Finally you’ve made it to Oz on a visa which lets you work while you holiday.  You’ve probably already planned your trip, and most likely pubs, beaches and backpacker hostels are high on your agenda.

Right now, the surf’s up, the beer’s cold and holiday life is good.  When the sun rises and the hangover starts to fade, what if you like Australia so much that you want to extend your stay?  What are your visa options?

The Working Holiday Visa – Subclass 417 – is a gift really.  Pretty much 12 months of unlimited travel and work, no restrictions on salary, all you have to do is abide by your visa conditions; and not do anything illegal, and you have the makings of a brilliant holiday.  And many will have options to remain for longer.  That could be by qualifying for a second working holiday visa, or maybe you’ll pick up a great job where an employer can offer sponsorship. If you get married to an Aussie while you are here – then a partner visa could also be an option – as long as the marriage is genuine. 

Whatever you do, the key is to start planning early, so that you don’t miss key deadlines and opportunities. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your holiday:

Plan your trip 12 months early

It sounds a long time but it will go very quickly.  You’ve probably already mapped out the places you want to visit in Oz.  And it’s a massive country with lots to see and do.  A year isn’t long enough!

Many think the Working Holiday Visa can be extended for another year.   It can’t. But you might be eligible to apply for a second Working Holiday visa.   One condition is that, on your first visa, you undertake at least 3 months of work in a specified area of Australia.  Not just any work or place either –DIAC publishes the types of work and acceptable postcodes.  And, of course, when applying for your second visa you must still meet the age and other requirements.

If you’re thinking about a second working holiday visa,  plan to look for some suitable work early in the piece.  Don’t leave it till your last 3 or 4 months – if something goes wrong, you might miss the opportunity.

Don’t breach visa conditions. Ever

Your visa probably has some conditions. These might include no study for more than 4 months, and no more than 6 months with one employer. It’s vital that you are aware of these conditions.  If you do breach a visa condition, it could be difficult for you to get another visa.

Employer Sponsored Visas

A popular way for skilled backpackers to stay longer is by finding an employer who will sponsor them for a work visa. The Subclass 457, or Temporary Long Stay Business Visa, is valid for up to 4 years.  And there’s a streamlined pathway to permanent residency for those who work with the same employer for at least two years on a 457.

You’ll only be eligible if your nominated occupation is “in demand” in Australia, and if you have qualifications and skills to do that job. Unskilled labour, such as bar work and fruit picking, will not qualify.  

When you’re on a 457 visa, you must stay working for that employer.  Great if you want a longer stay in one part of Australia, and the chance to become a permanent resident after 2 years, but not so good if you still have itchy feet and want to travel.

Get some professional advice early

Whatever your plans, it’s worth talking to a Registered Migration Agent about your options.  Australian migration law is constantly changing and can be confusing. Even if you research well before you arrive, chances are there could still be changes to the rules while you are here. And the advice you get at 3 am in the pub from your room mate just might not work for you! An early consultation with a Registered Migration Agent could be the best investment in your future that you ever make.

Leanne Stevens is a Registered Migration Agent and the Principal of Emergico Migration and Relocation, a Brisbane based consultancy which has helped hundreds of people move to Oz. Contact details: Phone: (07) 3399 5980. Email: