I'm a Midwestern girl in constant search of sunshine + sea. I travel solo, work full-time, and sometimes, I write.

How to Get an Australian Work / Holiday Visa

How to Get an Australian Work / Holiday Visa

I first heard about the Australian work / holiday visa when I went to Thailand in May 2015. There were a lot of other backpackers I had met there who had worked in Australia on the visa. The idea still intrigued me when I came back to the US, but quickly faded as I dived back into work and city life. After inspiration from an unlikely source, I applied for and was granted the visa by the Australian government. Here’s information about the visa, how it differs from other visas, and how to apply.

What kind of visa do you have?

I was granted the Australian Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462).

What does the Subclass 462 visa allow you to do?

This visa allows me to work and live in Australia for up to one year. Most countries allow you to travel and visit like any other tourist, but to stay for an extended period of time, and especially to work, you need a visa. If I went to Australia without the visa, I could not apply for any jobs and I could not stay beyond 3 months.

Who can apply for the visa?

  • You have to be at least 18 but not 31 years old when you enter Australia. So you can enter Australia on the visa on the day before you turn 31, but not a day after that.
  • You cannot have a dependent child with you while staying in Australia.
  • You have to have a passport from one of these countries, which includes America.
  • You are also supposed to be able to prove that you have enough money to support yourself on a working holiday (the Australian government puts this monetary amount at $3,700 USD) and enough money to purchase a return ticket home.
  • You must meet character and health requirements.
  • You must have at least graduated from high school (if American).

Does the Australian government actually check for proof of funds?

I was not asked for proof of funds. I definitely did not have $3,700 saved for Australia when I applied for the visa. The application asks if you have enough saved up, and I put yes. I was not asked for a bank statement. I have read other travel blogs that also shared that they were not asked for proof of funds. However, I do think it is really important that you have money saved up because Australia is very, very expensive.

What if you are a European?

The subclass 462 visa is for Americans. If you are European, you can apply for the subclass 417 visa.

How long can you work for an employer on the visa?

You can work for the same employer for up to six months. If you want to work for the same employer for longer than six months, you have to fill out an application for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Your ability to work for an employer for longer than 6 months is only granted in certain circumstances, like if you are an au pair with a family or you are working in an industry that is facing employee shortages (agriculture, disability care, mining).

You can work for different employers for less than six months. So you could waitress for 3 months in Sydney, then work in fundraising / marketing in Melbourne for six months, then bartend in Cairns for the last 3 months of your visa. If you actually wanted to work for the entire 12 months.

Can you leave Australia at any time with the visa?

Yes, you can leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid. I plan to go to a lot of different countries while my visa is valid. I can also go home to the US at anytime.

When do you have to enter Australia?

You have to enter Australia within 12 months from the date your visa is granted. For example, if the visa is granted to you on October 28, 2015, you have to enter the country by October 28, 2016 or the visa is void. The date to enter the country cannot be extended or deferred for any reason (trust me, I asked).

When do you have to leave Australia?

You have to leave the country 12 months from the date you first enter Australia. I will enter Australia on October 24, 2016. I have to leave the country by October 24, 2017.

Can you stay for a second year in Australia on the visa?

Americans cannot stay for a second year on the subclass 462 visa. Europeans are able to stay for a second year on their work / holiday visa (subclass 417) if they do 3 months of farm work as part of their first Working Holiday visa. Americans do not have this option. You can try to stay for a second year by applying for a different visa (it cannot be the subclass 462 visa) and by showing that you have skills Australia needs in its workforce.

How do I apply for the visa?

If you are American, you can apply online! It took me less than 30 minutes to fill out the application. If you want to look at a PDF version of the application, click here.

Is there a fee to apply for the visa?

Yes. I had to pay a fee of $323 USD when I submitted my application. The fee is paid to the Australian government. The fee as of today (October 12, 2016) is $355 for Americans.

How long does it take to get the visa?

I was granted the visa two days after I applied for it. I don’t know if this fast turnaround is typical for most visas. They send you an electronic letter by email. The letter included the deadline I had to enter the country, the visa grant number, and any conditions attached to the visa. You do not have to get an actual visa put in your passport.

Is there a limit on how many visas Australia grants?

Yes, but they don’t list what this number is. The new timeframe starts every July 1, so the sooner you apply closer to July 1, the better your chances are of being granted one.

What if I have questions after getting the visa?

The Australian website for visas is really helpful, but I also emailed a contact person that was listed at the bottom of my grant letter and they always responded within 7 days.

Do other countries offer a work / holiday visa similar to Australia’s?

There are only a few countries that offer work / holiday visas in which you don’t need to already be sponsored by a company. When I first considered working abroad, I immediately looked at London because I’m so enthralled with that city. But it’s impossible to get a work visa there unless you are already sponsored by a company, so that was a no-go.

New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Ireland offer work / holiday visas similar to Australia. This website has more helpful info.

What do I have to do once I get to Australia?

Have a CV / resume ready, get a tax file number (TFN), set up an Australian bank account, and get a AUS SIM card for your phone so employers can call you. I’ll post more about this process once I go through it myself, but that’s what I’ve gathered from scouring other blogs. :)

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