How to Get a Second Working Holiday Visa | Australia
Today marks one year exactly that Forest and I have been in Australia. When we first arrived we knew next to nothing about the country. I had just graduated from college about a month earlier and Forest had recently quit his job in New York. We planned to take a year off, maybe a little more to give us time to travel Asia afterwards. We thought we’d live in Melbourne for six months before moving to Sydney to finish off the year, ultimately heading back to the States to pick everything back up and see all our family and friends again. A lot changed in that year. Not long after arriving we realized how quickly it would go by and began planning to extend our stay. We’ve both just recently been granted visa extensions for a second year, so the journey continues.
There are two subclasses of Working Holiday visa in Australia—the 417 and 462. The appropriate visa for each person depends on their country of origin. Those on a 417 visa have been eligible to earn a second year for some time by working on a farm in Australia for a period of 88 days, but it wasn’t until December that the government began allowing those on the 462 to earn a second year as well. The rules are slightly different mostly in that those on the 462, which includes the United States and much of South America, must complete regional work while those on the 417 have to do farm work. There are some exceptions to this, so read on.
417 Working Holiday Visa
In order to earn a second year working holiday visa, three months of “specified work” must be completed in regional Australia. Specified work includes plant and animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling, mining, or construction. Regional Australia includes parts of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia, and all of the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania. In practice, this means you will need to find a farm that will hire you to pick fruits or vegetables for 88 days in one of the specified areas, which does not include any of the major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. There are certainly other things that may qualify, but the vast majority of travelers on the 417 visa are not qualified for much else, and this is how most of our friends have earned their second years.
The work itself is tough, and the experience depends entirely upon the farm you choose—some people love it and others (most people) spend their time counting down the days. We’ve heard horror stories from friends who were cheated or treated horribly by farmers in the middle of nowhere and paid pennies for back-breaking work. Girls often find jobs picking berries, which often pays by the bucket and is terrible in comparison to a typical Australian wage. But we also had a friend who worked on a goat farm and absolutely loved it, for example. The general consensus seems to be that you'll look back on it fondly and you'll make great friends, but working on a farm isn't exactly the vacation everyone had in mind. The best jobs are usually the ones you hear of by word-of-mouth, preferably from someone who worked there and had a good time. In any case, plan enough time into your first year to allow you to leave your farm and find a new one if the situation isn’t good. People get taken advantage of most when they’re desperate for time or money.
Once the work is done, you can either apply for your second year while in the country or hold off until you want to come back. If you’re in Australia, you must apply before your first year runs out; however, you don’t have to start your second year immediately. You can leave the country and return any time before the age of 31 by applying with the details of your farm work from your first year.
I'd highly recommend reading up on the full details of the program before making any moves.
462 Work and Holiday Visa
Those on this visa may also complete farm work as above, but may choose to work in tourism and hospitality instead. The regional area is different. Work must be completed in Northern Australia, which includes all of the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland and Western Australia. Unlike those on the 417, this work cannot be completed down south at all.
Most would consider it much easier to earn a2 second year on this visa. We moved to Port Douglas, which is technically considered Northern Australia, and got jobs in hospitality. It was a pretty simple way to complete the requirement. Port Douglas is a beautiful resort town that people from around the world come to visit. It’s off the Great Barrier Reef and close to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. All we had to do was find jobs in restaurants and work for three months and we became eligible. Much easier than picking watermelons in the Queensland heat. But because the law has recently changed, towns like this are becoming more popular with travelers and competition for jobs is increasing. You’ll need to plan accordingly and leave yourself enough time to find work. If we hadn't gotten up here when we did, it would have been much more difficult.
Applying for your second year on the 462 is simple. You can fill out the application online and prove you’ve done the work by submitting pay slips for the entire period. The application fee varies by circumstance, but it cost us $440 each (ouch). You can either apply while in the country and start your second year immediately after like we are, or hold onto your pay slips and apply when you’d like to return to Australia before turning 31.
Check the Department of Immigration website for all the rules and regulations on extending your 462 visa. While most jobs in tourism and hospitality will suffice, you'll want to pay close attention to the post codes that qualify. Not all towns in Queensland and Western Australia are acceptable.
If you're considering staying in Australia for a second year, the best advice I can give you is to plan early-on. For either visa the process is fairly straightforward, but if you don't complete the work in time you'll end up being sent home sooner than you'd wish. As always, reach out to us with any questions.