Can Australians Reapply for a Third-Year UK Youth Mobility Visa?
From 31 January 2024, Australian citizens aged 18-35 years old will be able to apply for a 3-year visa to live and work in the UK. That’s a welcome improvement over the current UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa which is only available for two years, and to Aussies aged 18-30.
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.
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.