Changes to the Au Pair program

The au pair program was replaced in November 2008 by an all encompassing scheme for young people - called the Youth Mobility scheme. It is under Tier 5 of the new points based immigration system

It is aimed at young people aged between 18 and 31 years old from participating countries who would like to experience life in the United Kingdom

EU Au Pairs unaffected by new scheme

Many potential au pair candidates are from EU countries and are unaffected by this change. As it was before the au pair program was 're-branded', any person from an EU country is free to take up employment in the UK as an au pair as well working in other types of employment.

In the case of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, working as an au pair is one of the few legal jobs they are able to do without an employer having to obtain a work permit.

Nationals affected by these changes

Candidates from countries previously part of the au pair program scheme such as Andorra, Bosnia Herzogovina, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Macedonia, Monaco, San Marino and Turkey are no longer eligible to come to the UK and work as au pairs.

Who qualifies for the new Youth Mobility Sceme

Under the youth mobility scheme, the national government of a participating country is the sponsor of that young person. The countries currently in the scheme are: -
  • Australia;
  • Canada;
  • Japan; and
  • New Zealand.

British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens and British nationals (overseas) can also apply under the scheme and do not need a sponsor.


The scheme is based on a quota system for participating countries and this has now been reached for Japanese nationals for the period ending 31 December 2009, so applications will not be accepted from Japanese nationals until 1 January 2010.

Applying for the Youth Mobility Scheme

Applications cannot be done once someone is already in the UK. To apply you need to be a national of one of the countries listed above. You are aged between 18 and 31 years old (when you apply). You have £1,600 in funds when you apply.

Who is not eligible

You cannot apply if you have:

  • children under 18 years old who are either living with you, or you are financially responsible for;
  • been in the United Kingdom at any other time as a working holidaymaker or under the youth mobility scheme.
  • You cannot apply for the youth mobility scheme if you are already in the United Kingdom.

How long can you stay for?

If you are given permission to stay under the youth mobility scheme, you will be able to live and work in the United Kingdom for a maximum time of 24 months.

You can leave and come back to the United Kingdom at any time during the length of your stay under the youth mobility scheme.




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