Edinburgh Expat Life Scotland Tips

Applying for a UK Youth Mobility Visa

May 11

Applying for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

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 this guideline will contain information and tips mainly for Canadian citizens.)

This is by no means a complete and comprehensive guide, and I recommend carefully reading the overview, eligibility requirements, and documents you must provide at this website. You can also read the full policy guideline for additional information.

If you want a basic guideline and some tips from my personal experience, please continue reading below.

*Please note: this information has been updated as of October 2017, but may change.

What is a Youth Mobility Visa?

The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years.


You can apply for this visa if:

  • You are aged 18 to 30
  • You are 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 ($3,105 CAD) in savings

*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).


The fee to apply is £235 ($386 CAD), plus a new surcharge for UK healthcare. I applied just before this surcharge was instated and luckily managed to bypass the extra costs, but the charge is £150 per year of the visa.

Step 1: Apply Online

You must fill out the application form online; it’s roughly ten pages and will require your passport information, previous passport information (if they are in your possession), dates of previous international travel, your parents’ birthplace and date of birth, etc.

Once you’ve registered an account on the Visa4UK website, you can fill out your application, save your information, and come back to it at a later time if needed. When it’s complete, you’re required to pay the visa application fee and the healthcare surcharge before proceeding to the next step.


  • The visa application fee (and – I assume – the healthcare surcharge) is charged in US Dollars as the visa is processed in New York
  • 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 United Kingdom
  • When you print your application form (and other documents) change the page setting on your printer to A4

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. You need to bring your printed application form, printed appointment confirmation, visa fee receipt, current passport (valid for at least six months), one recent photograph, a bank statement proving you have at least £1,890 in your account, and other required documents. See the full list of documents here.

When you arrive at the office, they’ll check the documents you’ve provided and package them in a DHL envelope to be shipped to New York for processing. You’ll also have your fingerprints and photo taken for the visa.


  • I read online that the appointment takes around 30 minutes, but after waiting 20 minutes or so for my appointment, I was at the application centre for almost an hour in total, so make sure to give yourself a sufficient amount of time
  • 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 of £59 which includes return courier service
  • 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

Processing Times

The gentleman 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, as the time varies depending on the city you are applying from, plus 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.


  • 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. Be aware that because 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:

If you have any further questions about applying for a UK Youth Mobility Visa, feel free to ask me in the comments!


  • Reply belowaveragewriter May 17 at 7:13 pm

    Do you have any idea what the application process is for an American? Thanks so much! Feel free to contact me on my blog so we don’t post too many comments on your blog 🙂

    • Reply ashleywanders May 19 at 4:54 am

      I think you would have to apply for a different visa, or a UK work permit possibly! I’m not exactly sure, though – sorry!

  • Reply nikitaeatonlusignan Jun 04 at 1:11 am

    Aren’t we lucky to come from countries that allow this sort of travel? I’ve taken advantage of working holiday visas twice already, and I don’t plan on stopping! Great info for first-timers!

    I really enjoy your blog, and I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award (read this if you don’t know what it’s about: http://lifeintransience.com/liebster-award/). Keep up the good work!:)

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 04 at 5:10 am

      We really are so lucky – working holiday visas have allowed me to explore some incredible destinations! Thank you for the nomination, Nikita! I’m just checking out your post now 🙂

  • Reply Jeff Mar 08 at 7:45 pm

    I visit the States a lot from Vancouver, not sure if you did a lot of runs down south too but just wondering if you had to put down every single international trip (especially to the States) when you filled in your application?

    Thanks from Vancouver!

    • Reply ashleywanders Mar 10 at 6:11 pm

      I think I just mentioned visiting the States once. I’ve also visited too many times to count, so there’s no way I could record every visit. Don’t think they will care too much about that 🙂

  • Reply Marina May 09 at 1:59 pm

    Hey Ashley,

    Thanks so much for all the info. Do you know if it’s still necessary to add past travel dates if I don’t have previous passports? And if it is, then I’ve just added 20 and i can’t add anymore. Is there a limit?



  • Reply Jaz Jul 13 at 4:40 am

    H Ashley,

    Love this post- thank you so much for sharing. I’m applying out of Vancouver Canada and the biometric resident permit needs have changed to physically having the test done once in the UK within 10 days upon arrival. Any idea if those 10 days refers to application start date?

    I have my appointment for July 25th which is exactly a week before my intended arrival day (August 1). I will be attempting walk-in appointments if possible otherwise I guess I’ll be paying for express service.

    Your thoughts on this are greatly appreciated as the VFS Global centre and online sources just don’t state enough with their ongoing updates!


    • Reply Jeff Jul 14 at 5:46 pm

      Hey Jaz!

      The 10 days start once you are approved and land in the UK. If everything goes smoothly, you should get your visa back (and approved!) in under a week 🙂 That’s what happened for me and I’ll be landing in London later in August. They’re pretty quick and efficient at the visa office in New York and I think by default, it is express service because my visa shipped to and from New York overnight.

      My only tip is that to plan out a little more time around your VFS interview. They weren’t very organized and I had to wait an extra 45 mins before my interview – same thing happened with my girlfriend.

      I’m from Vancouver too so good luck on your application 🙂

      Hope this helps!

      • Reply Jaz Jul 16 at 4:22 pm

        Hi Jeff,

        Thank you for sharing your experience! Since my application I’ve updated my arrival date to August 8 giving me 2 weeks to get my passport back and permit approved so I’m not losing time on it.

        Great to hear more Vancouverites will be across the pond- I hope London living goes excellent for us!

    • Reply ashleywanders Jul 15 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Jaz,
      I wasn’t aware of these changes and just did a quick search and read it needs to be picked up within 10 days of arrival in the UK – so I would think the 10 days begin as soon as you land in the UK? I’m just guessing, though, so I’d recommend checking out alyssawrites.com – she’s written a post on the visa application process and an FAQ post about it as well, and there’s lots of info between the two posts and in the comments section.
      Goodluck! 🙂

      • Reply Jaz Jul 16 at 4:25 pm

        Hi Ashley,

        Yes I believe you’re right on the 10 day starting upon arrival but I also think there’s a 30 day timeline you follow.

        So if you’re not moving for say a month after your intended arrival you applying for that vignette.

        Alyssawrites.com is great for anyone seeking clarification on this topic!

        • Reply ashleywanders Aug 02 at 6:17 pm

          Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

  • Reply Joseph Daly Jan 11 at 5:43 am

    Hey All,

    I am based in Melbourne, Australia.

    Just had a number of questions about this Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, and all help would be appreciated.

    With the online application form, how long has it taken people to get an appointment at a processing centre from when you do the form? 2 or 3 days I have heard?

    How long has it been taking people lately to get there passport and Visas back, it says 98
    % are done in 15 days.

    With the online form, how long does it take and do you need to provide payslips and everything like that and your employer as I have quit my job to leave soon, or do they just want the bank statement and thats all they care about?

    I am not sure if I misunderstood my friend, but is it correct that the BRP are now being issues when you get your passport back, or do you still need to go to the nearest post office relevant to the address you provide when you do the application form to pick it up as soon as you arrive? Getting mixed mesages here.

    Do you pay at the application centre or online, and do you pay the health surcharge together or it links you too it?

    Thanks soo much everyone, all help will be appreciaited.

    • Reply ashleywanders Jan 13 at 9:17 pm

      Hey Joseph,

      I think it only took me a few days or maybe a week at most to get an appointment. You don’t need payslips – you only need to provide a bank statement to prove you have the required savings in your bank account. I think I paid online, but I applied before they added the health care surcharge, so I’m not sure about that. Although I assume you’d be able to pay the health care surcharge online as well! I’m not sure about the BRP as policies have changed since I’ve applied.

      I hope that was somewhat helpful at least, and good luck finding the answers to your other questions! There’s detailed info on alyssawrites.com as she’s written a few posts on the Tier 5 Visa, and lots of additional info in the comments section – especially on this post: http://alyssawrites.com/youth-mobility-visa-canadians-frequently-asked-questions/

  • Reply Rachel Mar 22 at 3:13 pm

    I saw on the UK website that the visas can take 6 months so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go to the school I wanted to, but for you it didn’t take long at all? I’m also from Canada.

    • Reply ashleywanders Mar 22 at 7:34 pm

      It only took a few weeks for my Youth Mobility Scheme Visa to be processed, but I’m not sure about other student visas, etc., unfortunately!

  • Reply Shayna May 03 at 9:55 am

    I have applied and am currently waiting to hear back that my passport is ready to be picked up, I had put my intended travel date would be April 30th, however Obviously it is not May 3rd and I have not heard back yet.. is this going to affect my visa if I am approved? what will they put on my Visa date if I am approved and it is past the date? Thanks

  • Reply Rafael Nov 21 at 2:53 pm

    Hello!,how are you? – I’m a guy with 27 years and I would love to work in England,..how I can apply for a UK work permit ??, would you help me with this? Thanks^^ kisses

    • Reply ashleywanders Nov 21 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Rafael, if you’re eligible, the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa is the easiest option for a temporary work visa. Otherwise, I’m not sure how you can work in England, unfortunately!

  • Reply Gurpaal Judge Nov 28 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Ashley
    I am looking for some advice about the youth mobility visa. A friend of mine is going to be in the process of applying for a youth mobility visa for the UK early next year. She is applying from Australia, but has a bank account from the USA. Would having a US bank account as an Australian applying from Australia have an impact on her application? Would it raise any “red flags”? We have searched for the answer to this question for weeks but no one has been able to answer us.
    Kind Regards,

    • Reply ashleywanders Nov 29 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Gurpaal, unfortunately, I’m really not sure if that would affect her application. Perhaps she should try opening an Australian bank account and transferring some money for the application process, if she thinks the US account might cause a problem? Good luck!

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