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January additions to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa reciprocal immigration agreements

UK festivals

14 September 2023

The latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules confirm a 31 January 2024 date for the expansion of Britain’s reciprocal Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) agreements with Australia and  Canada.

The change to the UK’s Immigration Rules also take in the addition of Andorra to the list of countries whose nationals can enjoy a YMS visa to the UK. The rules confirm that up to 100 nationals of Andorra aged 18-30 will be able to spend up to two years living, studying or working in the UK like most nations which are part of the UK’s YMS visa scheme.

Despite a Home Office announcement in August and a line on the Government Youth Mobility Scheme website currently suggesting that Uruguay will be the first South American nation to join the Youth Mobility Scheme, Andorra was the only country added to the scheme in September’s Immigration Rules changes, along with an extension of the agreements with Australia and Canada for applications up to and including the age of 35 and to extend the two years by an extra year from 31 January 2024.

Though Andorra has a population around three times the size of San Marino and Monaco – the other European microstates on the scheme – Andorra will have a tenth of their allocation: just 100 people will be able to participate in the YMS.

There have been news reports of discussions in the UK Government regarding expanding the scheme to allow young people from other countries in Europe and beyond to come to the UK to help alleviate labour shortages that have dogged certain sectors since the UK left the European Union and its freedom of movement agreements. Obviously it would be much simpler to strike a reciprocal youth mobility agreement with the whole of the EU rather than individual European states, but such an agreement would likely fall foul of more Eurosceptic and anti-immigration elements in the parliamentary Conservative Party.

In July, Sean Fraser, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Robert Jenrick, UK Minister of State for Immigration announced the signing of the new Canada–United Kingdom (UK) Youth Mobility Arrangement. As in this summer’s agreement with Australia, the eligibility to participate in the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) and Canada’s International Experience Canada (IEC) will be increased from those aged 18 – 30 to 18 – 35 for nationals of both countries. The total duration that participants will be able to stay will also increase from two to three years.

Since June the YMS agreement with New Zealand has been extended for applications up to and including the age of 35 and up to three years.

A similar two -year Young Professionals Scheme agreed with India also commenced this summer, with ballots held twice a year for Indian graduates aged 18-30 wishing to participate.

Who can apply for the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa?

Nationals from these countries can now apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme:

  • Andorra – 100 places (applications open from 31 January 2024)
  • Australia – 35,000 places
  • Canada – 8,000 places
  • Hong Kong – 1,000 places
  • Iceland – 1,000 places
  • India – 3,000 places
  • Japan – 1,500 places
  • Monaco – 1,000 places
  • New Zealand – 13,000 places
  • Republic of Korea – 1,000 places
  • San Marino – 1,000 places
  • Taiwan – 1,000 places
  • There is no annual limit on places for British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas).

What are the YMS eligibility requirements?

Eligible nationals must be aged under 30 on the date they apply for their visa and at least 18 on the date that the visa would become valid.

Those living with their children under the age of 18 or financially responsible for children cannot apply. People cannot apply if they have already been in the UK under the scheme.

You must be self-sufficient. The financial requirements for the Youth Mobility Scheme are proven savings of £2,530 held for a 28-day period. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.

Applicants may need to be certified free from tuberculosis depending on where they have been in the past six months. Usual Home Office general grounds of refusal based on applicants’ history (eg: criminality) apply.

There are additional education / professional experience requirements for Indian applicants of the Young Professionals Scheme.

What can you do on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa?

Successful applicants from most countries participating will be given a visa for 24 months and can enter, leave and re-enter the UK any time in the period. If you turn 31 during this period you can still stay in the country as long as the visa is valid.

You will be able to study (for some courses an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate) and work in most roles, be self-employed, even set up a company so long as premises are rented, equipment is not worth more than £5,000 and there are no employees. You may not work as a professional sportsperson, extend your stay, receive public funds or bring any family members to the UK on your visa.

How much does the Youth Mobility Scheme cost?

The application fee for a Youth Mobility visa is currently £259. An Immigration Health Charge to cover healthcare by the National Health Service must also be paid with the visa application. This costs £470 per year at present. The UK Government has announced that immigration fees will be rising.

Who needs to enter a ballot to apply to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme?

This visa scheme is oversubscribed for some of the nationals participating. Currently, before applying for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa applicants must be first selected in one of the two ballots each year ballot if they are a national of:

  • Hong Kong (with an SAR passport)
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Indian nationals applying to their similar Young Professionals Scheme also must enter ballots.

For more details on the Youth Mobility Scheme and other immigration options, contact us on +44 (0) 207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.