How to Apply for a UK Youth Mobility Visa

Updated August 17, 2015

How to apply for a UK Youth Mobility Visa

Disclaimer: I’m not an immigration agent, and the below is just from my experience!

So you want to go to London?

Red phone boxes, black cabs and the Queen, these are the things that cross our mind when we think of the United Kingdom. If you’re from New Zealand or Australia, you might also think of all the steady stream of friends that seem to be leaving home to work in London, the most common base for great European adventures, and a well known and well used, OE destination.

OE, or Overseas Experience, is a term used in New Zealand that means spending time travelling or working overseas. It usually happens after finishing university and most often means moving to London. So how do you do it?

How to Apply for a UK Youth Mobility Visa

Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace, London

The UK Youth Mobility Visa

Governments love to change visa rules regularly, and this one is no exception. Usually you’ll hear the term “working holiday” but if you want to the technical name it’s a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. If you have a grandparent born in the UK I will be super jealous of you, because you may be eligible for an Ancestry Visa which I highly recommend investigating. If you just miss out like me then the Youth Mobility Visa is your best shot!

Am I eligible for a Youth Mobility Visa?

  • Between 18-30 (inclusive)
  • No dependants
  • Money in the bank, the equivalent of 1,890 precisely

And most importantly, a passport from one of the following countries:

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Hong Kong (extra sponsorship and TB test requirement)
  • Republic of Korea (extra sponsorship requirement)
  • Taiwan (extra sponsorship requirement)

If you made it then hooray! So how do you actually apply for the Youth Mobility Visa for the UK?

Apply Online

You have to apply online outside the UK for this visa. If you’re travelling or not living in your home country you need to apply from somewhere you have the right to live for a minimum of 6 months and that is recognised by the UKBA.

The visa currently costs £225 pounds. You must apply online and at this time you also book an appointment to go and have your photo taken and your biometric data, which sounds hardcore but is just your fingerprints and a photo. Fingers crossed you live near one of the “visa application centres” which are generally in all the main cities. You show up, they take your fingerprints and photo, stamp your stuff, and then post it off. My application went from the Gold Coast to Sydney, where they sent it to the Philippines for processing, go figure. If there are no problems they email you as soon as it’s processed and post it all back again.

The process has changed since I applied and there is now a requirement to provide a UK address. This is actually very important as you will now need to pick up your Biometric Residence Permit from the local post office within 30 days of your arrival date. Find a friend whose address you can use and where you can get to within 30 days of arriving.

Documents you need

  • Completed online application form
  • Passport – Mine wasn’t valid for the whole visa. I applied for a new passport while in the UK and carried both with me whenever I travelled. I haven’t checked recently with the UKBA if you now require a passport that is valid for the whole visa.
  • Recent passport sized photo
  • Evidence of £1890 pounds through an original statement or letter from the bank. This is called “maintenance funds” and there is no requirement for it to be present for any length of time. I spent mine and saved up again before going.
  • IHS Healthcare Form and fee paid if applicable (no fee from New Zealand or Australia). Go here to pay and get your reference number.

The Appointment

Arrive early just to be sure and bring all the documents above. You will have your fingerprints and photo taken, and pass over all of your documents. I had to post my own but now you can choose to come back and collect your passport or have it posted to you (for an additional cost of course).

How soon should I apply?

The UK Youth Mobility Visa has this really annoying thing where they give you a start date based on when you apply, not when you enter the country. Thankfully, This can be up to 3 months in the future, but you’re also advised to apply 6 weeks beforehand. I was travelling through South East Asia on my way to the UK, so needed to make sure I had my passport back in time to leave, while not applying too early to lose time on the visa. My brain hurts remembering the stress over figuring out when to apply! In the end my visa took less than two weeks to process, and I arrived two weeks after the start date.  It’s a balancing act for sure.

How to Apply for a UK Youth Mobility Working Holiday Visa

St Pauls Cathedral, London. This view could be yours!

The process can be a little daunting, and I had SO many questions I couldn’t find the answers to. Looking back on the process it was much more stressful than it needed to be, and I have a law degree! Of course it was all worth it for the trip of a lifetime though, so if you’re thinking of getting the UK Youth Mobility Visa, all I can say is DO IT. Then you get to have awesome adventures like this one, this one, this one, and THIS ONE.

Any questions, feel free to ask below!

Sonja

x

P.S. You don’t have to go to London you know, there are other awesome places in the UK…like Edinburgh!

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38 Comments

  • Reply Cindy November 11, 2015 at 12:52 am

    Hi Sonja! Thanks for sharing your experience and educating your readers as well. I’m wondering though, my passport doesn’t belong to any of the countries listed above, is it possible to have Youth Mobility Visa? And by the way, is that visa is only for travelling youth to the UK? I mean there is visit visa already, what’s the difference? Many thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 11, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Hi Cindy,

      Thanks for your comment! This visa is just for those of the above nationalities wanting to work in the UK. If you’re not from one of those countries or meet the other criteria you will not be able to apply for this visa and would need to look at options for your country. If you are just wanting to visit on holiday though there is no need for a working visa like this and you just need to check tourist visa options :).

  • Reply Adom Brempong April 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Sonja!

    Thank you so much fort much for sharing this. Just a quick question. In regards to the maintenance fund, the statement from your bank simply just needs to show that you have 1890 Pounds correct? What time does this statement need to be from? Anytime before your appointment?

    • Reply Migrating Miss April 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Hi Admon,

      No problem I’m glad it’s been useful for you! Yes for the Youth Mobility Visa it just needs to show the amount, not how long it has been there. I believe there is a rule about how old the statement can be. I can’t remember exactly but it might be no more than a month before your appointment. Please double check though!

  • Reply Hillary Wong April 22, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Hi Sonja,

    Are you able to transfer from the youth mobility visa to a dependant’s visa? For example if I get a YM Visa and go live in the UK with my boyfriend, can I extend my stay and transfer to a partner or dependants visa if I’ve lived with him for the two years that I’ve been on my YM Visa?

    • Reply Migrating Miss April 22, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Hillary! No unfortunately there is no way to transfer between visas. If you go on a Youth Mobility visa and want to apply for a different visa you’ll need to leave the country to do so. Also be aware that for the Partner Visa you need a lot of evidence to show you’ve lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least 2 years. Make sure you check it all out! Best of luck!

  • Reply Becky June 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Hello there!
    I am currently applying and struggling to record “other places you will stay in the U.K.” for the duration of our time there. As I do not have a two year itinerary lined up, I am very confused. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 21, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Becky! I’m not sure exactly which part you’re referring to, since it’s been awhile since I filled out the form myself! If you don’t know where you will be, other than the first place, then I would just list that one. 🙂

  • Reply Natasha August 19, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Hi Sonja,
    Was wondering if you could help me.
    I have started applying for my Youth Mobility Visa and have realised I have started the application too early.
    I have gone too far to be able to delete it unfortunately, I put my intended date of Travel in as Jan 2017.
    What does this mean for me, is there anyway I can change my application date, or will I just lose time on my Visa.
    When I go to my biometric appointment are they able to alter this?
    Or is my application not actually full completed until it is approved and the 3 months is calculated from then?
    Thank you in advance, any advice is appreciated.

    • Reply Migrating Miss August 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Hi Natasha, Im not sure about changing the date if you have already submitted it and made your appointment. You would need to check with the consulate if it’s possible to suspend the application for about a month. If not, as far as I’m aware from when I applied they will post date by a maximum of 3 months after processing. This means that after your appointment you’ll post everything off and they will process it. They will date it as close to your travel as possible but no longer than 3 months.

      For example, I applied early because I was travelling on my way there so needed my passport back and my intended travel date was the 14th December. They ended up only taking one week to process (it can take much longer) and they processed it on the 30th August, so they dated the visa as starting on the 30th November. I just ended up losing two weeks of my visa time. I hope that makes sense for you and helps!

  • Reply sasha miles September 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Natasha-if you havent gone to the bio-metric appointment you can still get a refund and withdraw! I’m in the same boat, had the appointment today and freaking out a lot 🙁 Although you’ve given me some hope with your last comment Sonja, if I can just delay posting my documents in! Please let me know how you go Natasha.

    • Reply Migrating Miss September 1, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks for the info Sasha! I was hoping there would be something like that.

  • Reply Joseph Daly January 11, 2017 at 6:42 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 Migrating Miss January 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Hi Joseph,

      I’ll do my best to help but as I haven’t applied for this particular visa recently this is just what I know, not hard and fast rules :).

      Appointment: I’m not sure about Melbourne specifically. If people have said 2-3 days I’d go with that. I had no problems getting an appointment in Brisbane. Put the online app in earlier and then you will have more time to book because it’s from biometric date.

      How long: The estimated processing times are a little strange because they seem to calculate them in a weird way. However with non-settlement visas they always aim for 15 days and 95% are completed in that time. It could be slightly longer though, I remember being advised it could be up to 3 months worst case. Mine took a total of 4 days! So you sort of have to take your chances.

      Online form: How long is dependant on the person. It’s not too extensive but give yourself a couple of days because you can start it and save and complete later. For a non-settlement visa of this type they only need a bank statement nothing about jobs. You also won’t need to provide that until the biometric appointment so don’t hurry and get one too quickly because it needs to be recent. Just get it before the biometric appointment.

      I would need to do some further research on the BRP. It didn’t exist when I got my visa, and I haven’t spoken to anyone recently about it so whatever the UKBA website says now is what I’d go with and I will research and update this post.

      You pay online, and when you pay online you need to pay for the visa and there is a link to pay the health surcharge as well on the UKBA website.

      Sorry I don’t have all the answers but hope that helps a bit and best of luck!!

  • Reply Allison January 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Hi!! I was just wondering since I am from USA would I not be able to get this visa?

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 12, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Hi Allison! Sorry this visa is only available to those countries listed. There may be another visa available for USA citizens but I’m not aware of it.

  • Reply Lauren March 27, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Hi.

    I just wanted to say this has been the most helpful site by far and the least confusing! Just one question, with the proof of funds, does it need to be a statement from the bank showing your debits and credits through the account or will they accept a letter from the bank confirming the funds in the account?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss March 28, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Hi Lauren, thanks I’m really glad you’ve found it helpful! I think I just had a final statement from the bank stating how much was in the account, not an actual run down of how the money got there as you don’t need to have it there for a certain amount of time. Usually the bank will give you both though if you need it. :).

  • Reply Becca June 25, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you had any information about those with dual citizenship. I have one citizenship of a country that is eligible for the Youth Mobility Visa. However, I don’t currently live there. I live in the country of my second citizenship (USA).
    Do you think I’d run into problems applying for the Visa with the eligible country ?

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 26, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Hi!

      I don’t know for certain but I can’t see why you couldn’t apply with the passport of the country you’re eligible for. You’ll need to always travel on that passport when you’re coming to and from the UK during the visa duration.

      Hope that helps a little!

  • Reply Chris September 5, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Hey Sonja ! Thanks so much for the info I really appreciate it. I just want to clarify one thing really quick. The intended travel date. If I apply in September and want to leave by February (my intended travel date) is that allowed ? Or does it literally need to be I apply in September so the earliest I can leave would be 6 months from now in March ( I’m just getting confused with the wording on their site) Thanks again !

    • Reply Migrating Miss September 9, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      Hi! As far as I understand, you can only specify a date three months in advance. It’s a balancing game because you need to take into account the visa processing time. For example, when I applied I applied in August and showed my flight which was booked for December but because the visa was processed quite quickly (only a few weeks at that time) they gave me a date of 22nd November which was 3 months from the processing date of August 22nd. I just arrived later and lost the few weeks at the beginning of the visa. If you want to travel in February then you’ll want the visa to be processed at the earliest in November. But you need to take into account what the current estimated processing times are to see when you want to apply. I’m sorry if that’s confusing but I hope it helps a little!

  • Reply Ayden November 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Sonja,

    I want to second what Lauren said recently – this is the best site/blog that I have read in regards to this Visa process, so thank you!!

    I have a few questions for you though:

    Did you do the visa application by yourself or did you go through a company? I have seen some called 1stContact and BritBound offering visa help, opening bank accounts, tax numbers etc.. and wasn’t sure if it is worth it or just a bit of a waste of money if the visa application really isn’t that difficult?!

    Was it is easy to open a bank account? How did you do it?

    Should I buy my flights before getting the visa? I have a trip booked for Christmas and so I can’t apply for the visa until the new year (as I don’t want to run the risk of being left without a passport for the Xmas trip) but I have a start date for my job in the UK – I have heard sometimes the visa start date can differ from the intended start date you put down, is this true from your knowledge?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Ayden! Thanks very much I’m so glad you’ve found it useful!

      I did the visa application myself. It really isn’t too complicated and I don’t think you need to pay an agent to help you. Just be sure to triple check you have all the documents you’ve been asked for. I do know people who have used agencies for help with bank accounts because it can be a little harder but it just depends on what bank you go to. I tried Bank of Scotland to begin with and they were a real pain with wanting a lot of proof of address documents which I didn’t have, then I tried Santander and it was much easier although I only received a very basic bank card for the first few months, then a debit card after that. The main thing I did was apply for my National Insurance number as soon as I arrived because they sent a letter which then gave me an official proof of address to use.

      With regards to flights, if there are no problems you could buy them in advance, but the official recommendation is not to. The visa can be processed for 3 months in advance so it’s a bit of a gamble with guessing how long it will take. At the time I applied visas were processed quickly. I applied in August and had flights booked for December, and asked for them to give me a date as close to that as possible. It ended up being processed within a week so they gave me a date in November, which meant I missed out on the first couple of weeks of my visa, but you just don’t know how long it will take. It can be up to 6 weeks I think. I wrote a cover letter including my flight details and specified the date I wanted if possible. They gave me 3 months from the processing date. So I would just advise that you do that. You didn’t mention when your job starts but I probably wouldn’t apply until the New Year if you have a trip at Christmas like you said. Then you can do a letter specifying your job date, and just be aware the maximum they can process in advance is 3 months, but you want to leave a gap for the processing time too. So you may want to apply 4 or so months before, but if processing times are quick you might miss a couple of weeks. I hope that makes sense!!!

  • Reply Gurpaal Judge November 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Sonja,

    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,
    Gurpaal

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Gurpaal,

      I’m sorry but I honestly have no idea and it’s not something I can really advise on, as it would be a Home Office Decision. Is there a reason she can’t get an Australian bank account and use that? They may want to know why she doesn’t just do that, but if she provided some kind of reason as to why she was using a US bank account instead maybe it would help. It’s really something to try and ask the Home Office beforehand if you can. I do remember I contacted the office to ask if I could use a passport that expired before the visa would expire and they did respond. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they still do but it’s worth a try.

  • Reply Drew Ferris January 4, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    So I am currently living in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, do not have a visa for here yet, but was looking into getting one for the UK as I have more friends there. Is it possible to apply for it in Germany with a Canadian Passport?

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

      As far as I understand you can only apply for the visa in a country you have the rights to live in, so if you’re just on a tourist visa in Germany you’ll need to return home to apply. For example, I applied from Australia because I’m a Kiwi and was living and working there and had a special visa for it.

  • Reply Irene February 1, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Hi, i was just wondering did you need to do a police check for your application? For both NZ and Australia? I am also a kiwi living in Australia and have a applied for one in NZ but do i need one for here also?

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 4, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      I can’t remember exactly but I think if you’ve lived somewhere more than 1 year you need it. I hadn’t been in Australia a year so didn’t need one!

  • Reply Kathy Dixon February 22, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Hi I was wondering ifyou could please help us. We are trying to complete the application for the youth mobility and it won’t let us proceed as we don’t have a sponsor number.
    My understanding is we don’t need one. I’m thinking we must have ticked something wrong but I’m buggered if I can see the solution. Appreacaite any advice / help you can provide.
    Thanks Kathy

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Kathy! I’m sorry I’m not sure what part you’re at! You’re right in that you shouldn’t need a sponsor. Are you sure you selected the right application? It may be worth going back to the beginning and checking it out!

  • Reply Ana April 2, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Hi Sonya,

    Where did you apply for the visa? I am currently in Thailand for 3 months but I am an Australian, were you able to apply for the visa outside your national country? I meet all the requirements but the website states I can only apply for the visa in a country where Im a national or living for 6 months so I am worried it will get declined.

    • Reply Migrating Miss April 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Ana,

      I applied in Australia where I had been living for 6 months. Unfortunately, you’ll need to return to Australia to apply because 3 months in Thailand isn’t enough and I would say it would more than likely get declined.

  • Reply Pratheek July 10, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Sonya,

    With the age limit can you apply2 weeks before you turn 31 thus you are still within the age limit of the visa rules. Or is it safer to apply 1-2months before you turn 31. My 31st birthday is in Oct and I want to travel to UK by end of Feb. so want to make sure I give myself the most amount of days in my visa at the same time not miss out on the visa.

    Also is there a time limit on when you need to enter UK from the time the visa starts.

    Thanks

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 25, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Hi! I wouldn’t apply that close to the date as I’m not sure when they do the cut-off, since applications can sometimes take longer than that to process. You would be best asking them of course or searching to see if there is someone else in a similar situation. You can ask for the visa start date to be delayed by up to 3 months (I showed my flight evidence in support of this) but it will start from either that date or the date it’s processed and so you’re effectively losing time if you wait too long to enter. You also need to consider that you’ll need to pick up your BRP card from the place you’ve nominated but there isn’t a time limit as such.

  • Reply Sesh July 11, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Is it ok to amend my application by hand if i have made a mistake?

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 25, 2018 at 10:53 am

      I’m not sure, but if there is no way to correct it otherwise then that’s what I would do!

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