The UK has a number of visas allowing you to visit however, many people like to go on an extended stay in the UK and this is possible with the working holiday and ancestral visas that are available. This is great news because you can undertake work to fund further travels through the UK and beyond. The most popular UK working holiday visas people apply for are the UK Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa and / or an Ancestry Visa.


UK Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

The UK Tier 5 Visa also known as the UK Youth Mobility Scheme (YMNS) was once called the Working Holidaymaker Visa. This visa allows you to live and work in the UK for two years. To qualify you must:

  • be a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Taiwan or Republic of Korea.
  • be between the ages of 18-31 years inclusive.
  • have the equivalent of GPB1,800 in a bank account at the time of the application.
  • have no major criminal convictions.

Ancestry Visa

You can apply for an Ancestry Visa if you are a Commonwealth citizen and have a grandparent from the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).  Being granted an Ancestry Visa will enable you to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. Towards the end of the 5 years, you can either apply to settle in the UK permanently or extend your visa. To be eligible you must:

  • prove you are a Commonwealth Citizen
  • be aged 17 years or over
  • have a grandparent who was born in the UK, or have a grandparent that was born in the Republic of Ireland before 31st March, 1922.
  • be both able and planning to work in the UK
  • support yourself and your dependents without help from public funds.


Other visas available

There are other visas available including a Student Visa and Skilled Worker Visa. Information and how to apply for one of these is available from your nearest High Commission or Consulate General.


How to apply for a visa

You will need to apply on-line for your visa and need to have biometric data taken, meaning you will need to visit a consulate or high commission to have this done. This is the process where you will have your fingerprints scanned and a digital photo taken. It is compulsory to have your visa entered into your passport before you arrive in the UK a you cannot apply for one in the UK. Contact your nearest British High Commission or British Consulate General to apply.


  • About the Author

    Sharyn McCullum has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked at Sydney Airport. When in her 20’s, she bid her family farewell and left Australia on her own for a working holiday in the UK. She stayed for 4 years and her time there inspired her travel guide Live Work and Play in London and the UK and this blog. She currently calls Melbourne home.


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