You will need a visa to get into Australia. Most young people travelling to Oz fall into two categories of visa applicants: those who want to work and need a Working Holiday Visa (WHV); and those who simply want a holiday and so require only a Visitor Visa.
There are, of course, many other visas linked to employment or study.
Your first stop should be the website for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) at immi.gov.au, which explains all the visa options and has the application forms to download.
Whatever visa you choose to apply for, make sure you sort it out before you finalise your travel plans. If you have a health condition or criminal record, you may be required to get medical or police clearance.
Or you may discover that you don’t qualify for the type of visa you require. Planning ahead can save you a lot of tears and money in the long run.
Bear in mind that visa rules can be subject to change at frustratingly short notice, so keep yourself informed by visiting the website regularly.
Working Holiday Visas
The WHV enables holders to travel and work their way around Australia for 12 months.
But the popular visa gets even better. You can stay for an extra year, at least if you don’t mind picking a few strawberries.
The WHV is intended for those who need to work to fi nance their travels. You are not however allowed to work for any one employer for more than six months. A year in Australia not enough?
The good news is that if you complete three months (88 days) of “specifi ed work” in regional Australia and, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a second Working Holiday Visa.
The definition of specified work includes the following areas: construction, harvest work, mining, plant and animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, and tree farming and felling. Doing certain volunteer work also qualifies towards a bonus 12 months.
Regional Australia refers to the rural areas, usually away from the big cities, which often suffer from labour shortages as Aussies flock to the bright lights.
Head to immi.gov.au for a full list of eligible postcodes.
Absolutely check this before signing up for a job – you wouldn’t want to do three months in a field only to discover it didn’t count. For more information on extending your visa, see “Extending the WHV” on the next page.
As long as you’re aged 18-30 at the time of your application, entry into Australia can be up to one year after the visa is issued and it does not matter if you turn 31 in the interim period.
Citizens of the following countries can apply: the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, South Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, Estonia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Chile.
The exact details do change slightly, however, depending which country you’re from. So, again, visit the all-important immi.gov.au to find out more.
Electronic Travel Authority
An ETA is a multiple entry visa valid for 12 months that entitles you to spend up to a maximum of three months in Australia each time. Visit eta.immi.gov.au to apply online.
In many parts of the world (including the UK), you can obtain a visitor’s visa when you book your travel, as thousands of travel agencies and airlines are now linked to Australia’s Electronic Travel Authority (AETA) system which processes the visa immediately. ETAs are free, but you will be charged a processing fee.
If you apply online at the DIAC website the cost is AU$20 (while travel agencies in, say the UK, will charge you around £20).
If you are lucky enough to have a European passport, there is another visitor visa you can apply for online and it is free.
The same conditions apply as for an ETA. You can spend a maximum of three months at a time in Australia over the 12 month validity period, but this visa is only valid to European passport holders.
Check immi.gov.au for a list of inclusive countries.
If you want to stay in Oz for longer than three months, or if you’re from one of the countries that does not have access to the ETA system, then you can apply for a Tourist Visa.
You’re not allowed to do any kind of work on this visa and you must be able to show that you have suffi cient funds to support yourself.
This visa allows you to remain in Australia for up to 12 months and there is no age restriction for people applying for it.
A Tourist Visa costs AU$110 and can be applied for from both within and outside the country.
Tourist Visa extensions
In some cases, it is possible to have your Tourist Visa extended.
Bear in mind that it is within the immigration officer’s rights to refuse you an extension, so don’t make any firm plans until you know it has been granted.
A total period of 12 months in Australia is allowed on a Tourist Visa unless there are exceptional circumstances.
How to apply for a visa
The simple and secure, not to mention fastest, way to apply for your WHV is online, via a scheme called eVisa found on DIAC’s website (immi.gov.au), where you can also download and print off application forms should you be unable to apply online.
Forms can also be obtained from any Australian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission (see list at the end of this section).
By post: If you’re not eligible to apply online, there are other options. You can send an application to any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.
If doing it by post, it’s best to send your application by recorded delivery, enclosing a large, stamped and self-addressed envelope for return of your documents. Allow at least three weeks for your visa to be returned.
In person: You can apply for a WHV in person at many Australian Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates, and they often issue the visa on the spot. But you can no longer apply in person at the, Australian High Commission in London.
The processing fee for a WHV application (at time of print) is a non-refundable AU$270.
You will also need any medical information or evidence required by the Australian government and evidence of “sufficient funds” in your bank account.
Generally, AU$5,000 in addition to funds for a return airfare is regarded as sufficient to cover the costs of the initial stages of the working holiday.
Along with your application form, you should send or take to the embassy your passport, application fee and all other required documentation.
There are several other visas available which may enable you to work Down Under for a period of time, usually depending on your profession.
Again, check the DIAC website, immi.gov.au for further details.
Applying outside your home country: You can lodge an application for your fi rst WHV online or by post from anywhere in the world, except Australia.
However, applications by passport holders of certain countries must be submitted by post, fax or hand to the overseas Australian government office in their own country.
Travellers with no choice but to use this method are those from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malta and Cyprus.
Extending your WHV
Unlike the first time you apply for a WHV, you can apply for your second one from within Australia.
You can apply from overseas as well. However, just like with the first WHV, any time spent outside Australia while your second visa is valid cannot be recouped.
You must provide evidence you worked for a minimum of three months (or 88 days – they can be cumulative) as a specifi ed worker while on your first visa.
To prove this, you’ll need an employment verification form (1263); this can be downloaded online at immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/1263.pdf or picked up from a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) office.
Get this form before you start seasonal work as each employer you have must sign it.
The form only has enough space for fi ve employers so if you work for more than this you will require additional forms.
Other acceptable evidence of seasonal work for your application may be pay slips, group certificates, tax returns or employer references. Applications for an extension can be made on the DIAC website and cost $270.
You are also required to undergo a medical so keep in mind that you will have to pay for chest x-rays.
Requirements for second WHV
Along with your application form, you should send your passport, evidence of your specifi ed work in regional Australia, any medical information or evidence required by the Australian Government office where you intend to lodge your application, fee payment, and evidence that you have “sufficient funds” in your bank account, such as your bank statements – receipts from ATMs are not acceptable.
Generally, AU$5,000 in addition to funds for a return airfare may be regarded as suffi cient to cover the costs of your second working holiday.
You might land a great job while on your WHV and want to stay longer than that visa allows, but fear not.
What you’ll need is the 457 Business Visa, or what is more commonly known as “sponsorship”.
A company/employer (who is an approved business sponsor) will sponsor you to work on a visa valid for up to four years.
You need to have an official “skilled occupation” and be earning above the specified minimum salary (which is currently AU$49,330 p/a).
The 457 visa ties you to the job you are sponsored for, but this can be transferred between jobs as long as your new employer wishes to sponsor you too.
Go to immi.gov.au/allforms/booklets/1131. pdf for a comprehensive booklet.
This also lists the occupations for this visa. Booklets for Skilled Migration applications can be found on immi.gov.au under forms and booklets.
Note: Information about visas is accurate at time of going to press. We strongly recommend you check the DIAC website (immi.gov.au) regularly as the rules, fees and application forms for visas are constantly changing.
Images: Thinkstock, Getty