Are you a Canadian citizen, aged 18-30, with no dependents and approximately CAD $3000 in your bank account? Then you are eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa, which allows you to live and work (with some restrictions) in the UK for up to two years. For this visa, Canada acts as your sponsor and you are (mostly) free to pursue any work – public health, PR, teaching, or just working at a bar to pay for travels!
This is a step-by-step guide to applying for your Tier 5 YMS visa for the UK – while located outside the UK. You can apply for this visa outside of Canada – as long as you have been there for at least 6 months with a long-term visa and there is a UK Border Agency where you can get your fingerprints done. I do not pretend to be an expert, I am simply relating my experience. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail but chances are if I haven’t covered it here, then I will refer you to the UK Border Agency or the WorldBridge Service websites.
Read This First
This document will give you information on all of the requirements for your documents as well as the limitations on the work you may do and restrictions of the visa (no recourse to public funds, e.g. welfare). Every time I read it, I found a new document I needed.
Information and Documents Needed
- Current passport and all previous passports (if you have them)
- Dates of all international travel, and travel to the UK
- Birth dates and birthplaces of your parents
- Credit card to process payment
1. Gather the information needed and fill out the application. If you run into information you don’t have - don’t lie! Save the form and get it, or tell the truth (e.g. you lost it, you don’t know, etc.). Make sure your name is filled out exactly as it appears on your passport. I failed to put my middle names on the application, which I was able to amend at my appointment.
2. For the international trips – visiting the USA counts even though there may be no stamps in your passport if you went by car. I put ‘multiple trips’, the year and the purpose as ‘personal’. There is not very much space to write, so be succinct. If you’re amazingly well-travelled, just put something like: multiple trips to [insert countries or continents here] for personal reasons; multiple trips to [insert countries or continents here] for work reasons. They’ll be able to verify with your passport.
3. Make the payment. The fee for this visa (current as of August 2013) is £200. It is charged as US $330 because the visa processing office is in New York. On my statement, it came to a total of CAD $349. Print out the receipt.
4. Print out your completed application. Confirm all the information is correct and sign and date where necessary.
5. You will be directed to the WorldBridge Service website to book an appointment. Choose the date and time that is convenient for you. Expect to be there at least an hour. Maybe it’s not normally as busy – I did my application in August when they were processing a lot of student visas.
Go to Your Visa Appointment
I must point out that this is Toronto-specific, as that is where I had my appointment. I imagine the process is the same at other offices. I have no idea about the mobile offices!
Information and Documents Needed
- Current passport and all previous passports (if you have them). I read that it doesn’t have to be valid for the whole time you hold the visa, as long as you keep the passport to show to immigration officers. I renewed mine and got the very cool, new Canadian e-passport. I decided in the end to get a 5 year passport because I didn’t want to run out of pages and lose money – it depends how much you intend to travel.
- Proof of funds current within 30 days of date of application. Refer to the document above for specifics. For this visa, you only need to have the funds available on or within 30 days of the date of application. I got one form dated before my application, and one dated after, just in case. Maintenance funds required is £1800 (approximately CAD $2900, depending on the exchange rate on the date of your application). My accounts were a chequing account and my TFSA (for which I had a document showing is a cash fund). You must have cash access to these funds, i.e. they cannot be held in stocks, assets, or credit cards. Lines of credit and joint bank accounts are okay.
- Appendix 7 Form. If you forget, they do have copies in the office, but don’t count on it.
- Receipt from your application payment
- 1 passport photo, recent within 6 months
- Your hand and your face
1. Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appoint to check-in. Someone at the desk will verify you have all the required documents. If you don’t they may provide them, or you will be asked to come back. The person at the desk will put them in a folder and give you a number. If you have any last-minute questions, the manager can advise you on your application.
2. Sit and wait for your number. Watch the “Visit Britain” video they play on repeat. You are not allowed to have any electronics, food or drink. Also, don’t leave your bag unattended – they will treat it as a bomb threat which almost happened when some guy left his bag on a chair for 20 minutes.
3. When your number is called, you will go see an agent who will look at your documents and then put them in a DHL bag to be mailed to New York. Yes, it’s silly that Canadians get their British visas processed in America…but you know. Budget cuts?
4. You have the option of picking up your visa in the office or having it delivered to you, at an extra cost of $25. I decided to have it mailed. Pick-ups take place daily at 4PM and only after all visa applicants have been processed.
5. Sit and wait again. Become British by osmosis. Your number will the called by the person at the desk and your photograph and biometric data will be taken. They scan your fingerprints and take a picture.
You are now free to go!
7 Days Later…
From applying online to receiving my passport with the vignette, it took a total of 15 days. I applied on a Tuesday, had my appointment the following Wednesday, and had my passports returned to me on Thursday. I found this was a pretty fast turn-around, though once I got to the visa stage for my French work permits, it took about a week as well.
The visa processing office in New York sends you an e-mail when they receive your documents and then once the visa has been issued (and presumably if you are rejected). If you are turned down, then they may call you to send in another document or you will have to re-apply. You also have the option to appeal the decision.
Canada has 5,500 places in the UK Youth Mobility Scheme. In June 2013, approximately 370* of these visas were processed in Canada. I suspect that there are plenty of spots so if you’re feeling wanderlusty – just do it!
* Thanks to a reader e-mail, I will explain how I calculated that number
- Go to this page on the UKBA website
- Choose your visa application centre (Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver)
- Scroll down to the PBS (Points Based System) Tier 5 and at the right side of the chart it says ‘Total Decisions Made’ and says the number
- I then added together these decisions
- Under the chart, it tells you which month the data is from
Caveats: This does not necessarily include the mobile stations data; this is data for visas processed, it doesn’t mean all of these people were approved; these are numbers for ALL Tier 5 visas which includes all temporary worker visas (creative and sporting, charity workers, religious workers, government authorized exchange, international agreement and the youth mobility scheme).
So chances are that not all of the 370 spots I listed are for the YMS visa. My understanding is that Canadians have never filled all 5,500 spots, but if you really are worried about them running out then apply at the beginning of the year.
** This blog post is one of my most popular, and I plan on keeping it up-to-date with the latest developments as well as adding information as I receive questions from readers. Last Updated: 5 December 2013