Spotlight On: The Youth
Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) is a temporary immigration route which exists to provide young people aged between 18 and 30 from participating countries with an opportunity to experience life in the UK for up to two years.

With a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa, individuals can live and work in the UK to gain international work experience and the opportunity to travel throughout the EU during the two year validity period.

The YMS is a reciprocal cultural exchange scheme which has been designed to encourage trade and tourism and to promote the UK in overseas territories. Terms and conditions of the scheme are negotiated and agreed between the UK and each participating country, meaning young British citizens can also benefit from similar opportunities to live and work overseas.

UK employers can also benefit from the scheme as it allows them to fill temporary and lower skilled roles without the usual skills and salary thresholds associated with sponsoring migrant workers under the skilled worker route.

The UK currently operates YMS agreements with the following eight countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

Who can apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme?

In order to meet the eligibility requirements for the route, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa applicants must:

  • Be a citizen of a participating country, or a British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen or a British National (Overseas).
  • Be aged between 18 and 30 at the point of application.
  • Have at least £1,890 in savings.

You cannot apply for the scheme if you have children who live with you or children you are financially responsible for. The YMS is also a one-off visa, meaning you cannot extend it or apply again if you have already been in the UK under the YMS scheme or the former ‘working holidaymaker’ category.

The application process

Applications for YMS visas are submitted online, with the exception of individuals applying from within North Korea, who will need to download an application form.

All applicants will need to attend a visa application centre (VAC) as part of the application process to submit biometric information and obtain a biometric residence permit (BRP). The BRP must be collected within ten days of the date you arrive in the UK.

The cost to apply is currently £244, and applicants will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently £300 per year for Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visas.

What are the conditions and requirements?

A Youth Mobility Scheme visa entitles the holder to study and work in most jobs for the two-year validity period of the visa. In most cases, applicants must be receiving at least National Minimum Wage. There is also no English language requirement associated with this route.

Under the Youth Mobility Scheme, applicants are not allowed to:

  • Work as a professional sportsperson, doctor or dentist in training
  • Bring family members into the UK as dependents
  • Access public funds in the UK

Speak to an immigration advisor

If you need advice or assistance in applying for the Youth Mobility Scheme or any other visa routes into the UK for work or study, Smith Stone Walters is here to help.

Our team of immigration experts will guide you through the entire process from initial consultation to delivery of your visa. For an informal discussion about your requirements, please call us on 0208 461 6660, or email

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