You would be forgiven if you had thought that YMS was a K-pop group.  Somewhat disappointingly, "YMS" in this post is a reference to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa in the UK.  

As part of the state visit of the Republic of Korea ("South Korea") to the UK in November 2023 (which featured Blackpink), an agreement was signed by the South Korean President and the UK Prime Minister to enhance the relationship between the two countries, which led to the expansion of the YMS for South Korean nationals.  Although the news might have been overshadowed by Blackpink's Honorary MBEs presented by King Charles and their group contract renewal, it is worth noting the wider expansion of the YMS which came into effect on 31 January 2024.

What is the YMS?

If an individual:

  • is a national of certain countries (or holds certain British nationalities);
  • is aged 18 to 30 (or 18 to 35 depending on their nationality); and
  • has savings of at least £2,530,

They can apply for the YMS which allows them to live, work and/or study in the UK for up to two years (or up to three years for nationals of Australia, Canada or New Zealand). 

Key recent changes to the YMS

  • Nationals of Andorra and Uruguay (the only South American country on the Scheme) can now apply under the YMS.
  • The age limit has been increased from 30 to 35 for nationals of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea
  • For Japan and South Korea, their nationals no longer have to go through a ballot before making an application, and the number of places available to applicants from these countries has been increased to 6,000 and 5,000 respectively. 

Next-gen immigration

With the Graduate visa route being subject to (yet another) review, the YMS is a great alternative for those who do not qualify for other study or work routes.  Although the YMS does not lead to settlement in and of itself, it allows the visa holder to gain work experience in the UK which might give them more prospects of securing a work-based visa in the UK in the future. 

How can we help?

Burges Salmon's specialists have substantial experience in immigration, tax, trusts, and estate planning for international clients.  If you wish to discuss any of the matters raised in this article, please do get in touch with Suzanna Harvey, Myra Leung or your usual contact within the team.