All it takes is 30 minutes to fill out a form online. Seriously. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. Okay, I don’t really want to stick a needle in my eye.1
Several years ago, when I was desperately searching for opportunities to work abroad I missed the whole concept of working holiday visas entirely. Soooo easy, as long as you’re under 30.
So what’s the deal? A working holiday visa—”holiday,” like Queen British for vacation—is an official government-approved visa that allows travelers to earn money while visiting a country. Like legit working, and not always picking grapes off some damn orchard. No judgment if you’re bartending or waiting tables; or sitting behind a desk sending out business emails. The whole concept behind it is to enable people to get some life experience without going totally broke in the process.
The one thing a working holiday visa doesn’t do is find you a job. That, requires some gusto to get on the plane, to sort out a place and to start pounding pavement on foreign shores. (The visa just makes it easier. Few companies will hire and sponsor an immigrant for temporary work; once that’s overcome, the sky’s the limit. Many people also use the visa as a way to launch a career in another country but warning, you’ll have to find another way to stay in the country after the initial period is up.)
At a policy level, it’s a reciprocity arrangement where each country offers another country’s citizens the visa. Americans can get a working holiday visa for Ireland just like the Irish can for the U.S. While the U.S. is notorious for its tough immigration policies—which reflects how many options are open to Americans—it manages to play nice with a handful of countries like Korea and Australia. (Australians have holiday working options for 31 countries. Hmph.)
Though the specifics for working visas vary from country to country, most share certain requirements. Applicants must be between the ages of 18-302 and have some money saved up, at least enough to support themselves until they find a job. New Zealand only requires $4,200 NZD ($3,050.14 USD) and Australia only requires $5,000 AUD ($3,876.62 USD) in a bank account as financial proof. Nothing terrible there.
Having health insurance also helps since most countries aren’t interested in taking the financial burdens of other countries. Here are the policies for Americans below.
|Australia||12 months max||18-30 years old||$485 AUD (~$325.22 USD)|
|Ireland||12 months max||Current post-secondary student or graduated within past year||€250 (~$272.10 USD)|
|Korea||18 months max||18-30 years old, current post-secondary student or graduated within past year||$45 USD|
|New Zealand||12 months max; 18 months for those in agriculture or horticulture||18-30 years old||$0 NZD (yes, free!) (~$119.54 USD)|
|Singapore||6 months max||18-25 years old, currently enrolled at a top 200 university or graduated within past year||$150 SGD (~$111.18 USD)|
Click here to see the full chart with funding requirements.
- Erica got her Australian holiday working visa approved online in something like that. She never ended up using it so got the whole thing null and voided. Apparently, according to Australian immigration law, as long as she hasn’t ‘activated’ the visa, she’s still eligible to apply for another one in the future as long as she fulfills all the requirements. ↩
- In some cases, the visa can be applied for even if the applicant is 30. Even if the applicant is 31 when the visa is activated, it’s still possible as long as the visa hasn’t expired. Being 30 doesn’t necessarily disqualify you, although you are certainly running out of time, oldie. Activation refers to the first time the visa holder crosses that country’s border on that particular visa. ↩
- Costs accurate at time of publication. ↩
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