Understanding the Australian Working Holiday Visa

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A Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is a 12 months visa for people up to the age of 30, who want to have a holiday and supporting themselves by finding occasional, temporary work in Australia. 

You might be able to get a WHV if you:

  • are between the ages of 18 and 30 years 
  • do not have a dependent child coming with you or joining you at any time during your stay in Australia
  • have a passport from an eligible country
  • meet health, character and financial requirements
  • not have previously entered Australia on a Work and Holiday (462) visa
  • not have previously entered Australia on a Working Holiday (417) visa (unless applying for a second visa)
  • be outside Australia when you apply and when the visa is granted (unless applying for a second visa)
  • apply within 12 months of intended travel to Australia

First WHV: You must be outside Australia when you apply for your first Working Holiday visa and when the visa is decided.

Second WHV (see below): If you apply in Australia, you must be in Australia when the visa is granted. If you apply outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is granted.

The best way to apply for this type of visa is online. 

Medicare or travel insurance?

The public health system in Australia is covered by Medicare. If you have been granted a WHV (subclass 417), then you may be eligible for Medicare cover during your time in Australia.

Citizens of the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Republic of Ireland* and NZ* are covered by Medicare for the duration of their visa. Citizens of Malta and Italy are covered by Medicare for a period of 6 months** from the date of arrival in Australia.

To get a Medicare card you need to go to a Medicare office, located in most towns and suburbs, with your passport and visa and fill out the form. They will then issue you a temporary number on the spot and mail you the plastic card.

* Resident of the Republic of Ireland and NZ are not entitled to Medicare benefits for non-hospital medical care and will not be issued with a Medicare card. To access these benefits you should show your passport at hospitals or pharmacies.

**If after 6 months you travel to another country (e.g. New Zealand), when you get back to Australia you can get another 6 months of cover with Medicare.

What’s covered?

Medicare covers treatments that are ‘medically necessary’. This means any illness or injury which occurs while you are in Australia and requires treatment before you return home. 

All other nationalities must pay for treatment and claim from their personal travel insurance policy, if covered. Although travel insurance is not mandatory for working holiday makers in Australia, it is strongly advised. 

There are two types of WHV: subclass 417 and subclass 462.

  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)

To apply for this visa, you must hold a valid passport from a country involved in the Working Holiday Program with Australia. Eligible countries are:

    • Belgium
    • Canada
    • Republic of Cyprus
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Republic of Korea
    • Malta
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Sweden
    • Taiwan
    • United Kingdom

This visa allows you to:

    • stay in Australia for up to 12 months
    • work in Australia for up to six months with each employer
    • study for up to four months
    • leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)

You might be able to get this visa if you have a passport from:

    • Argentina
    • Bangladesh
    • Chile
    • Indonesia
    • Malaysia
    • Thailand
    • Turkey
    • USA
    • Uruguay

Note: Only USA passport holders can apply online.

This visa is given only to tertiary educated people.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to qualify for a visa extension by working in regional Australia. This option is only available under the Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417).

Tertiary Education Requirements:

  • Chile: You must hold tertiary qualifications or have completed/been approved to undertake a third year of undergraduate university study
  • Malaysia: You must hold tertiary qualifications or have successfully completed at least two years of undergraduate university study
  • Thailand: You must hold a degree or post high school diploma from an accredited institution
  • Turkey: You must hold tertiary qualifications or have successfully completed at least two years of undergraduate university study
  • USA: You must have graduated from High School

Second Working Holiday visa:

If you have a Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417) and have spent 3 calendar months (or a total of 88 days on and off), working in some specific regional areas of Australia, doing some 'Specified Work', then you may be able to apply for another 12 months Working Holiday Visa. Some of the 'Specified Work' include:

  • Plant and Animal Cultivation
  • Fishing and Pearling
  • Tree Farming and Felling
  • Mining and Construction

If you receive a 12-month Visa extension, you are allowed to work for a further 6 months for an employer with whom you worked on your first Working Holiday visa.

 Visa cost

There is a non-refundable charge when you lodge your visa application. Current visa application costs can be found on the Australian immigration site.

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Can you be denied a WHV?

Although rare, some people have been denied entry, once they already arrived in Australia, even though they had been granted a WH visa (one reason may be undeclared criminal record).

Passport holders of some countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay) may be denied the visa, by the Immigration Office, if the annual limit has been reached.

Custom officers may ask you to demonstrate that you have enough funds to support yourself while you look for work. Be ready to show proof (cash, bank statements etc.). The amount should be around AUD $5,000.

Also it is better to have a return flight or an onward ticket to another destination, rather than just a one way ticket. If not, demonstrating that you have enough funds for your return ticket, may be sufficient.

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Five useful tips

  1. Take out a travel insurance (remember: 'If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel').

  2. Before you leave your country don't forget to purchase an International Driving Licence. In most Australian States you are allowed to drive on your existing driving licence, for a period of three months after arriving in Australia.

  3. Buy some melatonin for the  jet lag.

  4. Get a Tax File Number (TFN) before or as soon as you get a job.  If you haven’t arranged your TFN within 28 days of starting work you will be taxed at 47% of your wages.

  5. If you want to get the second working holiday visa, for having worked in specific regional area, start to look for work in those areas well in advance as it may take a while to find suitable work (be mindful that there are scams around).

Have a great trip and enjoy this fantastic adventure!

Read this book, if you wish to apply for 2nd WHV