UK Young Professional Scheme for Indian Nationals 2024

UK Young Professional Scheme for Indian Nationals

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Indian nationals looking to experience life in the UK may be eligible for the India Young Professional Scheme.

This route offers considerable flexibility for young workers, but the application process is rigid and you will need to ensure you apply within the correct timeframe, or risk having to wait for the next ballot.

The ballots typically run twice a year, in February and July. For 2024, the next ballot opens at 2:30pm India Standard Time (IST) on 20 February 2024 and closes at 2:30pm IST on 22 February 2024.

In this guide, we take a close look at what the Young Professional Scheme is and what it offers to applicants, from the length of stay to whether or not you can extend your stay and bring family members with you. We also look at the different requirements and application process, including the cost and processing times.

 

What is the India Young Professional Scheme UK?

The Young Professional Scheme for Indian Nationals, as set out under the UK’s Immigration Rules, is for young people from India who are looking to experience life in the UK. The scheme is similar to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme, which is open to nationals from other specific participating countries or territories.

Both the Young Professional and Youth Mobility Schemes are exchange programmes aimed at qualifying nationals aged between 18 to 30, or 18 to 35, depending on their nationality, who want to see what UK culture is really like. In many cases, this can be used as an extended study break before going to University or after graduating, although many applicants will use this as an opportunity to network and expand their career opportunities.

 

What does the India Young Professional Scheme UK allow?

A visa under the India Young Professional Scheme will be granted for up to 2 years, during which time you can come to the UK to either travel around or work, or both. You will have the flexibility to undertake any type of work in the UK, except as either a professional sportsperson or sports coach, where there will be no need to have the offer of a job before applying for this visa or to be sponsored by a UK employer or licensed organisation. In this way, the scheme allows youngsters to easily earn a living while experiencing life in the UK.

You can even set up your own UK company or work in the UK on a self-employed basis. The only qualifying requirements here are that you have no premises which you own and from which you carry out your business (other than your home), the total value of any of the equipment used in your business does not exceed £5,000 and you have no employees.

At the end of your authorised stay, you will have the choice of leaving the UK or applying to switch to a different immigration route, provided you meet the relevant requirements. This could include, for example, the Skilled Worker route, although you must have a suitable job offer that meets the minimum skill and salary requirements from a licensed UK sponsor.

 

What are the requirements for the India Young Professional Scheme?

The requirements that you must meet to be granted a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme are split into the three parts under the UK’s Immigration Rules:

Validity requirements: these outline the minimum criteria that must be met in order for a full consideration by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to take place. UKVI is the division of the Home Office responsible for issuing visas under the scheme. These requirements ensure that, for example, the correct online form has been used and that you have supplied a valid identity document. Importantly, any application that does not meet these requirements will be invalid and may be rejected without further consideration.

Suitability requirements: these check your suitability to hold a visa under the scheme, where you must not fall for refusal on the general grounds under the Immigration Rules or be in breach of immigration laws in the UK. Any applicant that does not meet these requirements must be refused, where you can be refused a visa if you have been convicted of a criminal offence or have a history of immigration violations.

Eligibility requirements: these are the main scheme-specific criteria, where any failure to meet these requirements means that your application must again be refused.

 

What are the scheme-specific criteria for the India Young Professional Scheme?

You can apply for a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme if:

  • You are an Indian national or Indian citizen
  • You are aged between 18 to 30 years old when you apply to the scheme
  • You can meet the financial requirement of at least £2,530 in cash savings
  • You have a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above (Regulated Qualifications Framework Level 6, 7 or 8) or an equivalent overseas qualification of at least degree level
  • You do not have any children under the age of 18 who live with you or for whom you are financially responsible
  • You have not already been in the UK under either the India Young Professionals Scheme or the Youth Mobility Scheme
  • You have met the tuberculosis requirement, and have a valid certificate, if applicable.

To meet the financial requirement, you must have £2,530 in cash savings when you apply, where this money must have been available for at least 28 days in a row. Further, day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for your visa under the Young Professional Scheme.

 

What is the application process for the India Young Professional Scheme?

The process to apply for a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme is two stage: to enter the scheme ballot and to apply for a visa if selected in that ballot.

 

Enter the scheme ballot

Before you can apply for a visa, you must first be selected in the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot. To enter the ballot, you must declare that you are eligible for the visa, so you must ensure that you meet the financial, educational and other requirements before you enter. When applying to enter, you must also provide your name, date of birth, passport details, a scan or photo of your passport, as well as your phone number and email address.

The ballot typically runs in both February and July of each year where, for 2024, the next ballot will open at 2:30pm India Standard Time (IST) on 20 February 2024 and close at 2:30pm IST on 22 February 2024. Entries will be selected at random, where most places will be offered in the February ballot, with the remaining places to be offered in a July 2024 ballot. You should be sent the results by email within 2 weeks of the scheme ballot closing.

There are only a set number of visas available for Indian nationals to come to the UK on an annual basis under the Young Professionals Scheme. Any applications exceeding this annual allocation will not qualify, regardless of whether the other requirements have been met. For 2024, the number of places available to Indian nationals is 3,000. You can only submit one entry per person for each ballot, where any further attempts to enter will not be counted.

If you are successful in the ballot, you will be invited to apply for your visa under the scheme. You must apply for your visa by the deadline given in your invitation to apply, which is usually 90 days from the date of your notification email. The results of the ballot are final, where you cannot appeal if you are unsuccessful, but you can enter future ballots.

 

Apply for a visa if selected

To apply for a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme, you must apply online at GOV.UK, where you will need to be granted entry clearance before you travel. As part of your application, you must prove your identity and provide supporting documentation. You may also need to provide a digital facial image and scan of your fingerprints, where you will be told when you apply if you need to schedule an appointment at an overseas visa application centre (VAC) to enrol your biometric information. If this is the case, you must have paid your visa fee and provided your biometrics within 90 days of your ballot email.

In support of your visa application, you will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel document to prove your identity and nationality, a bank statement showing that you have at least £2,530 in cash savings, as well as a valid medical certificate confirming that you have undergone screening for tuberculosis, if applicable. You must also have your unique ballot application number, evidence of your eligible qualification, and a recent local police report or clearance certificate issued no more than 6 months before applying.

 

How much does the India Young Professional Scheme UK cost?

It is free to enter the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot. However, if you are invited to apply for a visa, you will be required to pay an application fee of £298.

You must also pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to be able to access the UK’s National Health Service during your stay in the UK. The IHS is set at £776 per year of stay, so you will be required to pay £1,552 as an up-front cost if coming to the UK for 2 years. This in addition to your application fee and proof of £2,530 cash savings.

 

How long does the India Young Professional Scheme process take?

When applying for a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme, a decision should be made by UKVI within a period of 3 weeks. If your visa application is approved, you must travel to the UK within 6 months of applying. For example, if you apply on 16 March 2024, you must arrive in the UK by 15 September 2024 at the latest. However, during the validity period of your visa, you will be allowed to leave and re-enter the UK at any time.

 

Can you extend your stay on the India Young Professional Scheme?

Having been approved for a visa under the India Young Professional Scheme, you will be given permission to come to the UK for a period of up to 24 months, where you can stay in the UK for as long as your visa is valid, even if you turn 31 during this timeframe.

However, a Young Professional Scheme visa cannot be renewed. You can also only come to the UK once under the scheme, where you will not be allowed to re-apply on this route, even if you leave the UK to apply from overseas and regardless of whether or not you remain below the acceptable age threshold. This means that if you would like to live in the UK for longer, you will need to switch to a different immigration route from within the UK.

In contrast, under the Youth Mobility Scheme, nationals from Australia, Canada or New Zealand can extend their stay by an additional one-year period. Those of Australian, Canadian or New Zealand nationality, as well as South Koreans, can also apply under the Youth Mobility Scheme between the ages of 18 and 35, extending the aged 30 threshold.

 

Can you apply for settlement on the India Young Professional Scheme?

The Young Professional Scheme is not a route to settlement in the UK.

Additionally, any time spent on this route as a young ‘Indian Professional’ cannot count towards any qualifying residence requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on another immigration route. This means that if you apply to switch to a different visa while still in the UK, such as the Skilled Worker route, you would need to wait a further 5 years to meet the qualifying 5-year residence requirement to be eligible for ILR on that route.

Can you bring family to the UK on the India Young Professional Scheme?

Any dependants will not be allowed to accompany or follow to join you in the UK on the Young Professional Scheme. Moreover, you will not be able to apply to the scheme if you have any children under 18 living with you or who are financially dependent on you.

 

UK Young Professional Scheme for Indian Nationals FAQs

What is the Young Professional Scheme in the UK?

The Young Professional Scheme is a cultural exchange programme for Indian Nationals aged between 18 to 30 and who wish to experience life in the UK for up to 2 years, with the flexibility to work to fund their stay.

What age is a young professional UK?

Under the Young Professional Scheme for Indian Nationals, a ‘young professional’ is classed as someone aged between 18 to 30 when they first apply to the scheme. To be eligible, they must also not have applied previously under this scheme.

What documents are required for Young Professional Visa UK?

You will need a passport or other valid travel document, proof of £2,530 savings, evidence of an eligible qualification, a recent local police report, and a valid tuberculosis certificate, if applicable. You will also need your successful ballot entry number.

Who is eligible for Youth Mobility Visa UK?

To be eligible for a visa under the Youth Mobility Scheme, you must be a young person aged 18 to 30, or 18 to 35, depending on your nationality, from a participating country as set out under the scheme’s rules.

Last updated: 16 February 2024

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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