Can Australians Reapply for a Third-Year UK Youth Mobility Visa?

Can Australians Reapply for a Third-Year UK Youth Mobility Visa?
London, United Kingdom. Photo by Matt Graham.

From 31 January 2024, Australian citizens aged 18-35 years old will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa. That’s a welcome improvement as the current two-year visa, only available to Aussies aged 18-30, can’t be extended.

In further good news for Australians currently living in the UK on a two-year Youth Mobility Scheme visa, it will be possible to apply for a third-year extension after 31 January 2024.

Since this change was announced, many Australians who’ve previously held a UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa have been wondering if they’ll able to re-apply for a third year. We don’t yet know exactly whether this will be possible, but there are now some strong hints that it (sadly) may not be.

Australians in the UK will be able to extend their visas from 2024

From 31 January 2024, Australians already in the UK on a 2-year Youth Mobility Scheme visa will be able to extend their visa for a third year.

This is what the UK government currently says on its website:

If you’re from Australia, from 31 January 2024 you’ll be able to apply to extend your visa by one year.

At this stage, there isn’t much more information available. However, the UK and New Zealand recently changed their reciprocal working holiday visa arrangements. The new rules for New Zealand citizens have already taken effect.

There’s no guarantee that the UK will make the same rules applicable for Australians that currently apply to New Zealanders. But there’s a pretty good chance, so this gives us a good indication of what we might expect from 31 January 2024.

New Zealanders can already extend their Youth Mobility visas

New Zealand citizens who are already in the UK on a 2-year Youth Mobility Scheme visa have been able to apply for a third year extension since 29 June 2023.

The UK government now has detailed information on its website about how this process works for New Zealanders.

To extend their Youth Mobility Scheme visa, New Zealand citizens:

  • Must be living in the UK
  • Must currently hold a valid Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • Can apply up to 28 days before their current visa expires
  • Must pay a £259 (~AU$515) application fee and a £470 (~AU$935) immigration health surcharge
  • Can only extend their visa once, and for one year
  • After applying online, cannot travel outside the UK & Ireland until receiving a decision on the visa extension

The new visa will be valid from the day after the original visa ends.

What would these rules mean for Australians?

Based on the above information, New Zealand citizens can only apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa extension if their original 2-year visa is due to expire within the next 28 days. It does not seem possible to apply for an extension after the original visa has already expired.

It’s also worth noting that New Zealanders were not able to apply for this extension until the rule change took effect on 29 June 2023.

If the same rules would apply to Australian citizens (and that’s not guaranteed), this would mean that only Australians with existing 2-year Youth Mobility Scheme visas expiring in or after February 2024 could apply for an extension.

If your original visa expires before 31 January 2024, you wouldn’t be eligible to apply for an extension as applications won’t yet be open. Once applications for visa extensions open to Australians, your original visa would have already expired.

For the sake of those Australians who would like to return to the UK for a third year – or whose current visas expire before February 2024 – we hope that we’re wrong about this. But this is the most likely scenario based on the information currently available.

London Tube station
The London Tube. Photo by Matt Graham.

Australia will make it fairly easy for UK citizens to extend their working holiday visas

The Australian government has released detailed information about how UK citizens will be able to apply for 3 separate single-year Australian working holiday visas from 1 July 2024. But it won’t necessarily work the same way in the opposite direction.

For what it’s worth, the Australian government is being quite generous to UK citizens under 36 years old by allowing them to apply for a third Australian working holiday visa, even if they already left Australia some time ago.

Australia will also remove the “specified work requirements” for UK citizens extending their working holiday visas from 1 July 2024.

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 80 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

7 thoughts on “Can Australians Reapply for a Third-Year UK Youth Mobility Visa?

  1. So, my main concern/query is- if I’m applying for a YMS visa in December 2023, and it gets accepted before January 31 2024, though I won’t be arriving in Scotland until March/April 2024; will I still be able to apply for a third year come 2026? Or because my visa got accepted before January 31 2024, this extension would not apply to me?
    Hope this makes sense. I’ve been trying to clarify with UK embassy but no one there can give me the same let alone a definite answer. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. The UK government probably can’t give you a solid answer on this yet because the new rules aren’t yet in effect.

      However, from what I understand, if you’re accepted before 31 January 2024 and receive a two-year visa, you should be eligible for the third-year extension down the track. The only reason I can think of that you wouldn’t be eligible is if you for some reason you would receive a 3-year visa in the first place (e.g. based on your arrival date).

  2. The extend your visa site has some aspects which are in conflict with each other. The points which you’ve indicated in your article:
    – “You should apply no more than 28 days before your current visa expires.”
    – “You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision.”

    But the last section around timelines indicates “You’ll get a decision on your application within 8 weeks.”

    What happens if the decision takes longer than the 28 days? Are you in violation of your existing YMV or is there a bridging visa granted till the extension decision is provided?

    1. This would be a question for the UK government, which is responsible for the information on that website. I don’t know the answer to that question, sorry, but I would suspect that in most cases the decision should take less than 28 days.

  3. Just as a clarification to my comment recently posted – do you know if the UK government has shown any flexibility with the YMS visa that was activated just before countries closed borders and you had to get home? It’s seems unfair if they were rigid with this and never refunded costs. Again – any advice? Susie

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