The UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visa for Australians
The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the most popular working holiday destinations for young Australians, who have the opportunity to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years! This will soon increase to 3 years when the upcoming changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa take effect (see below).
Many young Aussies dream of living and working in London. Thanks to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa, which is the UK equivalent of a working holiday visa, you can! In fact, thousands of backpackers travel each year between Australia and the UK – countries with strong cultural, economic and historical ties.
This guide contains information about the UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa (previously the “T5” visa) for Australian citizens. It also contains tips on living in the UK. It was last updated on 22 December 2022.
There are no longer any COVID-19 travel restrictions applicable when entering the UK. See the UK government website for the latest information.
- Key facts about the UK
- UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa requirements
- How to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the UK
- Arriving in the UK
Key facts about the UK
- Population: Approx. 68 million
- Official language: English
- Capital city: London
- Largest cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool
- Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa requirements
The UK offers Youth Mobility Scheme visas to citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea & Taiwan. See the UK government’s website for more information.
This information is applicable to Australian citizens and may be different for citizens of other countries.
To apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa as an Australian citizen, you must meet the following requirements:
- Aged between 18-30 years old (inclusive) at the time of application
- Have at least £2,530 (approx. AUD4,500) in savings
You cannot apply for this visa if you:
- Have dependent children who live with you and/or for whom you are financially responsible
- Have already completed a working holiday in the UK under the same scheme
More information is available on the UK government’s website.
Documents needed to apply for this visa
When applying for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the UK as an Australian citizen, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- A valid passport
- Bank statement showing you have at least £2,530 or equivalent in savings (you must have had the money in your account for at least 28 days in a row, and the 28th day must be within a month of your application)
It costs £259 (approx. AUD470) to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.
However, you will also need to pay a £940 (approx. AUD1,700) Immigration Health Surcharge, bringing the total cost to around AUD2,170 for a 2-year visa application. See below for details.
Immigration Health Surcharge
You will have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at the time of applying for your visa. (This would be refunded in the unlikely event your visa application is not approved.)
You can use the UK government’s calculator to determine exactly how much you would need to pay. But an Australian coming to the UK for two years on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa could expect to pay around £940 (approx. AUD1,700). While this is quite a lot of money, in return you will have access to free medical treatment through the National Health Service (NHS) while in the UK.
How to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the UK
You can apply for a UK working holiday visa up to six months before your intended arrival date in the UK. It generally takes around three weeks to get a decision (so ensure you leave enough time), although you can pay an additional fee to get a faster turnaround time.
During 2022, processing times for UK visas have been longer than usual due to high demand, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the prioritisation of visa applications for Ukrainians. As of December 2022, average wait times are now closer to four weeks instead of the advertised three weeks.
You’ll need to apply online on the UK government’s website for this visa before arriving in the UK. You’ll then also need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (in Australia, this generally means visiting a VFS Global office).
Supporting documentation to show proof of funds
When applying for this visa, make sure that you include sufficient proof that you have had at least £2,530 in savings (or foreign currency equivalent) for at least the last 28 days.
Your application may be delayed if the UK government needs to request further documents to support that you have enough funds. Unfortunately, this is something that happens quite often and the UK Decision Making Centre has been known to request further evidence even when relevant bank statements have already been submitted.
In addition to (or instead of) sending bank statement copies, some people have suggested getting a certified letter from your local bank. This signed letter should state that you’ve had the required funds in your bank account for at least the last 28 days and include the bank branch details. This letter must be dated within 31 days of your visa application date.
Upcoming changes to Australia’s working holiday agreement with the UK
In June 2021, the Australian & UK governments announced a new Free Trade Agreement which will include more flexibility for Australians travelling to the UK on working holiday visas. Once the agreement is finalised, Australians will be able to stay in the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa for up to 3 years. The scheme will also open to Australians aged 18-35.
These changes have not yet come into effect. If you apply now, you will be subject to the current Youth Mobility Scheme rules and will be able to stay in the UK for 2 years. It is not yet known if people who already held a Youth Mobile Scheme (T5) visa will be able to apply for a third-year extension in the future, although this is a possibility.
While the Australian and UK governments have already agreed to these changes, they are not yet legislated. A start date for the changes to take effect has also not yet been announced, but they would need to be implemented by mid-2024 at the latest.
See here for more information: Australia-UK Working Holiday Visa Improvements Coming by 2024
Arriving in the UK
When making your visa application, you’ll need to provide your expected arrival date in the UK. You must collect your biometric residence permit in the UK within 10 days after your nominated arrival date.
If it’s not already printed on your biometric residence permit, you might also need to apply for a National Insurance Number after arriving. You’ll need this if you want to work and/or open a UK bank account.
If you wish to open a bank account, you may need a local address. But some banks no longer require this. You could also consider opening an online bank account, e.g. with Monzo.
Speaking of your address, you’ll need to find somewhere to live. Rental properties can be notoriously expensive in London, but may be more affordable in smaller cities and regional areas – as well as various boroughs of London.
If you do want to live and work in London, be prepared to commute to work every day. (Luckily, public transport in London is very good and you can even tap on & off the Tube using your credit card.) But don’t be afraid to live in other parts of the UK – there’s more than just London!
Spare Room and Badi can be useful websites for finding spare rooms and rentals with flatmates. Or you could try websites like Right Move or Zoopla if you’d like to rent a whole apartment.
After arriving you should also consider purchasing a UK SIM card and registering with a local doctor.
The Aussies in London website and Facebook group may also be useful resources for you. Plus, be sure to read our guide to setting up your new life overseas!
While best efforts are made to keep this information updated, we do not guarantee its accuracy. If you spot an error, would like to suggest new information to be added or simply have a question, please let us know in the comments and we’ll endeavour to respond or update the article as quickly as possible!
70 thoughts on “The UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visa for Australians”
Thank you for the information here. I am 33 and the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa has not yet come into effect. Will my application be successful if I apply before the changes have been legislated given my age as I cannot wait until later this year or next year to travel to the UK. Alternatively can I apply for a YMS visa whilst in the UK?
Unfortunately, the changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (increasing the age limit to 35 and the visa length from 2 to 3 years) have not yet come into effect. While there is no timeline yet on when this will happen, it could be as soon as mid-2022.
Until the changes come into effect, unfortunately you won’t be able to apply for this visa as you are over 30. It is also not possible to apply after you’ve already arrived in the UK – you need to apply for the visa online before travelling to the UK.
If you can possibly wait a few more months, I think that’s probably your best option until we find out when the Youth Mobility Scheme visa changes will be legislated. If you can’t wait that long, I’m afraid you might need to look at a different type of visa.
In the meantime, there are a few other countries including Ireland and France that offer working holiday visas to Australian citizens aged up to 35 years old (see https://workingholiday.au/working-holiday-visas-over-30/).
Thank you very much for your reply, much appreciated as the Australian VFS global office could not provide much help. I am going to the UK in the middle of the year to study as part of my Churchill Fellowship so I am hoping the Youth Mobility Visa will be legislated before I leave so I can stay over there for the year. Is there any way we can speed up the process. What do you suggest doing to be notified as soon as the changes are made?
There’s probably not much you can do to speed up the process, unfortunately, until the new agreement is legislated. Obviously it would be helpful if they would get on with it, but that’s beyond our control.
Certainly, once the changes to the UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa are brought in I’ll be writing about them on Working Holidays for Aussies. Keep an eye out.
For those waiting for the changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme to take effect, I have an update for you: https://workingholiday.au/uk-working-holiday-visa-improvements-coming/
Unfortunately, it’s not great news. The changes will happen eventually, but it could be 2024 before they are actually implemented. See the article linked above for details.
Hi there. I am an Australian and 28 years old and already did the Youth Mobility Scheme in 2018.
Is there any news that we can re-apply for it when it comes to affect??
I don’t think it will be possible to reapply after the changes are implemented if you already had a previous the Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the UK, unfortunately.
Hi, thanks for the info.
Do you know if i can apply for the youth visa once i am already outside of Australia? Ill be travelling Europe and UK later this year and might want to stay longer than the tourist visa allows, but dont want to dish out 2grand incase i dont use it
You need to apply for this visa from outside the UK, but I don’t think there’s any specific requirement to be in Australia.
My son is travelling in Europe and needs to apply for tier 5 visa. How can he do this while travelling in Europe? He has 1 year French working visa and Australian passport.
It should be possible to apply for this visa from France, if he wants to. You just need to be outside of the UK.
After applying for the T5 visa online, he would need to visit a UK visa application centre outside of the UK to provide fingerprints and get his photograph taken. These centres are available in many countries including France, where there is one in Paris (https://pos.tlscontact.com/par_en/).
Hi Matt ,
How do you extend the vignette date? For example, if my visa is approved and I’d like to enter the UK more than 10 days later, will that affect the biometric residence permit? How do I enter at a later date?
My second question is that I am turning 31 in 4 weeks, do I need to start my application and submit before I turn 31 or just start the application to be eligible?
I’m not sure what you mean by the “vignette date”, but you would normally give your expected date of arrival in the UK at the time of applying for the visa. This date can be any time up to six months in the future. You can’t apply earlier than six months ahead.
The age limit is based on the date you apply for the visa. You would need to submit the online application before you turn 31.
If you can’t complete the application before turning 31, you could wait until the age limit is extended to 35. But that could take another 1-2 years from now.
hi , if already living in UK on student visa, and going to apply for Youth Mobility Visa, and this can be done in any country apart from the UK, do they keep your passport so you are unable to go back to the UK during this time?? How long does it take if you pay extra to get it done quicker?
You must be outside the UK when applying for this visa, and you’ll need to wait outside the UK until a decision has been made and your visa granted.
The application is done online but you may also need to visit a visa application centre (e.g. to give biometrics). You’ll be informed about this when applying for the visa. According to this page on the UK government website, it is also possible that the visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application: https://www.gov.uk/youth-mobility/apply
If priority service is available at the visa application centre where you apply (this isn’t available everywhere), you should get a turnaround time of around 5 days instead of the current ~6 weeks according to this page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visa-decision-waiting-times-applications-outside-the-uk#faster. There is an extra fee for priority service.
1) do you have to be in residence in AUS when you apply for the visa, so long as you have Australian citizenship?
2) if you have already studied in the UK (under U.S. citizenship with a T4 visa), can you still be eligible for applying for a T5 visa?
Hi Mia, to answer your questions:
1. No, you don’t necessarily have to be in Australia when you apply. You just cannot be in the UK.
2. The requirement here is that you haven’t already held a Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) in the UK. Previously having a T4 visa shouldn’t exclude you.
I am Australian but already in Europe and have received the letter to confirm my youth mobility’s visa has been approved.
1.Do I have to return to the same visa application centre to get the vignette inserted into my passport, or
2. can I visit any visa application centre in any other country to get the vignette. Or
3. Just present my passport and approval letter to UK immigration upon entry to UK.
Did the visa application centre where you originally visited keep your passport? If so, you can now return to pick it up with the vignette inside (or they will send it to you if you arranged this when you applied). If not, you need to take your passport to the visa application centre to collect the vignette before you can enter the UK.
I believe you need to take your passport back to the same VAC where you applied, but you could check with them if that’s going to be an issue for you.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/apply-to-come-to-the-uk/getting-a-decision-on-your-application
My daughter received a youth mobility visa and did not activate it, she left after 6 weeks in the UK.
1. What refunds are available and
2. How do we request a refund please.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to apply for a refund of the visa fee after attending the appointment to give biometrics and a decision to grant a visa has been made by the UK government. See: https://www.gov.uk/cancel-visa
I’m not sure about getting a refund of the Immigration Health Service (IHS) surcharge, which is a separate process. There are some possibilities to get this refunded if you couldn’t travel to the UK at all due to COVID-19 or work in health care on a different type of visa, but this article suggests it is not possible: https://immigrationlawyers-london.com/blog/refund-of-visa-application-fee-and-ihs-surcharge.php
I’m turning 31 soon and I wanted to leave the application for later so I can enter next year when it’s more convinent for me. Do I need to submit my biometrics before I turn 31? Or is it enough for me to just have my initial application (with the fees paid and financial evidence provided) before turning 31?
You can apply up to six months before you intend to travel and need to be aged 18-30 (inclusive) on the date you apply for your visa. As providing biometrics is part of the application process, I would assume that you would also need to do this before turning 31 but I’m not 100% sure. It would be OK if you turned 31 while waiting for a visa decision or between the date when you apply and when you arrive in the UK.
If you miss the cut-off, you could wait until the age limit is increased to 35. This will happen sometime in the next two years.
If you’re an Australian and you want to get a tier 5 youth mobility visa, can you do it from inside the UK? Everything I’ve read says I can’t but does that mean I need to do it from Australia or can I do it from any country that isn’t the UK. Thanks heaps !!!
No, you cannot apply for this visa from within the UK. However, you don’t necessarily need to be in Australia.
Thanks for the helpful article!
I am turning 31 in late Dec 2022 and plan to arrive in the UK late January 2023.
When is the ‘start date’ of my visa? Is it:
a) the date of arrival I submit on the initial online application
b) the date I submit my online application
c) the date of my biometrics appointment
The way I understand it I will have 30 days from the ‘start date’ of my visa to enter the UK and it will be valid for 2 years from that start date. Is this correct?
Hi! Please refer to my above answer on 30 June to Mikhail, who asked a similar question.
It’s not really clear from the information provided by the UK government, which just says “the date you apply for your visa” (see https://www.gov.uk/youth-mobility/eligibility).
I would assume you would need to both fill in the application form and provide biometrics before turning 31, but don’t necessarily need to arrive in the UK by then. But if in doubt, best to ask the UK Home Office directly.
Hello Matt Graham,
Thank you for shedding light on this topic,
I have been accepted to the YMS with a start date of September 1st.
I am unable to make it to the UK until next year, is it possible to change the start date and therefore extend the validity of the Visa?
Anticipating your response if I have to do anything before Sept 1st.
This question would best be directed to the UK Home Office, but it’s my understanding that this isn’t possible.
I noticed above that you mention : ”When making your visa application, you’ll need to provide your expected arrival date in the UK. You must collect your biometric residence permit in the UK within 10 days after your nominated arrival date.”
I just submitted my application with a visa start date of Oct 10th. I realised that I may actually arrive 1-2 months later than this. Will I have any issues entering the UK? Or I just need to collect my biometric residence permit within 10 days of arrival?
This page says you need to collect the Biometric residence permit “within 10 days of arriving in the UK” – https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/getting-your-brp-if-you-applied-from-outside-the-uk
This sounds like you should be OK to pick it up after you actually arrive, but you should probably check with the Home Office. I can’t give you a definitive answer.
If I’ve previously been refused a partner visa in the UK (totally my fault, I misunderstood how much money in savings we needed) – would this affect my YMS application? I’m from Aus, between 18 – 30 and have the required funds for this visa (this time!!)
The UK government obviously has the final say, but I can’t see anything in the eligibility criteria that says you would be ineligible if you were previously refused a different type of UK visa. If you want to apply, you might as well give it a go.
I’m currently in Europe applying for my youth mobility visa. Where it requests my ‘address’, is it advisable to put down the address that I am currently staying at in Europe or an Australian address (i.e., my previous residence or parent’s address)?
I won’t be returning to Australia anytime soon and don’t have a permanent address so I put an EU address in the subsequent section where it asks for ‘correspondence address’. I am just unsure about the regular ‘address’ section.
Up to you, but I would probably put your address in Australia (e.g. your parents’ address) and then your current one in Europe for the “correspondence address”.
For this visa is an Australian citizenship certificate valid as opposed to the physics Australian passport. My boyfriend has both Australian and Greek citizenship with a Greek passport. He has applied for the physical Australian passport but not yet received it. He does however, have an official citizenship certificate for Australia.
One of the required documents for this visa is an Australian passport.
Hello, will we still be eligible to apply for the youth mobility visa if we are 30 yrs and 6 mths?
Yes, that’s fine. You can currently apply up to your 31st birthday.
Are you aware of the lead time between submitting the YMS application online and submitting my passport? I am asking as I will be needing my passport for a separate trip soon and am wondering if I should submit my application before or after I return from my trip. Thank you!
I don’t know the answer to this, sorry.
Hi! When giving my “expected arrival date”, what would happen if the date I give is prior to the visa being processed and approved? I was planning to mark my expected arrival date as around one month after I do my visa application, but as it says in this article, it appears it could be up to 6 weeks before the visa is approved. Is it best i change my expected arrival date to a couple weeks later?
You can put any date that it will let you enter on the form for the expected arrival date (this should match what it says on your flight/train booking to the UK). But ultimately, you won’t actually be able to enter the UK on this visa until it’s approved etc. Therefore, probably best to choose a date that’s after the current expected waiting period for the visa to be processed.
Thanks for valuable info!
– Is the minimum maintenance amount (£2,530) taken into account prior and after lodging the application?
For example: If at the time just before application you meet the minimum of £2,530 in savings but then use those same funds to pay for said application (£1,204). Are you still eligible?
You would need to show a bank account statement that proves you had at least the equivalent of GBP2,530 in your account for at least 28 days in a row, and day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for the visa. So, it’s based on the time of your application (or up to a month prior).
There’s some more info here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-evidence-for-sponsored-or-endorsed-work-routes
Keep in mind, it’s probably a good idea to have at least that amount of money before arriving in the UK anyway, so that you don’t risk running out of savings quickly.
Has the visa price now increased? Its now around $2300 aud
The prices are still the same as they were earlier this year. It’s GBP259 for the visa + GBP940 for the NHS surcharge (for 2 years).
That works out to be around AUD2,170 at the current exchange rate, although your bank may add foreign currency transaction fees depending on how you pay. Of course, the Australian Dollar amounts will vary from time to time due to exchange rate fluctuations.
Such a helpful article, thank you!
I have two questions:
1. I understand I need to provide a temporary address when applying for the Visa, but will I be locked into working/living in that specific country? I’m planning on sorting everything out in London but am undecided as to whether I’d like to settle there or in Scotland. Ideally, I’d love to travel between the two beforehand to get a better idea.
2. I’ll be traveling around Europe for two months before landing in London. I have heard that there is a narrow window between getting your visa approved and activating it in the UK. Is that true? Will I be eating into my eligible two years? Or is it even possible to travel between applying for the Visa in Aus and landing in the UK?
Thanks a bunch!
I don’t believe you need to provide an address in the UK when applying for this visa. You can’t be expected to know yet exactly where you’ll live in the UK before you’ve even applied for the visa 😉 I’d just put your Australian address here.
You can apply for this visa up to six months before your intended arrival date in the UK. If I were you, I’d apply around 4 months before you intend to arrive in the UK (i.e. before you start travelling) – the two years start from the date when you intend to arrive in the UK. There’s no issue with travelling to other countries (outside of the UK) in the meantime, as long as you have your passport etc.
Thank you for the info. Do you know if this youth mobility visa is open to apply all year round? Also, is there any cap on the number for Australian? Thanks in advance.
Hi Malissa! Yes, the Youth Mobility Visa is available year-round and there is no cap on the number of Australians that may apply.
If you are granted your tier 5 visa but don’t enter the country within 90 days, is there a fee that is charged when applying for an extension?
Firstly, the UK government’s website says “You can enter the UK at any time while your visa is valid, and leave and come back at any time during your stay” (https://www.gov.uk/youth-mobility). So I’m not sure what the 90-day rule is that you’re referring to?
In any case, there is no possibility to extend the Youth Mobility Visa (for a fee or otherwise). The start date remains fixed and the visa is valid for 2 years from this date.
Also, please note that this visa has had a name change and is no longer called “tier 5”.
If I only intend to stay in the UK for less than 6 months, will I still need to pay the healthcare charge?
I believe so. The visa is for the full 2 years, even if you don’t intend to stay that long.
Do you have any updates of when the amendments to the Youth Mobility Visa will come into effect?
Unfortunately there have been no recent updates on this. But the changes will have to come into force by next year. I’ll update this website once there is more news!
Thanks for the helpful article. Do you know if (a) you HAVE to work while under the youth mobility visa? And (b) if I did work, would I be allowed to still work as an employee of an Australian company rather than for a UK employer? (e.g. retain my current Australian job but just continue in a WFH arrangement…but WFH in the UK 🙂)
No, it is not a requirement that you have to work in the UK with this visa. You have the right to do so, but it’s not mandatory.
Regarding your second question, I suspect it would be fine as far as the UK visa is concerned, but there may be tax implications to consider.
Please note that this is definitely not legal or financial advice!
Awesome thank you Matt.
What a helpful article!
I am just about the pull the trigger on the immigration health surcharge payment and I can’t help but wonder if there’s an another visa that I could apply for instead. I already have a job lined up in the UK from June 5th this year and I am looking to work for about 6 months before I come back home to Melbourne, is the youth mobility the only option I have or is there another visa you’d recommend I look at applying for? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
We don’t generally give information about other visa types, but you can have a look at the other types of visas available here – https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas
If your proposed employer has a sponsor licence to sponsor visas of overseas nationals, then they could potentially sponsor you for a work visa. But this is not really a simple process for the employer if they are not set up for this and they would need to pay a fee.
You could also see whether you qualify for something like a UK Ancestry Visa.
I got selected in ballot on 8th March 2023, I am 30Years 2days old now. Can I still apply for youth mobility Visa?
If you’re eligible for the Youth Mobility Visa, you can apply up until your 31st birthday.
Great article, thanks Matt! ☺️
I’m a permanent resident/ citizen of Australia and I’ve been approved for the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa. I’m travelling Europe after I arrive in the UK. Should I be purchasing Eurail? Or will i be required to go with Interrail? Or does it not matter? I would prefer Eurail but unsure if they’ll pull me up for having the wrong pass. Thanks for you help!
Hi, does your question relate to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa or are you asking about the best value train tickets for Europe?
If it’s the latter, I personally don’t think Eurail is particularly good value unless you’re doing a LOT of train travel within a short space of time. Personally I find it cheaper to buy point-to-point train tickets as needed.
I believe the Youth Mobility Scheme age has been extended for NZ and will take place late June this year. Any chance AUS will be included or are you aware of any updates for AUS?
Hi Armando! Yes, the improvements for NZ citizens will be implemented from 29 June 2023. So far, a date still hasn’t been announced for when the changes for Australian citizens will take place but I’ve covered the latest information here:
Hi Matt, I have applied for the VISA and received an email saying i needed to provide proof of funds with reference to 5.1 and 5.2 or the requirements which states that i need to prove the account holder is the same as the visa applicant and that I have full control of the account….
I provided a bank statement that covered the dates if my application and beyond… I am not sure what else I need to show. Do you know if the account statement I show needs to be ONLY for the dates? as I am unable to create custom date account statements with my bank…
Any help would be appreciated.