England, Europe, Expat, Scotland, Travel Tips

YMS VISA – Step-by-step guide


So I promised a couple of times now that I would write-up a step-by-step guide for applying to the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa to the UK. As a disclaimer I should say that I am in no way an expert on the subject. But I just applied for this visa and had it accepted yesterday, so I did something right.

So first things first – who can apply to the YMS Visa?

It’s open to young people 18-30 from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Monaco. The YMS Visa gives you a two-year working visa that lets you entre and leave the country as often as you want. You can basically do any job except professional sports, self-employment (though there are exceptions) or doctor-in-training.

You can only apply for the visa once and you can’t extend your stay in the UK when your visa is up. Even getting married doesn’t work. One note: the age limit is actually for when you apply for the visa. You can post-date the entry date of your visa for up to three months (mine’s post-dated to June 20), so if you turn 31 in that time, it’s still fine.

What do I need to apply?

I must have read the application site for the YMS visa five times. It is definitely not written clearly.

Basically you need five things to apply: the online application, application fee, a passport-sized photo (UK passport specifications), your passport and proof of £1600 in maintenance funds (basically money that can tide you over if you don’t get a job right away.) There are several ways to prove your maintenance funds (in your own currency): a letter from your bank or credit union, three months worth of bank statements or a bank book, (each of these has to show funds from no earlier than a month before you applied for the visa.) If you are downloading bank statements from the Internet, you’ll need a letter from the bank confirming them. As an option, you can also submit an old expired passport to prove your travel history. The online application asks for a very detailed travel history.

How do I apply?

I applied from Canada. I believe the process is the same from each country. From Canada you apply online through Woodbridge services. The application is pretty easy, but you’ll need to have your passport (and maybe you’re expired passport) on hand. They ask you about your personal information, about your parents and about your past-travel history. The application fee is £160 and you’ll have to pay that online. The last part of the application is to schedule an appointment at a Woodbridge application centre to hand-in your supporting documents, including your passport. I submitted my online application on April 2 and then scheduled by appointment for April 18. There were earlier appointments available, but I wanted to be finished with school first.

The appointment only lasts about 20 minutes, basically they make you sign a document that says you won’t try to use this visa to work in the British overseas territories (Bermuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, etc.) Then they check to make sure you have brought in all of your documents and a printed out version of the online application. Then they take your finger prints and a headshot (yes, another one). I had my appointment at 9 a.m. Monday and my application was accepted yesterday. I picked up my passport with the YMS visa inside at 4 p.m. today. They tell you it could take up to 15 days from this appointment day to process your application, but my application was done in four.

That’s it. I hope you guys are successful too!

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2 thoughts on “YMS VISA – Step-by-step guide”

  1. Ughh thank you! I’ve been trying to work out for ages if I need to take my supporting documents with me to my appointment or not, you’re exactly right, that how-to-apply they provide is an absolute mess.

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