What to Research Before Applying for a Working Holiday Visa


At first glance, a working holiday visa appears to be the bee’s knees.

It’s the best of both worlds – you’re able to stay in country for up to a year and you’ll be able to work. It’s a great chance to get to know a country and truly experience living somewhere new.

However, I’ve learned from experience that in some situations this visa can be more of a hindrance rather than helpful.

If you are considering moving somewhere long-term it’s important to be clear about your goals to make sure your stint abroad is personally and professionally fulfilling.

For instance, if you are moving someplace new to join your partner, find a full-time job, or have any future intentions to put down roots a working-holiday visa is probably not the right for you.

To help make sure you pick the right visa for your situation there are several important issues to keep in mind before applying for a working holiday visa. 

What are the work stipulations on your working holiday visa?

Bilateral Working-Holiday programs vary in each given country. For instance, I made the mistake of assuming my Canadian work-holiday visa for Belgium would work the same as my Belgian friend’s work-holiday visa in Canada. I found out just because my Belgian friend can work full time in Canada on a working holiday visa does not mean the same conditions applied to me in Belgium.There may also be provisions stating which jobs you may apply for and how long your contact can be with an employer.

Are employers familiar with the visa?

If not, there is a huge chance your resume will just be thrown on the “no” pile because of the extra paperwork involved for the employer.

Which jurisdiction does your visa fall under?

Who do you contact with any problems? What legal documents can you cite to protect your rights? Find these documents and save them.

Can you take any educational courses and for what duration?

If you can’t find a job, it is useful to have a back-up plan to fill your time and continue to improve your skills. Make sure that study is an option and be aware of the restrictions that may apply.

What are the working conditions like and how is job availability?

If there is an economic crisis, make sure you have savings to get by. In general, during crisis times, I would suggest working in your home country because you will have a stronger network to use in your job hunt instead of building a new one from scratch. The job market is still all about who you know and what specialized skills you have.

Make a plan of how you handle with taxes once you return home.

Save all of your pay slips and look into any extra paperwork that will be required in advance, so you can ask your employer for the appropriate documents.

Do you speak the official language?

I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Sure, English is used everywhere but this also means that everyone else also speaks English. It is not a specialized skill that you can rely heavily on to find a job. I guarantee that speaking the official language is a HUGE advantage and will save you many headaches and frustration.

Is your desired destination friendly towards immigration?

The mentality of the population towards foreigners is something you must consider before moving. If the majority of citizens are weary of immigration, your integration into society will be a bumpy ride.

Have you ever had a working holiday visa? What were things you wish you’d asked?


About Author

Meredith was bit by travel bug in 2009 and has been on the move since then. Her adventures started in Finland where she visited a Sami reindeer farm in Lapland, dogsled and ran in the forests of Finland, and then backpacked around western Europe. Later, she moved to Kenya for a Communications internship. She took advantage of her good fortune and went on safari in the Maasai Mara as well as explored beach paradise on a motorcycle. No matter where she goes, she never forgets about her home in Canada and greatly enjoys road trips across the Rocky Mountains and along coast of British Columbia. She is currently living in Canada working as a freelance writer and a communications specialist. You can follow her adventures and discoveries on curiousmeredith or get your tweet on with her @MeredithBratlan

1 Comment

  1. Well done, to bad you didn’t have an article to read before you left for Belgium. Then you would not have learned so much though, and if you can help one person avoid these troubles you’ve made the most of it.

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