Visa procedures can often seem quite daunting. With the invention and popularization of the internet comes a wealth of available information and the option to complete all tasks instantly online. However, state sites are often boggled with a bit too much technical riff raff and confusing language that overwhelms your wanderlusting eyes.
Australia is one of the few places in the world that offers Americans a Work and Holiday visa, so you definitely don’t want to risk botching any part of the process. Luckily, it’s pretty simple when broken down into easy concrete steps.
1. Create an account on immi.gov.au. Make sure to apply for the Work AND Holiday Visa (subclass 462). This should not be confused with the Working Holiday Visa, for which Brits and Canadians are eligible for. Check out the criteria for who is eligible. No dependent children can accompany the visa holder, and the application must be lodged before the applicant turns 31.
2. Fill out the application in its entirety. This is self-explanatory. You must be outside of Australia when completing this step, and you must get the visa before entering the country.
3. Read through the medical criteria. Depending on which countries you’ve visited/lived in within the last few years, the Aussie government may have requirements for a doctor’s clearance. Because I lived in South Korea for a year, I was required to get a chest X-ray proving that I didn’t have TB. It’s important to note that you can’t just see any doctor. Type your address into the site and it will provide a list of accepted doctors near you. For me, the nearest one was across the bridge in Windsor, Canada. Your application will not be accepted without this, and it might take a few weeks to get the medical clearance sorted, so make sure to get on top of this asap.
4. Pay the fee with a card. As of early 2015, that fee was just over $350. This doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed a visa. Unfortunately, you must pay the fee at the time of lodging the application, and you will not get the money back if you are denied.
5. Wait. Immigration will reply via your immi account within three weeks. The embassy will not send you a physical paper visa to put in your passport; rather, it is logged electronically in their system.
6. Once you’re granted the Work and Holiday Visa, you have twelve months to enter the country with it. You are allowed to leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want during your twelve month visa period.
7. The visa requirements technically state that upon arrival, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for a year. They say a bank statement with at least $5000 AUD must be presented to the customs and border patrol officers upon arrival. However, I’ve never met anyone who was actually asked to show it. If you have the money, great. If you don’t, there are always (cheeky) ways to get around it.
That’s it, that’s all. It’s a pretty simple process that only takes a bit of patience. Once you arrive in Oz, you’re completely on your own to travel, seek work, and play with kangaroos.