Getting a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa to the UK (as a Canadian/American)

All the details on getting your Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa for the UK, as a Canadian/American living in the USA.

My British boyfriend and I had been trying to figure out a way to live in the same place (preferably city, but same country, or even continent would help) when I remembered that I’m Canadian. I’ve been living in the USA since I was five, but have still retained my dual citizenship. I was then reminded that, as a Canadian, I qualify for a special visa under the oddly titled Youth Mobility Scheme.

The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is designed for those between the ages of 18 and 30 (including the age of 30) that have citizenship in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Monaco, Japan, and Taiwan. It’s a two year, live and work visa. There’s both lots of information and not enough information on the application process, and as I nearly tore my hair out trying to figure it out, I thought I’d lay it out for anyone else wanting to give it a try.

Requirements

  1. Between 18 and 30 years old
  2. Citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Monaco, Japan, or Taiwan
  3. Have at least £1890 in savings (around $2438 USD)
  4. No dependents/kids
  5. Haven’t used a similar working visa in the UK before

Timing

I began the application process at the end of March (and mailed it in in mid-April), and planned to travel on June 1st. I made my deadline with a few weeks to go, but I’d advise a little more time between applying and actually going. I basically applied asking to enter the country in a month and a half, but you can apply with as much as 6 months notice and be super prepared if you like.

There are a couple of steps between filling out the application and mailing it out, so give yourself about two or three weeks to complete the application.

Cost

Here’s what my costs broke down to:

Application Fee: $299 USD
NHS Surcharge: $390 USD (note: this is for 2 years)
UK Passport Photos: $15 USD
Shipping: $68 USD

$772 USD

There’s not much variance on the costs though, unless you already have UK passport photos or don’t mind how long it takes your application to arrive.

Process

Checklist!
Current Canadian Passport
Bank Statement
UK Passport Photo
Previous Passports
Application
Biometric Resident Permit
Return Mailing Label
(optional) Photocopies of Passport

Step 1: Fill out your application

This can be found at: https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/

It’s fairly self-explanatory but quite long. It does require you to list out all the countries you’ve visited in the last ten years, which can be kind of a slog if you’re of the nomadic sort, but do your best. I definitely think I forgot a country or two, but it’s hard to think back ten years. I used my passport and tried to read the stamps as a memory aid, and went through my emails and photos as well. The form also asks you for the purpose of the trip — I answered with Vacation, Study, or Family. Like any governmental form, be thorough, make sure everything is spelled right, no nicknames, etc.

You will also pay for your application through this portal and select your Bioemetric Resident Permit collection location in the UK.

The next step is to make a biometrics appointment at a USCIS location, which is a US Citizenship and Immigration Services office, which sounds pretty intense. I selected the office in Oakland, California — in which it advised me to pay for the biometrics fee online as the office didn’t accept payment onsite. Oddly enough — I couldn’t figure out how to pay it online, so I just hoped for the best once I arrived and didn’t end up having to deal with it onsite either.

At the USCIS location, I brought everything I had, including my Canadian passport. It was a fairly quick procedure — I told the receptionist I was there for my UK Visa and they stamped my forms accordingly. I waited for my number to get called and a dude took my picture, fingerprinted me, and then verified my identity with my passport.

Once that’s completed, the application itself is basically done.

I got some UK passport photos (I went to a handy spot in San Francisco called A Better Passport Photo) — and of course, make sure it’s sized according to UK requirements, and not to American ones.

The proof of funds is what caused me the biggest headache. The description of supporting documents is a little weird about this and implies that you need a letter from your bank to certify everything. I ended up just having my bank send me a bank statement (which honestly looked like I could have printed it myself), which didn’t have my full account number on it, and it worked out just fine.

The supporting documents also asks for your previous passports (to verify your travels), and then also asks for evidence of your permission to be in the country in which you are applying. I killed two birds with one stone by sending in my (now expired) US passport. I retained my current US passport, and my previous Canadian passport was from over ten years ago. I was a bit nervous not sending in my current American passport as there are some international stamps on there from recent travels that I also listed in my application, but it worked out. I had emailed and asked if I needed to send all of my passports, and they said that I could “consider only sending my Canadian passport”, which is just vague enough to not really answer my question. I also photocopied my passports and sent them copies, just in case — they sent them back to me with all my documents so perhaps it’s not really necessary.

The final step is to get a mailing label for them ship your documents back with. They advise using a service called VFS with an incredibly annoying interface. I only used them for the Return Courier Service (which is UPS Next Day Air) and opted to ship it there using Fedex because it was slightly cheaper.

So! Once everything is all good to go, throw it nice and neat into a big envelope and ship it out (and track it every minute of the day). It gets shipped to the embassy in New York, not the UK. Once they have received it and acknowledged that it’s there, you’ll be emailed. There are pretty strict instructions on there not to call them about it. My application was received April 20th, and my visa was approved on May 3rd, so about a two week turnaround including weekends and a bank holiday. My things were delivered on May 5th, and BAM! I am ready to go by the skin of my teeth.

The current system is set so that you receive a 30-day visa, essentially, and have to enter within those 30 days (or pay a fee), and then ten days after you enter, you must pick up your actual visa. Annoyingly, my 30 day visa was listed from May 2nd thru June 1st. I’m unsure if this means that I filled out the paperwork incorrectly or if they made a mistake, as I had listed that I planned to arrive on June 1st and obviously now I must arrive BEFORE June 1st. Annoying, but I was so stoked about getting my visa, I didn’t even care.

But what do you do when you get here? Continue on to find out >>