Working Holiday Visa

WTF is this working holiday business

According to Wikipedia, working holiday is, “a working holiday visa is a residence permit allowing travellers to undertake employment (and sometimes study) in the country issuing the visa to supplement their travel funds.”

EXACTLY! You take a tourist visa + student visa + work visa and you get the god-like working holiday visa!

OK, but is it available everywhere?!

If you’re American (from the States – sorry folks from South America), your/our options are VERY limited! It is safe to say it’s basically just Australia and New Zealand… but at least it is Australia and NZ! Maybe not Australia because I’m not looking to die a most utterly painful death though…

Apparently the full list is:

  • Singapore
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Ireland

The reason I generally omit Singapore, Korea and Ireland when speaking about this fantastic visa is because they have restrictions, rather you must meet certain criteria. Coincidentally all 3 have this same criteria – must be either enrolled in post-secondary education or have graduated from it within the past 12 months. To my surprise though – Ireland does not have an age cap or any age restrictions!

Regardless this limits our time window to a year after graduation, and let’s face it – we find out about these things way too late! I haven’t even heard of working holiday until I met some folks in Japan at the end of 2013 when I finally left the big ol’ USA for an extended amount of time.

To make matters worse, for Singapore you also need to have attended the top 200 universities for overall academic performance. To top it off, imagine the type of occupations you’ll be able to find in Korea – let me give you a hint: unless you speak fluent Korean, your best bet is to teach English. You’ll be square in Singapore though – most folks speak English as it is a melting pot of Chinese, Malaysians, Indians and other ethnicities.

So… Australia and NZ you say

Yes, your best bet is most definitely Australia and NZ! Personally I did NZ first, haven’t done Australia yet, and let me tell you why – I heard that Australia had changed their age requirements from up to 30 to 35 years old, but after a little bit of Googling I hear that was just a consideration and is still being talked over.

Anyways, the lowdown on Australia and NZ:

  • Ages 18-30
  • Sufficient funds 5,000 AUD for Australia and 4,200 NZD for NZ
  • Application fee 420 AUD and 165 USD, respectively

I applied for the visa for NZ in Oct-Nov of 2016 and the fee was waived for US citizens at the time! NZ’s immigration and tourism businesses have been booming for years and their policies and arrangements are rapidly and constantly changing; especially to obtain residency status.

As you may see why me, a student at the time, chose NZ over Australia back in 2016 – money, money, money, and money. Indeed I had some friends there and a couple more to come, but come on – a free application, why not!?

It does state that you must prove your financial standings when you arrive, however I have heard, and experienced, that this is not always the case. I did bring a document stating such just in case though! It wasn’t exactly on their list of acceptable forms of documents and I tried to verify prior to going but that particular customer service / immigration agent wasn’t too helpful. So, you do you!

Working holiday visas are becoming more and more popular nowadays and is a wonderful opportunity for us to travel, experience more, get out of our comfort zone, work various jobs, and maybe find even love. Policies, requirements, criteria, eligibility can often change so do refer to that government’s website for up-to-date info!


If you may not know, let me edumacate you – getting a visa to come to the great US of A is most difficult. Easier on a tourist visa, much more difficult on a student and/or work visa! Personally I wasn’t aware of this until people had started telling me when I was, of course, abroad.

Why I mention this – the working holiday visa is a bilateral agreement; both parties must agree and usually it goes both ways. Noticed I used the term “usually” – the land of the free does not provide a working holiday visa to anyone, that’s right to no one. The closest thing I found is a cultural exchange kinda visa – the J-1 visa. You must be sponsored by designated organizations and the type of work or activities are restricted.

Thus an Aussie or a Kiwi isn’t granted the same opportunities presented to us in their country as we are in their country.

I’m only aware of the USA screwing other countries over in the working holiday agreements. Just some food for thought!


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