Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417 or 462)
Thanks to our year-round sun, secluded tropical beaches, and irresistible collection of marsupials, Australia seems to be one of the most popular working holiday destinations, both for recent graduates looking to enjoy a gap year before diving into a “serious adult career” back home or for those hoping to fund long-term travel around Australia with some casual employment.
Regardless of your motivations, this really is an incredibly easy way to experience life Down Under on a temporary basis (just be forewarned that you won’t want to leave when the 12 months are up). In this post, I’ll walk you through choosing a visa, your visa entitlements and conditions, and how to apply online.
Just note that all of this information is based on my own experience of applying for the Subclass 417 in 2016 and my own understanding of the visa process— I am not a migration agent or an employee of Home Affairs, so always do your own research.
Choosing the right Working Holiday Visa
Australia offers two different Working Holiday Visa, the Subclass 417 and Subclass 462 (technically called the Work and Holiday Visa, but same thing). Essentially the only difference between these two visas, other than the very subtle difference in name, is which countries are eligible to apply.
Citizens of the following countries should apply for a Subclass 417:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Ireland
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
Citizens of the following countries should apply for a Subclass 462:
- China, People’s Republic of
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- United States of America
You’ll notice, unfortunately, that there are quite a few countries with whom Australia does not have working holiday agreements. If you are from one of these countries, you’ll need to get an entirely different kind of working visa and be sponsored by an employer if you want to come work in Australia. I won’t talk about any of those options here, but have a look at the Home Affairs site for more information.
Other eligibility requirements for a Working Holiday Visa
Aside from having a passport from one of the eligible countries above, you will need to fulfil a few other criteria in order to apply for either the Subclass 417 or Subclass 462 visa.
- You must be between 18-30 years old
- You may not bring any dependent family members with you
- You must apply from outside Australia
- You must have enough money to support yourself over the course of the year (the government usually wants to see about $5000AUD in a bank account that you have access to, but this is not one of the more strict requirements, as it’s understood you’ll be earning money while you’re here)
- You have obtained a letter of support from your government (not applicable to Subclass 417 or citizens of Argentina, Israel, China, Singapore & USA)
- You must have proficient English and supply evidence of this (not applicable to Subclass 417 or citizens of the USA)
- You must meet education requirements specific to your country, which could be a high school diploma or a tertiary degree (only applicable to Subclass 462)
Working Holiday Visa entitlements and conditions
Both the Subclass 417 and 462 Working Holiday Visas have identical entitlements and conditions. Once granted, either will allow you to:
- Stay in Australia for up to 12 months
- Study for up to 4 months
- Re-enter Australia as many times as you want while the visa is valid
The most important condition to note, however, is that you are only able to work for one employer for up to 6 months. This means that, after job hunting for ages and finally finding something you like and settling into your new work, you’ll have to quit after 6 months and do it all over again. It’s possible to apply to have this requirement waived, but I’ve never done it and don’t know anyone who has, so I can’t personally comment on how often this happens. More likely than not, this is just one of those annoying things you’ll have to plan for!
Second Working Holiday Visa
Another thing to consider is that the only way to get a second Working Holiday Visa is to work for at least 3 months during your first visa in northern Australia, either in tourism, hospitality, agriculture, forestry or fishing. Note that this includes northern bits of the NT, as well as QLD and WA. To find out what postcodes meet the requirement and get a better idea of what you’ll need to supply as proof, have a look at this form (you’ll actually lodge online, but there’s a bit of useful info on here!).
This “88 day” requirement applies to both the Subclass 417 and 462, and you’ll want to apply for the second visa from within Australia before your first visa expires. Sadly, there is no option to get a third Working Holiday Visa, so hopefully you’ll have found a sponsor by then if you’re hoping to continue working here.
Applying for a Working Holiday Visa
After you’ve determined which subclass to apply for and made sure you meet all the requirements, the application process is quite simple. Most countries will apply online through an ImmiAccount, but this paper version of the application should give you an idea of what will be asked. Essentially, you need to provide personal information and details on any previous visas, your health (relevant medical history, health insurance, etc), and your character (criminal convictions, etc).
After completing your application and paying the fee (varies, but was $440AUD for US citizens in 2016), all that’s left to do is wait for a decision from Home Affairs, which could arrive anywhere from a few days to about 6 weeks after submission via email. I received my Working Holiday Visa within 2 days, so for simpler applications (ones that don’t need to be translated into English and ones the require less evidence), the processing time seems to be quite quick. Still, you need to be outside the country when you apply and when the visa is granted, so allow enough time before booking flights. And then enjoy your time in Oz!
I hope this guide to applying for a Subclass 417 or 462 Working Holiday Visa in Australia has been helpful!
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Thank you so much for your response. I did a little more research and after speaking with a friend of mine who I didn’t know was also going through this process I wanted to share what I learned in case you had any other feedback or just wanted to know.
While the tourist visa specifically mentions needing to be a genuine visitor with the intent to leave, the first work and holiday visa typically does not come with the “no further stay” condition because you are eligible to apply for the 2nd (and 3rd) if you do the 3 months (and then 6 months) of specified work. It also does not specifically mention having the intent to leave (may just be a Home Affairs website loophole but I’ll take it!) While we are still going to seek some legal advice, this option would allow us to live together for a full 12 months and similar to what you suggested, we would continually update our application every few months to demonstrate our relationship is ongoing. The tourist visa as I’m sure you know can be granted in either 3, 6, or 12 month increments and I would be so disappointed if they chose to only grant a 3 or 6 month time frame. The work and holiday visa also allows me to do *some* work and with the limited hours, I can use the off time to travel around and learn about the country, which I’m very excited to do and my partner is incredibly supportive of.
Again, thank you so so much for taking the time to write back. I am so excited for this next adventure and reading/talking/hearing from other people who have gone or are going through the same thing has been comforting.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with everyone, Mike! I’m sure there are other readers who will find themselves in a similar situation, so it’s great to keep things updated here for future applicants.
I love how this is becoming a little community where we can all share our experiences and provide information for each other, because I know it is SCARY starting the visa application! We will all get there 🙂
Wishing you and your partner so much luck in these next steps!
Thanks so much for the wealth of information on both partner visas and work and holiday visas. I have a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to and I was curious if you knew anything about it or could point me in the right direction. Thank you so much for your time.
I met (and have now fallen deeply in love) with an Australian while he was here visiting in the U.S. We began a serious, committed relationship and have taken trips back and forth to see each other since. After many discussions about finances and future plans, we have decided we would like to build our life together in Australia (specifically Perth). I would like to be able to join him in about a year from now, but am not looking forward to having to potentially come and go due to visa restrictions (we’re both teachers and so first and foremost it is a bit of a financial burden). From my research on the home affairs website, it seems that you are not allowed to do a subclass 462 visa and then apply for an onshore partner visa while you are there because of the “no further stay” condition placed on the 462 visa (no other substantive visa may be applied for other than protective).
If this is really the case, how do we establish our relationship (which includes living together) if I can’t get a visa that will let me stay there long enough without making a decision to go back to school etc. just for the sake of a visa or asking him to uproot his life in Perth (which is where we would like to settle anyway)?
If we pursue the prospective marriage visa, it says I must be outside AU when I apply and when it is granted. Does that mean that during the entire 17-22 month processing period I would have stay away and not be able to visit at all? If I have a valid ETA during that time could I make the short visits still? But then how would I know when the visa was about to be granted and when I should be out of the country? For a country that seems to care so much about a genuine and ongoing relationship it would seem weird that I would be unable to visit during such a long processing time period, so maybe I am not understanding it properly?
Again, thank you so much for any advice you can give me. This has been such an overwhelming task so far but I am so hopeful for the future!
You are so welcome, I’m really happy that you’ve found this info helpful!
Speaking from my limited experience (and please take it with a grain of salt, because I am not a migration agent), it seems like your best option would be to come to Australia on a tourist visa and immediately apply for the 820/801 onshore. Technically speaking, it does violate the terms of the Visitor Visa (in that you are not a “genuine temporary entrant” if your intention is to stay), but in practice, I know lots of people who have done this without issue. It might be worth seeking advice from a migration agent first, but a friend of mine just recently did this under advice from her lawyer. There’s a large burden of proof on you and your partner, since you won’t have lived together for the last 12 months, but there are exceptions to this requirement if you can register the relationship and dig up enough evidence/explain the circumstances on your application. Last I heard, it’s not possible to register a relationship in WA, which does complicate matters for you… but has your partner lived in another state recently? There may be a work-around, and again that’s something a lawyer would know.
Anyway, after you arrive in Australia and submit the application, you’d be issued with a BVA (bridging visa), which will grant you work/study rights in Aus until a decision is made on your 820/801 visa (several years down the track). During this time, you can also gather further evidence of your relationship and add it onto your application as you go. By the time Home Affairs finally looks at it, it’s very likely you will have been living together/sharing finances/etc for well over a year.
I hope that is of some help to you! Good luck with everything, I know it is overwhelming, but it will be worth it in the end 🙂