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Changes to UK Working Holidaymakers' Scheme

Those wishing to gain entry under the UK's Working Holidaymakers' Scheme (WHS) must come under amended rules as of February 8 following changes brought in under the British Government's five-year immigration and asylum strategy announced on Monday.

  • Under the new rules, the working holidaymaker scheme will only permit employment incidental to a holiday and will bar participants from engaging in business or as a professional sports person. Work will only be allowed for 12 months for citizens of Commonwealth countries (except Lesotho), British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, and British Nationals (Overseas). You will have to be "on holiday" for the other 12 months of the 24 month period on the working holidaymaker scheme.
  • Switching into other employment under the working holidaymaker scheme will only be possible under the Innovators, Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or Work Permit categories if the occupation is on the designated shortage occupations list kept by Work Permits (UK).
  • The changes apply to all application made on or after February 8 2005, including those made before February 8 which have yet to be decided. People who lodged applications before this date and have yet to receive a decision may have their application decided under the new rules, or withdraw their application and get the application fee refunded.
  • If you were granted a working holidaymaker visa on or before 7 February 2005 you will continue to be allowed to do any type of work in the UK and will be allowed to work for the whole of the two year period in the UK.
  • These changes mean that the working holidaymaker scheme is now similar to what it was before 20 June 2003. Before 20 June 2003 it was also the case that you could not work more than half of the time during the twenty four month period and there were also restrictions on the type of work you could do in the UK.