It was only a couple years ago that US citizens were not able to travel and work in Australia very easily. Now, Americans who fit the requirements can work their way around Australia for up to 12 months with just one easy visa. Last year, Australia granted 200,000 visas to young backpackers to work their way around the country and this year they will do the same.
For US citizens, this magical Visa is called a Work and Holiday Visa, not to be confused with the Working Holiday Visa, which most other countries use.
The Work and Holiday Visa will allow you to live and work anywhere in Australia from the time you enter the country for up to 12 months. You can leave and return as you wish, but if you leave, the clock keeps ticking.
While there you can work at any job for up to 6 months and study for up to 4 months. Jobs you will get range from farm laborer to hospitality. You can work front desk at a hostel, or bartend.
The freedom is yours to work as you see fit. The purpose of this Visa is to provide Australia with temporary workers while promoting their tourism industry.
Organizations like BUNAC and STA Travel will set up your Australian visa and paperwork but it comes at a price. While they offer services beyond just the visa, you can save a couple hundred dollars with a little research by applying straight to the Australian Government web site.
1. Anyone with a US passport who is between the ages of 18 -30 can apply. Unless you have already done this.
2. You must be at least a graduate of high school or higher education.
3. Sorry parents, but you can't bring any children with you. They would eat all the vegamite.
4. Applicants must in good health and of sound character.
5. They also avoid those with a substantial criminal record and large amounts of time in jail or imprisonment. As well if you pose a risk to national security, you can expect a polite denial.
As for your health, American citizens do not have to undergo a health assessment as we are in a low risk country. If however you have been traveling abroad then your personal situation may differ.
It is recommended you have $5,000 AUD plus enough cash to get you home. This amount can vary depending on your specific plans. Insurance is recommended to cover any medical expenses you may incur because Australia does not have a reciprocal medical plan with the US. Having travel insurance is good advice for any long term travels.
After you meet these entry requirements you can apply for the Visa. It is a non-refundable charge of $230 AUD to apply and you won't get it back if they decide you've had too much shrimp on your barbie. As a US Citizen you can apply online.
To streamline the application process Australia has provided a checklist for the Work and Holiday Visa.
After having applied for the Work and Holiday Visa online, the application will take about 48 hours to process. It could take longer if your application was incomplete or if they feel the need to interview you in person.
After the visa is Granted you have up to 12 months to enter into Australia, thus initiating your Work and Holiday visa. It is recommended that you not buy your flight over to the Promised Land before the visa is official.
And that's it. Acquiring a 12 month Australian Work and Holiday Visa is quick and easy. Now that you have your proper visa its time to head to the wonderful land of Aus and get to work traveling.
Buy your flights, pack your bags and leave home. Don't worry yourself about finding work until you arrive in Australia. There will be plenty to go around. You can always find a job in remote Australia. I worked at an Outback resort for 5 months, but you could also find yourself at a roadhouse or cattle ranch. If you're a city dweller, then consider working in an Australia city. You may not save as much money, but you get to experience life in the big city.