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How to Get a Working Holiday or Work Holiday Visa in Australia

by Claire Litton Cohn Feb 4, 2022

If you are between the ages of 18 and 30 and would love to spend a year or two in Australia, the Work and Holiday or Working Holiday visa Australia is for you! You can legally work anywhere in the country, and it’s easy to apply for. Read these steps carefully, and you could be on your way earlier than you think; 90 percent of applications are processed in less than two months.

How to get a Working Holiday Visa Australia or Work Holiday Visa:

1. Figure out which visa you’re eligible for

There are two kinds of visas that allow you to live and work in Australia temporarily: the 417 (Working Holiday) and the 462 (Work and Holiday).

  • Working Holiday (subclass 417) visas are open to people with passports from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
  • Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visas are open to people with passports from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Uruguay.

There are a few differences between the visas. If you have more than one passport for countries that make you eligible for EITHER visa, you can choose to apply based on which one you prefer.

  • 462 visas have education requirements — for most of the listed countries, this means you need to have completed at least two years of a tertiary education degree. A community college or any university degree would count towards this requirement.
  • 462 visa applicants MUST provide police certificates from each country they have lived in for more than 12 months, as character references. 417 visa applicants MAY have to provide these certificates, but the application clearly states that they are not needed unless requested.
  • 462 visa applicants MUST prove language competence, which the application form terms “functional English”. This could be proved either through having a passport from a country for whom English is a first language, taking a competency test, or otherwise showing competency (through an oral exam, for example).
  • 462 visa applicants MUST provide a letter of support from their home government UNLESS you are from the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, or the United States. Malaysians may provide a Malaysian Certificate of Good Conduct.

For both visas, you may not hold one job for more than 6 months in a row. The visa is designed for you to be on holiday in Australia, and still be able to work occasionally (to further fund your holiday); Australian immigration feels that if you want to work more than 6 months, you should apply for a work visa instead.

Both visas have the possibility of applying for a second visa, or an extension, which will be discussed later in this article.

2. Start getting your documents together

Neither visa will ask for original documents right off the bat; certified copies are better. You can find the exact list for the 417 visa here and the 462 visa here. You will need:

  • A copy of the photo page of your current passport, which should also include your birthdate, the issue date and location of your passport, and your signature.
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate showing both your parents’ names. If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can provide any other official document that proves your identity (like a government-issued ID).
  • Two passport-sized photos, with your name printed on the back.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to support your holiday travel: at least $5000 AUD. This could be a bank statement or a certified letter from your bank.
  • If you served in the armed forces of any country, you must provide discharge papers.
  • If your name has changed, evidence of the name change.
  • The fee for the application. Fees change, so it is a good idea to check the website for exact costs.

Further documents required for your 462 visa:

  • Evidence of relevant educational qualifications.
  • For relevant countries, a valid letter of government support for this application.
  • Evidence that you have a level of English which is assessed as at least functional.
  • Police certificates from any country lived in for more than 12 months.

3. Apply

Once you have all your documents together, and you’ve saved up to pay your fees, it’s time to actually apply.

  • 462 Visa: If you are from the USA, you can apply for your 462 visa online. Otherwise, or if you are a US citizen who can’t apply online for some reason, you can send or hand-deliver your application to the Australian Visa Application Office in your home country. This only applies if it is your first Work and Holiday Visa — see below for more info on applying for your second.
  • 417 Visa: All applicants can apply online, as long as you make an “ImmiAccount”. If you cannot apply online, you can bring your paperwork and documentation to an Australian Immigration Office.
  • 4. Wait

    Sometimes, you may be asked to complete medical or health checks — Australia is proudly tuberculosis and rabies-free, and many applicants are asked to provide evidence of recent medical check-ups or chest X-rays (to prove they don’t have TB). I did not have to do this, but many non-Australians who applied for my same university did, so your mileage may vary. If you are asked for more documents, it will appear on your ImmiAccount.

    • 462 Visa: 75 percent of applications are processed within 24 days and 90 percent are processed within 56 days.
    • 417 Visa: 75 percent of applications are processed in 16 days, and 90 percent are processed in 32 days.

    If your circumstances change, any of the information on your application changes, or you need to withdraw your application, you must notify the Australian Immigration service immediately. This is especially relevant if your passport expires during the time between when you lodge the application and when you might arrive in Australia. Make sure your passport has at least a year or two of validity on it when you apply. If you have less than 6 months before it expires, get a new passport before you apply — you don’t want to get held up in the airport or denied entry because of a bureaucratic problem.

5. When you get your visa, rejoice

Assuming you followed all the rules and got all the paperwork they asked for, you will be issued a digital visa. You will not get a physical form that goes in your passport (sadly, if you like this sort of souvenir — I love flipping back over my old stamps and visas). Your visa is associated with your passport or your ImmiCard, and it also has a unique ID number that you can use to access it when necessary.

6. Applying for second 462 or 417 visas

Let’s say you’re having such a good holiday in Australia that you’d like to stay for another year! Well…you can. It might even be easier to apply for, provided you fulfill the requirements. What are the requirements? So glad you asked.

  • You must have completed all the requirements for the first 417 or 462 visa.
  • You must not have held more than one 417 or 462 visa (you can’t have THREE visas).
  • If you have a 417, you cannot have had a 462; and vice versa. This is to stop people with multiple citizenships from applying for TWO visas under each passport.
  • You must not have turned 31 by the time you apply.
  • You must have completed THREE MONTHS of specified work in regional Australia during the term of your first visa.

What is specified work, in regional Australia? This guideline was developed to help industries in remote areas with high turnover get more workers. These are acceptable fields:

  • plant and animal cultivation
  • fishing and pearling
  • tree farming and felling
  • For 462 visa applicants: tourism and hospitality
  • For 417 visa applicants: mining, construction

The job you fulfill must be eligible, which usually means labor-intensive. Working as a bookkeeper in one of these fields, for example, does not count towards your three-month requirement. Neither is working as a nanny on a farm, a wine taster for a vineyard, or cleaning buildings belonging to a construction office. The work must be paid.

Regional Australia usually means outside of the major cities. Canberra, or anywhere in the Australian Capital Territory, cannot be counted as regional.

There are a lot of guidelines about how to calculate your hours worked, and whether or not weekends count, and what happens if a cyclone disrupts your harvesting season. You can find all of the information for 417 visas here and for 462 visas here. If this is what you are interested in doing, I suggest you read it extremely carefully to ensure that you can fulfill the guidelines. If you are already in Australia and applying for a second 417 or 462 visa, you must apply for it before your current visa runs out.

Up until very recently, 462 visas were not eligible for a second application/extension. This changed in February of 2017. If you find articles dating before that in doing further research, they will state that you cannot get a second 462 visa: this information is incorrect.

A version of this article was previously published on December 8, 2017, and was updated on February 4, 2022.

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