Australia offers travellers the chance to work casually to support extended visits to the country. This presents a fantastic opportunity to take some time to explore the vast continent and experience life downunder. It is one that many visitors take and end up having the time of their lives.
According to the Australian Government department of citizenship website Australia offers the visas ‘to encourage cultural exchange and closer ties between the arrangement countries’. I think it is great that Australia enables people to live and work in the country temporarily. I have had several different and interesting job opportunities working in roles varying from journalism and recruitment to the mining industry. It also offers international travellers the opportunity to take a good look at Australia and understand the place, something that is tricky to do on a 30-day tourist visa.
|Kangaroos on the beach, Esperance, WA, Australia|
Which visas are available?
Two working and holidaying visas are available to visitors.
The ‘Working Holiday’ visa (417) is available to citizens of Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.
The 'Work and Holiday’ visa (462) is available to citizens of Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, the USA and Uruguay.
|Geared up to work on a minesite in WA, Australia|
- Applicants must be over 18 years old but not yet 31 years old at the time of their application.
- Visas are available to those looking to supplement a holiday rather than join the workforce.
How to apply
If you meet the conditions above you can apply for the visas online. The cost is currently (July 2013) AU $365. There is a financial requirement to have access to at least AU $5,000. Health checks may also be required.
I applied for my visa online without any drama. I was never asked to prove my financial situation but I would strongly suggest people do have at least that amount of money available to them when they arrive in Australia as it is an expensive country.
Things to remember once your visa is granted
- You need to enter Australia within 12 months of the date your visa was granted.
- The visas are multiple entry which means you can leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you wish.
- The 12-month period for which your visa is valid starts on the date you arrive in Australia. It expires 12 months after your initial arrival even if you spend large amounts of time outside Australia.
- Health insurance is recommended because health care is expensive in Australia.
What if you love Australia and don’t want to leave?
If you feel like 12 months is not going to be long enough to really experience everything Australia has to offer it is possible to apply for a second working holiday visa. This will enable you to remain in Australia for a further 12 months. In order to be eligible to apply you must complete three months of regional work. This is usually in primary industries such as farming and fishing, where the Australian labour market has a shortage of workers. Since it takes a minimum of three months to gain the relevant experience it is worth thinking seriously about how long you want to stay in Australia within the first six months of your stay. There is a website called Harvest Trail that is dedicated to suitable jobs harvesting fruit and vegetables. http://jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail/
|Pick mangoes in Queensland, Australia|
If, during your second year in Australia, you feel like you want to make Australia your home you will need to find another visa option. Australian employers are able to sponsor people (457) in certain professions that Australia suffers a shortage of, enabling them to stay for several years. It is normal for the employer to meet the costs and is usually a condition of the visa that you remain employed by the sponsoring company for the duration of your visa.
If you have ended up with an Australian partner they are able to sponsor your application for a partner visa (820). This is a long and expensive process however as you must prove your relationship is genuine by providing a 12-month history in the form of bank accounts, utility bills, statutory declarations from friends etc. It is also expensive as you must meet the costs yourself.
For further information visit the Australian Government’s department of immigration and citizenship website. It is well set out with lots of information.
Have you visited Australia on a working holiday visa? Did you have a great time and head home or did you stay in Australia?