In an earlier post I tried to set out the thought process I went through before deciding to move to the UK. Making the decision is tough but the logistics can be painful so this post will try and address the two biggest hurdles: the visa and securing a job.

1. Obtaining a visa

  • Gold prize is to secure a job beforehand and have your new employer’s HR department sort out your visa for you. Anecdotally this appears to be difficult, but more on this in the ‘getting a job’ section below.
  • There are various other routes into the UK but this post focuses on the Tier 5 youth mobility visa as it’s the most accessible option for Australians.

2. Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

  • The 2 main requirements are that you’re aged between 18-30 and have the equivalent of GBP1,890 in savings at the time of application.
  • The visa gives you the (largely) unrestricted right to work and live for 2 years in the UK. This is a change from previous ‘working holidaymaker’ visas which only permitted you to work part-time during your stay.
  • The application process is relatively simple and painless comprising:
    • (i) an online form;
    • (ii) gathering documents; and
    • (iii) an in-person appointment.
  • You can pay third parties to do this for you but given the straightforward process I question how much value they add.
  • First step is to fill out the online application form at the website. When you click through to apply it will redirect you to a third party Visa4UK website. Once you’ve completed the application form, you’ll need to nominate an appointment time and fork over 208 quid (October 2014).
  • Start gathering documents – the main things are passport photographs and a recent bank account statement. If you’re with CBA just log onto netbank and you can print off a previous day bank balance confirmation letter at your convenience otherwise just go into the branch and get one sorted. Don’t forget to check your passport is current as you’ll need to hand this over at the appointment.
  • Attend your local UK visa office. Main purpose of this appointment is to collect your documents, take scans of your fingerprints and a photograph. If you’d like your processed passport posted to you, pay an additional fee otherwise you can pick it up in person from the same office once it’s ready.
  • The process takes ~2 weeks, and you may receive an ambiguously worded email in the interim saying that “your decision will be dispatched shortly”. Don’t worry – this isn’t (necessarily) their equivalent of breaking up via text message. It seems they won’t tell you the outcome until you find out for yourself when you collect your passport.

3. Securing a job

  • This will be the biggest concern for most given the cost of rent in the UK. My first suggestion would be to make sure you have enough saved up beforehand, so that you don’t have to rush into taking a less than ideal job because you need the rent money.
  • Anecdotally it appears hard to secure a job before arriving. For most, the best you can do will be to tidy up your CV and set up an appointment with the recruiter for your relevant industry soon after you arrive. Get feedback and incorporate changes from the recruiters beforehand so you can concentrate on opportunities and interviews at the first appointment.
  • If not having a job is a big concern for you, the two most common means of securing work I came across were an internal company transfer or lawyers with a couple years of experience. These are relatively narrow subsets – you need to be working at a firm with a London office or be a lawyer but there may very well be other means I’m oblivious to because of the narrow nature of my social circle.
  • Despite all the above – while you should be prepared to go over without a job, do not resign yourself to it. GIVE IT A GO! In the words of ice hockey great Wayne Gretzy:


  • Give yourself the best chance by having all your proverbial ducks lined up – main things being your visa (i.e. the right to work) and your CV. You never know when an opportunity might present itself – in the least likely of circumstances – so you want to be ready to go when it does come up.
  • Tap your networks – there’s a surprising number of jobs out there that are unadvertised and subsequently filled by someone who came through a word of mouth reference. It naturally helps if you’re a hardworking and competent employee who others will feel more comfortable vouching for.
  • Reach out to everyone you know – friends, family and colleagues to see whether ‘someone knows someone’ who can help. Even the simple act of having someone pass on (and not even necessarily endorse) your CV could be all it takes to get you an interview that might have otherwise have been not worth a recruiter’s or HR department’s time to set up.
  • Take some heart from my experience. I applied for the visa and was prepared to go over without a job but eventually managed to secure an internal transfer to a completely different department. The opportunity came about through a casual conversation with someone in my new team, and I was able to quickly seize it by sending across my CV straight after our chat. My CV got forwarded on, which led to interviews, and subsequently a job – so believe me when I say it can be done!


In my next post I’ll discuss the more admin-ey things you might find yourself needing to sort out before you jet off.




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