I recently moved to Edinburgh, Scotland on a UK Youth Mobility Visa, and thought I would outline the application process for anyone who is considering doing the same. I found the whole process to be quite straightforward, but I did have a few questions and concerns along the way, so I’m hoping this post will provide additional information for anyone who is – or who will be – applying for this visa. (I’m from Canada, so this guideline will contain information and tips mainly for Canadian citizens.)
This is by no means a complete and comprehensive guide, and I recommend carefully reading the overview, eligibility requirements, and documents you must provide at this website. You can also read the full policy guideline for additional information.
If you want a basic guideline and some tips from my personal experience, please continue reading below.
*Please note: this information has been updated as of October 2017, but may change.
What is a Youth Mobility Visa?
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years.
You can apply for this visa if:
- You are aged 18 to 30
- You are from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan
- You have at least £1,890 ($3,105 CAD) in savings
*You must apply while located outside the UK and you must not have any dependents (children who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for).
The fee to apply is £235 ($386 CAD), plus a new surcharge for UK healthcare. I applied just before this surcharge was instated and luckily managed to bypass the extra costs, but the charge is £150 per year of the visa.
Step 1: Apply Online
You must fill out the application form online; it’s roughly ten pages and will require your passport information, previous passport information (if they are in your possession), dates of previous international travel, your parents’ birthplace and date of birth, etc.
Once you’ve registered an account on the Visa4UK website, you can fill out your application, save your information, and come back to it at a later time if needed. When it’s complete, you’re required to pay the visa application fee and the healthcare surcharge before proceeding to the next step.
- The visa application fee (and – I assume – the healthcare surcharge) is charged in US Dollars as the visa is processed in New York
- The date you state under “intended date of travel” on the visa application form will be the date your visa becomes valid. If you state June 1st, 2015 as your intended date of travel, but don’t actually arrive until July 1st, 2015, one month of your visa will have been used – regardless of the fact that you had not yet entered the United Kingdom
- When you print your application form (and other documents) change the page setting on your printer to A4
Step 2: Biometrics Appointment
Once you’ve successfully filled out the application and paid the visa fee and healthcare surcharge, you can book an appointment at one of the application centres. You need to bring your printed application form, printed appointment confirmation, visa fee receipt, current passport (valid for at least six months), one recent photograph, a bank statement proving you have at least £1,890 in your account, and other required documents. See the full list of documents here.
When you arrive at the office, they’ll check the documents you’ve provided and package them in a DHL envelope to be shipped to New York for processing. You’ll also have your fingerprints and photo taken for the visa.
- I read online that the appointment takes around 30 minutes, but after waiting 20 minutes or so for my appointment, I was at the application centre for almost an hour in total, so make sure to give yourself a sufficient amount of time
- When applying from Toronto, there’s an option to pick-up your passport after your visa has been processed, or you can choose to have it couriered to your home address for an additional fee of $39. If you are applying from any of the other centres, there’s an additional User Pay Fee of £59 which includes return courier service
- The recent photograph must meet specific requirements: it must be professionally printed and 45mm high by 35mm wide. (This size is smaller than a standard Canadian passport size photo.) I had my photo taken at Shoppers Drug Mart, and made to sure to tell the staff member I was applying for a UK visa and needed the photograph to be a certain size. The photo does not need to be signed or dated on the back
The gentleman at the visa centre told me the visa takes between three and four weeks to process, but online it states that most applications are processed within 10 business days (when applying from Toronto), but this is not guaranteed and processing times may vary. You can check the visa processing time here, as the time varies depending on the city you are applying from, plus a range of other factors.
As an example, I had my biometrics appointment on March 24th, I received an email stating my documents had arrived in New York on March 27th, and then received an email stating my visa was approved on April 8th – which is a total of 11 business days (technically 10 days because the office was closed on Good Friday). It took an additional 3 business days (after I received the issuing e-mail) for DHL to deliver my passport and visa to my home.
- The email you receive when your documents have arrived in New York will state the current estimated processing time for your visa. My email said this:
Average processing times for visa applications received this week are:
Non-Settlement Applications: 10 working days
Current and forecasted delays: None to report
- I was working Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm at the time, which is DHL’s main delivery window, so trying to coordinate with DHL to have the package delivered was actually the most frustrating part of this entire process for me. Be aware that because the parcel contains immigration documents, you must be present to sign for the package and DHL will not deliver the package to any address other than your home address
Looking for more tips on moving to Edinburgh? Check out these posts:
- Living in Edinburgh: The Expat Survival Guide
- Moving to Edinburgh: Finding a Job and Getting Settled