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Working Holiday Visas

05 December, 2012 13:23  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Visa - FotoliaIf you are a young person who loves to travel, a working holiday may be just the ticket. Working holidays allow young people to live and work in a country legally, for periods ranging from several months to more than a year. You will work hard and you won't get rich, but you should make enough money to support yourself, and still have plenty of time to enjoy yourself while you are abroad. Many countries worldwide participate in one or more working holiday programs, so it's likely that you will be able to find one that's right for you.

What Is a Working Holiday Visa?

A working holiday visa allows young people from participating countries to visit other participating countries and support themselves by performing short-term jobs. Age limits vary, but a majority of programs specify that citizens must be between the ages of 18 and 30.

The program was initiated by Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and most countries in the developed world participate in the program. A notable exception is the United States of America, whose citizens are often excluded from working holiday programs as a result. In addition, depending on your home country and the country or countries in which you wish to work, there may be quotas on the number of working holiday visas issued.

If you obtain a working holiday visa for a country within the Schengen Area of Europe, you are also permitted to travel freely within the region for up to 90 days without obtaining a separate visa during the time that your working holiday visa is valid. Working holiday visa holders in many participating countries are often permitted to study at university while they are in their host countries. Working holiday visa holders who wish to work in other countries as well as their original host countries are often able to do so without returning to their home countries, as long as they initiate their applications while their original holiday visas are valid.

How to Apply

Each country has specific requirements for working holiday visas. However, all working holiday programs require applicants to have a valid passport for their home countries. If you are living in another country at the time of your application, you will probably need to present a valid resident permit for that country as well. You will also need to set aside sufficient funds to cover your expenses while you look for work, unless you have arranged a job offer before your arrival in the host country. In addition, you may also need to present:

  • police certificate
  • evidence of health insurance coverage
  • application for a working holiday visa

Contact the embassy or consulate for the country or countries in wish you wish to work to determine the exact requirements. Allow sufficient time to process your application; working holiday visas often require several months to process.

The organizations below represent a cross section of working holiday programs available for young people around the world. Please contact individual programs for specific information on eligibility, fees and other questions you may have.


Options for United States Citizens

American citizens are not completely shut out of working holiday visa schemes. As of August 2012, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore offer working holiday visa programs to Americans. Eligibility requirements vary, but programs are generally limited to young people aged between 18 and 30. In some instances, participants must be enrolled in a college or university program. Contact the embassy or consulate for the country in which you wish to work for specific details.

The British Universities North America Club (BUNAC) Working Adventures Worldwide also operates a program that arranges working holiday visas and short-term employment for young people from several countries, including the United States. Americans enrolled in the program can work in Canada, Ireland, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. BUNAC also offers programs for Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 who wish to volunteer in Cambodia, Peru and South Africa. However, in exchange for its placement and support services, BUNAC charges a steep fee for its programs.

Researched by Audrey Henderson
-- freelance writer based in Chicago


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