*Updated in April 2018
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
This post is NOT a complete and comprehensive guide. Be sure to read the official guideline, information about supporting documents, and guidance forms.
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.
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!
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 🙂
I think you would have to apply for a different visa, or a UK work permit possibly! I’m not exactly sure, though – sorry!
Okay, thanks anyways! 🙂
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!:)
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 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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?
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!
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!
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!
Thanks for this informative post!!
I was wondering about the physical size of the documents you have to scan.
I read they all documents have to be scanned at A4.
Does this mean we have to “blow up” our passports to make them full a whole A4 piece of paper, or do we just scan it to its natural size?
I haven’t been able to find any info!
You’re welcome! I just scanned everything at normal size on A4 paper, so I’m assuming that’s what’s required (unless something has changed since I applied several years ago which I’m not aware of).
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.
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!
Thanks for the heads up! 🙂
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.
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/
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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!
I’m trying to fill out the application from Canada and there are two sites people are using apparently, the more legit one is asking me “What is the title of the job you are coming to the UK to do?” about sponsorship but it is under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa Scheme, I’m very confused to which one is correct.
Hi Kayla, as far as I’m aware, there is only one official website for online UK visa applications – which is the Visa2UK site I linked in this post. I don’t recall this site asking about jobs as it’s not a requirement with the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa. Are you sure you’re on the right site and applying for the correct visa?
Hi, if I’m a Canadian citizen living in the states, what do I put when it asks “Enter the country in which you are making your application”???
Hi Marcellus, I would assume you’d have to put the US if that’s where you’re currently living.
Oh and I’m applying on gov.uk that website seems legit as well as the one you linked?
Yes, if it’s a gov.uk website, it’s an official UK government site.
Hi! So it seems I made a tiny mistake
For travel history I put dominica instead of Dominican Republic
Any suggestions on whether this would be an issue?
Hi Mirna, I’m not sure to be honest, but I can’t see why it would be an issue.
I am a NZ citizen 19 years old leaving for South Africa Sept 3 2018.
I will be travelling through to Kenya and fly out of Nairobi and to London March 5 2019. (Just over 6 months)
I am traveling on a New Zealand passport.
We are seeking to get a Tier 5 Youth Mobility work visa for two years in the UK.
We are unable to apply in NZ before we leave as we will be traveling for just over 6 months before we arrive in the UK.
My question is:
Is there any way to apply and get this visa, either once we arrive in London (and entered on a standard visitors visa.), or from another country (such as the Netherlands) before we enter the UK
We can have all the necessary documentation available for this visa.
I appreciate your help
Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that question. I did a quick Google search and found this response on workgetaways.com, however, I’m not sure if it is 100% accurate/reliable: You can apply for the Youth Mobility program from your home country or from a country where you are staying in at the time of application, however you need to have permission to be in that country for longer than 6 months. The British Entry Clearance Post in that country must also be authorised to process Youth Mobility applications.
I am a 25 year old from Vancouver Island, I just did the whole application process paid all the necessary fees and have my apt in Vancouver for my interview for next week.. Upon finalizing my application I realized I put down my old postal code not my current living postal code.. I wrote a cover letter correcting the mistake so I am hoping it will still get approved? Any thoughts on this or heard of stuff like this happening before? If so, what happened? Also the application I did for the tier 5 youth mobility did ask me for a sponsor or job I would be doing when i arrive in the UK, I just put down bar-tending because I plan on living and working a hostel, think this would case a red flag because this job is not set in stone?
Hi Leah, I’m sure if you’ve flagged the postal code error it won’t be much of an issue. The sponsor/job question wasn’t included on the application when I applied in 2015, so I’m not quite sure about that bit. You don’t need to have a sponsor or a job arranged prior to arriving with a Tier 5 YMS visa, so I’m not even sure why they’re asking. Regardless, I wouldn’t worry that the job is not set in stone – like I said, you don’t need to have a job lined up before arriving to get approved.
Hello I’m interested in applying for the youth mobility scheme visa to go to the UK. In the questions it’s asking what type of work I will be doing and how much I will be making. This question confused me as I was planning on finding work when down there.
Hi Holly, I can’t remember if that same question was on the application when I applied, but I would just state that you will be looking for work in “X” field upon arrival. I’m sure it’s fine as the majority of people on the YMS visa are looking for work then they arrive.
Okay thank you 🙂
Sir my question is can it be extended for 2 years…. And after that can we apply for PR. Do you know someone who is working from this youth mobility from long time and extend for again 2 years.. please let me know
No, you can’t extend the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa.