Young professional scheme for Indian nationals goes live

By Amer Zaman

on March 29, 2023

Read Time: 8 Minutes

Way back in January 2021, it was announced that as part of negotiations between the UK and India on a trade deal, India would become one of a limited number of countries whose youth would be able to apply for a reciprocal cultural exchange programme.

Such a cultural exchange scheme has already existed for young people, aged between 18 and 30, from such jurisdictions as Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, and Iceland. That programme is the Youth Mobility Scheme, which can also accept applicants from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, provided that they are first successful in a Youth Mobility Scheme ballot.

Instead of this scheme also being opened up to Indian nationals, however, the UK Government has put in place a new, separate programme: the India Young Professionals Scheme.

What do we know about the India Young Professionals Scheme so far?

The opening of the India Young Professionals Scheme was announced by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, during his visit to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi on 1st March, as part of India’s G20 presidency.

The new exchange scheme allows young British and Indian professionals to live and work in each other’s countries. In the case of both groups, there is a requirement that they are aged from 18 to 30, and if they are successful in their application, they will be entitled to live and work in either country for a period of up to two years.

Mr Cleverly said, in confirming the opening of the first ballot under the new scheme: “India is a hugely important partner to the UK and the deeper ties we are forging now will help to grow the UK economy and boost our industries for the future. This landmark migration scheme will enable the brightest and best in both our countries to benefit from new opportunities.”

The process by which eligible candidates can apply for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa is similar to that for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa, except that there are additional steps involved for applicants.

The first step that candidates are required to take, is entering a ballot system via UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Only those who are successful in this ballot are then permitted to submit an application for the visa.

The ballot system for the first intake of applicants, limited to 2,400 visas, opened on Tuesday 28th February at 2:30pm India Standard Time, and closed on Thursday 2nd March at 8:59pm India Standard Time. It is expected that the second ballot will be held in late July, with ballots likely to take place twice a year after that.  

Who is eligible for the India Young Professionals Scheme?

You will only be able to apply for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa if you are selected in the ballot – and in order to enter the ballot, you will need to declare that you are eligible for the visa. So, it is crucial to check that you are genuinely eligible for the visa before you enter the ballot.

The UK Home Office has set out a number of eligibility requirements for those interested in applying for this visa. Those requirements include:

  • Being an Indian national or citizen between 18 and 30 years of age
  • Being at least 18 years old on the date of intended travel to the UK
  • Having a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above (Regulated Qualifications Framework level 6, 7, or 8)
  • Having £2,530 in savings with which to support oneself in the UK
  • Not having any children under 18 years of age who live with the applicant or who the applicant is financially responsible for

You will not be permitted to apply for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa if you have already been in the UK under this scheme or as a holder of the Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

If you would like to receive further advice and assistance in relation to meeting these eligibility requirements, please do not hesitate to arrange a free consultation with our central London-based experts in immigration law. You can call us on 0208 215 0053, or send us an email using our straightforward online contact form.

What is the process for applying for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa?

If you satisfy the eligibility criteria for this scheme and would like to apply, you will need to go through the following stages:

  • Entering the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot. We have provided further details below about how this process works
  • The Home Office informing you via email whether you have been successful in the ballot. You can expect to be told this by email within two weeks of the ballot closing. If you are successful in the ballot, you will receive an invitation to apply for the visa
  • Gathering the documents that you require for the application. When you apply, you will need to provide documents including – but not necessarily limited to – a valid passport or other document showing your identity and nationality, evidence that you have a minimum of £2,530 in your bank account, evidence of your qualifications, and a police report or clearance certificate from India
  • Submitting your application for the visa. As part of the application process for this visa, you will be required to prove your identity. You will need to either have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre, or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document. The Home Office will tell you which of these courses of action you need to take when you apply.

Please note that if you are successful in the ballot, your invitation to apply for the visa will provide a deadline by which you must submit your application. This will usually be 30 days after you receive the invitation. You will also be required to travel to the UK within six months of applying for the visa. You are likely to receive a decision on your visa application within three weeks.  

How does the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot system work?

As aforementioned, entering a ballot is a mandatory part of the process of applying through the India Young Professionals Scheme; if you are not selected in the ballot, you will not be able to submit an application for the actual visa.

The first ballot of the 2023 scheme closed on Thursday 2nd March; it is expected that the next ballot will take place in late July. The Home Office has said that details about the second ballot will appear on the GOV.UK website.

It was free to enter the first ballot, which made 2,400 visas available. Entrants for the first ballot were required to provide the following details about themselves:

  • Their name
  • Their date of birth
  • Their passport information  
  • A scan or photo of their passport
  • Their phone number
  • Their email address

The Home Office said that the successful entries would be picked at random, and that successful applicants would be informed of this by email within two weeks of the closure of the ballot.

Successful entrants will be invited to apply for the actual visa. They will have 30 days from the date of the email to submit their visa application online; it is also at this stage that they will need to pay the visa application fee and the immigration health surcharge.

Those who are not successful in the ballot do not have any right of appeal, as the ballot results are final. However, they will be able to enter future ballots for this visa if they wish, provided that they still meet the Home Office’s eligibility criteria at the time they next enter a ballot for this route.

Should you apply for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa?

It is clear that this programme has been designed in a way that ensures only Indian nationals or citizens with a certain level of educational attainment will be able to apply.

The low number of available visas is also notable. The current population of India is around 1,400,000,000. Of these, it is believed that there are approximately 160,000 people in India who would be eligible for this visa, encompassing those currently enrolled in higher education in the country, as well as eligible graduates out of higher education up to the age of 30.

This would mean that approximately one visa is available for every 60,000 to 80,000 eligible Indian nationals. This contrasts with the situation for other countries’ youth for which UK visas have been allocated under the Youth Mobility route; 30,000 visas for Australians (a country with a 56 times smaller population than India), and 1,000 visas for people from Monaco, despite the country having a population 39,000 smaller than India.

So, the relative scarcity of these visas is something that you might wish to account for when you are deciding whether to apply through the India Young Professionals Scheme. That is especially so given the fees that you will need to pay in order to apply if you are successful in the free ballot, including a £259 application fee and a £940 healthcare surcharge.

However, the fact that you will not need to pay these fees if you are unsuccessful in the ballot – with the ballot itself being free – might convince you to proceed to enter the ballot, if you believe this visa scheme would be right for you. The UK Home Office does, though, urge interested parties to only enter the ballot if they plan to apply for the visa – including paying the £259 application fee – and are able to satisfy the full range of requirements for this visa.

Our experts in UK immigration law can project manage your visa application

Would you appreciate the advice, guidance, and assistance of award-winning professionals with wide-ranging and in-depth knowhow in all aspects of immigration law in the UK? If so, our team at Cranbrook Legal in central London would be delighted to hear from you.

Please request your free consultation with us by completing and submitting our online contact form, or by calling us on 0208 215 0053. From there, we will be able to discuss with you whether this visa route might be suitable for you, before helping you from the start to the finish of the actual application process.

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