News & Insights

Ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme opens

After a two-year wait, the ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme has finally opened.

All the way back in January 2021, while trade negotiations were ongoing, the UK and India jointly announced that young Indian nationals would be able to apply for a special visa. It was initially anticipated that this India Young Professionals Scheme would work in much the same way as the Youth Mobility Scheme, to which Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Iceland and San Marino are currently party. The Youth Mobility Scheme offers nationals of the above countries, aged 18 to 30, the opportunity to live, work and study in the UK for up to two years.

While there are similarities between the two schemes, the India Young Professionals Scheme differs in a few ways. Perhaps most importantly, applicants must have a qualification at Bachelor’s Degree level or above – there is no such requirement on the Youth Mobility Scheme. Applicants to the India Young Professionals Scheme must also provide a local police report or clearance certificate.

If they meet the eligibility requirements, applicants must first enter a ballot, as is the case for Youth Mobility Scheme applicants from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. There are only 3,000 places available on the India Young Professionals Scheme each year, for a country with a population of 1.4 billion people – this is in stark contrast to the 1,000 places available on the Youth Mobility Scheme for San Marino, a microstate with a population of just 33,000. Unsurprisingly, it is expected that the India Young Professionals Scheme will be oversubscribed, which perhaps explains the Home Office’s decision to require that applicants have a qualification at Bachelor’s Degree level or above, to restrict the pool of ballot entrants.

Entering the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot is free, but applicants who are chosen must pay an application fee of £259 and an Immigration Health Charge of £940, which covers the two-year period of the visa.

While a visa obtained under the India Young Professionals Scheme provides considerable freedom to successful applicants, the Scheme is not an ideal option for UK employers. Firstly, the visa only lasts two years and cannot be extended. Secondly, the visa entitles the holder to come and go from the UK as they please, and to work for whichever employer they wish – it does not tie the employee to a particular employer via sponsorship, unlike the Skilled Worker visa. Finally, the nature of the ballot means that employers cannot select an overseas candidate to bring into the business but must instead choose from the limited pool of the 3,000 successful applicants.

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