When I was in high school, nothing excited me more than the thought of travelling. The idea of being in a completely strange country where I didn’t understand anything or anyone was such an exciting concept.
After my first trip abroad, I realised that a couple of weeks overseas just wasn’t enough time to see everything I wanted to see and do everything I wanted to do.
I started to dream about living overseas, speaking a foreign language every day and living amongst a completely new culture. By living abroad I wouldn’t have to rush around trying to see all the tourist attractions but could instead immerse myself into a new way of life.
After high school, I thought “enough is enough, it’s time to do something about my dream of moving abroad.” I decided I wanted to move to France and do something completely different than what all of my friends were doing.
But how was I going to move to France by myself, with no money when I was barely able to string two words of french together?
I wasn’t sure, but I was determined, so I kept looking.
After countless hours of researching different visa options, I stumbled upon Working Holiday Visas!
What is a Working Holiday Visa?
A working holiday visa is simply where you’re given permission to live in a foreign country for up to one year. If you’re aged between 18-30 years old then it’s possible for you to apply for a working holiday visa.
The great thing about the Working Holiday Visa is it allows you to work, as the name suggests. This means you don’t necessarily have to save a lot of money before arriving abroad. In fact, this is how I managed to survive when I took my Gap Year to France when I was 18. I found myself a job as a waiter and started integrating into society.
Working allowed me to have enough money to fund my language studies while saving up enough to explore new countries. Wouldn’t you much rather spend your time working and saving in a foreign country, learning a new language and integrating with new people, than working in your home country and trying to save there?
Which Countries Offer Working Holiday Visas?
There is an extensive list of countries (more than 50) that offer Working Holiday Visas, however, not all of them have agreements with every country. Therefore, depending on where you’re from, the countries that have agreements with your home nation will vary.
If you’re interested in learning which countries offer working holiday visa agreements, you should check with your local embassy.
For a quick guide on how to get started with a working holiday visa in Australia, check out this post!
Although the requirements for each country are different, there are some basic guidelines you’ll need to consider in order to successfully apply for a Working Holiday Visa.
You must be aged between 18-30 years old (up until the day before your 31st birthday)
These visas are valid for 1 year (which can be extended to 2 years in Australia)
You’re able to work full time. In some countries, you aren’t able to work for more than 6 months for the same employer.
You’re allowed to study but can only attend short-term courses including language classes. This means that you won’t be able to attend University classes that last longer than 17 weeks.
For a successful application, you’ll have to show that you have some form of health/travel insurance in case of emergency. Your national healthcare system won’t likely cover you abroad so you’ll need to look into additional coverage. Travel insurance is your best option as it will cover you for unexpected medical expenses that you incur abroad.
To apply for a visa you must have a valid passport that doesn’t expire until at least 6 months after you plan on returning from your time abroad.
Proof of Sufficient Funds
You will need to show a bank statement showing you have enough money to live abroad for a few months after you arrive. This amount is generally around $5,OOO AUD/ €3,500.
(Note: If you don’t have this amount of money, keep reading below as I show you how to get around it)
Not Previously Had a Working Holiday Visa
You’re only able to use a Working Holiday Visa once per country. However, you can get another Working Holiday Visa for another country.
How to Apply
Find out which countries have Working Holiday Visa agreements with your home country.
Visit the embassy website of the country you wish to visit with your working holiday visa.
The best way to do this is to do a google search for “(country you want to visit) embassy in (country you’re from).” For example, if I want to get a Working Holiday Visa for France and I’m from Australia, I would search “French embassy in Australia.”
See what the specific requirements are to obtain the visa for that country.
Make sure all of your documents are in order. This may take a few weeks but it’s important that you have everything ready once you visit the embassy.
Make an appointment at the embassy to apply for your visa.
Play the waiting game. During your appointment, they will tell you if your application is likely to be accepted or not. If you’re missing documents, you should be able to post them to the embassy to add to your application.
The application process following the appointment can take anywhere between 1 week to 3 months but will normally only take a few weeks.
Once your visa application is accepted, start getting ready to move abroad!
Difficulties I had to Overcome
As you know by now I used a Working Holiday Visa when I first moved to France in 2011. However, I had some difficulties with the application process because some of the requirements seemed impossible given my situation at the time (a broke 18-year-old boy who had no idea what he was doing).
Most countries want to know that you’re covered in case of any medical emergency. Because you don’t necessarily know how long you’re going to be staying abroad, you should consider purchasing health insurance that you can extend monthly. I recommend taking a look at World Nomads Insurance as you can update your insurance plan monthly, even if you’re already abroad.
In my case, I tried to get student health insurance because I had enrolled in a language course. Unfortunately, once the course finished after 2 months I was no longer covered and left vulnerable.
Proof of Funds ($5,000)
It was impossible to prove that I had $5,000 in my bank account because I didn’t even have $500. There are a few different ways you can get around this:
- Get someone to send you the money, print out a bank statement showing that you have that amount in your account, and send the money back.
- Get a credit card, send $5,000 to your bank account, print out a bank statement, pay off the card and cancel it (you won’t need it if you’re going overseas).
- Ask someone close to you to act as a guarantor in case you run out of money. This process normally entails a written contract with proof of the guarantor’s income (their last 3 payslips).
One of the requirements for my visa application was to prove that I had booked a return flight home. They ask for this because they don’t want you staying longer than your visa is applicable. Nevertheless, it’s frustrating because you never know when you’re going to be coming home, and it’s expensive to buy a ticket.
The process I used was to visit flight centre (or any other travel agency) and ask them to make an itinerary, for both flights to and from France. By doing this I could show the embassy that I had booked a ticket out of France. However, it was just an itinerary and I didn’t have to book my flight, rather hold a seat for a week or two (which was completely free).
Proof of Accommodation
How do you show proof of accommodation for the length of your stay when you don’t know how long you’ll be staying?
- The best way to show proof of accommodation is to book a hostel for 6 months or so. Use Hostel World to book a room so you can prove to the embassy that you have permanent accommodation abroad. For around $2 you can purchase cancellation insurance at the time of booking, which means you can cancel your booking after your visa is accepted.
- If you don’t want to book a hostel, consider joining a language school and booking accommodation through the school. This can all be done online before you arrive, which makes the process super easy.
That’s all there is to it!
You can see how easily anyone can move abroad. If a broke 18-year-old (that was me) can find a way to live his dream of moving abroad then you can too.
There is no better time to do something new and exciting with your life than now. See which countries have working holiday agreements with yours and start preparing.
What are you waiting for!
Have you already lived abroad? What type of visa did you have?
Thanks For Reading!
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