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Guide to UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visas

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By Shahjahan Ali


Published 11 January 2022

Guide to UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visas

The Youth Mobility Scheme is a temporary visa that enables those aged between 18 and 30 to study, work or live in the UK for up to 2 years. Those applying to enter the UK on this visa must be nationals from participating countries or territories.

There is an annual allocation in place for each participating country and their yearly allocations are:

  • Australia - 30,000 places
  • New Zealand - 13,000 places
  • Canada - 6,000 places
  • Japan - 1,500 places
  • Monaco - 1,000 places
  • Taiwan - 1,000 places
  • Hong Kong - 1,000 places
  • Republic of Korea - 1,000 places
  • San Marino - 1,000 places

In 2022, Iceland and India will be added to the list of participating countries. India will be allocated with 3,000 places and Iceland with 1,000.

Additionally, British Overseas citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens and British National (Overseas) citizens are eligible to apply.

What are the main requirements of the Youth Mobility Scheme?
There are a number of requirements which must be satisfied in order to be granted permission to enter the UK under the Youth Mobility Scheme. These can be broken down into the following main categories:

  • Entry requirements
  • Sponsorship requirements
  • Suitability requirements

Entry requirements
When making a Youth Mobility visa application, the applicant must ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • They must be aged 18 or over when they are due to enter the UK;
  • They must have not previously spent time in the UK on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa;
  • They must either be a national or citizen, or the rightful holder of a passport for one of the countries listed above, or a British Overseas Citizen, British Territories Overseas Citizen or British Overseas National;
  • Applicant must ensure they provide evidence that they have taken a tuberculosis test, if this is required;
  • They must evidence that they have savings of £2,530 for 28 days in their account; and
  • The applicant must not have any children under the age of 18 who are either living with them or are financially dependent on them.

Sponsorship under the Youth Mobility Scheme
The sponsoring entity for Youth Mobility Scheme applicants is their country of nationality instead of an employer as is the case for Skilled Worker visas. The countries which are eligible to act as sponsor are divided into those where no further steps are required to obtain sponsorship and those where an invitation to apply arrangement exists. San Marino and Iceland are treated separately to these two categories.

Nationals of the following countries can rely solely on their passport to evidence sponsorship:

  • Australia;
  • Canada;
  • Monaco; and
  • New Zealand.

Nationals of the following countries are subject to additional criteria under the invitation to apply arrangements:

  • Hong Kong;
  • Japan;
  • Republic of Korea;
  • Taiwan; and
  • India

Under the invitation to apply arrangements, individuals will apply to a ballot and if successful, they will be eligible to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa. The scheme for Indian nationals is expected to open in 2022 and will run under a separate ballot to the other four countries in this category.

Nationals of San Marino are required to provide a letter from the Directorate of Political and Diplomatic Affairs of the Republic of San Marino Department of Foreign Affairs.

Nationals of Iceland must provide a Criminal Certificate for Private Use/Sakavottoro to satisfy the sponsorship criteria.

Nationals of India are also subject to additional criteria. To qualify for sponsorship, they must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • They have a degree level or above qualification and can provide evidence of this; or
  • They have a minimum of 3 years’ work experience in a professional role equivalent to a job which is eligible for sponsorship under the Appendix Skilled Occupations list and can provide evidence of the work experience.

The ballot scheme for nationals of Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea and Taiwan
Ballots typically open in January and July each year and will be open for 48 hours. Individuals who apply during this time may be selected to progress with an application. Those who are not selected can apply again in the next ballot. To enter the ballot, individuals must send an email in English to a designated email address as set out below:

Hong Kong applicants: HongKong.YMS2022@fcdo.gov.uk

Japan applicants: Japan.YMS2022@fcdo.gov.uk

Republic of Korea applicants: SouthKorea.YMS2022@fcdo.gov.uk

Taiwan applications: SouthKorea.YMS2022@fcdo.gov.uk

The next ballot will run between midday on Monday 17 January 2022 to midday Wednesday 19 January 2022 local time in the relevant countries.

The subject line of the email will need to contain the name, date of birth and passport number of the applicant in the following format:

Subject: Surname Fist name – dd/mm/yyyy – passport number

The body of the email will need to include the applicant’s name, date of birth, passport number and mobile phone number.

Those who are selected to apply will be notified by 28 January 2022 and will then have 30 days to submit their application and pay the application fee. Once the fee is paid, they will have 90 days to booked their visa appointment.

Suitability requirements
The Home Office will consider the applicants personal and criminal history and an application can be refused for a visa on the grounds of suitability. For example, if the applicant has been previously convicted of a criminal offence or their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. If an individual believes there are reasons for concerns, they should seek immigration advice prior to applying.

Are there any work restrictions with the Youth Mobility Scheme visa?
The Youth Mobility Scheme visa allows individuals to work whilst they are in the UK. However, there are some work restrictions on this route. Applicants are not permitted to work as a professional sportsperson. They are also not allowed to work as a self-employed person unless they meet the following conditions:

  • They must not own the premises which they work from. However, they are allowed to work as a self-employed person from their home;
  • The total value of any equipment that is used in the business must not exceed £5,000; and
  • The must not have employees working for them.

How long is the visa granted for?
Successful applicants will be granted permission to enter the UK for a maximum period of 2 years.

What is the application process?
Applicants must apply online for this visa and as a part of their application, they will be required to provide proof of their identity. Applicants will need to:

  • Create a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account. After logging into their account they will be told what they need to do in order to apply for the visa;
  • The applicant will have to use the UK Immigration ID Check app to scan their identity documents when filling out their application;
  • They will also need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre. This is to issue a biometric residence permit (which is evidence of the holders right to stay in the UK).

How much will it cost?
Currently, there is an application fee of £244 and a healthcare surcharge of £470 per year for the 2 years visa. There may be other optional fees depending on the location of the application such as photocopying fees.

Can a Youth Mobility Scheme visa be extended?
The Youth Mobility Scheme visa cannot be extended and there is no specific route to indefinite leave to remain. However, the time will count towards 10 years’ continuous lawful residence which is a special route to indefinite leave to remain.

What can an applicant do when their Youth Mobility visa is coming to an end?
If it is not possible for an individual to switch their visa to another category, they must leave the UK before their visa expires. There are various options to remain in the UK after being on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa but they will depend on individual circumstances. For example, those working in the UK in a skilled role could seek sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa category.

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Please note that this article is not intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only. Individuals requiring legal advice should seek advice from a qualified professional.