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How to get a working holiday visa: everything you need to know

Woman in New Zealand

Working and living abroad can bring countless rewards and endless opportunities, both for your personal self-development and to help kick start your career. Opting for a working holiday visa can open your eyes to a new culture and way of life while helping you to fund the rest of your travels around the world (because let’s face it, once you’ve seen one country you’re going to want to see more!). 

Here, we’ve listed a bunch of top tips and essential things you’ll need to know about getting a working holiday visa in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the UK or the USA.

What is a working holiday visa?

A working holiday visa is a permit that allows young people (usually 18-30 years old) to work abroad in a select number of countries, in order to supplement their travel funds. It’s the perfect way to get under the skin of a country and see how it really ticks, whilst also providing the opportunity to travel extensively within the country and the countries surrounding it.

How much is a working holiday visa?

The cost of a working holiday visa varies depending on the country that you are going to be working in. It ranges from around £90-400 GBP, $110-480 USD & $170-755 AUD but you will also be required to have a certain sum of money in your account at the time of applying. This also varies depending on the country you’re looking to work or study in, but you’ll need a couple of thousand pounds or dollars in your savings account. This shows that you have sufficient funds for a return fare and the first part of your stay within the country.

Which countries offer working holiday visas?

This depends on your country of origin, but there are approximately 60 countries that have signed bilateral Working Holiday program agreements:

  1. Africa & The Middle East: Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, and South Africa
  2. Asia: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
  3. Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
  4. Central America: Costa Rica
  5. North America: Canada, Mexico
  6. Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
  7. South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay

 

We’ve listed out some of the most popular ones and wrote down all you need to know about how to get a working holiday visa for these countries. Whether you’re interested in the easygoing vibes of Australia, the efficiency of Japan, laid back Canada, adventurous New Zealand, the hustle and bustle of the UK or you you want a slice of the American dream, you’ll find all you need to know in this article. We share how much they cost and the type of work you can do within each country. The kind of work you can do in each of these destinations is really very broad and travellers will have countless choices, so keep reading to find out what the best option for you is.

How to get a working holiday visa for Australia

An Australian working holiday visa is for anyone between 18-30 years old and you can stay in Australia for up to a year. Travel is open, you can enter and re-enter as much as you want during this time, but you can’t spend more than six months with the same employer. The visa costs around AUD485. The type of work varies, but it could be along the lines of a barista in a coffee shop, bar work, working in the hospitality industry, office temp work, working in a shop or working on the land such as farming or manual labour.

There’s no need to stress too much about thinking what kind of job you’d suit before you leave, because you can actually find work once you’re in Australia. You can travel around exploring until you have decided which incredible destination you want to settle down in. Whether you’re a beach bum and want the chilled back beach vibes of Byron Bay, or a city dweller who prefers the fast pace of Sydney, discover it all before you decide.

Byron Bay

Image source:Contiki

How to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand

In New Zealand you can work for up to 12 months, but live up to 24 months, spending time working amidst the world’s most incredible landscapes. You can work as much as you like with a New Zealand working holiday visa and you can leave and return as many times as you like. The cost is around NZD300 (around £125). You also don’t need to find work before you depart for New Zealand on a working holiday visa. So you can travel around and have an explore before you decide upon the job of your choosing in the country of your dreams.

If you decide you don’t want to work that’s also OK, as long as you have enough money to fund your stay. So whether you want to head to the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world) Queensland is a must, or if you want to sample the cultural side and the best hot springs head to Rotorua, or crush grapes and enjoy incredible wine alongside it in the Marlborough region.

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Does the US have a working holiday visa?

America doesn’t offer working holiday visas in the same way, but there are temporary employment visas available. The H1B requires a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) and employees currently working in a speciality industry involving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. The fees vary depending on the size of the company, but they can be between $1700 – $7500, and should be paid by the employer.

There is also the J1 visa which is for students who want to work abroad. For this you will need to find a designated sponsor to accept you into their program, of which there are thousands across America. You can spend a maximum of 18 months for undergraduates and masters students and 36 months for doctoral students and can be either paid or non paid work. The cost for a J1 visa is around $180.

Los Angeles

Image source:Contiki

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How to get a working holiday visa for Canada

To work in Canada you’ll need a work permit from IEC (International Experience Canada). There are a limited amount of visas each year and the visa lasts for up to 24 months. You have to be between 18 and 30 to be eligible. The visa and fees cost around CAD $155.

Once you’ve submitted your application and it’s accepted it’s really down to the luck of the draw as to whether you get picked. You need to show that you have enough money in your bank account along with a return ticket and proof of health insurance. If you’re 30 or over you will need to apply for a permanent residency which means quite a lot of additional factors will come into play as to whether you will be eligible.

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How to get a working holiday visa for UK

You can get a UK working holiday visa if you’re aged between 18 and 30, which allows travellers to work for up to 2 years. You can apply for a youth mobility scheme which allows you to either study or work in the UK if you’re a resident of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan. This costs £244 to apply and you’ll have to pay for the healthcare surcharge which costs an additional £400. Travellers are allowed to come and go as they please during this 24 month period whilst either studying or working.

There are a number of different jobs that travellers can do whilst in the UK ranging from office work to pub, bars and cafes. The only exceptions are professional sportsperson (for example as a coach), doctor or dentist in training. If you want to do farm work you can apply for a different type of visa and are able to stay for 6 months. Alternatively you can apply to be a British overseas citizen, which requires additional eligibility requirements.

london aerial view

Image source:Contiki

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How to get a working holiday visa for Japan

And in Japan a working holiday visa is available for 18 to 30 year olds and you can stay for a period of up to 12 months. There are a limited number available. Alternatively you can join the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme if you want to teach English in Japan.

You’ll need to make sure you have some accommodation lined up for when you arrive, as you’ll need to show this when filling in the working holiday visa forms, and you’ll also need to state what you’ll be doing for the first six months that you’re in Japan. These can be loose plans, and you don’t have to have found work before you travel out there, you just need to show a passion for why you want to live and work in Japan and an appreciation of the culture. You don’t have to speak the language, you will certainly pick up a lot as you travel around and start speaking to the ever accommodating locals. Jobs include waiters/waitresses, fruit pickers, farm hands, front desk staff at a hotel or ski resort. If you’re interested in being an English teacher, generally speaking you’ll need an undergraduate degree to work in most schools.

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Tips for job hunting when you’re there…

You don’t have to have a job lined up before you go to the country you’re looking to reside in, however you might want to start doing some research and putting the feelers out with companies and agencies before you leave to make it easier when you do arrive.

  1. Get your CV in order before you leave. It’s worth spending a bit of time getting your CV up to date and thinking about the reasons why you want to work in the country you’re going to be living in. It’s always good to have a statement or covering letter to go with the CV so you can tailor this to individual employers and show through your passion for the work that you’re interested in doing. 
  2. Set yourself up a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. There are tonnes of job opportunities either through agencies or directly with employers. As above, it’s worth having your CV and statement ready to go so you can apply as and when you find opportunities.
  3. Get yourself on the books of a recruitment agency before you arrive in country. It’s worth doing some research on the best agencies in the country so you can get yourself some contacts before you arrive. They will be able to tell you if any jobs come up that are within your field of interest.
  4. Set yourself up with a bank account in your new country of residence to guarantee that you won’t lose some of your money to exchange rates or be charged more to access your money at cash machines.There are also international online bank accounts you can set up (such as Monzo) which waives any charges whilst travelling.
  5. Join Facebook and other online networking groups. There are a lot of social networking groups with people who have been there and got the t-shirt, so do some research in advance to get yourself linked up with as many of these as possible. You never know what opportunities might arise.
Hakuba Japan

Image source:@EmmaPullen

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Enjoy your working holiday 

One of the best things about getting a working holiday visa is the fact that you generally don’t have to choose a job before you head to the country you want to work in. So you can travel around and get a feel for the country and place before you settle down in the location of your choice. 

So, before you get stuck in with your new job it’s definitely worth checking out as much as the country as possible. And what better way to do this than on a tour? If you want to see iconic sites, try new foods, get to grips with the local way of life and focus on wellbeing and relaxation, a tour is the perfect introduction and taster to all of these things and will kick start your new way of life whilst you’re working and living abroad.

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