UK Visa – Which one do I apply for?

22 February 2018 Laura Barratt

Regent St E1465453837129

There’s nothing quite like the buzzing of the city of London!!  It’s an eclectic city bursting with history, culture, design and sometimes even flamboyance.  I can’t think of any other city that you can experience such a diverse range of activities and history.  Walking tours of the streets roamed by Jack the Ripper covering the exact spots of the discovery of his victims, some of the world’s most outstanding theatre shows in the West End and a vast selection of summer carnivals like Notting Hill, concerts and music festivals.  London has it all!

Providing advice on working in London and the steps to take when making the transition has become somewhat second nature to me for over ten years.  That’s how long I have been assisting Australian and New Zealand legal secretaries leaving home to head to London on a working holiday!  Prior to this, I was living and working in legal in the UK myself.  So whilst I currently live in Australia, sometimes I feel like I live and breathe all things London, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!  London holds a special place in my heart and it is a privilege to help anyone create their own memories overseas just as I did.

Now that you’ve decided you want to go, the first step is to determine which UK visa you are eligible for.  It is a relatively simple process for Australians and New Zealanders to apply as we are part of the Commonwealth and have the following visas available to us:

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

This visa replaces what used to be referred to as the Working Holiday Visa.  Basically it’s a new name, not much has changed.  In order to be eligible for this visa you need to be:

  • A citizen of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan
  • Aged 18 -30
  • Able to prove that you have £1890 in savings. At the time of writing this article that is equivalent to AUD$3713 or NZD$3925

You will be unable to apply for this visa if you have children living with you, children you are financially responsible for or if you have participated in the previous Working Holiday scheme.

The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is valid for two years and there is no restriction as to how long you can remain with one employer during those two years.  This visa is not renewable at all.

Ancestry Visa

The Ancestry Visa is available to Commonwealth citizens who have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK.  The initial visa is valid for five years and it is able to be extended for a further five years.  Once you have been living in the UK for five years you are eligible to settle permanently there.  This is called indefinite leave to remain which means you are no longer on a visa with an expiration date.  You will be permitted to enter and exit the UK on your original Commonwealth passport.  Indefinite leave to remain does not entitle you to a UK passport.

Right of Abode

Right of Abode entitles you to live in the UK without any restrictions, similar to the indefinite leave to remain.  In order to qualify for Right of Abode you must be a Commonwealth citizen with at least one parent born in the UK with UK citizenship current at the time of your birth or adoption.  Right of Abode can be obtained either through parents or through marriage.

UK visa cost and processing times

How long will it take to get my UK visa?  This has been a common question over the years.  The processing times can vary especially at different times of the year.  The cost also varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for.  At the time of writing this article, a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa will cost you AUD$460.  It is recommended to apply for your UK visa around three months before your departure date.  The Home Officeprovides a full list of visas and their fees.

Living and working in London is an opportunity not to be missed!  If you are working as a legal secretary, paralegal or as an EA/PA in professional services and would like to have a chat before applying for your UK visa please get in touch.

Laura Galvin is Director of Barratt Galvin, a leading legal recruitment agency based in Sydney providing recruitment services to law firms in Australia, the Middle East and London.