If you check the passports of many of the young people making their way across Southeast Asia, you would find a common stamp—Australia. That is because of the Australian Work and Holiday Visa program. It can be hard to save enough money to travel around for a year, enter this easy to access program is designed for high school graduates aged 18–30. It allows visa holders to travel Down Under for up to twelve months and work legally for any employer for 6 of those 12 months. It’s a great opportunity for recent graduates who want to take a year off or those looking for a break from their day-to-day jobs.

If you are currently a United States citizen and hold a valid passport you are already on your way. The other rules are:

  1. You have to travel solo no dependent children or parents, however, this doesn’t mean you can’t apply and travel with a friend who also meets the requirements;
  2. You must have graduated from high school or completed your GED;
  3. Have not previously entered Australia on a Work and Holiday Visas;
  4. Have travel health insurance covering you for the full time of your stay;
  5. Either be in possession of an onward ticket or have money in your account to prove you can purchase a ticket;
  6. Show a bank statement proving you can support yourself for the first part of your trip (~AUD$5,000);
  7. You should be healthy; and
  8. You should not have a criminal record.

How It Works

Once the visa is issued in your passport, you have twelve months to enter the country. You are allowed to stay in Australia for one calendar year entering and exiting as many times as you please, but remember the clock on your one year period keeps moving forward even if you are not in the country.

As you watch your travel money start to dwindle, start looking for a job. You can be employed for up to six months and are not restricted to particular work categories so long as it can be classed as temporary or casual in nature. Some common jobs are in telemarketing, waitressing, tour guides, bartending, and other semiskilled labor.

There are only a certain number of these visas available each year. Check with the Australian consulate nearest you to find out the current status.

The cost of the visa is AU$390.

Here’s the catch you may not be engaged in school or training for more than four months while you are on this visa. If you like it and want to study there you will need to apply for a Student Visa.

For Our Neighbours Up North

If you are from Canada, Belgium, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan or the United Kingdom, you have the option for a different type of working visa. With many of the same conditions, you also have the option of extending your visa by either applying for another Visitor Visa or going to work on a farm, fishery, or mine in a rural area. This could mean fruit picking, working with horses, or a variety of other manual labor activities. After doing three months of work you are eligible for another one year Working Holiday Visa. Some people chose to get their three months of hard labor out of the way. This gives them the chance to meet other travelers and make friends with whom they can spend the next 21 months exploring.

The Government is contemplating some changes to the visa such as extending the age to 35 and allowing visa holders to work for a year as long as they are not employed in the same location for more than six months.