A Guide To The Working Holiday Visa: Australia

Australia is the perfect place for backpackers to combine work and travel, and even more-so for career professionals looking for a change in environment. There are a wide variety of employment opportunities available in the country, and plenty more travelling destinations to compliment your one or two year stay.

Australia offers working holiday visas to British & Canadian citizens
(photo: Steemit)

Our free movement campaign between Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom has gained significant support from senior politicians and diplomats. At present, we are determined to ensure progressive change in our nations’ current visa protocols by the end of the decade, but in the meantime, our helpful guide to applying for an Australian working holiday visa will help those who wish to explore and work Down Under.

(Note: the following guide is written for UK and Canadian citizens, as citizens of New Zealand already have the option to work and travel in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement)

Applying for your visa

Under current arrangements, all applicants must meet the following criteria before applying for a working holiday visa (subclass 417):

  • Aged 18-30 (inclusive), although recent announcements have indicated the age limit will soon change to 35; 
  • A citizen of the UK & Canada; 
  • Passport must be valid with at least 6 months validity until expiry (although it is recommended all applicants have a passport that is valid for their entire stay in Australia); 
  • Must not be accompanied by a dependent child or dependent children; 
  • Must be able to show sufficient funds for their stay, or sufficient funds for a return or onward ticket;
  • Must be of good character (no serious criminal convictions); 
  • Must meet specific health criteria regarding infectious diseases and health conditions requiring intensive hospital care.

The working holiday visa allows all applicants to:

  • Stay in Australia for up to 12 months; 
  • Work in Australia; 
  • Study for up to 4 months; 
  • Leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.

Understanding the application process

If you are applying for your first working holiday visa to Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is granted. This does not necessarily mean your country of citizenship, but you must not be in Australian territory when your visa is finalised.

The visa can vary in application time. Some visas are granted within 30 minutes, others can take up to 4 weeks. It is advised that all applicants apply with plenty of time before they intend to travel to Australia.

Once received, the visa can be activated at any time within 12 months. Once activated, the visa will be valid for 12 months, and can be renewed for an addition 12 months providing three months of regional employment is completed.

The cost of the visa generally costs $460 CAD, or £250 GBP.

Understanding your employment opportunities

The variety of work available will depend on your skills and qualifications. If you are already established in a particular career, such as marketing, accounting, or a trade, there are plenty of employment options available in the major cities.

If you have not started a career, unskilled options include bar work, fruit picking, general labouring, e.t.c.

However, be aware that as a working holiday permit holder, you can generally only work for 6 months with one employer. More information is available at Working in Australia – six months with one employer.

At present, Australia is eager to recruit skilled labour from abroad, and even though applicants are only permitted to work for 6 months, sponsorship opportunities exist for those who excel in their profession, providing the employer can prove the sponsored applicant is unique in their skill-set and no other Australian can undertake the role.

Extending your stay

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows all applicants to apply for a second year long working holiday visa on the condition they complete three months of regional employment. This includes farm work, construction work, mining and other professions in remote areas of Australia.

For a second working holiday visa, you can apply in Australia but must be in Australia when the visa is granted. If you apply from outside of Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is granted.

To apply for your Australian working holiday visa, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. All applications can be made online.

For further information regarding the Australian working holiday visa, contact us at