The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians

The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians
London, UK. Photo by Matt Graham.

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 page contains information about the UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa for Australian citizens and living in the UK. It was last updated on 9 June 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

  • Population: Approx. 68 million
  • Official language: English
  • Capital city: London
  • Largest cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool
  • Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
city road people street Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Anna Urlapova on Pexels.com.

UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) 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 (T5) 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. AUD460) to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

However, you will also need to pay a £940 (approx. AUD1,670) Immigration Health Surcharge, bringing the total cost to around AUD2,130 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. AUD1,670). 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 (T5) 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 3 weeks to get a decision (so ensure you leave enough time), although you can pay an additional fee to get a faster turnaround time.

Note that as of June 2022, processing times for UK visas are longer than usual due to high demand and the prioritisation of visa applications for Ukrainians. Average wait times are now closer to 6+ weeks instead of the usual 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 be 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 only be able to stay in the UK for 2 years. It is not yet known if people who already held a 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 and it could take up to two more years before this happens.

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!

London Tube Tottenham Court Road station
Many Londoners commute on the Tube. Image by Michele Mex on Pixabay.

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.


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!

25 thoughts on “The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians

  1. 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?

    1. 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://www.workholiday.com.au/working-holiday-visas-over-30/).

      1. Hi Matt,
        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?

        1. 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.

  2. 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??

    1. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

    1. 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/).

  5. 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?

    Thank you

    1. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. Hello,
    Two questions.
    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?

    thank you

    1. 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.

  8. I am Australian but already in Europe and have received the letter to confirm my youth mobility’s visa has been approved.
    Questions
    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.

    1. 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

  9. Hi Matt
    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.

    thanks

    Colleen

    1. 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

  10. Hi,

    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?

    1. 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.

  11. Hello,

    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 !!!

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