WHM (Working Holiday Maker) visa for South African passport holders used to give temporary working rights anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Mainly catering for gap year students, the 2 year WHM encouraged one year employment and one year travelling. Although commonly misused by South Africans, the 2 year WHM was very popular in 1995-2008


With the upgrading of the UK visa system and the implementation of a Point Based Visa System, the Tier 5 category (now known as the Youth Mobility Scheme) replaced this WHM (Working Holiday Maker) visa category.

On the 27 November 2008 the WHM changed over to the new Tier 5 category. In the changeover, the British government placed emphasis on countries with reciprocal agreements. This agreement basically works on a student exchange principle. If UK gap year students are accepted into a desired country to gain work experience, then the British government would agree to host that countries gap year students under the Tier 5 category.

Unfortunately, our South African government does not have a reciprocal agreement with the British government and therefore we no longer qualify for this category of visa.

More details about the Tier 5 category

Click here find out more about the Tier 5 visa, known as the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Unfortunately the replaced and updated visa scheme is no longer available to South African nationals. The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme is available to Australians, New Zealanders, Japan and Canadian nationals.


The WHM (Working Holiday Maker) was issued to South African Citizens aged between 17 – 30 years old.

This visa was granted for 2 years and enabled South Africans to work for a maximum of 12 months within the 2-year period.

Work needed to be incidental to the applicant’s holiday and applicants were not entitled to work beyond the 12-month period on this visa.


If you are still uncertain of which visa best suits your intended trip, try Move Up‘s free online assessment. Its is designed to give quick answers to identify best visa options for South Africans.

Attached below is a list of UK work visas available: