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UK and Canada set to extend reciprocal youth mobility visa schemes

UK and Canada flags

14 July 2023

The reciprocal agreements to allow British and Canadian youths to live and work in each other’s countries are set to be expanded.

From next year 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.

Canadians and Brits on these schemes will be able to stay in each other’s country for three years, up from two.

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 today.

The agreement was signed by Minister Fraser and Susannah Goshko, British High Commissioner to Canada.

The new arrangement that will commence next year builds on an existing youth mobility partnership that began in 2008 and includes a number of improvements:

  • The eligibility age will expand from 18–30 to 18–35.
  • Two new streams—International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals—will be added to complement the existing Working Holiday category for UK nationals visiting Canada.
  • The total duration that participants will be able to stay will increase from two to three years.

This reflects augmented reciprocal youth mobility arrangements between the UK and Australia and New Zealand negotiated as part of the UK’s Free Trade Agreements with both countries. From 31 January 2024, Australians will be able to enjoy the Youth Mobility Scheme up to the age of 35 as New Zealanders are able to since last month.

The Youth Mobility Scheme is a handy visa for young people from eligible countries to try life in the UK for up to two years for most countries.

“As close Commonwealth partners, the ties between the UK and Canada are historic and deep,” said Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

“We are proud to welcome so many Canadians to the UK under the Youth Mobility Scheme, while thousands of Brits have similarly benefited from the opportunity overseas.

“The expansion opens up opportunities for even more young people to make lasting connections, build their skills and use the experience to contribute both to their host country and once they return home.”

“The UK is one of the most popular countries for Canadian youth working and travelling abroad,” added his Canadian counterpart Sean Fraser. “Canada is equally a top destination for UK youth participating in IEC.

“This new arrangement makes it more accessible for more Canadian and British youth to work and travel in each other’s country, while enjoying the many benefits of international youth mobility. I encourage youth from both countries to embrace the opportunities this program offers and explore new cultures, learn new skills and gain international experience and perspectives.”

What countries participate in the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme and what is their allocation?

The allocation for different participating countries does not follow the population size of those countries. India for instance, has 3,000 places for its Young Professionals Scheme (similar to the Youth Mobility Scheme, but with more stipulations). Far less populous Iceland has 1,000 places, while San Marino, with a population of just 33,000 has 1,000 places on the scheme. The total allocation of places listed for 2022 for each country participating in the scheme was as follows:

  • 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 does the Youth Mobility Scheme visa allow?

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 this week announced that immigration fees will be rising.

You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa without having to be picked in a ballot if you’re aged 18 to 30 and you’re a national of one of these countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • Iceland

You can also apply if you’re 18 to 30 and a:

  • British overseas citizen
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British national (overseas)

Which nationals need to enter a ballot to apply to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa ballot?

This visa scheme is oversubscribed for some of the nationals participating. 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.