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Upgrade to NZ/UK Working Holiday/Youth Mobility scheme in effect by July 2023

Information about the upgrade to the NZ/UK Working Holiday/Youth Mobility schemes that will come into effect by July 2023.

10 March 2023
3 minute read

As announced by the UK and New Zealand Prime Ministers in July 2022, we are delighted to announce that the upgrade of our Working Holiday/Youth Mobility Scheme will come into force by July 2023. This will allow more UK and New Zealand citizens to travel and work in each other’s countries for longer.

Currently the UK Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) allows young citizens of the UK aged between 18-30 to travel to New Zealand and stay for up to 23 months, and work for up to 12 months.

The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) allows young citizens of New Zealand aged between 18-30 to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years.

These schemes fall under a reciprocal agreement between the UK and New Zealand Governments.

In July 2022, the UK and NZ Governments agreed to the following changes:

  • An extension of 5 years to the age of eligibility for both schemes from 30 to 35 years.
  • An extension of the maximum period of time individuals can stay in New Zealand and the UK respectively, from 2 years (or 23 months in the case of New Zealand) to 3 years.
  • An extension to the length of time individuals can work, allowing those in the UK and New Zealand respectively to work for the full duration of their 3-year stay.
  • New Zealand will re-establish an annual cap for the UK WHS to be set at 15,000 visas per year – this is higher than the volume of UK WHS visas we normally grant, allowing for interest and growth in the scheme.

The enhanced scheme is coming into force a year or so sooner than expected. The UK will move to its enhanced scheme from 29 June 2023, and New Zealand’s will come into force from 1 July 2023.

To help ease the transition to the new enhanced scheme, current eligible Youth Mobility and Working Holiday visa holders will be able to apply for an extension enabling them to stay in either the UK or New Zealand for 3 years and work for the remainder of their stay.

British nationals seeking to stay in New Zealand for 12 months or longer will need to provide health certificates. Those seeking to stay for 24 months or longer will need to provide both health and police certificates.

The new enhanced scheme is a positive development for the Kiwis and Brits wanting to work and explore the other side of the world, as well as for the businesses who hire them.

These improvements help promote and facilitate access to opportunities, enabling young people to gain a better understanding of cultures and societies through travel, work and life experience overseas.

More information about the enhanced scheme will be available on our website soon.