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UK Visas for Australian Citizens

Do Australians need a visa for the UK?

Australian nationals do not require a visa to come to the UK for a short-term visit of up to 6 months. However, a UK visa is required for Australian citizens who wish to stay for longer than 6 months. Australian citizens can choose from a wide range of UK immigration routes, including UK family visas (e.g. spouse or partner visa), work visas (e.g. Skilled Worker visa), or business visas (e.g. Start-up visa or Innovator visa).

The UK visas available to you will depend on your circumstances and your plans in the UK (e.g. if you wish to settle in the UK). This article outlines the most popular Australia to UK visa options for Australians planning to come to or are already present in the UK.

Ancestry Visa

The UK’s Ancestry visa is for applicants with historical, familial ties to the UK – this includes commonwealth citizens. Because Australia is a member of the Commonwealth, you may be able to apply for an Ancestry visa if you meet the UK visa requirements; notably, you must be able to show you:

  • are aged 17 or over
  • have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, before 31 March 1922 in Ireland, or on a ship or aircraft that were either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government
  • have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK without needing help from public funds, and you
  • plan to work in the UK

Ancestry visa holders can remain in the UK for up to 5 years and then submit an ILR application which will allow them to stay permanently.

Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker visa (previously the Tier 2 General visa) is a UK points-based system (PBS) visa. For Australians wanting to come to the UK for work, it is the most popular long-term work visa route. As the name suggests, this scheme is open to applicants who meet the required skill level and have an offer of a job from an approved employer. To score enough points to secure a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to show that you:

  • Have a job offer for an eligible role1.
  • Are sponsored by a UK employer with a valid sponsor licence2.
  • Meet the salary requirements3 – i.e., pay of £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’4 for your occupation. Under certain circumstances, the salary requirement may be lower – e.g., if you have a job in the UK shortage occupation list or you are a recent graduate.
  • Meet the English language requirements5 – by passing an English language test at level CEFR B1 or above, having a degree taught in English or coming from a country whose citizens are exempt from this requirement.

As an Australian citizen, you don't need to meet the English language requirement comparing to applicants from other countries. If you are successful in securing a Skilled Worker visa, you will be able to stay for up to 5 years (depending on the duration of your employment), at which point you can apply to settle in the UK.

Scale-up Visa

The Scale-up visa is aimed at helping fast-growing businesses in the UK to employ overseas workers to help further their expansion. The Scale-up visa is a new visa for 2022 and is similar to the Skilled Worker visa as it will allow an Australian citizen to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years and then apply to settle. The main difference is that with a Scale-up visa, after 6 months, there is no restriction on changing employer. In addition, the salary requirement is set at a higher level. To apply for a Scale-up visa, you will need to show that you:

  • have a job offer from an approved scale-up business6 for a period of at least 6 months
  • have a certificate of sponsorship from your UK employer
  • have a job on the list of eligible occupations7
  • meet the minimum salary requirements - £33,000 per annum, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation

High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual visa or HPI visa is also new for 2022 and is aimed at those who have graduated from a top non-UK university in the last 5 years. For Australian nationals, the University of Melbourne is listed as one of the top eligible universities. Therefore, if you graduated from this university in the last 5 years, you will be able to apply for an HPI visa.

HPI visa holders do not require a job offer and, once in the UK, are free to find employment, work in any type of role or for any employer, be self-employed, and travel freely to and from the UK. It is important to note that HPI visa holders can only stay for 2 years (or 3 years if they have a Ph.D.), and they cannot extend their stay. Instead, HPI visa holders who wish to stay longer or settle in the UK can switch to a different type of visa (e.g., a Skilled Worker visa).

To qualify for the UK HPI visa, applicants must:

  • Hold a qualification that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from a top university
  • Meet the English language requirements (i.e., have a degree that was taught in English or pass an English language test at CEFR B1 level)
  • Have enough savings (£1,270).

Global Talent Visa

The UK’s Global Talent visa is aimed at overseas leaders and potential leaders in the fields of academia or research, arts and culture, and digital technology. Global Talent visa holders can work, be self-employed, run their own businesses, change jobs, and travel freely to and from the UK. The Global Talent visa is extremely beneficial as, depending on your background, you may be able to settle permanently in the UK after just 3 years. To make a successful Global Talent visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years, and
  • Have been endorsed by an appropriate endorsement body in the UK as being a leader or potential leader.

The exact requirements you will need to meet to acquire an endorsement depend on your field of expertise and the endorsing body’s requirements. For example, those applying as a leader in research or academia must be able to show they have an eligible job offer as an academic or researcher, an individual fellowship, a research grant approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), or an eligible award.


References

1 GOV.UK: Eligible occupations

2 GOV.UK: Register of licensed sponsors

3 GOV.UK: Skilled worker salary requirements

4 GOV.UK: Going rates

5 GOV.UK: Knowledge of English

6 GOV.UK: Approved sponsor list

7 GOV.UK: Scale up visa going rates

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