Australia issues more working holiday visas

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Australian government figures show that there has been a large increase in the number of working holiday visas issued. These visas are for young people from overseas and enables them to live and work and holiday in Australia for one year extendable in some situations for another year. It seems likely that in future years the number of visas issued will increase yet further as citizens of more countries become eligible to apply.

The Working Holiday (Subclass 417) visa program allows people from several countries aged between 18 and 30 to work while travelling in Australia. The Working Holiday visa is valid for 12 months. Visa holders who have worked for at least three months in a designated rural area can apply for a second 417 visa which will also last for 12 months.

417 visa holders can work in any job they can find but must not stay in one job for more than six months.

Three countries eligible since 1975

Australia first issued working holiday visas in 1975. Then, citizens of only three countries were eligible to apply for them;
  • The UK
  • Canada and
  • Ireland
Australia established the working holiday visa programme after signing treaties which created reciprocal rights for young Australians travelling in those countries.

Since then, Australia has signed similar treaties to issue 417 visas to citizens of 16 other countries. These are;

  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Malta
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Hong Kong
  • Finland
  • Cyprus
  • Italy
  • France
  • Taiwan
  • Belgium
  • Estonia and
  • Netherlands

No cap on 417 visas

Citizens of all these countries can now apply for 417 visas. There is no cap on the number of 417 visas that can be issued and the number of people applying has increased in recent years.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) says that 210,369 first working holiday visas were issued in 2012/13. The top five countries were

  1. United Kingdom – 38,782 (up 8.6%)
  2. South Korea – 29,614 (up 8.1%)
  3. Taiwan – 28,599 (up 57%)
  4. Germany – 24,687 (up 17%)
  5. France – 22,539 (up 22.6%)

DIAC notes that there were also large increases in the number of working holiday visas granted for Italy (up 64%) and Hong Kong (up 50%).

There were also 38,862 second Working Holiday visas issued in 2012/13 to backpackers who had completed three months working in a designated rural area.

Numbers increased since 2008 financial crisis

The Australian news site News Limited Network suggests that the increase in the number of working holiday makers travelling to Australia can be explained by the financial crisis of 2008 and the lack of jobs for young people in Europe and elsewhere.

Sanwar Ali of said. 'Whatever the reason why people choose to go, the popularity of these visas has grown and most people seem to have a fantastic time in Australia'.

Australia also issues 'Work and Holiday Visas' to citizens of ten other countries. These subclass 462 visas are similar to 417 visas but there is often a cap on the number that can be issued to citizens of any one country.

People from the following countries are eligible for 462 visas.

  • ;Thailand (cap 500)
  • Chile (1500)
  • Turkey (100)
  • USA (No cap)
  • Malaysia (100)
  • Indonesia (1000)
  • Bangladesh (100)
  • Argentina (500)
  • Uruguay (200)
  • Papua New Guinea (not yet in force. 100 visas will be available)

Australia negotiating with 13 more countries

The Australian government is currently in negotiations with 13 more countries and is expected to sign reciprocal treaties with them soon. Citizens of these countries will be able to apply for subclass 417 visas.

Those countries are

  • Andorra
  • The Czech Republic
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Israel
  • Latvia
  • Mexico
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Slovak Republic
  • Spain
  • Vietnam

Working holiday visas provide great opportunities for young people to travel and work in Australia. They also provide great opportunities for young Australians to see the world because Australians have similar rights to travel and work in all countries eligible for 417 and 462 visas.

Not everyone is in favour. Research by The Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, Melbourne, has found that there are as many backpackers in Australia as school leavers. They say that this is preventing Australian school leavers from getting entry level jobs.

If you would like to apply for an Australian visa can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with 25 years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.