What is a Working Holiday?
A working holiday allows you to live in a country and work to fund your travel for a set amount of time. Does this mean you're going to make your fortune while on one? Most likely no. Let’s face it though, Australia is expensive, so too many nights at the coolest club or tanks of gas while driving around the outback and you can kiss your bank balance goodbye. This visa is here for you to take a break and earn some cash to keep going. Because living off of rain water and cookie crumbs from the bottom of your bag, is no way to live.
Who can get such a glorious visa?
- Well for starters you have to be at least 18, and you have to be below 31. So if you’re thinking about this visa and you’re 6 months away from your 31st birthday…apply now!
- Nationality plays a big one here. Eligibility, the length of stay, and job restrictions all depend on what passport you hold. Check the Australian immigration website to see where you stand.
- If you’re traveling with children this isn’t the visa for you, as having dependent children in the country with you is a no go.
How long can I stay?
- If you’re granted working holiday visa 417 you can stay for one year, and renew for a second if desired. There are some special hoops to jump through for the second year, so check the website early into your first year if you're considering this.
- If you’re granted the work and holiday visa 462 you’ll get a year in the country.
Note while you can stay for 1-2 years, in most cases, you can only work at a job up to 6 months, before having to move on.
How to apply:
Some countries are allowed to complete the form online, others have to follow offline processes. The website can walk you through your requirements. In most cases, the visa you’re granted will be electronic so you won’t have to worry about mailing in your passport or scheduling an embassy visa to get a label.
Looking for Work:
- Tax Number: You’ll need this once you get a job, so you might as well apply early. Visit the Australian Taxation Office website to apply for one. It’ll be mailed to you in a week or so.
- Polish the resume, if you’re not sure what kind of work you’re looking for, stick to a wider range job experiences you’ve had. Include a short bio so they know what your situation and background are. If you’re from a non-English speaking country, include information about times you’ve practiced your English, as they’ll be interested in how well you can speak to customers.
- Get your certifications early. If you’re looking into hospitality jobs, getting your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certificate before applying for jobs is a smart plan. If you’re thinking about construction look into getting your white card, etc. Places want you to be ready to work from the beginning, so being prepared will increase your chances. Every state varies on its restrictions so make sure you do some research on your field.
- Walk the streets: Find out what areas have the most shops and restaurants if you’re looking for retail and hospitality, and spend a few days walking around those areas handing out resumes. A lot of places put help wanted signs up in the window, and it’s a good way to become more memorable versus email.
- Know your niche: If you’re in the city, check out the specialty restaurants in your area, because they’re more likely to hire someone with knowledge of the food and culture. I’ve met Turkish people who instantly got a job at Turkish restaurants…and yes as an American, I work at an American diner here in Melbourne.
- Think about the season: If you’re planning on spending part of your time traveling and part working, think about what seasons you’re doing it in. Starting in December the holiday season, summer, and school holidays all bring tourism and hospitality a lot of business, so November might be the best time to look for jobs in those areas, as a lot of places stock up on help. Plus that leaves you the less crowded times of the year to see the sites yourself.
Some final thoughts, while you can work here, make sure you’re prepared financially BEFORE packing up and leaving. It takes time to establish a job, housing, etc. So jumping on the plane with only $300 is probably a terrible decision. Make sure you have enough money for a few months at least AND some for a plane ticket on. Nothing’s a guarantee in life, so make sure you don’t get stranded.