Working Holiday Visa
Whether you call it the Working Holiday Visa, Working Holiday Work Permit, Working Holiday Program, Permis Vacances-Travail (use your best French accent) or WHV, all these names refer to the same global agreement.
Let’s go with the acronym—WHV. The WHV is available to young citizens from some 60 countries and it’s basically a temporary visa that allows you to discover a foreign country and work to supplement your travel funds. Every year, hundreds of thousands of 18-35 year-olds go on a WHV adventure.
So... why not you?
Why is the WHV such a popular work permit?
Short answer, because it’s pretty easy to get one. The two basic eligibility requirements are your country of citizenship and age. Unlike most work visas or residency permits, applicants aren’t selected based on their language skills, work experience or education.
1. Applying is easy
There are few eligibility requirements and none of them are particularly hard to meet or selective. One caveat, though—the WHV is so popular that many countries set an annual quota and it can fill up fast. Make sure to apply early!
2. It’s a great way to finance your adventure
With a WHV, you can spend months abroad to explore a country and discover a new culture. It’s more than a holiday, it’s an adventure! You will need some travel money to get you started, but you will have the right to work to support yourself.
3. It’s a chance to learn a new language
Sure, there are plenty of language learning apps but nothing beats living abroad for an extended period of time to truly improve your language skills. Add French, Spanish, Japanese or Korean to the language skills section of your resume!
4. You don’t need to secure a job offer before your trip
You’re advised or required to leave with “sufficient funds” ($2,000-$5,000) to support yourself when you first arrive but, on the other hand, you don’t have to find an employer before your trip. Less red tape than regular work visas and more freedom!
5. You gain precious international work experience
Whether you find a job in your field or not, work experience abroad will always be an asset. It shows that you’re flexible, responsible, curious, culturally sensitive, proficient in a foreign language, etc.
6. You’ll learn as much about yourself as you will about a new country
Let’s face it, a WHV is a challenge. Going abroad alone without a job offer and sometimes without speaking the local language isn’t easy—but it’s very rewarding! You’ll acquire skills and resourcefulness and maybe discover that you’re stronger than you think you are.
To discover more excellent reasons to apply for a WHV:Read 16 reasons to go on a WHV adventure
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WHV general eligibility requirements
Eligibility requirements depend on your country of citizenship and the country of destination. These are the basic requirements common to all countries.
You must be 18-30 years old (up to 35 years old for a few citizenships) when you apply for your WHV.
You must have a valid passport (the definition of “valid” varies) from one of the countries that signed a WHV agreement. Your passport, i.e. your citizenship is the key that unlocks WHV destinations!
You need to leave with some money and the amount—based on the cost of living—varies from one destination to another. Some countries require proof of funds as part of the application or upon arrival.
Generally speaking, you must be “healthy.” Some countries require a medical certificate while others simply ask a list of questions to see if you meet the requirements and only ask for a medical exam in some cases.
Some countries simply ask background questions in the application while others require a police certificate. Not all offences or past “issues” are considered serious, this is very much on a case-by-case basis.
You must buy health insurance coverage for your trip. Some countries require it, a few simply advise it—but frankly, it’s common sense to make sure you’re covered. For more info...
Where can I go on a Working Holiday adventure?
Every country negotiates its own set of bilateral agreement(s). Select your age and country of citizenship and find out where you can go on a Working Holiday adventure.
The age limit for the Working Holiday program is 18-35
The WHV application process
Depending on your destination, you may have to apply online, by mail or in person. In all cases, only deal with the country’s government, don’t use a middleman! Use our WHV around the world tool to find the official application links for all destination countries.
Step 1: Check if you’re eligible for your dream destination.
Step 2: List all the documents you may have to provide to apply.
Step 3: Find out when it’s best to apply (see below!).
Step 4: Apply for your WHV.
Step 5: Plan your trip (plane ticket, travel insurance, proof of funds, etc.).
When should I apply for my WHV?
There are two points to keep in mind—the annual quota and the deadline to activate your WHV.
The annual quota
Some destinations are insanely popular and there’s a WHV quota in place. If all the WHVs are gone, you will have to wait for the next opportunity, usually the following year.
The deadline to activate your WHV
Once you get your WHV, you have a certain amount of time to activate it (i.e. travel to the country). It can be a month, three months, six months or a year, depending on the country. If you apply too early, you could lose the chance to activate your WHV.