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Youth Mobility Scheme: Options to Stay in the UK

The Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people (aged 18 to 30) from participating countries and territories to live in the UK on a temporary basis. The Scheme allows for such migrants to work in any kind of role (except as a professional sportsperson, doctor or dentist in training) during their stay in the UK, though there are some limits on self-employment. 

The maximum grant of permission under this route is two years. Therefore, many migrants in this route find themselves wondering what options there are for remaining in the UK. This blog considers the routes available. 

Skilled Worker Visa Route 

This route replaced the Tier 2 (General) route on 01 December 2022. The Skilled Worker route allows for those with relevant job offers from employers that hold the relevant sponsor licence, or who are willing to obtain one, to live and work in the UK. Migrants in this route may be eligible to apply for settlement after five years in this category. 

In order to be eligible, applicants will need to show that their role is a role eligible for sponsorship, that they have the requisite skills and experience to undertake the role, they have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship, and that they will be paid the requisite amount. Applicants will also need to show that they meet the English language and financial requirements. Unlike under the Tier 2 (General) category, there is no need for YMS migrants to leave the UK to apply for this route. The Skilled Worker route allows for this application to be made from within the UK. Additionally, there is no longer a cap on an applicant’s shareholding in the sponsor company.

Start-up / Innovator Visa Categories

In both categories, applicants must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body (Start-up / Innovator).

The Start-up category is for new entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK for the first time. The business must be innovative, viable and scalable and it must be approved by an endorsing body. You must spend the majority of your working time on the business venture and be genuinely intending to undertake, and capable of undertaking, the work or business activity. There are further requirements for obtaining permission under this route, which are set out here. 

Permission in the Start-up category is granted for a period of two years and it is not possible to extend your permission to stay longer in this category. You can, however, apply for the Innovator route at this stage. 

If you are already an experienced business person, you may want to apply for permission as an Innovator straight away. Like the Start-up route, you will need to have a business idea that is innovative, viable and scalable. You will also need to have at least £50,000 available to invest in this business venture. This can be your own funds, or through funding.  It is not possible to invest in other businesses, applicants must have either generated, or made a significant contribution to, the ideas in the business plan, and either be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team. Innovators must also be involved in the day-to-day management and development of the business. Further information on the requirements for the Innovator category can be found on our website

Innovators are granted periods of permission for three years. Unlike the Start-up category, there is no limit to the length of time you can remain in this category. Applications for indefinite leave to remain (“ILR”) can be made having completed 3 years in this category, however, if you do not meet the requirements for ILR, you can apply to extend your stay within this category providing that the endorsing body is willing to continue its endorsement. It is wise to consider the requirements for settlement when entering the category, as they are onerous. 

Both the Start-up and Innovator routes can be applied for from within the UK. 

NB – We are expecting changes to these routes. No information has been published regarding these changes at the date of writing. 

Scale Up Visa Route 

The Scale-up visa route allows for migrants with job offers at Scale-ups with the relevant Scale-up Sponsor Licence to obtain entry clearance / permission to stay and work in the UK. The benefit of this route over the Skilled Worker route is that applicants are only required to be sponsored for five months, as opposed to the whole five-year settlement period. However, those considering this route should note that there are presently very few Scale-up sponsors, though it is open to potential employers to obtain the relevant licence

If a migrant wishes to change employer, sponsor, or occupation code during this period, they will need a new CoS and they will have to make a new application for entry clearance / permission to stay as a sponsored Scale-up Worker. Following their two year initial grant of permission, the Scale-up Worker Visa applicant can make an unsponsored application meaning that they are not required to be sponsored for any particular role, though other eligibility criteria apply. 

Applicants will need to be paid the requisite amount to be eligible for this category, more details of this can be found in my previous blog here

Applications for this route can be made from within the UK while here with permission as a YMS migrant. 

Global Talent Visa Route

Like with the Start-up and Innovator routes, you will need to obtain an endorsement from an appropriate endorsing body. You can be endorsed in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts or digital technology. 

Each endorsing body has its own set of criteria, but in each case you will need a substantial body of work and support from experts in your field. Once you have been endorsed, you will then be able to apply for the Global Talent route, either as a person with exceptional talent or promise. 

Under this route, you will have full permission to work (in employment or self-employment) and you may be eligible to settle after three or five years, depending on your endorsement. 

You can switch into this route from within the UK. 

For more information on this type of visa, click here. 

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in planning your next steps following the expiry of your permission under the Youth Mobility Scheme, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our enquiry form.


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