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

How to Apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa

Want to experience life as a local in Scotland, England or Wales? You need a UK working holiday visa!

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

I applied for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, allowing me to work anywhere in the United Kingdom for 24 months. This experience was terrifying at the beginning but genuinely life-changing overall. Even though I’m no longer in Scotland, I’ve still got a lot of friends who live there, and I consider it my home away from home.

I believe every person should live in another country if they’re given the opportunity. When I made the jump to move to Scotland all on my own, even though I’d never even stepped foot in the country and I didn’t know anyone else who lived there. I was completely alone! It was one of my life’s scariest but most rewarding decisions, and I’m so glad I did it.

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.

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

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 18-30
  • Have £2,530 in savings and 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.
  • Have a passport from one of the following countries:
    • Canada
    • New Zealand
    • Monaco
    • Australia
    • Iceland
    • San Marino

Are you 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.

How to apply for the UK working holiday visa

If you’re outside the UK, you can apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa online for £259. 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 that the UK Border Agency recognizes 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). These offices are located in the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa.

There are also monthly appointments in Halifax and annual appointments in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Toronto appointments are free, but the other offices charge a fee of $100 CAD. This includes a priority return of your visa and passport to your mailing address.

Check out what you need to Prove Your Right to Work to an employer from the UK Government as of 2023.

Related Post: What it’s like working at Edinburgh Zoo

Girl sitting with banana looking out at Edinburgh from the top of Arthurs Seat. Green and yellow hills.

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 a bank letter on official letter headed paper shows that you have £2,530 in your account.
  • IHS Healthcare Form and proof of the one-time £470 Immigration Health Surcharge paid fee (per year)
  • A credit card (just in case there are any additional unforeseen fees)

Related Post: The Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland

When to apply for the UK working holiday 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. Because of 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 full 24 months.

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

What happens next?

After you’ve applied for your Youth Mobility Scheme visa and have attended your biometrics appointment, your documents will be sent away to the visa processing office.

Mine was sent to Ottawa. 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.

Are you ready to book your flight?

I use several different tools to find affordable airfare, but I often find myself returning 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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