Your Australian Working Holiday Visa Questions Answered
You may be aware that I’m from England originally, but in 2016 I came to Australia on a working holiday visa. I decided to do a second year working holiday visa and now I’m on a student visa. I’m in a few Australia backpacker Facebook groups and I consistently see people asking the same questions over and over again. So I thought that I would write a handy little blog to hopefully help others out with some of the common concerns that backpackers have when they’re coming to Australia. Information is correct to the best of my knowledge as of January 2019.
How long does the visa take to come through?
Personally my first year working holiday visa took just minutes to arrive in my inbox after I applied online. Other people have said that it took just seconds, whilst others report waiting several weeks for theirs. Therefore it’s best to apply early just to be on the safe side. You can also call and check up on it if you’re concerned.
How much money do I need to bring with me?
By law you should bring a minimum of $5,000 when you arrive for your working holiday visa. Many people report that this doesn’t get checked, but why take the risk? It’s also good to have this money anyway, particularly if you don’t have a job lined up. If you plan to begin work soon after arriving then this should be enough to last until you have an income.
Can I set up my Australian bank account beforehand?
Several Aussie banks allow you to set up an account online before you arrive in the country. In most cases you will then just be required to go into the bank when you arrive and show some ID. Many people ask which bank is the best and it seems that there are a few which have a solid reputation. I’ve been with Commonwealth bank the whole time and it has always been fine. I’ve heard similar reviews from other backpackers, too.
What’s the best way to transfer money to Australia?
This question gets asked a lot. When you need to transfer your savings over bank fees can be ridiculous. Fortunately there are some apps that you can use instead. I have always used Transferwise and the fee is tiny. The money is usually in my account the same day and the whole process is so easy.
Do I need to do 88 days or three months of farm work for my second year visa?
If you decide that you want to extend your visa for an extra year, you can do so by completing either 3 months of rural work in a full time position, or 88 days of rural work that can be undertaken at different locations and at any time. It’s best to start this work at least 6 months before your current visa ends as many people have reported taking up to 6 months or even longer to complete the days. Always check the rules online to ensure that your work counts, as it must be undertaken in specific postcodes and only specific types of work count. You must also be paid and may be asked to provide payslips and other evidence.
How long will my second year visa take to come through?
This is a tough one. Sometimes they come through instantly, yet others take several months. It’s generally believed that if you apply from within Aus that it will be faster, but I’m not 100% sure if there’s any truth in this. Just don’t bank on it arriving quickly, and be patient.
Is there a good app for finding campsites?
If you’re planning to camp in Australia, Wikicamps is a handy app that lets you search for campsites, caravan sites and more all over the country. A simple Google search can also help, as no all sites are on Wikicamps. Be careful too – I once headed to a free campsite listed on Wikicamps, to find a ‘No Camping’ sign there.
How do I go about finding a job?
There are a few places that you can look for jobs, and it depends partially on where you are in Australia. Websites like Gumtree and Indeed can be useful. For jobs like hospitality or retail going door to door with resumes is a good idea, but be sure to visit places at times when they will be quieter. For office jobs in cities, recruitment agencies can find you fantastic jobs. Often they can also find you temporary work until you get the perfect full-time position.
Facebook groups are another handy place to look for jobs. Join Facebook groups specific to your location, such as ‘Melbourne Backpacker’ or ‘I live in Port Douglas’ and look out for job ads. Find out if there are Facebook groups specific to your industry, such as ‘Melbourne Bartender Exchange’ and also check noticeboards, such as those in hostels. Most of my jobs in Australia I’ve got through people I know, so it’s always handy to chat to people who you meet – you never know if their workplace might be hiring, and businesses often prefer to hire someone who has been recommended.
How do I find somewhere to live?
If you don’t fancy living the hostel life, you’ll need to find a room or a property. Often these are advertised on Gumtree, or in Facebook groups. Finding a room in a shared house seems to be a little easier. If you want to sign your own lease directly with a letting agency this is incredibly competitive compared to signing for a house in England, and some agency’s don’t look very favourably on backpackers. Looking for lease transfers on Facebook and Gumtree may be easier.
Can I do my RSA online?
If you want to work in a bar or restaurant in Aus, the chances are that you will need to do an RSA (Responsible service of alcohol) course. Many people want to know if they can do it online before they arrive in the country. Well, to answer that question, I first need to tell you that the RSA is specific to the state that you’re in. For example, if you take an RSA in Sydney you can legally serve alcohol allover New South Wales. However, if you then decide to move to Victoria you will need to complete a Victorian RSA course. Now to answer the original question, it depends what state you’re in. Most but not all states allow you to do the course online.
How do I apply for a Tax File Number without an Australian address?
Many people want to apply for their TFN in advance, however they can’t without an Australian address. People are often concerned about waiting until they are already in Australia as it can take up to 30 days to arrive, and you will need one before you begin work. Well you have two options. You can apply before you go to Aus with the address of your hostel. Or wait until you’re there and if it hasn’t arrived by the time you begin work, you can call and ask for it to be given to you over the phone. This is what I did after unnecessarily stressing over it for a while in England. I have seen companies offering to apply for tax file numbers, bank accounts, and more on behalf of backpackers, but it’s really not worth paying for as it’s so easy to do it yourself.
The info I’ve seen online about subsequent visas is confusing – how do I know who is correct?
In my opinion it’s not necessary to enlist the help of a lawyer to apply for a working holiday visa. However, if you begin looking at subsequent visas such as sponsorship or de facto visas, I would advise you to speak to a good lawyer – always ask for recommendations as some are better than others. This is the best way to get all of the correct information that you need. If you choose to apply for a student visa, there are companies who help you with the whole process completely free of charge – look them up! I am currently enlisting the help of No Borders in Cairns after someone recommended them to me in a Facebook group, and they offer a free one hour consultation, plenty of advice, and they really know their stuff.
If you’re currently in Australia or heading here soon then I hope this information is helpful! If there’s any other questions you would like me to answer in this post then please do let me know in the comments – I’m always happy to help. Have a fab week, and I will be back next Sunday with my next blog post.