Australian Working Holiday Visas

Date: Oct 07, 2010
Document Type: Newsletter

This article considers the key considerations in obtaining an Australian working holiday visa. Living and working in a new country can be a great experience and the working holiday visa program is a fantastic way to see Australia (while helping to meet the generally higher costs of travelling around the country).

Some people may be eligible to apply for second working holiday visas, although this article is generally focused on the conditions for first-time applicants.

Requirements

Before you apply, you must consider if you are eligible:

  • Are you aged between 18 and 30? The working holiday visa program is only open to applicants within this age bracket.
  • Are you currently outside Australia? Generally, the immigration department will only accept applications from people currently outside Australia (and who have not previously held a working holiday visa).
  • Are you from an eligible country? Passport holders from the countries listed here or here on the department's website are eligible to participate in the program (and this will determine if you apply for a subclass 417 or country-specific subclass 462 visa).
  • Do you meet the health, character and financial requirements? This includes having a sufficient level of funds (usually around AUD $5,000) to help support yourself. Depending on what countries you have visited or worked in previously, you may also be required to undertake a medical exam at a nominated doctor (at your own expense).

Benefits and Restrictions

A significant share of applications can now be done online and issued electronically (ie without the need for a visa stamp or sticker to be placed in your passport). Once you have the working holiday visa, you can enter (and re-enter) Australia for up to a year and work for the same employer for up to six months.

Some Practical Questions

While not formally part of the visa application process, there are a number of other things you should consider before you apply for a working holiday visa.

Most importantly, you should consider what the real purpose of your visit to Australia is. While many people plan to both travel and work in Australia, if you are looking to use the working holiday visa predominately for working (as opposed to supporting your travels) then it may not be the best visa option. It is a general condition of the visa that you not seek to use it primarily for the purpose of working in Australia. In some cases, a specific work visa will be a better option.

In addition, working holiday visa holders have to compete with Australian citizens, permanent residents and holders of unrestricted visas and there are arguably only two areas where working holiday visa holders may have a competitive advantage over other work seekers. First, seasonal agricultural work is a popular choice, as the flexibility and mobility of a working holiday visa holder is highly valuable for the employer. Being agricultural work though, working holiday visa holders are also much more likely to seek employment in more isolated or rural locations. Second, general labour hire (eg administrative temping or short-term building work) is another popular choice as most contracts arranged by a labour hire agency are unlikely to extend for more than the six-month work limitation period. This form of arrangement also allows you to continue to work with that agency for more than six months if needed.

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