Going on a working holiday
as a student

WHV What is a working holiday?

The Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is a travel and work and travel permit available to young adults up to 30 years of age, or 35 for certain destinations. These bilateral accords are available to citizens of many countries, including but not limited to Canada, Australia, the UK, France, and Belgium.

WHV holders can stay for one, two, or even three years in certain cases. Like the name suggests, the Working Holiday Visa grants you the flexibility to work or travel abroad, or a mix of both.

Keep reading to learn all about it.

Reasons to embark on a working holiday:

To change up your familiar routine
To improve or acquire foreign language skills
To gain international work experience
To earn money while seeing another corner of the world
To learn more about yourself
16 Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa

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The right time for a working holiday?

An experience abroad can shed light on what field of study you might want to pursue.

For recent high school graduates, it can be difficult to know what to do next. A gap year represents a blank slate that can ignite self-discovery and open new doors. For example, many working holidayers choose to try several jobs during their stay abroad. This is a great way to learn about the world of work and to gain insight on the direction one might want to take.

To learn to be independent

An experience abroad will allow you to break out of your daily routine and for some, to also live outside of the family nest for the first time. The Working Holiday Visa is a mobility program that offers maximum flexibility and access to the four corners of the world. By embarking on the journey, you might even surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. Every year, more than 200,000 young adults from various nationalities head to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK on a working holiday, so you certainly wouldn’t be alone.

Important: the WHV is not universally accepted by all educational institutions as a reason for a gap year. However, since 2015, schools have been required to facilitate student mobility and departures. If your WHV plans are well motivated and explained, you may be able to obtain approval. Make sure to do your own research.

Note that high school students in France have the possibility of checking the box “Gap year” in the Parcoursup portal when they are choosing their orientation.

Because the WHV doesn’t have any education requirements

This is one of the advantages of the WHV. It is accessible to all young adults, regardless of level of education attained. So why wait? You are eligible to apply starting on the day of your 18th birthday!

To discover a new country and continue studies there

Many WHV destinations also offer student visas. So the working holiday adventure might inspire you to stay longer and continue your studies abroad.

To forge your own path

Sometimes it can feel like our whole lives are laid out ahead of us: study, work, retire. A working holiday represents an opportunity to discover and define your own path.

To avoid exceeding the age limit for participation

Some degree programs require many years before completion, at which point candidates might approach 30 years old, which is the age limit for many destinations. So if you are potentially interested in several destinations, it would be a shame to miss out on the timing.

To gain work experience but with less pressure

When living and travelling abroad, it can help us be more open to gaining work experiences that are outside of “our field”. Schools teach us to find a job that is directly related to our studies after graduation, but going on a working holiday before graduation takes a lot of the pressure off. Try something new, something maybe completely unrelated to your major – You never know what you might find out about yourself.

To travel with ease of mind and diploma in hand

Returning to school after a long adventure abroad can be hard for some travellers. We discuss this on our forum. That’s why for some, it might make more sense to finish their degree first and then embark knowing that there aren’t more classes and assignments to be completed upon their return.

To gain international work experience in one’s field of study

If you have a degree, you may be qualified to apply to jobs that can jumpstart your career and enhance your CV. Do some research about the job market and hiring requirements of your field in your desired destination. Some fields such as hotels, restaurants, and construction, highly favour international candidates, while others might be more exigent (e.g., those that require membership in a professional guild, local equivalence for one’s degree, advanced bilingualism etc).

To settle down abroad definitively

If for you a working holiday is a first step to potentially gaining residence abroad, then having a diploma may be advantageous. Oftentimes, permanent residence or work permits require or prefer applicants with a postsecondary education.

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