Blogger Lauren has some tips for teachers based overseas before they fill out their UK visa applications.
Hi there, my name is Lauren, and I am going to be teaching at a primary school in London this September.
I have recently completed my Tier 5 Youth Mobility VISA application to live and work in the UK, and travelled to Toronto to complete my application and fulfill the requirements for my Biometric permit. It was certainly an experience, and I picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. I’m so excited to share them with you!
1. Take your time on the applications
Make sure that you dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s on your applications. It is worth sitting down and taking the time to complete them properly to ensure your application process goes smoothly and you don’t hit any roadblocks. You don’t want to be turned away at your biometrics appointment.
2. Plan ahead
If you’re going to be travelling to Toronto (or another big city) to attend your biometrics appointment, make sure you leave yourself enough time to contend with traffic or any unexpected issues. If you need to leave early in the morning (like I did) gas up your vehicle the night before, pack everything you will need and leave it by the door, and pick out your clothes for the next day. Preparing yourself this way takes the stress out of a busy morning, and is a good idea in general.
3. Be organized. Bring everything you can think of!
As my Mother has always said to me, it’s better to be over prepared that not at all. I have a binder that houses and collects all of my UK-related documents. I have printed all of my important emails regarding my contract, placement, VISA, Health Surcharge and any other piece of info and organized them all into one place. This came in handy at my appointment, when the officer requested proof of my Health Surcharge payment and a receipt. He chuckled a little when I pulled the binder out of my bag, but I think he appreciated my organization.
4. Leave you electronics at home, or be prepared to place them in a locker.
Essentially, you can’t take them in with you for security reasons. There is a wall of lockers, but when I got there all the lockers were taken. I ended up putting my iPad and my phone in a plastic baggie that went into the security guard’s locked drawer in his desk. I signed a waiver allowing him to hold onto them as well. Not a big deal. He even remembered my name when I came back out, which considering the number of people he sees in a day, is pretty cool. If you’re nervous about leaving them, just don’t bring them with you.
5. Plan to be early.
The office is a pretty tremendously busy place. You’ll also need time once you get there to get organized, so do yourself a favour and be early. It’s also likely that the officers will be running behind on appointments, but I think it’s worthwhile being there, prepared and relaxed instead of flying in at the last minute in a panic.
6. Bring something to do while you wait
Bring a book, a newspaper, a crossword…bring something! You will likely be waiting a while and the advertising for London tourist destinations on loop is only entertaining for so long.
7. Complete your checklist, organize your documents and print your DHL shipping label while you’re waiting.
The guard will provide you with a document checklist when you go in that will help you decide what to provide the officer with. Organize your documents in the order indicated on the list. You will also have an opportunity to provide things not listed if you wish. Have that ready to go too. Another smart idea: if you plan on having your passport shipped back to your house once the vignette has been added to it, go to the DHL counter and get your shipping label before you get called up to the desk. The officers really appreciate it.
8. Bring water.
Just do it. Hydration is important. And no food or drink other than water is allowed in the office.
9. Guests who have to wait.
There is a limit on the number of people who can be outside the office (due to fire codes), so if you have some company with you, there is a great restaurant in the bottom of the building called Over Easy. My parents waited for me there almost the whole two hours I was in the office. The Royal Ontario Museum is also right across the street!
10. Nice matters.
Be nice to the security guard and the officers. All too often they have someone frustrated who gets angry with them, or who treats them with indifference. Go the extra mile and be friendly. It will really make your application process much smoother.
I hope that some of these ideas and insights will be useful when you apply for your own VISA! Best of luck, and happy applying!
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