Let's start by just clarifying that we aren't immigration law experts and these rules are constantly changing, so please make sure you do your own research. We've included links below for each of the visa types discussed, but make sure you're also doing your own searches and speak with professionals who can help, particularly for any complicated questions.
We are working hard at the moment to form a partnership with a specialist firm who can help you.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa
This is the most common visa that Aussies aged 18-30 use to come live and work in the UK. In order to apply you just need to have £1,890 in savings (at the time of writing - check the link below for updated details) and be aged under 31 at time of application.
You can apply up to 6 months before you enter the UK. When you enter the UK you'll be required to go pick up your biometric residence permit (BRP) from the post office. This is a super important card and is effectively your visa - it makes the whole process of future entry into the UK so much easier! Please make sure you don't lose it... if you do, or if it's stolen check out this link: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/lost-stolen-damaged
You should get a decision within 3 weeks, but please don't leave it too late to apply - the sooner the better. On your application you should be able to nominate the date you'll arrive in the UK and this is when your two year clock will start ticking.
It costs £244 to apply (at time of writing) plus the dreaded NHS surcharge... all the details are available at the following link:
Generally speaking, the UK government websites are pretty useful (surprisingly!)
You can enter the UK before your visa starts, you'll just enter on a typical tourist visa (you can't work) you'll then need to leave and re-enter the UK to activate your visa.
If you're lucky enough to have a grandparent born in the UK then you can apply for an Ancestry visa which allows you to stay in the UK for up to 5 years after which point you can apply to extend your visa or even settle permanently in the UK. Basically if you've got ancestry or a passport, prepare to be the envy of the Aussie community!
One thing to be aware of is that you can't "switch" onto ancestry from another type of visa (Youth Mobility for argument's sake). You need to apply from outside the UK, so you'd need to go home and apply for the visa from there.
The application process can be started up to 3 months before you enter the UK and same as the Youth Mobility Visa, you'll be issued a BRP card... again, please don't lose this!
The cost is £516 (at time of writing) plus that bloody NHS surcharge again. Full details available here:
If you've been here two years, feel like it's not enough and want to get sponsored... you're not alone! At time of writing, nothing has been resolved regarding Brexit and Aussies but this has the capacity to change daily, so make sure you do your research and contact the appropriate professionals with any questions. You can also (always) ask our community any questions.
Speaking from personal experience, the sponsorship process can be a real nightmare. My initial application was rejected and the company employing me needed to wait 6 months before they could reapply - resulting in a 6 month stint of me living and working in Amsterdam as my Youth Mobility Visa expired!
The visa you're actually applying for is called a "Tier 2" visa and there's a couple of links below to help out. The main things you need to know:
- Your employer needs to be a licensed sponsor - if they're not, check out the link for employers below
- You need to earn over a certain threshold (£30,000 or the "appropriate rate" at time of writing - more details in the link below)
- You need to prove that no one in the EU can do your job (this is the thing that is most likely to change with Brexit)
- You need to have ample savings to support yourself in the UK (or when you submit your application your employer can say they'll cover you in the case of emergency) at time of writing this is £945 and you need to have it in your bank for 90 days before applying
This is an area where getting an immigration lawyer involved can seriously save some headaches and heart breaks... be aware that it will likely cost a fair whack though...
Link for you: https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general
Link for employers: https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers
Resident Labour Market Test Info (proving that no one else can do your job): https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers/job-suitability
If you're lucky enough to have a partner who is a British citizen or has indefinite leave to remain, you can apply for a partner visa.
You need to be able to prove one of the following:
- you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
- you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply
- you are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving
You also need to prove you:
If you do not meet these requirements you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if:
- you have a child in the UK who is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK
- there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome
- it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or make you leave
Check out all the info here: https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa/partner-spouse
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
After 5 years of living in the UK on a sponsorship visa or ancestry you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. At time of writing, the two years on the Youth Mobility Visa doesn't count towards the five... so that's seven years of living in the UK before you can go for ILR!
If you've been in the UK on a sponsorship visa (tier 2 general) then this link should have what you need to know: https://www.gov.uk/settle-in-the-uk/y/you-have-a-work-visa/tier-2-general-visa
For ancestry it's here: https://www.gov.uk/settle-in-the-uk/y/you-have-a-uk-ancestry-visa
And for everyone else check out this link to see if you're eligible: https://www.gov.uk/settle-in-the-uk
After a year of ILR you can apply for citizenship! That holy grail that is the UK passport! In order to do so you need to:
- pass a "life in the UK test"
- prove you were in the UK exactly 5 years before the Home Office receives your application
- prove your knowledge of English (if relevant)
- intend to continue living in the UK
- be of good character
Check out this link for all the details: https://www.gov.uk/apply-citizenship-indefinite-leave-to-remain
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
This will be issued to you upon arriving in the UK. It needs to be collected (generally from the post office) within 10 days of arriving in the UK... so make sure you do this before you head off on any trips through Europe because not having your BRP is going to cause issues upon your re-entry.
If you lose your card or it's stolen check out your options here: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/lost-stolen-damaged
Overstaying your visa
In short... don't do it, not even by a day. A lot of people believe you have a 28 day "grace period" to overstay your visa, but that is no longer the case (and in fact, never really was). Overstaying your visa can result in exclusion periods from the UK, deportation and potentially even jail sentences... it's not a good idea and we do not recommend trying it.