Love the idea of living and working in Australia? A working holiday visa could be the perfect way to sample that famously laidback Australian lifestyle for more than just a two-week getaway.
Australia has countless attractions for young people and graduates, including beautiful natural landscapes, sunny weather and world-class beaches. It’s easy to see why so many people consider moving to Australia from the UK, drawn to its diverse, culture-rich and friendly cities, where you can find fantastic job opportunities.
In this essential guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Australia working holiday visa. This includes who it’s for, how to apply and how much it costs. Plus, a handy tip for managing your money while working and living abroad - the powerful Wise multi-currency account.
But first, let’s run through what the Australian working holiday visa scheme actually is.
The Australian working holiday visa scheme is designed for young people aged 18-30 wanting to visit Australia for an extended period of time¹. With this visa, you can earn money to pay for your holiday and get valuable experience of working abroad.
During your time in Australia, you’ll be able to legally¹:
- Do short-term work
- Study for up to 4 months
- Travel to and from Australia whenever you want.
The working holiday visa lasts a certain period of time, but you can apply up to three times. This means you can potentially extend your stay, or come back to Australia for another working holiday in the future (provided you meet the age requirements).
Unlike some other country’s working holiday visa schemes, which have a limited number of permits available and draw from a pool of candidates, anyone can apply for this kind of visa for Australia. You will of course need to meet the eligibility requirements and conditions, which we’ll look at next.
You can’t bring family or dependent children with you to Australia with this visa¹.
There are a number of requirements you must meet in order to apply for the Australian working holiday visa. These include age, nationality and other requirements such as health, character and financial resources. Let’s run through these now.
You must be between 18 and 30 years old¹ at the time of applying for your Australian working holiday visa. This is the age limit for most countries, but citizens from Ireland, Canada and France can be aged 18 to 35 years old.
Only citizens of certain countries are eligible to participate in Australia’s working holiday visa programme. The good news for British applicants is that the UK is on this exclusive list, which also includes Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Germany and a number of other European countries¹.
So, this means you must have a passport from one of the countries on the list before you can apply for an Australian working holiday visa.
Here’s a quick overview of the other things you’ll need before you can apply¹:
- Proof that you have sufficient money (around $5,000 AUD) to support yourself for your initial stay, along with the fare for your journey home
- Health examinations (if applicable) - find out whether you’ll need to undergo health examinations here.
- Character requirement² - you may not pass this if you have a substantial criminal record. You’ll need to provide a number of documents to prove that you’re an applicant of good character, such as a police certificate or a letter of good conduct from an employer.
- Previous visas - you can’t apply for the first working holiday visa if you’ve previously entered Australia with a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) or a Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462). You may also be ineligible if you’ve ever had a visa cancelled or a visa application refused.
You’ll also be ineligible if you or any of your family members owe any money to the Australian Government¹. This must be paid back in full before you can apply.
Lastly, you must sign the Australian values statement¹, which confirms that you’ll respect the Australian way of life and obey the country’s laws during your visit.
If you loved your time in Australia and want more of the same, you can apply for a second working holiday visa. In fact, you may also be able to apply for a third.
However, there are some conditions you’ll need to meet. As well as having previously entered the country on a first working holiday visa, you’ll also need to complete 3 months of ‘specified subclass 417 work’. In simple terms, this means working within an approved industry in a certain part of the country for at least 3 months. The full list includes³:
- Tourism and hospitality in northern or remote Australia.
- Bushfire recovery work in affected areas.
- Critical Covid-19 work in healthcare and medical sectors, anywhere in the country.
- Fishing, pearling, tree farming and felling, mining and construction in regional Australia.
- Plant and animal cultivation in regional Australia.
With this approved work experience under your belt, you’ll be able to apply for a second working holiday visa (provided that you meet the other eligibility requirements).
If you’re looking ahead and thinking of applying for a third working holiday visa, you’ll need to complete 6 months of specified subclass 417 work to be eligible⁴.
If approved, your Australian working holiday visa will last 12 months⁵.
If you’d like to stay longer, you’ll need to plan your trip so that you complete the required months of specified work. This will make you eligible to apply for a second and then a third working holiday visa, each of which lasts 12 months⁵. This means that you can potentially stay in Australia for a total of 3 years.
You can do any kind of work with the Australian working holiday visa¹, which means that the whole of the country’s jobs market is open to you.
However, as the scheme is designed for short-term work, you can usually only work for the same employer for six months¹.
The only thing to bear in mind is that if you plan on applying for another working holiday visa, you’ll need to work within an approved industry for at least 3 months (second visa) or 6 months (third visa).
While working in Australia, you’ll be protected by Australian workplace law and will need to pay taxes when you work¹.
There’s an application fee to pay for the working holiday visa for Australia. This is $495 AUD for all three visa types⁵ - the first, second and third working holiday visa. You must pay this fee when submitting your application¹.
You may also have to pay additional costs for things like biometrics, health examinations and police certificates (if needed)¹.
As you can only apply for a working holiday visa from outside Australia, this means paying your application fee while still in the UK. If you use your bank, you could be charged high international transfer fees and get a poor exchange rate on converting GBP to AUD.
Wise has a better solution for paying your visa fees like an Aussie local. Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can also get an international Wise debit card, for spending in 200 countries and online too.
This clever card automatically converts currency at the mid-market exchange rate at the moment you spend, and only charges a tiny fee for the conversion. If you already have AUD in your Wise account, it’s free.
Ready to apply for your Australian working holiday visa? Simply follow these steps¹:
- Check if you need to have health examinations and if so, organise your health checks before starting your application.
- Gather your supporting documents, including your proof of ID and character documents. We’ll cover the full list of what you’ll need in just a moment.
- Login or create an online ImmiAccount.
- Complete your application, filling all personal and required details
- Attach your supporting documents.
- Pay the application fee using a credit/debit card (including the Wise debit card), PayPal, UnionPay or BPAY⁶.
- Submit your application and make a note of your transaction reference number.
- You’ll receive confirmation of your application, then all you have to do is wait.
- If your application is successful, you’ll be given a visa grant number and a date that your visa will start. If your application is refused, you’ll be told the reason why and whether or not you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.
Once you have confirmation that your application has been successful, all that’s left to do is start planning your trip. You’ll want to start looking into things like accommodation, jobs, taxes and the cost of living in Australia, as well as booking your flights.
To support your visa application, you may need to supply some or all of the following¹:
- Identity documents, including a valid passport and birth certificate
- Evidence you have enough money for your stay in Australia, such as a recent bank statement
- Character documents, such as a police certificate
- Health examination documents, if applicable.
All non-English documents must be translated into English before they can be uploaded.
The time it will take to process your working holiday visa can vary. But the Australian government claims it processes 25%-50% of applications within a day, but it could potentially take as long as 4 months⁵.
One of the first things you may do on arrival down under is to open an Australian bank account. This will be very handy for things like paying your bills and getting paid by your employer.
But a bank account may not be the best option for managing your money across international borders. If you still have bills to pay in the UK, or your family wants to send you money in Australia, you could find banks very expensive for overseas transfers.
Open a Wise multi-currency account alongside your bank account and you’ll have a low cost way to send and receive money internationally. You can send money worldwide for tiny fees, and the mid-market exchange rate, and get paid like a local using your own Australian account details.
And of course, you can spend in Australia, the UK and nearly 200 other countries using your mighty Wise international card.
Sources used for this article:
- Home Affairs - first working holiday visa
- Home Affairs - character requirements
- Home Affairs - specified work conditions
- Home Affairs - second working holiday visa
- Home Affairs - working holiday visa
- Home Affairs - how to pay
Sources checked on 20-05-2022.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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