The United Kingdom (UK) and South Korea will expand the reciprocal youth mobility scheme.
This will allow more young people from both countries to experience life-changing opportunities.
The number of South Korean nationals who can apply for the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) will increase from 1,000 to 5,000 yearly.
The age limit for South Koreans applying for the YMS scheme will also change.
Individuals aged 18 to 35 can now qualify for the scheme if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
Those interested in applying for the YMS visa will also no longer need to register their names in the ballot system.
Instead, they can apply any time starting on 31 January 2024.
“The enthusiasm of British and Korean people for each other’s culture, language, music, and sports is at an all-time high, “British Ambassador to South Korea Colin Crooks said in a press release.
Crooks added the expansion will allow more young people to “explore each other’s cultures first-hand and to make life-long memories and friends in the process.”
UKVI Head of Region for Asia Pacific Michael Lutz added that it is an excellent opportunity for the youth “to immerse themselves within the UK and make unforgettable memories.”
South Korea’s Working Holiday visa for UK nationals
Simultaneously, UK nationals will also benefit from reciprocal opportunities when traveling to South Korea under the expanded scheme.
The South Korean government has also increased its quota for Working Holiday visas for UK nationals to 5,000 per year. It also raised the upper age limit to 35 years old.
South Korea and the UK started reciprocal YMS and Working Working Holiday visas in 2012.
Since then, 1,000 young South Koreans per year have traveled and worked in the UK for two years.
Because of the YMS, thousands of South Koreans have “learned English and experienced the local culture and lifestyle,” according to a statement from South Korea’s Consular Security Bureau.
It further stated, “Additionally, young British people had various opportunities to visit our country and experience our culture through our working holiday program.”
The improvements aim to celebrate the 140th anniversary of UK and South Korean diplomatic relations in 2023.
Youth Mobility Scheme and Working Holiday visas
The UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa allows young people aged 18 to 30 (or 18 to 35 for Australia, Canada, or South Korea) to live and work in the UK for up to two years without sponsorship from an employer.
It offers more opportunities for young people to live, work, travel abroad, and experience new cultures.
In other countries like South Korea, this type of visa is called the Working Holiday visa and has similar provisions.
A Working Holiday visa allows individuals aged 18 to 30 to stay in the partner country for up to two years. They can also work in the country for a specified period only to cover travel costs.
Both programs offer opportunities for young individuals to deepen their understanding of partner countries/regions.
While participants of both programs can work during their stay to cover expenses, the YMS and Working Holiday visas are not for those primarily seeking employment.
Expanding the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme
The UK’s expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme for South Korea follows a similar development of the YMS for Japan and other countries.
Starting 31 January 2024, the UK will issue up to 6,000 YMS visas annually to Japanese youth.
Japan, on the other hand, will issue the same number of Working Holiday visas to young British people starting 1 April 2024.
The higher number means Japan’s quota for issuing Working Holiday visas for British citizens, currently at 1,000 yearly, will rise sixfold.
On the other hand, the UK’s YMS quota for Japanese citizens will increase four times from the current 1,500.
The UK’s expanded Working Holiday visa agreement with Japan fulfills an essential commitment in the ‘Hiroshima Accord: An Enhanced UK-Japan Global Strategic Partnership.’
On the other hand, the UK also opened the YMS for Uruguay with an initial 500 places.
The UK government’s 2023 Autumn Statement outlined changes to the YMS visa.
For the same year, it increased YMS slots for Australian and Canadian youth nationals by 7,000.
It also expanded eligibility and length of stay for participants from the two countries and New Zealand.