Australia-UK Working Holiday Visa Improvements Coming by 2024

Australia-UK Working Holiday Visa Improvements Coming by 2024
Australians aged 18-35 will soon be allowed to live and work in the UK for up to 3 years with a working holiday visa.

In June 2021, the Australian and UK governments announced upcoming improvements to their reciprocal working holiday visa agreement as part of a new Free Trade Agreement between the two nations.

Once the changes to the UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa are implemented, Australian citizens will be able to enjoy working holidays in the UK for up to 3 years. The UK working holiday scheme will also become available to Australians aged 18-35 years old, as is currently the case for the working holiday visas offered by Ireland, France and Canada.

Currently, only Australians aged 18-30 years old can apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

Australia is also set to improve its own working holiday visa for UK citizens, offering the visa to Brits aged 18-35 and removing requirements to work in regional areas to access visa extensions.

While this agreement was struck in-principle in June 2021, it hasn’t yet been implemented. This means Australians can’t yet access the improved working holiday arrangements in the UK.

The question now on everyone’s lips is… when will the UK working holiday visa changes actually happen?

Don’t hold your breath for a quick implementation…

Back in June 2021, there were some suggestions the new visa arrangements could be implemented by around the middle of 2022. But at that time, the Australian government itself said it “is anticipated that these changes will be made within five years”.

Unfortunately, the latest information from the Australian Department of Home Affairs suggests that we could be waiting until as late as mid-2024.

So, what exactly are we waiting for?

On 17 December 2021, Australia and the UK virtually signed their new Free Trade Agreement. This means it is no longer just an “in-principle” agreement, which is a good step in the right direction. But there are still more steps…

Next, the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement needs to be passed by Australia’s parliament. A National Interest Analysis will also take place and it will be considered by Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

The FTA was tabled in the Australian parliament on 8 February 2022, so this process has already begun. There is no reason to believe the agreement won’t be approved. But given the federal government will soon break for an election, this process could take a few more months. Similar procedures also need to take place on the UK’s end.

Once the necessary internal processes are completed by both countries, the Free Trade Agreement will take effect either 30 days later or on another mutually agreed date.

Some media outlets have reported that the FTA is expected to come into force on 1 July 2022. This would seem like a realistic timeline. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the changes to UK working holiday visas would be implemented from the same date.

Working holiday visa changes to be implemented within 2 years of FTA launching

According to a recent update from the Department of Home Affairs:

Within two years of the FTA entering into force, new arrangements for Working Holiday Makers are expected to be implemented.

Yes, that’s right. The improvements to UK working holiday visas for Australians, and vice versa, will still take up to two years to be implemented from the time that the Free Trade Agreement enters into force. Which hasn’t happened yet and will probably happen in mid-2022.

Based on this timeline, the changes to the UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa could realistically be implemented any time between late 2022 and mid-2024.

London Tube station
Australians wanting to move to London will have to wait a while longer to access the improved UK visa terms. Photo by Michele Mex on Pixabay.

The old rules continue to apply for now

If you don’t feel like waiting an unspecified period of time – potentially more than two years – it is still possible to apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa under the current rules. But this means you’ll have to be aged 18-30 (inclusive) and your visa will only remain valid for two years.

If you have already held a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, it is not yet clear whether you will be able to re-apply for this visa in the future under the new conditions (e.g. apply for a third year if you already held this visa for two years). There are now some signs that this may be possible, with the Australian government indicating it will allow this for UK citizens coming to Australia. But there is no information available yet from the UK government.

So if you want to take advantage of the full 3-year Youth Mobility visa validity, or you want to apply for a UK working holiday visa as an Australian over 30, for now you might unfortunately just have to wait…

We’ll continue providing updates, so keep an eye on Working Holidays for Aussies in the meantime! To stay informed, you can also sign up for our newsletter.

Matt Graham

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 60 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

11 thoughts on “Australia-UK Working Holiday Visa Improvements Coming by 2024

    1. There has been no official guidance yet from any government about this, so it is too early to say for sure. However, one of the requirements to get a Youth Mobility Scheme visa (or a working holiday visa from most other countries) is that you haven’t already had the visa. I don’t see any reason why it would be different in this instance, unless the UK government decides to make an exception.

      I’m sure we’ll find out more over the coming months, but for now there is nothing that indicates to me that previous UK Youth Mobility scheme visa holders would be able to reapply (other than wishful thinking from some Australians, which is perfectly understandable!).

    2. No we won’t miss out. On 4th April this was updated on the Home Affairs Website:
      “If you have already spent one or two years in Australia on a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa before the new arrangements commence, you will be able to apply for the remaining visas under the new arrangements. This will enable you to access the maximum of three years in Australia.
      Scenarios for the new arrangements

      Example 1: Amanda came to Australia on her first Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa in 2015. She was 25 years old. Amanda returned to the UK in 2016. Amanda is now 32 years old. She cannot apply for another Working Holiday visa as the age limit for applicants is 30 years.

      When the new arrangements commence, Amanda will be able to apply for second and third Working Holiday visas. She can apply from in or outside Australia, up to the age of 35 years. She will not need to meet any specified work requirements”

      https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/whm-program/latest-news/arrangements-uk-passport-holders

  1. Is this artical from the government?

    It seems former whv holders will not be able to apply,

    Theres been no offical updates about this.

    Can you explain?

    1. No, this article is not from any government. I wrote it based on the best available information we have at this time, but more information will become available with time. Please see my response above.

    1. Talia – the NHS fee paid when you apply for your visa should cover you and this isn’t going up. It’s about £500 for the year (I’m not sure how that works out in dollars) BUT if you work for the NHS when you come, you don’t have to pay the fee 🙂 I’m pretty sure if your visa is over 6 months then you HAVE to pay the NHS fee (unless of course your employer is the NHS).

  2. I’ve been told that we can’t apply for these youth mobility visas within the uk if you’re on a tourist visa. Is there a way around this? Such as applying in another country like south Ireland.

    1. Have a look at: https://www.gov.uk/youth-mobility/apply and https://www.workholiday.com.au/uk-youth-mobility-scheme/

      You cannot apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa while already in the UK, but you can apply from anywhere outside the UK. You don’t have to be in Australia.

      After applying online from the UK, you can visit any visa application centre to get your fingerprints and photograph taken. There is one available in Dublin, as well as many other places. See https://www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre

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