The Best Kept Secret

I guess this title is going to contradict what I am about to write because I am about to tell the best kept secret. 

In the Fall of 2011 I interned at Disney (I highly recommend the Disney College Program to anyone; one of the best experiences of my life) , I learned something that would change my life from my Kiwi friend Natalie.  While working together, I would say to  her I’m going to visit you in New Zealand one day. Then I started thinking, if she can work here for a year I wonder if I can work there too. So after some research I stumbled upon the WHV.

The Working Holiday Visa

This is a one year visa offered by a few countries to the US that allows you to have a temporary job to fund your trip. This allows you to find a  temporary job without having to go through the burden of finding a sponsorship for a real job. There are certain stipulations for these visa. But they aren’t too strenuous.

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

  • Hold a US passport that is valid 3 months after you plan to leave for New Zealand
  • Aged 18 to 30
  • Can’t have a dependent child
  • Have a return ticket, or enough money for a return ticket
  • Have $4200 New Zealand Dollars when you arrive to show you can support yourself (when I arrived they did not ask for proof of this and other backpackers that I met said they didn’t ask for this either, but they may)
  • Meet health and character requirements
  • Have some type of travel insurance while here
  • There is a limit that you can work only for the same employer for 3 months, but I didn’t see that enforce by anyone. They actually preferred that you stay longer

You are able to extend your visa if you work in agriculture for 3 months. I personally did not do this, but I know friends who had. Then they extended their visa for another 3 months on the tourist visa, but they were not able to work during this time. There is a fee if you apply for this visa while in New Zealand, but when I applied for this visa in the states it was waived which makes the visa even more awesome. Who doesn’t love FREE stuff? Especially when you get to travel.

It may seem like a long complicated list, but it’s not and I think it’s worth it if you want to live aboard for a year and you’re worried about funding your trip. It only takes a 1 week  to hear a respond; when I got my e-mail I thought it was a scam because it was so quick. Some countries have a limit on the number of visa allocated, but the US doesn’t. I think I only met 5 people from the states on this visa.

Australian Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) 

  • Aged 18 to 30
  • Hold a US passport
  • Graduated from high school
  • Can’t have a dependent child
  • Meet health and character requirements
  • Have $5000 Australian Dollars to help fund the beginning of the trip
  • You can only work for the same employer for 6 months

For some countries they can extend this visa for 1 year, but under Subclass 462 the United States is not able to do extend it.There is also a $420 AUD fee which CANNOT be waived even if you fill it out in the US. Just like New Zealand, there is an unlimited amount of visa available for the states as well. This visa only took me 1 day to get a response back. It’s really crazy how fast they respond to this; I’m use to waiting a while before I get an answer.

I know that a working holiday visa is offered in South Korea, Ireland, and Singapore, but these must be applied within a year after graduating college. Once I learned about these it was too late for myself.

What is crazy is that this visa is not very publicized here. When I inform other people about this visa, I always get the same respond, “What? I’ve never heard about this.” I always say back, “I know. Do it cause it’s amazing. ” I’m not sure why this visa is never mentioned, but I think it’s an awesome way to live aboard if you were not able to do it in college and want to have this experience.

When I found this, I knew this was what I wanted to do instead of getting a big kid job right away. Throughout college, I saved some money to do the stereotypical backpacker trip to Europe, so I was able to “show” I had sufficient funds. Even if you don’t use this visa to travel, you can use it just to live aboard and work and save money which is what some people I met did.  They took their one year stayed at the same hostel or found an apartment and just worked. They still took some time off to travel the country because you can’t be there and not see it. I met one American girl who transferred money back home to help pay off her student loans. My one friend took it a step further and he found a  real job to sponsor him. He said it even paid better than back home in Germany.

Well I hope this information gets you inspired and there will be more American backpackers representing USA 🙂 Because I think this has been the best kept secret I’ve learned so far.

If you have any questions let me know, I’ll try my best to answer them!!


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