I recently moved to Edinburgh, Scotland on a UK Youth Mobility Visa, and thought I would outline the application process for anyone who is considering doing the same.
I found the whole process to be quite straightforward, but I did have a few questions and concerns along the way, so I’m hoping this post will provide additional information for anyone who is – or who will be – applying for this visa.
(I’m from Canada, so the tips and information in this post is mainly relevant to Canadian citizens. Also, keep in mind: I applied from Toronto and the process may differ if you live outside Ontario.)
Tier 5 YMS Visa Guidance
The visa requirements and fees change fairly frequently, so you should always check the UK government website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
That said, if you’re looking for basic guidance and additional tips, read on to learn about my personal experience with the application process.
Have a question? Check the comments section at the bottom to see if the answer you’re after is there.
*Last updated: April 2018.
What is a UK Youth Mobility Visa?
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is essentially a working holiday visa that allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years.
You can apply for the UK Youth Mobility Visa if:
- You’re aged 18 to 30
- You’re from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan
- You have at least £1,890 (roughly $3,415 CAD as of April 2018) in your bank account
*You must apply while located outside the UK and you must not have any dependents (children who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for).
YMS Visa Fees
The fee to apply for a UK Youth Mobility Visa is £235 (roughly $424 CAD), plus a surcharge for UK healthcare, which is £300.
Step 1: Apply Online
Start by registering for an account on the Visa4UK website; this will allow you to fill out your application, save your information, and come back to it at a later time if needed.
Next, you can start to fill out the application form online. It’s roughly ten pages and will require:
- Your current passport and previous passports (if they’re in your possession)
- Dates of previous international travel
- Your parents’ birthplace and date of birth
- UK postcode of where you’ll be staying when you arrive (so you can collect your Biometric Residence Permit)
- Credit card for the visa fee and UK health surcharge
When it’s complete, you’ll be required to pay the visa application fee and the healthcare surcharge before proceeding to the next step.
Tips for the application:
1. The date you state under “intended date of travel” on the visa application form will be the date your visa becomes valid. If you state June 1st, 2015 as your intended date of travel, but don’t actually arrive until July 1st, 2015, one month of your visa will have been used – regardless of the fact that you had not yet entered the UK.
2. When you print your application form (and other documents) change the page setting on your printer to A4.
3. The visa application fee is charged in US Dollars as the visa is processed in New York.
Step 2: Biometrics Appointment
Once you’ve successfully filled out the application and paid the visa fee and healthcare surcharge, you can book an appointment at one of the application centres.
This appointment is required to verify your application and supporting documents, and to submit your biometrics data (fingerprints and photo).
For your appointment, you’ll need to bring the following:
- Printed application form
- Printed appointment confirmation
- Visa fee receipt
- Current passport (valid for at least six months) and previous passports (if you have them)
- One recent photograph
- A bank statement proving you have at least £1,890 in your account
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) Number
- Other supporting documents
When you arrive at the office, they’ll check you have all the required documents and package them in a DHL envelope to be shipped to New York for processing. You’ll then be called to have your photo taken and fingerprints scanned.
Tips for the visa appointment:
1. I read online the appointment takes roughly 30 minutes, but I was at the application centre for nearly an hour. Be sure to give yourself a sufficient amount of time for the appointment.
2. When applying from Toronto, there’s an option to pick up your passport after your visa has been processed, or you can choose to have it couriered to your home address for an additional fee of $39. If you are applying from any of the other centres, there’s an additional User Pay Fee which includes return courier service.
3. The recent photograph must meet specific requirements: it must be professionally printed and 45mm high by 35mm wide (this size is smaller than a standard Canadian passport size photo). I had my photo taken at Shoppers Drug Mart, and made to sure to tell the staff member I was applying for a UK visa and needed the photograph to be a certain size. The photo does not need to be signed or dated on the back.
The man at the visa centre told me the visa takes between three and four weeks to process, but online it states that most applications are processed within 10 business days (when applying from Toronto), but this is not guaranteed and processing times may vary.
You can check the visa processing time here. The length varies depending on the city you’re applying from, along with a range of other factors.
As an example, I had my biometrics appointment on March 24th, I received an email stating my documents had arrived in New York on March 27th, and then received an email stating my visa was approved on April 8th – which is a total of 11 business days (technically 10 days because the office was closed on Good Friday).
It took an additional 3 business days (after I received the issuing e-mail) for DHL to deliver my passport and visa to my home.
What to expect while the visa is processed:
The email you receive when your documents have arrived in New York will state the current estimated processing time for your visa.
My email said this:
Average processing times for visa applications received this week are:
Non-Settlement Applications: 10 working days
Current and forecasted delays: None to report
I was working Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm at the time – which is DHL’s main delivery window – so trying to coordinate with DHL to have the package delivered was actually the most frustrating part of this entire process for me.
As the parcel contains immigration documents, you must be present to sign for the package, and DHL will not deliver the package to any address other than your home address.
Looking for more tips on moving to Edinburgh? Check out these posts:
- Living in Edinburgh: The Expat Survival Guide
- Moving to Edinburgh: Finding a Job and Getting Settled
- 61 (Awesome) Things to Do in Edinburgh
If you have any other questions about applying for a UK Youth Mobility Visa, feel free to ask me in the comments!