Alyssa Writes

UK Youth Mobility Visa for Canadians – Frequently Asked Questions

Photo courtesy of judo10

Hi there! I suspect if you’ve found your way to this Frequently Asked questions, it’s because you’re planning on applying for your UK Youth Mobility Visa – welcome! If you haven’t read YMS visa application guide yet, read this first.

Just as for the application guide post, the same applies for the FAQ: If you have read through the guide, the FAQ, and all the comments, then I don’t have an answer for you. “Unique” situations and questions that have been answered in posts or previous comments will not get a response.

Happy travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

If you are applying for a Youth Mobility Visa, you are now required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge. This amounts to £150 per year of the visa validity, therefore £300. No, it doesn’t matter that you only plan on staying in the UK for 3/5/9 months. You must pay the IHS before completing your Tier 5 YMS visa application as it will ask for the reference number when you apply.

What is this business about a Biometric Residence Permit?

If you apply for the YMS visa after May 31, 2015, you will receive a sticker in your passport instead of the vignette with the full 2-year visa granted. You must provide an accurate UK postcode as part of your application as you will be designated a specific Post Office branch to pick up your biometric residence permit. You will receive a letter with your passport when it is returned to you telling you which Post Office that is. Your BRP is the proof of your right to work in the UK and must be carried with you at all times.

BRPs must be collected from a post office within 10 days of arriving in the UK and the vignette sticker is only valid for 30 days after your intended date of arrival. If you cannot pick up your biometric residence permit in time, inform the Home Office here.

This has two implications:

1) You must put an accurate address on your application.

2) You must travel within 30 days of your intended date of arrival. If you change your travel date you will have to go to the Visa4UK website to apply for a transfer of visa.

* * *

I think I made a mistake with my youth mobility visa application, what do I do?

Do not freak out if you think you’ve done something a little bit wrong. Here is what will happen.

If you have provided:

  • A document in the wrong format;
  • A document missing from a sequence of documents;
  • A document that is a copy and not an original; or
  • A document that does not contain all the required information

They will contact you by writing or telephone to tell you what you need to send. They must receive it within 7 working days.

Also, if a document provided is in the wrong format, is a copy, does not contain all the required information BUT can be verified from other documents in the application, the website of the organization or regulatory body that issued the document, they MAY approve your application exceptionally.

If you are turned down, you can appeal the decision. Read the Guidance document for more information.

How do I know if they are out of spots? What if I waited too late in the year?!

Canada has 5,500 places in the UK Youth Mobility Scheme. When I asked the woman at the application centre, she said that Canada has never even come close to using all of the spots. In June 2013, approximately 370* of these visas were processed in Canada.

Here is what will happen is there are no spots left:

Directly from the Guidance document: “…a notice will be released to notify customers of this. The notice will be published on the relevant UK embassy, High Commission or Diplomatic Post website.”

If there is no notice, then you may still apply. If you’re confused about what the relevant website would be, it is the British High Commission in Canada website if you’re Canadian. The High Commission in Australian website if you’re Australian, etc.

* If you would like to calculate that number for yourself here is how – They are no longer releasing the numbers for visas processed.

Look people. Seriously. Canadians between the ages of 18-30 are not particularly enthusiastic about moving to the UK. I know you think they are, because you are, but they are not. There will be places left no matter when you apply. In the decade-plus that this visa has been going, Canadians have never used up all the spots. So this is not something to worry about. Seriously. As mentioned, check the UK embassy website. For Canadians, that is the British High Commission in Canada website.

The online application is asking for a UK address and phone number - what do I do?

I put down the address and phone number of my partner’s family. If you don’t have friends or family in the United Kingdom, find a hotel or hostel where you will be staying and supply their number. This is simply to ensure that you will be going somewhere when you arrive in the UK and there is a record of your stay. No, you don’t HAVE to stay there but they will ask you again for this when you arrive in country, so you better have a place to stay booked or arranged.

Make sure that the address you write is at least NEARBY where you plan on staying (e.g. don’t put an address in London if you’re going to Cardiff). As of May 31, 2015, you will have to pick up a biometric residence permit from a post office near you, which will be indicated in a letter from the UKBA.

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When does my visa start? How far in advance can I apply?

It starts on the date you requested it to start – that is your intended date of arrival. This date must be within six months of the date of your application. Your application will be rejected if you try to date it further in the future than that. So, if the start date is February 17, 2017 and you arrive on March 10, 2017, your visa will still only be valid until February 17, 2019.

You may arrive in the UK whenever you like, but your time will start running out after the visa validity date, regardless of whether you have arrived in the country. If you change your travel date to after your temporary vignette expires, you must apply for a transfer of visa on the Visa4UK website.

If you don’t enter the country to activate the visa, you can reapply at a later date.

NEW: For applications made after May 31, 2015, you will be issued a 30-day clearance sticker (in your passport). This sticker is only valid for 30 days after your intended date of arrival. If you plan on arriving later than that, you will have to request a new one. Your official “visa” is a biometric residence permit card, which must be picked up within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

I don't understand this bank statement date thing - why do I have to have the funds in my account for 30 days?

You don’t. You must show that the minimum maintenance funds were in your account on the date of your application.

Furthermore, your documents cannot be more than 30 days old (30 days before your application date). If you apply on February 17, your documents must be dated on or after January 17.

Can I enter the UK prior to the visa start date?

Yes, BUT you must leave and re-enter on or after the start date of your visa in order to validate it. If you are a few days to a week early, they will validate your visa, but you will not be allowed to commence working until the visa validity date on the visa and the border security might grill the shit out of you to make sure you weren’t planning on it.

Does my TFSA (tax-free savings account) count towards my maintenance funds?

Yes. I included a print-out from Scotiabank explaining that TFSA is a cash access account, because I’m meticulous like that.

Can I work as a pharmacist/doctor/sportsperson? What restrictions are there on work?

You may not work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you can demonstrate you attained a degree in those fields in the UK. You are not allowed recourse to public funds (i.e. welfare). You may not be employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You are allowed to be self-employed as long as you don’t own a business premises (other than your home); the value of your equipment does not exceed £5000; and, you have no employees.

You can work anywhere in the United Kingdom.

I lost my old passport - what do I do?

Try as best you can to remember your previous travel and indicate on the application that the passport has been lost.

I haven't heard about whether my visa has been issued. It's been two weeks and you got yours in a week! Does this mean I've been rejected?!

No. The visa processing centre endeavours to have visas issued within 10 business days, but anything can arise that will push the processing time back. I know this isn’t reassuring, but: just wait until you hear. You can check what the average processing times have been throughout the month by following the same process as I outlined in the ‘How do I know if they are out of spots?’ answer.

If you have followed the instructions, meet the requirements and are not a convicted criminal or have been removed from a country, 95% of the time you will not have been rejected. THIS IS A REALLY EASY VISA TO GET AND VERY DIFFICULT TO MESS UP. THEY ARE APPARENTLY FORGIVING WITH MISTAKES. YOUR SITUATION IS NOT AN EXCEPTION. STOP WORRYING.

What if I become pregnant?

You will be in violation of the terms of the visa and must leave the country voluntarily or you will be removed from the UK.

I suspect that they want to avoid the drama of people seeking settlement because they have children born in the UK. I actually think they may have removed the line about pregnancy from the document (probably because, in my opinion, it was offensive and sexist). If you become pregnant and are in your first 12 months of your stay and unemployed, you will not be covered by the NHS. You will be required to pay for any antenatal care, including delivery. If you have paid the health surcharge then you will be covered. However, under the terms of the visa you cannot have any dependents; therefore, giving birth in the UK would breach your visa terms and if you are found out or reported to the UKBA, then yes, they can deport you.

Do I need a return ticket?

A return ticket is not necessary.

Can I study while on this visa?

Yes, but it must not be the main purpose of your stay in the UK nor should you obtain a degree. If you wish to obtain a degree, you must return home and apply for student visa. It appears that the rules have changed and you can study while on the Youth Mobility Visa. Some courses require an ATAS certificate.

However, the immigration rules state that in order to obtain leave in one of these categories you “must intend to work”. Therefore when you applied you did so on the understanding that your main intention in the UK was work.

If you later change your mind and decide to study, there is a danger that the immigration authorities may think that your reasons for being in the UK have changed, and they could decide to cancel your visa. If you do undertake study while holding a work visa, it is advisable to continue working in the UK.

It is acceptable to study part time whilst holding a visa in one of these categories. Remember, however, if your visa runs out before the end of your course you cannot obtain an extension as a Student in order to complete your studies, since you must be studying full time in order to be granted a Tier 4 student visa.

Is it possible to switch between visa types?

No. If you are currently in the UK, on a student visa for example, you must leave the UK in order to apply for the YMS visa. If you are on the YMS visa and would like to switch to another points-based visa, then you must begin the process prior to your current visa’s expiry date. That being said, if you’re currently working for an employer they can sponsor you for a Tier 2 visa. You must begin before your visa expires and you will still have to return to Canada while the visa is being processed. I have heard a rumour that you don’t have to leave in the case of applying for Further Leave to Remain (Marriage). Since your permission to stay was longer than 6 months, then you can apply from within the UK. This visa allows you to continue working in the UK.

Do I need traveller's insurance?

No. I was not asked at the border and you will be covered by the NHS upon arrival in the UK (between the validity dates of your visa). Whether you want to have it, i.e. for repatriation and such, is another question. I wrote a follow up post regarding opening a bank account, registering the NHS and National Insurance number – read it here.

Should I pay for priority service?

I don’t know! This costs US $228 and your visa will be the first processed in the batch that arrives at the same time. If you have already attended your appointment, you can apply for retrospective priority, the details of which are here.

Do I have to disclose my traffic offences?

That depends. They ask about crimes you have been convicted of, they’re looking for drug traffickers, murderers, assault and battery and the like. The application said in my day said ‘except minor traffic offences’. That said, if you have been convicted of a DUI or something similar, that should be disclosed. By minor, they mean parking tickets and speeding tickets (unless you were drag racing, but then you would be charged with reckless endangerment, right?).

The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook
 Why waste time sifting through 10 different resources when you can get it all in one place? The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook: Everything Canadians Need to Know about Getting the Visa and Moving to the UK contains 56 pages of useful information that will help you make your dream of moving abroad a reality! Get it now!

More YMS Visa Posts:

Should I move to the UK first or find a job first?

What’s the difference between a British CV and a North American resume?

How long will it take me to find a job in London?

How to Bring Money Over to the UK?

What do I do about my taxes while on the Youth Mobility Visa?

Should I put my Youth Mobility Visa status on my CV?

How do I find a flat in London?

How do you make friends in London?

Updated:  12 March 2017