How to Apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa (Updated 2024)

Want to experience life as a local in Scotland, England or Wales? You need a UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visa!

There are several ways of turning the dream of moving to the UK into a reality. One way is to go on a “working holiday.” This is how I managed to move to Scotland for two years!

If you’re interested in embarking on a working holiday in the UK (and I highly recommend you do!), here’s everything you need to know to apply for and obtain a UK working holiday visa.

UK Scotland Visa Application for working holiday foreigners and expats to find jobs in Scotland

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Are you eligible for a UK working holiday visa?

Before you’re able to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be aged 18-35 for Australians, New Zealanders & Canadians and 18-30 for Andorra, Japan, South Korea or Uruguay.
  • Have £2,530 in savings, maintained in one bank account for at least 28 consecutive days, with a letter from your bank as proof.
  • Have no dependents (no children living with you and no children you’re financially responsible for)
  • Be covered by the National Health Service (NHS) — to do this, you pay a £470 Immigration Health Surcharge that covers you for one year of your stay. (£940 for two years)
  • Have a passport from one of the following countries:
    • Canada
    • New Zealand
    • Monaco
    • Australia
    • Iceland
    • San Marino

What to do if you are not eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

Unfortunately, the Youth Mobility Scheme visa is only available to people from a few countries. However, worry not, as there is still a way for people to move to the UK.

If you are moving to Scotland from the US, or do you want to know how Americans can move to Scotland? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Moving to Scotland from the US here.

If you are from India, the UK Government has an India Young Professionals Scheme visa, which you can use to apply to gain entry into the UK. Find out more information here: India Young Professionals Scheme visa.

How to apply for the UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa

If you’re outside the UK, you can apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa online for £298. 

If you’re not in your home country, you can still apply from a country you have the right to live in for at least 6 months of the year. The only requirement is for the UK Border Agency to recognize the country you’re applying for.

Once you’ve completed the online application, you’ll have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is £470 per year. The fee will be doubled if you want to stay in the UK for 24 months. 

Visit the UK Government website for all documents needed to pay for UK healthcare.

When you’ve applied, you must book an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre (UK Biometrics Office). There are only a few in various cities around your country, so you may need to travel to attend the appointment.

Check out what you need to Prove Your Right to Work to an employer from the UK Government as of 2024.

Two woman happily pose in front of a statue of a Scottish Bag Pipe Player in Edinburgh

Your Biometrics Appointment

You must arrive at your biometrics appointment for your UK visa early. You’ll have your fingerprints and a photograph taken to obtain a biometric residence permit, so be prepared. 

Make sure you take all of the following documents with you:

  • Completed online application form (write your IHS number on the front page)
  • Current passport, valid for the duration of visa, with at least one blank page (the visa takes up one whole page with the back left blank)
  • Recent passport photo (for your visa vignette) – some offices will take this photo for you, but I recommend bringing extra photos just in case.
  • A hard copy of a bank statement or letter on official letterhead paper shows you have £2,530 in your account.
  • IHS Healthcare Form and proof of the one-time £470 Immigration Health Surcharge paid fee (per year – £940 for the full 24 months  )
  • A credit card (just in case there are any additional unforeseen fees)

When to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

The earliest you can apply for a UK working holiday visa is six months before you travel. But it’s important to know that the visa begins the moment it’s issued — not when you enter the UK. 

Due to this, I recommend getting your UK visa as close to the date you plan on arriving in the UK as possible so that you can take advantage of the total 24 months.

Two woman and one man outside sitting in a iron boat on land in Pitlochry Scotland

How to Apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa – What Happens Next?

After applying for your Youth Mobility Scheme visa and attending your biometrics appointment, your documents will be sent to the visa processing office.

You’ll get your passport back within a week or two with your UK entry Clearance Visa vignette inside.

You can now hop on a flight and enjoy the UK working holiday of your dreams! It might be a bit daunting going through the visa process at the time, but I assure you it’s worth it in the end.

Book Your Flight to the UK

I use several different tools to find affordable airfare, but I often return to Skyscanner. It is a great tool for finding various flights around the world. It includes several airlines and shows you the cheapest flights for each day.

Related Post: Get excited and check out all of the posts related to Living Abroad

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