Complete guide: Applying for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa as a New Zealander

Moving to the United Kingdom is a popular option for young New Zealander’s wanting to experience the big wide world. In practice this probably means working in a shanty pub for several months of the year before saving enough pennies to head across Europe. Regardless of where you find work, if you plan to work (legally) in the UK, you’re going to need a working visa.

The Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa (previously known as the Working Holiday visa) will allow you to live and work in the UK (that includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) for up to two years. This visa is also surprisingly non-constraining. You’re able to leave and come back to the country at any time during your visa and if you’re the entrepreneurial-type you can set up a company.

If you’ve been thinking about applying for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, this guide will help you understand the application process.

Note: This guide has been written for New Zealanders. The application process varies slightly for all participating countries.

First of all, do you qualify?

+ Aged 18–30
+ New Zealand citizen
+ Have a minimum of £1890 (approximately $3675 NZD)
+ Have no dependents (children under 18)
+ Not currently living in the UK

Can you pay the application costs?
+ Application fee: £230 (approximately $447 NZD)
+ Healthcare surcharge: £150 p/a = £300 for two years (approximately $583 NZD)
+ Passport photographs: $10
+ Postage: $17.00 for 2 x $5.50 NZ POST bags with tracking

Total = Approximately $1057 NZD

Think you tick all the boxes? Fantastic! You’re now ready to apply for the visa.

Step-by-step guide

1. Online application

Ensure you’re using the correct application form.

You will need:
+ Your current passport and previous passports if you have them
+ Birth dates and places of your parents
+ Address you intend to stay at upon arriving in the UK
+ Credit or debit card
+ Required minimum funds (closing balance) on the date of your application

When you complete the online application, you will:
+ Fill out the application form
This includes:
Part 1: Passport and travel information
Part 2: Personal details and travel history (including criminal history)
Part 3: Family details (include details about your spouse/partner and the birthdates and birthplaces of your parents)
Part 4: Medical treatment
Part 5: Additional information you wish to include

+ Pay the visa fee and healthcare surcharge
+ Book in your biometrics appointment
+ Print out your completed online application form biometrics and appointment booking confirmation email.

Things to consider:
+ Make sure your travel date is within six months of your arrival date. For this reason, you should know the date you will arrive into the UK.
+ Double check for spelling mistakes or errors to key details (ie. Information found on your passport).
+ If you don’t have your old passports, try to remember as much of your previous travel information as possible and the approximate dates. If you’ve travelled a lot, this section can get a bit tedious.

Apply online here.

After you’ve completed the online application and paid, you will need to book a biometrics appointment. You will be given a list of free days/times that you can book. There are office locations in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland only.

2. Biometrics appointment

You need to bring:
+ Printed online application form (signed and dated)
+ Printed appointment confirmation
+ Your current passport

What happens at the appointment?
+ You will have your headshot taken and fingerprints scanned
+ Your biometrics appointment confirmation and online application forms will be stamped by the Biometrics Enrolment Officer

Make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. The Immigration Centre’s tend to be pretty strict on this.

This appointment should only take around five minutes to complete. When you leave the appointment, you will be handed a leaflet advising you what to do next.

3. Send your full application away

You must include:
+ Your online application and biometrics appointment confirmation form stamped by the Biometrics Enrolment Officer
+ One recent passport size photo (45mm high by 35mm wide)
+ Your actual current passport and any previous passports, if applicable, plus a photocopy of the ID page of your passport.
+ Proof of at least £1890 cash funds (closing balance) on your application date. Usually, this will be in the form of a bank statement that is less than one month old. It should show your name, account number(s) and amount in the account(s), date, and the name and logo of your bank. If the bank does not post the statement to you, make sure you go to the bank and have the bank print and stamp/sign your statement, using their official stamp.

Alternatively, you can submit a dated letter from your bank, stating your name, account number(s) and confirmation that you have the minimum funds. The letter must show your banks name and logo (usually on the letterhead). For safety’s sake, also get your bank to stamp and sign this letter.
+ Include documentation (ie. police certificate) if you have a criminal conviction or any traffic offence.
+ A self-addressed return envelope of suitable size.

Make sure you read the Guide to supporting documents properly before sending away your application.

Once you’ve got all the right documents, put them in a postage envelope and send them to the New Zealand address listed on the leaflet given to you at Immigration New Zealand. It is advised that you pay to track this parcel. Once it arrives there, it’s forwarded to Manila, the Philippines for processing.

To get an idea of how long it will take for a decision to be made, use this online tool.

4. Approval!

Your passport should now have your visa in it! You will also receive a letter letting you know your application has been accepted and where to collect your Biometric Resident Permit after arriving in the UK. You must keep this letter and present it to the Immigration Officer upon arriving in the UK.

5. Pick up your Biometric Residence Permit after arriving in the UK

When you arrive in the UK, you will be issued with a 30-day visa, which allows you entry into the UK to pick up your Permit.

Helpful resources for when you arrive in the UK allows you to transfer money from your NZ bank account to your UK bank account at a very-low cost. It’s a popular option amongst New Zealander’s because it’s fast and they’re transparent with fees. I would avoid transferring money through your banks services as it tends to be way more expensive and complicated.

Sign up here and get your first £500 transfer absolutely free.

My Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa application experience and timeline

Let’s just start by saying I had my flights for London booked around a month prior to applying for the visa. The application timeline for this visa is frustrating as you are not able to apply any sooner than six months prior to your intended arrival date (particularly annoying if you’re planning to travel beforehand). NOTE: You can now apply up to six months before your intended arrival date. This change occurred after I applied for my visa.

I intended to arrive in the UK on August 28, however since I also planned to travel around Fiji and the United States beforehand meaning I’d be leaving New Zealand on July 20. When making my application I wanted to make sure I allowed enough time to get my passport back. Even so, I was cutting my application pretty fine if I ran into delays or even worse, if my application was rejected. My intentions were set on relocating to somewhere in Europe so if my application for a UK visa was rejected, I would have looked at other countries or reapplied for the visa using the priority service.

How long did it take from start to finish?
All up it only took 20 days. Here is my timeline of events…
June 8: Completed the online application. Paid the application fee and healthcare surcharge.
June 10: Attended my biometrics appointment at Immigration New Zealand, in Christchurch. Went to Westpac to get a bank statement printed. I also asked for a letter outlining my accounts, just to be safe.
June 13: Sent away my completed application.
June 14: My application arrived in Auckland (where it’s then sent to the Philippines).
June 28: Received my passport, which include my visa and instructions on what to do when I arrive in the UK.

Did I mess up? Sort of…
I didn’t photograph my passport ID page like we’re supposed to. I would not recommend this! Save yourself the anxiety of thinking your application is going to be rejected by following the instructions.

I didn’t get an email confirming my passport dispatch…
According to the appointment confirmation form, we’re supposed to receive an email confirming that our passport will be dispatched. It also says that original documentation will be returned. I didn’t care but don’t freakout if they don’t email you.

Disclaimer: This guide is based on my experience applying for the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa from New Zealand. I’m not a visa expert or immigration consultant and cannot guarantee that your visa will be approved. For official information visit GOV.UK. This guide was last updated April 2018.

Do you still have questions unanswered? Leave a comment below and I’ll try find the answers!