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by Vanessa Ganguin

The ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa finally opens

UPDATE 28 February 2023: According to the GOV.UK website for the Young Professionals Scheme, following “technical issues while applying for the Young Professionals Scheme” which “were due to high volumes of traffic and have now been fixed,”  the 48 hour ballot period has restarted “and will now close at 8:59pm India Standard Time on Thursday 2 March 2023.”

The website warns: “Don’t leave your application to the last minute. Those in the queue at the time of the ballot closing, or in the process of submitting their application at the time of the ballot closing, will not be able to apply.”

The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) offers a unique opportunity for participating nationalities aged 18 to 30 to live, work and study in the UK for up to two years.

As part of trade deal negotiations between the United Kingdom and India it was announced in January 2021 that India would join the select list of countries whose youth can apply for such a reciprocal cultural exchange programme.

Finally, over two years later, details have been announced of the lottery that Indian applicants can enter this month.

Reflecting the wording of the trade agreement between the two countries, the scheme will be called the India Young Professionals Scheme (YPS) visa and there will be eligibility requirements to make the scheme exclusively available to Indian nationals with a certain level of educational attainment (see below). This distinguishes the exchange programme from other Youth Mobility Schemes.

As such schemes are often oversubscribed in the case of other countries, there is meant to be a 48 window for Indian applicants to enter a ballot from 2.30pm India Standard Time on 28 February 2023, now, following technical difficulties due to the volume of applications, ending at 8:59pm India Standard Time on 2 March.

At the same time the Indian High Commission in London opens its visa application process for UK nationals to apply for the new Young Professionals Scheme on 28 February too, to coincide with the ballot for Indian graduates. Interested eligible British nationals do not need to apply through a ballot process and are welcome to apply to live and work in India for two years on a YPS visa at any time (see below).

How does the ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme work?

Applicants should check that they are eligible before entering the ballot which is free to enter.

The ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme opens from 2.30pm India Standard Time on 28 February 2023 and will now close at 8:59pm India Standard Time on Thursday 2 March 2023. Those in the queue at the time of the ballot closing, or in the process of submitting their application at the time of the ballot closing, will not be able to apply. The link to enter will appear on the UK Government’s ballot page here.

Those entering will need to provide their name, date of birth, passport details, a scan or photo of their passport, their phone number and email address.

Successful entries will be picked at random and will be emailed the results within two weeks of the ballot closing. Those unsuccessful in the random ballot can apply again.

How many places will be available on the India Young Professionals Scheme?

As part of a post-Brexit trade deal between India and Britain, Indian nationals will have 3,000 places on the scheme each year. To put this in perspective, far less populous Iceland has 1,000 places on its Youth Mobility Scheme, while San Marino, with a population of just 33,000 has 1,000 places on the scheme. This is why ballots for the India Young Professionals Scheme will take place twice a year. There are 2,400 visas available in this month’s February ballot.

When can those unsuccessful in February’s ballot enter another one?

Entrants cannot appeal if unsuccessful in February’s ballot. But if they are still eligible (see eligibility details below) they can enter future ballots again. The next ballot is expected to be held in late July and there are likely to be two ballots a year after that. Details will be announced closer to the time so keep checking.

Who is eligible to apply for an India Young Professionals Scheme visa?

Applicants must be:

  • an Indian national or citizen between 18 and 30 years old
  • at least 18 years old on the date you plan to travel to the UK
  • have a qualification at Bachelor’s Degree level or above (Regulated Qualifications Framework level 6, 7 or 8)
  • have £2,530 in savings to support themselves in the UK, with the money available for at least 28 days in a row within 31 days of applying for this visa.
  • not have any children under the age of 18 who they live with or who they are financially responsible for
  • not have already been in the UK under this scheme or the Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

More details on eligibility can be found on the UK Government’s website here. More details on the documents applicants must provide can be found here. Unlike other nationals applying for the YMS, applicants from India and Iceland will need a local police report or clearance certificate. Indian applicants will need to carry out a Tuberculosis test too if applying from India or another country on the UK’s list of countries where you need a TB test for a visa.

What happens if your ballot entry to the India Young Professionals Scheme is successful?

Ballot entrants will find out within two weeks if they have been successful. They will then need to apply within the deadline they are given on the online application form and to prove their identity. This will most probably be by having their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre, or possibly by using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app to scan their identity document online.

Decisions are expected to be made within three weeks, though this may take longer, if for instance, documents or applicant’s personal circumstances, such as a criminal record, for example, need verifying.

Once issued a visa, India Young Professionals must travel to the UK within six months.

How much does the Youth Mobility Scheme cost?

The ballot for the scheme is free, but for those lucky enough to be chosen at random, the application fee for an India Young Professionals Scheme visa is £259. An Immigration Health Charge to cover healthcare by the UK’s National Health Service must also be paid with the visa application. This costs £940 and covers the two-year visa.

What does an Indian Young Professionals Scheme visa allow?

Those granted this visa can come and go and stay in the UK for up to two years (or if they turn 31 after their visa is issued, for as long as their visa is valid).

The visa allows work in most jobs, study too (for some courses visa holders will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate.) Those on the visa may also be self-employed and set up a company – as long as premises are rented, equipment is not worth more than £5,000 and there are no employees.

The India Young Professionals Scheme visa cannot be extended, and those on it cannot apply for public funds or add family members to their application. They cannot work as a professional sportsperson.

Which other nations can apply to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme?

Nationals aged 18 – 30 of the following countries need to be picked in a ballot to apply for the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme:

Hong Kong (with an SAR passport) (1,000 places in total last year), Japan (1,500 places), South Korea (1,000 places) or Taiwan (1,000 places).

You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa without having to be picked in a ballot if you’re an eligible national of Australia (30,000 places), Canada (6,000 places), Monaco (1,000 places), New Zealand (13,000 places), San Marino (1,000 places) or Iceland (1,000 places)

There is no ballot or annual limits for those applying as a British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen or have British National (Overseas) status.

How do UK nationals apply for a YPS visa to India?

UK graduates aged 18 – 30 can apply for a two year Young Professionals Scheme visa to India via the High Commission of India in the UK. As well as a passport with at least six months validity, they must have proof of financial viability to pay for their expenses during their stay, should not have children under the age of 18 and can’t have stayed in India on the YPS previously. Details of online applications can be found on the High Commission of India website here.