At a Glance
- The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) visa is a flexible, short-term visa for applicants who want to stay in the United Kingdom for up to two years.
- Unlike other forms of UK visas, it does not require sponsorship from an employer. The applicant also does not need to have any intention to work or study in the UK, although they are permitted to, subject to a few exceptions.
The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) visa is a flexible, short-term visa for applicants who want to stay in the United Kingdom for up to two years. The permission is extendable to three years for applicants from New Zealand and, from 31 January 2024, for Australian and Canadian nationals as well.
Unlike other forms of UK visas, it does not require sponsorship from an employer. The applicant also does not need to have any intention to work or study in the UK, although they are permitted to, subject to a few exceptions. They can also be self-employed or set up a business while in the UK. If they do so their premises must be either rented or their own home, there must be no employees, and the value of the equipment used in the business cannot exceed £5,000.
It is worth noting that the YMS does not count towards time spent in the UK for settlement purposes. However, it does present a successful applicant with the opportunity to seek and secure long-term employment and sponsorship under a different visa category that may lead to settlement, e.g., the Skilled Worker category. Dependants are not allowed to accompany or join the applicant and certain countries have restricted numbers on who can apply each year, meaning that applicants must enter a ballot. There are also, unless the applicant qualifies for an exemption, various filing fees payable including an application fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge for each year of the visa.
YMS Applicant Requirements
- Be aged 18 to 30 years old (or 18 to 35 years old for applicants from New Zealand and, from 31 January 2024, for Australian and Canadian nationals as well)
- Be either:
- A national of Australia, Canada, San Marino, Monaco, Iceland or New Zealand
- A British overseas citizen, British overseas territory citizen, or a British national (overseas)
- A national of Japan, The Republic of Korea, or Taiwan issued with an invitation to apply
- A citizen of Hong Kong issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship
- Hold at least £2,530 in savings for a least 28 days in a row within 31 days of the application to demonstrate that they can support themselves
- Have negative TB results (if applicable)
- Not have any children under the age of 18 living with them or for whom they are financially responsible
- Not have previously been in the UK with this scheme or as a Working Holidaymaker or as a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) migrant
- Not have any adverse immigration or criminal history
The earliest that applicants can apply for a visa is six months before travel, and a decision will usually be communicated approximately three weeks after applying.
India Young Professionals Scheme
India has a slight variation on the YMS in the form of the India Young Professionals Scheme. Similar to the YMS, applicants must be Indian citizens aged between 18 to 30 years old with at least £2,530 in savings. However, to enter the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot, applicants must hold an eligible qualification: a UK bachelor's degree level or above, or an equivalent overseas qualification at degree level or above.
Could the YMS Be Expanded to EU Citizens?
In April 2023, the European Affairs Committee produced a Report (the Report) on the future UK-EU relationship. Since Brexit, there have been significant labour shortages in particular UK industries including hospitality, transport, and tourism. More recently, we have seen the addition of roles in the construction sector to the Shortage Occupation list. The Report highlighted that such barriers to growth in the UK economy could be addressed by introducing a variation on the YMS to be implemented with the EU or its individual member states. A UK-EU scheme would represent not only a boost for employers in struggling sectors, but also for travel, cultural and economic relations. Where the viability of a YMS with the EU may be a concern, there are existing precedents within some of the EU member states, notably France, Germany and Spain all have variations of the working holiday visa which could be adapted to suit the needs of a UK-EU partnership under the YMS.
Whilst immigration levels are a continuous source of political debate in the UK, the Report is clear to state that the scheme is of a reciprocal and fixed-term nature, and numbers are restricted per jurisdiction. This means that a UK-EU version of the YMS should not have any noticeable effect on net migration levels. However, negotiations between the UK and EU (or its individual member states) are likely to be complex and time-consuming. As a result, it is unlikely to provide a quick fix for employers struggling to find workers as an immediate and pressing issue. Despite any potential problems, the Report concludes by recommending that such negotiations commence and that a reciprocal scheme with the EU is implemented.
In addition to the EU, the UK economy could also benefit from the YMS Scheme being broadened to include more nations.