Self-Sponsorship: An Excellent Alternative to the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa For Young NZ and Australian Entrepreneurs
In March 2023, following the signing of new trade agreements, the Home Office announced an expansion of the UK Youth Mobility Scheme for Australian and New Zealand nationals. The changes to the scheme are intended to enable more young people from both countries to travel and work in the UK for longer. In this article, we will explain the purpose of the UK Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, the recent changes to the scheme, and why self-sponsorship provides a robust alternative for entrepreneurs from NZ and Australia.
What is the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa?
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa opened to applications in 2008 and replaced the outgoing ‘Working Holiday visa’. The scheme enables young people from certain eligible countries to come to the UK for up to 2 years to live, work, and study. The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa also enables holders to be self-employed and set up a new company in the UK.
Under the current rules, those aged between 18 and 30 from one of the following countries can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa:
- New Zealand
- San Marino, and
The scheme is also available to citizens of Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, however, individuals must enter and be selected from a ballot if applying from one of these countries. In addition, British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, and British nationals (overseas) aged between 18 and 30 can also apply,
The eligibility criteria for the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa require that applicants have at least £2,530 in savings.
Successful Youth Mobility Scheme Visa applicants can stay in the UK for up to 24 months, however, it is not possible to apply for renewal. Instead, Youth Mobility Scheme Visa holders who wish to stay for longer in the UK need to apply to switch to a different type of visa (e.g. an Innovator Founder visa or Skilled Worker visa).
Recent changes to the T5 YMS route for NZ and Australian nationals
Several important changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa were recently announced by the Home Office, which will substantially benefit NZ and Australian nationals, as follows:
|New Zealand nationals||Increasing from 18 – 30 to 18 – 35 from 29th June 2023||NZ nationals will be able to extend their YMS visa by one year from 29th June 2023 (maximum stay of 3 years)|
|Australian nationals||Increasing from 18 – 30 to 18 – 35 from 31st January 2024||Australian nationals will be able to extend their YMS visa by one year from 31st January 2024 (maximum stay of 3 years)|
As such, the pending changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa will enable more young people from Australia and New Zealand to come to the UK for up to 3 years rather than the current 2 years.
Youth Mobility Scheme visa restrictions for young entrepreneurs from NZ and Australia
While the Youth Mobility Scheme visa is an attractive option for many young people from Australia and New Zealand, it does have limitations, especially for entrepreneurs. The Youth Mobility Scheme rules specifically state that it is only possible to be self-employed and set up a company as long as:
- premises are rented
- equipment is not worth more than £5,000, and
- there are no employees
For highly ambitious entrepreneurs, these restrictions may be extremely limiting and prevent them from building a successful business.
Another consideration is the fact that Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders who wish to establish a business in the UK will ultimately need to switch to a longer-term visa if they plan to stay for longer than 3 years.
For these reasons, highly ambitious young entrepreneurs from Australia and New Zealand may benefit from the greater flexibility and certainty of the self-sponsorship route.
Self-sponsorship for young entrepreneurs from NZ and Australia
Self-sponsorship offers an attractive alternative for young business savvy NZ and Australian nationals with ambitions to establish a successful enterprise in the UK. It works on the principle that you can be sponsored and employed by your own UK business under the Skilled Worker visa route. There are several advantages of self-sponsorship, as follows:
- You are not subject to restrictions on premises, equipment, and employees
- You can apply to settle permanently in the UK after 5 continuous years of residence in the UK
- You will not need to switch to a different type of visa, and
- There are no age restrictions
To apply for self-sponsorship as a young entrepreneur from NZ or Australia, you will need to complete the following key steps:
- Establish or take over a business in the UK
- Apply for a sponsor licence from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
- Issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, and
- Apply for a UK work visa (e.g. Skilled Worker visa)
To acquire a sponsor licence, you will need to demonstrate to UKVI that your UK business:
- Has an HR system in place to monitor and manage sponsored workers
- Needs to sponsor overseas nationals for eligible roles
- Will provide pay that meets the minimum salary requirements, and
- Has suitable key personnel who can manage the Home Office’s Sponsor Management System (SMS)
To acquire a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to show that you:
- Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by your business
- Have a role that is eligible for sponsorship
- Receive a salary of at least £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour, the ‘going rate’ for your occupation, and
- Meet the English language requirements (i.e. read, write, speak and understand English to at least CEFR level B1).
The process of applying for self-sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa route is undoubtedly more time-consuming than the Youth Mobility Scheme visa, however, it provides significant advantages for serious young entrepreneurs from Australia and New Zealand. By securing a sponsorship visa from the outset, you can rest assured that not only can you grow your business without restrictions, but you are also on a direct pathway to permanent residence for you and your immediate family members.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!