The Working Holiday Visa
A working holiday visa is granted by a government to a foreign citizen, allowing them to enter the country and stay for an extended period of time, while also making them eligible to be employed within that country to help fund their travel. Many countries around the world offer these types of visas, but the only ones that offer it to American citizens are Australia and New Zealand. The particular visa we can receive is the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462).
Working holiday visas have a few restrictions. There is an age restriction (for Australia you must be between 18 and 30), there are usually limits on how long the visa holder can be employed (Australia limits it to 6 months by a single employer), and the traveler is expected to have sufficient funds upon entering the country to support them while they search for employment. To move to Australia without a return ticket, I am expected to arrive with at least 5,000 Australian dollars. If I had a return ticket, then I would only need to have 4,000 AUD. Although many travelers will say no one checked their bank account upon entering Australia, you do run the risk of being deported if you don’t have the proper funds. Also, you may not have a dependent child with you at any point in your stay.
So now you know the basics of the Australian working holiday visa. Pretty simple, right? This is a really desirable option for people like me that have the travel bug but lack the money to take a bunch a trips around the world. Once I found out that a country would actually let me work there so easily, I couldn’t get the idea of the visa out of my head.
How NOT to Get One
Obviously you already know that I decided to apply for the working holiday visa. It may seem like a no-brainer to apply, but things got a little more tricky for me than I anticipated. The application itself is fairly simple, but I want to stress to you to make sure you go directly through the Australian Government if you decide to apply for this visa. I may have just been pumped up on adrenaline from applying to move across the world, but in my haste I applied through a third-party website. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t gone directly through the government until I realized I had been charged about $150 dollars more than the actual cost of the visa.
Of course there are disclaimers on the site, but when you’re excitedly filling in boxes and clicking “next,” are you really looking for other information? I wasn’t. I’m usually much more careful that this, so I was pretty disappointed in myself. But I’m here to save you from the same fate.
There is more than one type of company out there that does this. They charge extra because they claim that they have legal expertise on visas and review your application for you, or some other sort of “benefit.” But none of this is really necessary. The application is pretty simple and you already know all the rules surrounding the visa, so don’t let a company trick you into buying additional services. At the time I purchased my visa, it was around 360 US dollars, but I ended up paying over $500. For that additional cost I could have paid for a week in a hostel. Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure you go straight through the government, it’s an easy process. The website is border.gov.au.
If you want to know more about my decision to take a working holiday in Australia, you can read about it here.