Includes 11 information paragraphs on 25 Instruments - Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee Contents


Further information from the Home Office

Home Office officials have provided the following responses to the questions put by the Committee:

Q.  How exactly does the YMS operate e.g. can the participants work in the UK? Will they be entitled to use any public services? Are there any specific restrictions on their stay in the UK?

A.  The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) under Tier 5 of the Points Based System (PBS) was launched in November 2008 as a single, generic cultural youth exchange scheme. It has been designed to ensure it operates in the interests of the UK, so that immigration risk is minimised and reciprocal opportunities for young UK nationals are maximised. The YMS is open to any country or territory which meets the following criteria, and whose government/ authorities agree to sponsor its nationals:

  • presenting an acceptably low level of immigration risk under the YMS risk formula (a risk value of 10 or under) and not being subject to the UK's visa regime;
  • having satisfactory returns arrangements with the UK; and
  • providing reciprocal opportunities for young UK nationals.
  • The minimum criteria for a reciprocal scheme are that it must provide:
    • a minimum stay of 12 months;
    • a minimum period of 12 months work;
    • engagement in a variety of employment of any type (with some minor restrictions), without participants or their prospective employers having to obtain official approval for the employment concerned;
    • participation by UK nationals aged from 18 to at least 30 years with no requirement that they must be graduates or undergraduates; and/or
    • participation by UK nationals who are required to have undergraduate or graduate status, including those aged 18 to 30 years ; and
    • an annual minimum of 1000 places for UK nationals (if a country chooses to limit the total annual number permitted).

Countries/territories have to request to join the scheme and if they meet the above criteria they are then added to the list of YMS participant countries. All countries are given an annual allocation of places on the scheme. Under the terms of the scheme each country receives a minimum of 1,000 places or an allocation equivalent to the last recorded annual number of initial visas granted to UK nationals under their reciprocal scheme/s, rounded up to the nearest 500, if this is larger. The YMS allocations formula therefore seeks to encourage countries to offer opportunities to UK nationals so that more of their own nationals can take advantage of the UK's scheme.

The YMS provides a two year stay for the young nationals/passport holders of participating countries/territories, aged18 to 30, and they are free to take almost any type of work for any amount of their stay. The only restrictions are as follows:

  • no employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach), and
  • no employment as a Doctor or Dentist in Training, unless the applicant has obtained a degree in medicine or dentistry at bachelor's level or above from a UK institution that is a UK recognised or listed body, or which holds a sponsor licence under Tier 4 of the Points Based System, and
  • no self employment, except where the following conditions are met:
  • the migrant has no premises which he owns, other than his home, from which he carries out his business,
  • the total value of any equipment used in the business does not exceed £5,000, and
  • the migrant has no employees.

YMS participants are not entitled to public funds but can, as with all categories which allow a stay of over 6 months, register with a GP and have emergency medical treatment. To protect its use as a temporary entry provision, switching from the YMS into other PBS categories or into visitor status is not permitted.

Q.  How is the YMS administered and enforced?

A.  Once a country/territory has signed up to the YMS, individual applicants have to apply for a Tier 5 YMS entry clearance. Countries/territories with which the UK has experience of operating successful reciprocal youth mobility provisions, and which have a very low risk level are eligible for Deemed Sponsorship (DS) status. DS countries/territories demonstrate sponsorship of their nationals by simply providing them with a valid passport. Non- DS countries are required to select their young people for participation on the YMS and issue them with a Certificate of Sponsorship to allow them to make their entry clearance application. As well as meeting the age requirement, YMS applicants also need to meet a funds requirement to ensure that they can support themselves until they start earning in the UK, must have no dependent children and must not previously have spent time in the UK on a working holidaymaker or YMS entry clearance.

The scheme is low risk as it only operates with low risk countries but it is monitored and if we find an increase in breaches of our rules by YMS participants we will talk to the country concerned to allow them to improve their selection of applicants and if necessary remove them from the scheme.

Q.  Do the numbers of participants count towards the Government's aim of reducing net migration to under 100,000 a year over the course of this Parliament? A.  The YMS has no significant impact on net migration as it is a reciprocal scheme. At the moment because more young UK nationals go to Australia and New Zealand in particular than their young people come here then the numbers entering the UK on the YMS are more than matched by the numbers of young UK nationals leaving to experience life in one of the participating countries. For example in 2010 almost 17,900 entry clearances were issued to YMS participants coming to the UK but participating countries issued 49,000 visas to young UK nationals to go on their reciprocal schemes.

Q.  Why has Taiwan been added? A.  Taiwan made an approach to ask about joining the YMS and has been accepted onto it as it has demonstrated that it meets the criteria set out under question 1.

Q.  What will the effect be of the change from "nationality" and "country" terminology, to broader terminology allowing territories issuing their own passports to participate i.e. will this simply allow for the inclusion of Taiwan or will the effect go further? A.  At this stage the change simply allows for the inclusion of Taiwan. In the future, if any other territories which are responsible for issuing their citizens with their own passports seek to join the scheme and demonstrate that they also meet the qualifying criteria they can also be added.

Q.  Have the country allocations changed from last year? If so, what is the reason behind the changes? A.  There has been no change in the allocations awarded to those countries which receive the annual minimum allocation of 1,000 places. Only three countries qualify for allocations bigger than the minimum as their allocations are based on the numbers of young UK nationals going to them on their reciprocal schemes in the previous year. This time Canada's allocation has increased from 4,000 to 5,000 to reflect the increased numbers of UK nationals going to them but both New Zealand's and Australia's have decreased slightly as fewer UK nationals have gone to them. Nonetheless as the figures for UK nationals going to both those countries far exceed their demand for places for their own nationals, the reduced allocations for Australia and New Zealand in 2012 are unlikely to cause a problem.

Q.  Regarding paragraph 12.1 of the EM, is UKBA still working to PSA3? A.  Apologies - this was included in the EM in error as of course the Government has dropped the previous Government's targets. This can be ignored.

Home Office

December 2011

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