In helping a teacher navigate the UK Border Agency website the other day, I spotted something that stopped me in my tracks. The UK has now posed limitations on the number of people that can obtain a Youth Mobility Visa.
Now, I knew this was coming & honestly, I kind of forgot about it. It's never impacted us before, and I swear, they make changes every year it's hard to really keep track.
In the (almost) 5 years that Classroom Canada has been around, they've changed the name of the visa from Working Holiday Maker to Youth Mobility. They changed the length of time you could be working in the UK from 2 years to 1 year work but a 2 year stay, and back again to 2 years. They changed how you qualify from simple paperwork to a points based system (which is still quite simple), and to include the biometrics scan with another organization called Worldbridge. They've changed the fees from $150 to $320, and they've changed the amount you need in your bank account from $3000 USD to 1600 GBP to 1800 GBP. So you can see why it's hard to keep track!
But this new change is big.
Let's examine it a bit more closely. According to the site, the number of people who can receive a Youth Mobility Visa every year varies for each qualifying country:
So what does this mean? Well, for Canadian teachers - it's hard to say. How many go over every year? There are multiple agencies sending teachers all across the UK, and teachers are not the only ones to go on the Youth Mobility Visa. Classroom Canada never sends more than 100 teachers/year (we pride ourselves on being small but outstanding in quality). But we only send teachers to work in inner city London, and there are plenty of other agencies that recruit much larger numbers and all over the UK.
I'd estimate that at least 1000 of the visas are given to Canadian teachers, if not half of the number allocated or even more! But of course, I have no idea. There are no known numbers outside the UK High Commission in Ottawa and I doubt they'd provide them freely. Although that would be very cool of them. (Hint hint! In the extremely rare likelihood that the High Commission staff are reading this and want to send me the numbers, I'd love to publish them here!)
But here's what really gets me. Australia gets 32 500 places and Canada gets 5000. Australia has a population of 22,897,164 as of May 6 2012. Canada's estimated population for 2012 is 34,791,000. Did you catch that? Let me say it again in rounded numbers:
Australia has 23 million people.
Canada has 35 million people.
But Australia can give out 32,500 Youth Mobility Visas.
And Canada can only give out 5000.
Australia has 65% of our population, but can give out 6.5 times the number of visas?
How on earth did those numbers get decided?
And then of course, there's New Zealand. New Zealand gets 10 000 visas, double that of Canada. Know how many New Zealanders there are? 4.4 million! That means, New Zealand has 12.5% of our population, but gives out double the number of visas.
Forehead meet desk.
Now, I love our Aussie & Kiwi teacher colleagues just as much as I love everyone else, but there's something seriously wrong here. Right? Anyone else have thoughts on this one? I'd love to hear them!
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