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Hi you lot! As you might or might not know, after my winter semester, I will be moving to London for an indefinite period of time (which should be around 2 years for now). This is a dream I’ve carried with for 5 or 6 years, since I came back from an exchange with EF to be more precise. There are a few reasons why I want to move to London. The first one is that I am completely head over heels with the city. The second one is that there are a lot more opportunities to work in luxury fashion in London than in anywhere in Canada. And finally, I will also be closer to my bestie who lives in Sweden.

Obviously there is quite a lot of planning that needs to get done before an overseas move, which is why I decided to document it. Today is the first part of the series but over the next few months I will talk you through how I find an apartment, how I find a job, what I decide to bring with me or leave behind, and how I adapt to my new city. And today I will start by sharing my experience with how I got my visa. Bear in mind that I am talking about my experience as a Canadian, so it might be a bit different if you are from another country.

Before starting the process, I did a lot of reading, and this blog article has ben the most helpful, I also closely followed the guide provided by the UK government.

The visa I decided to get is the “Tier 5 - Youth Mobility Scheme” and it gives me the right to live and work in the UK for a period of up to 24 months. The requirements for this visa are to be between the ages of 18 and 30, to have a certain amount of money in your savings (around $3000 CAD), to be from a certain country (this includes most of the countries of the Commonwealth and a few more) and to not have any criminal records or child under your care.

You can start to apply 6 months before your date of departure. They ask you to fill out a form that explains what you want to do in the UK and also personal information. In the form you have to provide a UK postal code. They will send your actual visa to the post office closest to this postal code and you have to recuperate it 7 days after you enter the UK. Once you are done filling it out, they direct you over another website to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is a mandatory step and it basically means you will be covered by the NHS (National Health System) during your stay for everything except prescriptions, dental and eye exams. The cost for this is around $500 CAD. The next step is to then pay for the visa (around $600 CAD) and then they let you take an appointment with VFS global to continue your visa application.

VFS global has locations around the country, but only a few cities for the country you apply to. For example, I had to go to Ottawa because the VFS office in Montreal did not provide the services for UK visas. I took the appointment for the next week and booked a train. Before I got there I had to prepare all my documents: my passport, a copy of my bank statement and the form I filled out with the confirmation of my appointment.

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When I got there, I had to go through a few security checks: they looked through my bag, had metal detectors and also asked me to close my phone in front of them. While I was in the waiting room, I also had to fill out a UPS label for where I wanted the visa to be shipped. I only waited for a few minutes and then went in another room. The agent looked through my documents, scanned a few things, took a biometric profile and also my fingerprints. It was a very short process and only took around 15 minutes. They gave me the tracking number for the UPS label and also a confirmation that I did my biometrics, and I had to leave with them my passport and other documents I had brought.

And then 10 days later I got my passport back in the mail with a sticker that gives me a window of 30 days to enter the UK from the date I wrote in my application. There was also a letter indicating I have to pick up my visa at the post office 7 days after I get in the UK and failure to do so would result in more fees to pay.

Overall, it was a very easy and quick process. I have heard that not enough people apply every year for this visa so if you have all the requirements, there are good chances that you will get one. This makes it even more real for me and I am excited to start the next steps. I hope this post has been helpful or just interesting if you are curious, don’t hesitate if you have any question!


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