Youth Mobility Scheme Visa Overview

The Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is a special visa category for young adults from specific countries who wish to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to 2 years. The scheme aims to provide opportunities, promote cultural exchange, and strengthen ties between the UK and participating nations. Eligibility for the scheme is relatively straightforward, and you can apply if:

  • You are aged between 18 and 30 years old (35 years old for New Zealand citizens)
  • Have £2,530 in savings
  • Come from an eligible country

If you can satisfy this criteria, then you’ll benefit from a visa that allows you to:

  • Work, live, and study for up to 2 years (3 years for citizens of New Zealand) in the UK
  • Come and go as you wish from the UK while the visa remains valid
  • Start your UK immigration journey and potentially switch to a longer-term visa at the end of your stay

The Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, or Working Holiday Visa as it was previously known, is hugely popular. For many Australians and New Zealanders, it’s a right of passage and an amazing opportunity to work, travel, and experience a different culture. While the visa doesn’t count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, it’s a good stepping stone towards a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa should you wish to extend your stay for longer.

Who Can Apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa?

You’re eligible to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa if you’re aged between 18 to 30 years old (35 for New Zealanders from 29 June 2023) and you’re a citizen of:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • Iceland

There is also an annual ballot for citizens of the following countries:

  • Hong Kong (1,000 places)
  • Japan (1,500 places)
  • South Korea (1,000 places)
  • Taiwan (1,000 places)

You must be selected from the ballot before you can make an application for the visa. A similar scheme is also available for Indian citizens, known as the India Young Professionals Scheme. The terms of the visa are the same, and access to the scheme is again via ballot.

You can also apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa if you’re aged between 18 and 30 years old and a:

  • British Overseas Citizen
  • British Overseas Territories Citizen
  • British National (Overseas)

It’s important to note that eligibility for the scheme is subject to several additional criteria. You must not have:

  • Held the visa previously – this is a one-time opportunity
  • Any children under 18 years old who are financially dependent on your
  • Any children under 18 years old who live with you

Youth Mobility Scheme Annual Quotas

Each participating country in the Youth Mobility Scheme receives an annual quota. The largest quotas are allocated to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and these quotas are rarely, if ever, filled. In contrast, the quotas for other countries, particularly the Asian nations, can be heavily over-subscribed. This means that ballots are used to allocate visas for citizens of Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Typically, ballots are conducted twice annually in January and July, and an expression of interest needs to be registered during the application window to be included within the ballot. You will have 30 days to submit your application if drawn from the ballot.

The annual quotas for 2023 are as follows:

  • Australia – 35,000 places
  • New Zealand – 13,000 places
  • Canada – 8,000 places
  • Japan – 1,500 places
  • Iceland – 1,000 places
  • India – 3,000 places (via the India Young Professionals Scheme)
  • Monaco – 1,000 places
  • Taiwan – 1,000 places
  • Hong Kong – 1,000 places
  • Republic of Korea – 1,000 places
  • San Marino – 1,000 places

Note there is no quota for British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, and British National (Overseas).

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How Much Does a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa Cost?

The Youth Mobility Scheme Visa can only be obtained from a visa application centre outside the UK. The application fee for the visa is £298, which needs to be paid at the time of application. The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is also payable and needs to be paid at the time of application. The IHS fee for a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is at the discounted rate of £470 per year, meaning £940 is payable for the full 2-year visa.

Rights and Permissions Under the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa allows you to:

  • Engage in studies, although certain courses may require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate.
  • Work in a wide range of job sectors.
  • Establish your own business and be self-employed, provided that you rent your premises, your equipment is valued at less than £5,000, and you do not have any employees.

However, there are certain restrictions:

  • You are not permitted to work as a professional sportsperson, such as a coach.
  • Extending your stay beyond the allotted period is not possible.
  • Access to public funds is not available.
  • Family members cannot be included in your application; they must apply separately.

Youth Mobility Scheme Eligibility Checklist

while the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is one of the simpler applications, ensuring you have all the required documents is important. Failure to demonstrate how you meet the criteria or missing documents can lead to a visa refusal.

The following are all of the requirements that need to be met:

  • Age: At the time of application, you must be aged between 18 and 30 years old
  • Nationality: You must be a citizen and passport holder of one of the eligible countries
  • Maintenance Requirement: You must have savings of £2,530, which you have held for a 28-day period within the 31 days before your application
  • Children: You don’t have any children that live with you or are financially dependent on you
  • Immigration History: You haven’t previously held a Youth Mobility Scheme Visa and don’t have any adverse immigration history
  • Tuberculosis: You don’t live in a country where Tuberculosis is prevalent, or if you do, you have a Tuberculosis Clearance Certificate

Your visa application should be successful if you meet the above criteria and submit the appropriate evidence.

Time spent on the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa does not count towards ILR. However, it does provide you with the platform to showcase your skills to UK employers, which could lead to sponsorship on a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa. This path could then lead to permanent residence and, in time, British Citizenship.

Unfortunately, the fact the visa was previously issued means that you wouldn’t be eligible to apply again.

You can set a proposed travel date up to 6 months in advance of the date of application. The start date of the visa will be based on the date declared on the application form at the point of submission.

Applications for the Youth Mobility Scheme are typically processed within 3 weeks. These timescales reflect the processing time once an application is fully submitted, which includes submission of the online form, proving your identity, and submitting your supporting documentation.