn’t checked for this but it’s a good idea to bring a bank statement not older than 30 days, showing your ~$3000 CAD funds. I’ve heard some people were checked.
Once you get to the immigration counter (smiles from ear to ear), you need to let the immigration officer know that you would like to activate your Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa. They will briefly ask you about your plans in the U.K., where you’re staying and confirm that you know what you need to do about the Biometrics Resident Permit card. Remember you only have 10 days, including weekends, to pick up your BRP card
What’s next? Stay tuned for future blog posts about life after I got the visa!
- Opening a British bank account
- Finding a job
- National Insurance
- Finding a flat in an expensive city
- Making a new life
- Travelling for a month in Thailand/Southeast Asia
Share your experiences with me! Or better yet, reach out and let’s meet up in jolly ol’ London 🙂