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Dates announced for the first 2024 UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa application ballots


UPDATED 31 January 2024

The UK Government has announced the January dates for the first ballot for the 2024 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS). The first ballot of the 2024 YMS opens from 00:01 on Wednesday 31 January and closes at 00:01 on Friday 2 February. The YMS is a reciprocal cultural exchange agreement that the UK has with several countries which allows young people from eligible countries to live and work in the UK without the need for sponsorship for up to two years (for most countries, though some schemes are three years and up to the age of 35 now), and in turn for young Brits to try life in the participating countries.

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

This visa scheme is oversubscribed for some nationals participating. Japanese or South Korean nationals need no longer enter a ballot. From 31 January 2024, they can apply at any time on the YMS website like most countries on the scheme. 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)
  • Taiwan
  • Indian nationals applying to their similar Young Professionals Scheme must also enter ballots, but the date has not yet been confirmed by the UK Government. Last year the two ballots were in February and July. NB: Details for 2024 ballots when available will be published here, so be sure to keep checking the Young Professionals Scheme link.

How to apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot

There are usually ballots in January and July every year. The majority of applicants tend to be chosen during the January ballot and the remaining places allocated in the July ballot. Unsuccessful applicants can apply again if they still meet the eligibility requirements.

To enter, if you will meet the above eligibility requirements, send one email during the 48 hour ballot to the relevant address below. You will get an automated reply confirming your entry.

All emails must be in English.

The subject line of the email must include applicants’ name, date of birth and passport number in the format: Last name First name – DD/MM/YYYY – passport number. (EG: Smith Jane – 31/03/1999 – 123456789)

The body of the email must include your

  • name
  • date of birth
  • passport number
  • mobile phone number

Unsuccessful applicants will be notified within two weeks of the ballot closing. If still eligible they can enter the next ballot.

How to enter the YMS ballot from Hong Kong

800 ballot places will be available in January 2024.

Email HongKongYMS@homeoffice.gov.uk between 00:01 on Wednesday 31 January 2024 and 00:01 on Friday 2 February 2024 (Hong Kong time) to enter the ballot.

How to enter the YMS ballot from Taiwan

800 ballot places will be available in January 2024.

Email TaiwanYMS@homeoffice.gov.uk between 00:01 on Wednesday 31 January 2024 and 00:01 on Friday 2 February 2024 (Taipei time) to enter the ballot.

What happens if you are picked in the YMS ballot?

Applicants picked to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme should receive an email by Wednesday 7 February. Remember to check your email’s junk inbox. You then have 30 days to submit and pay for an application. After paying there is usually 90 days to book a biometric appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) to provide fingerprints and a photograph.

You should be notified of the success of your visa within three weeks of your appointment, with 90 days to enter the UK. If you cannot travel to the UK within 90 days, you’ll need to apply for an extension. You will not need to reapply for the visa.

What are January’s changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme?

Also on 31 January 2024 changes to the YMS are being made to reflect bilateral arrangements negotiated over the past year.

Andorra joins the scheme. Up to 100 nationals of Andorra aged 18-30 will also 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.

Uruguay joins the YMS in January 2024 too, becoming the first South American nation to join the reciprocal visa scheme. The maximum total allocation of places available for use by nationals or citizens of Uruguay participating in the Youth Mobility Scheme in 2024 is 500. There is no mention of any need to apply for a ballot to apply, just a criminal record check like other recent additions to the scheme: Andorra, Iceland, San Marino and India.

The total number of allocated places for nationals of Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) who can travel to the UK and vice versa under the YMS will increase, so both nationalities will no longer need to enter a ballot to be picked to apply, but will be able to apply online on the UK Government’s Youth Mobility Scheme site.

The total allocation of places available for nationals or citizens of Japan participating in the Youth Mobility Scheme in 2024 will increase from 1,500 to 6000.

For South Koreans the allocation will increase from 1,000 to 5,000 and also the age range for nationals or citizens of the Republic of Korea will expanded from the customary 18-30 to 18-35.

Britain’s reciprocal YMS agreements with Australia and Canada are also expanding on 31 January for applications up to and including the age of 35 and to extend the maximum stay of two years by an extra year to three.

What other changes to the YMS have been recently negotiated?

Since June 2023 the YMS agreement with New Zealand has been extended for applications up to and including the age of 35 and up to three years.

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

Nationals from these countries will be able to apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme:

  • Andorra (applications open from 31 January 2024)
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong (If picked by ballot)
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • San Marino
  • Taiwan (If picked by ballot)
  • Uruguay (applications open from 31 January 2024)
  • 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 can be up to and including the age of 30 on the date they apply for their visa and at least 18 on the date that the visa would become valid. (Applicants from New Zealand can apply up to and including the age of 35 – as can applicants from Australia, Canada and South Korea from the end of January.)

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 YMS 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 does a Youth Mobility Scheme visa entitle you to?

Successful applicants will be given a visa for 24 months (36 months for New Zealanders now and for Australians and Canadians from 31 January 2024). People on the YMS can enter, leave and re-enter the UK any time during the period. If you turn 31 (or 36 if from New Zealand – or Australia, Canada, South Korea from 2024) during this period you can still stay in the country as long as the visa is valid.

You will be able to study 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 does the Young Professionals Scheme from India work?

As part of the UK and India’s post-Brexit trade deal, it was announced that 3,000 applicants from India would be able to come to the UK on a Young Professionals Scheme in 2023 – though they will be subject to extra “country-specific eligibility requirements” that Youth Mobility Scheme applicants from other eligible nations do not need to worry about. Details for 2024 are to be confirmed.

Who is eligible for the Young Professionals Scheme from India?

To be eligible for a Young Professional Scheme visa you must fulfil the same criteria as the YMS, plus have the educational qualifications below:

  • be an Indian national or citizen over 18 and 30 years old
  • be at least 18 years old on the date you plan to travel to the UK
  • have £2,530 in savings to support yourself in the UK
  • not have any children under the age of 18 who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for
  • have a qualification at bachelor’s degree level (or equivalent) or above (Regulated Qualifications Framework level 6, 7 or 8)
  • You can’t apply if you’ve already been in the UK under this scheme or the Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • If eligible you must first apply to and be selected in the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot before you can apply for your visa.

How should applicants that don’t need a ballot apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme?

Those who don’t need a ballot can apply online here for the Youth Mobility Scheme. They will need to provide biometrics as above at a visa application centre. Applicants from Andorra, Iceland, San Marino and Uruguay will need to provide certain country-specific documents.

How much does the Youth Mobility Scheme cost?

The application fee for a Youth Mobility visa (or Young Professionals Scheme visa) is £298. 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 of staying in the UK under the visa. The UK Government has announced that these fees are set to rise at the start of 2024 by about 66%: increasing from £470 to £776 per year for those on the YMS.

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


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