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My Tier 5 Youth Mobility is About to Expire, Can My Employer Sponsor Me?

The highly popular Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people between 18 and 30 to travel to the UK to live and work. The scheme is open to nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and also British overseas citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens, and British nationals (overseas). While it offers a great opportunity for many young people each year to experience life in the UK, it does have a major limitation compared to other visa types; it is strictly limited to a maximum period of two years and cannot be extended. If you are currently in the UK on a soon to expire Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, it is important to understand your options if you would like to continue to work in the UK.

Can I remain in the UK for the purposes of work?

The immigration rules state that the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is granted for up to 24 months but it cannot be extended. And, unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for a Tier 2 work visa if you are still in the UK; this can only be completed from your home country. To apply for a Tier 2 visa from your home country, you will first need to be sponsored by an employer licensed to recruit workers from outside of the EEA. This may pose an additional challenge if your current employer is not currently licensed to sponsor non-EEA nationals. In this case, you have the option of either finding employment with an already licensed sponsor, or approaching your current employer to see if they will apply to become a licensed sponsor.

Click here also to use this tool to find companies/employers that have sponsor licenses.

How can my current employer sponsor me if they are not licensed?

If your current employer is not licensed to sponsor non-EEA nationals under the Tier 2 visa route, they will need to apply for a license. Thankfully, the Home Office processing time for a Tier 2 Employer Sponsorship License is relatively short, at between eight and ten weeks. The process, however, is not a mere formality, and hence your employer will need to understand the implications and obligations of becoming a sponsor. In order to become a licensed sponsor, your employer will need to satisfy the Home Office that they have the necessary systems and processes in place to:

  • check that non-EEA workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
  • report to UK Visas and Immigration if a worker is not complying with the terms of their visa
  • monitor employers including tracking attendance and keeping up to date contact details

They may also have to pay an immigration skills charge for each non-EEA worker they hire, which is paid each time a new Certificate of Sponsorship is issued. This can be costly as the longer the sponsorship, the larger the fee, and hence they will need to take this into account when considering applying for a license.

Employers also will need to manage and update the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) government portal, assign key staff to keep the SMS system updated, and remain compliant with the requirements of a sponsored worker at all times (the Home Office carry out unannounced visits to ensure you are remaining compliant).

Related Article: Read also ‘Work in the UK for foreigners: Job without a UK sponsor

How can my employer apply for a sponsorship license if they don’t already have one?

The process of applying for a sponsorship license is as follows:

  • Your employer will first need to check they are eligible to sponsor non-EEA workers
  • Choose the correct type of sponsorship license – Tier 2 for long term skilled workers or Tier 5 skilled temporary workers
  • Nominate key staff who will manage the SMS
  • Complete the online application form
  • Pay the application fee – this is £536 or £1,476 depending on the size of the company and the type of licence.

It is very likely that the employer will also receive a visit from a Home Office Tier 2 compliance officer to ensure their systems and processes meet the requirements of a licensed sponsor.

How can my employer sponsor me if they already have a sponsor license?

Licensed sponsors are entrusted by the Home Office to carry out the required checks before offering a non-EEA national a position. This will apply even if you are applying to your existing employer. If your employer already has a sponsorship license, they will first need to carry out an RLMT to verify no settled worker can undertake your role. They will also need to:

  • ensure you are appropriately qualified, registered, or experienced to carry out the role you are applying for
  • pay the appropriate rate for the role
  • request a criminal record certificate from any country in which you have spent 12 months in the last ten years – this only applies to certain roles including those in the areas of healthcare, education, welfare, and social services

Assuming that all of the checks which the employer must carry out as part of their license obligations are completed successfully, they will then be able to request and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – this can then be used to allow you to apply for a Tier 2 (general) work visa.

The application for a Tier 2 (general) visa is completed online. As part of the application process, you will need to visit a local visa application centre (VAC) to have your photograph and fingerprints taken, which will later be used to create a biometric residence permit (BRP).

You can apply for a Tier 2 work visa no earlier than three months before you are due to start your job, and you can expect to receive a decision within three weeks.

Final words

The fact that you are unable to extend your Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, or apply for a work visa from the UK should not deter you from making an application. The process of returning home and securing a Tier 2 visa is reasonably fast, and with support from your employer, this should be a smooth process. If you are in any doubt about the best option for you now that your Tier 5 visa is coming to an end, it is advisable to speak to immigration Solicitors who can explain all of your options, including returning to the UK to study and then switching to a Tier 2 visa from within the UK. As the saying goes, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’.

Related Articles

How to Find Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Employers in UK

Guide to finding a Tier 2 Visa Sponsor in the UK

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

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"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

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"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

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O.L

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