How to get an Australian Working-Holiday Visa

A friend from home messaged me to ask about getting the Working holiday (417) visa. I realize that I haven't actually talked about this at any length and anyone paying attention to this blog may have some questions.

What does the working holiday visa get you? It allows you to work for a maximum of six months in one position, meaning you have to work at least two jobs in your one-year stint. You'll be able to pick up most jobs, which usually lands foreigners in the service industry (~$20/h min wage; little-to-no tipping), Mining industry (mid-to-high 20's/h, less common), or construction (mid-to-low 20's/h) are the most common. They all pay pretty well, with the Mining Industry, particularly Fly-In; Fly-Out (FIFO), paying the best. This means you live at a work site that they fly you to, work there for a couple weeks straight, then fly back home for a couple weeks to do nothing. Not the best way to live, but it pays in the 100k+/year neighborhood, I think. Don't quote me on that one, but I do know it also comes with higher rates of depression and lower life satisfaction. You can probably work a job in the same industry you did back home, such as banking or accounting, though you may want to look into the Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189).

If you're Canadian, it will take less than 24h to get if you fit the basic requirements. They say they want you to have access to $5k CAD, but will likely never check. This means you don't necessarily have to actually own the cash yourself, possibly just credit or relatives should count... but it should be noted that no one actually followed up on whether I had it or not. Funny, I actually considered printing out my bank statement and presenting it to customs when I landed. The visa itself will cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $500 CAD and will buy you one year. It can be extended to up to 2 years if you are willing to work out in the middle of nowhere (literally) for 3 months (88 work days I think). It can only be extended to 2 years, and no longer for this particular visa. To stay in the country longer, you have to get sponsored by work or get the partner/spousal visa. Before you write off hte spousal visa, you'll be interested to know that this second visa doesn't actually require marriage, just a relationship, and lasts for 2 years.

One important facet of the second year extension of the working holiday visa is that it starts automatically if you are granted it while in the country. This means that an additional year is added on to your current timer. You've been there 5 months? Now you have 19 months (7 months + 1 year). I’m not clear of the exact details, but the smarter thing seems to be to leave the country and apply while away*.  If it’s granted while out of country, it doesn't start until you return to the country. The main benefit of this is that they give you a 1 year buffer before the offer expires. This means you could go for one year to make some money and see one half of the country, leave and travel Asia for a year, and return for another year. Sounds like a kickass 3 year trip if you ask me. Too bad I didn't know any of this before setting mine up! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them my way and I'll clarify as much as I can.

*: Going to Bali for a couple weeks seems to be some people's go-to for whenever visa renewal requires 2 weeks out of country, though this seems to be more applicable for other visa types.


  1. In 2013 when I applied in country for my next year I didn't lose any time. I still had the full 24 months! This may have changed but I had no proble. They'll also give you a bridging visa if you apply for the second year and your first visa runs out while your in country.

    Leaving the country usually means that you have stricter rentrance requirements and the majority of my friends who applied out-of country were asked for proof of farm work, monies and where they stayed.

    It would be lovely if they decided to give us 3 years!!! Wishful thinking :)

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment!

      I may have worded it incorrectly, I meant to say you get 24 months in total, but it doesn't start over again when you reapply.

      This information is from having various conversations with other backpackers while I've been here, though I did hear they've been getting stricter with the government's requirements. Apparently, people would just become friends with farmers, pay them a little money, and everyone would agree that they had worked there the required time. Now the gov wants the requirements you mentioned.

      I also heard talk a while ago about some sort of free travel between the commonwealth (specifically Canada, the UK, and Aus/NZ) indefinitely. Who knows that's happening with that, though.

  2. No marriage required? Oh. Ok, I'll halve my original fee.

    1. Har har har

      You actually thought it required a marriage certificate? Not down undahhhh

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