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Working Holiday Visas

Working Holiday Visas (both subclass 417 and subclass 462 visas) are visas which entitle the visa holder to travel to, remain in and work in Australia. These visas are suitable for people who are aged 18 to 30 who want to see Australia while also earning money to support their travels. Working Holiday Visa holders are also known as backpackers.

The Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) sets out the criteria for making an application for both the subclass 417 and 462 visas as well as the criteria to be satisfied for the grant of the visa applications.

To be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa, you must hold a passport of an eligible country. Not all countries have working holiday agreements with Australia so it is important to check that your country of passport allows you to apply for a Working Holiday Visa.

Applicants for Working Holiday Visas must also have enough funds on hand to support their travel while in Australia. This is usually AUD$5,000 plus the cost of an airfare out of Australia.

Working Holiday Visas

Dependent children cannot accompany Working Holiday Visa holders. Partners may travel with applicants but they will need to apply for their own visa.

The key criteria for Working Holiday Visas hold that applicants have a genuine desire to remain in Australia as temporary residents. This means that they will not breach their visa conditions or overstay their visa in Australia. This may mean showing the Department of Home Affairs of an intention to return home or close family ties outside of Australia.

The visa application charge (payable when the application is lodged) is $444.75 (including the VISA card surcharge of 1.08%).

Working in Australia

The Working Holiday Visas (both subclass 417 and 462) allow holders to work while they are in Australia. A condition is applied to every Working Holiday Visa called Condition 8547Condition 8547 limits Working Holiday Visa holders from working for any one employer for more than six months.

What this means is that once a Working Holiday Visa holder starts work with an employer, the clock starts counting down to six months. If the visa holder leaves that place of employment within the six months and then later returns, the time will continue to count down to six months as if the visa holder never left. This is important to remember as abiding by your visa conditions can have a significant effect on any future visas you can apply for, should you wish to remain in Australia.

Similarly, if a Working Holiday Visa holder is self-employed and contracting for a number of businesses, the visa holder can only complete contract work for six months for any single business. If the business changes name or entity, DoHA may consider it to be a new employer for the purposes of Condition 8547, depending on the circumstances.

Working Holiday Visa holders who apply for a sponsored visa (including Temporary Work (Skilled) Visas subclass 457 or Employer Nomination Scheme Visas subclass 186) can request DoHA waive Condition 8547. It is essential to allow at least two weeks before the end of the six-month work period to apply for the waiver. If DoHA cannot provide permission to work beyond six months with your sponsoring employer, you may not be able to work for your sponsoring employer until DoHA gives permission or your sponsored visa is granted.

Working Holiday Visas subclass 417

Working Holiday Visas subclass 417 are the most common type of visa for backpackers.  If you hold a passport from any one of the listed countries, you may be eligible to apply.

Applicants who have previously held a Work and Holiday Visa subclass 462, even if it was associated with another passport, are not entitled to apply for the subclass 417 Working Holiday Visa.

Applications for this visa can be made through the DoHA’s ImmiAccount.

Subsequent Working Holiday Visa

The Working Holiday Visa subclass 417 is also the type of Working Holiday Visa that can be held twice. The first time you apply you must be outside of Australia.

If you wish to apply for a subsequent Working Holiday Visa subclass 417, you must satisfy the DoHA of the following:

  • All visa conditions of your previous Working Holiday Visa subclass 417 have been complied with;
  • You have not held more than one Working Holiday Visa subclass 417;
  • You have completed three months of specified regional work whilst you held your Working Holiday Visa subclass 417; and
  • You have not yet turned 31.

To be eligible for a second Working Holiday Visa subclass 417, applicants must complete specified regional work. This involves completing work in the following industries:

  • mining;
  • plant and animal cultivation;
  • tree farming and felling;
  • fishing and pearling; and
  • construction.

The type of work required to be undertaken for each of the above industries is as follows:

Plant and animal cultivation includes the following:

  • General maintenance crop work;
  • Propagating and cultivating fungi, plants, or their products or parts;
  • Fruit and vegetable packing and harvesting;
  • The immediate processing of plant products;
  • Looking after animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce;
  • Processing animal products such as wool, fur, and meat. This includes packing and tanning; and
  • Manufacturing dairy products from raw materials.

Plant and animal cultivation does not include the following:

  • General garden maintenance which is not associated with the cultivation and commercial sale of plant produce;
  • Small goods processing;
  • Retail butchery; or
  • Looking after animals for recreation or tourism.

Fishing and pearling includes any activity which is directly relating to taking or catching fish, pearls, pearl shells or other aquatic life.

Tree farming and felling includes the following:

  • Planting or tending to trees which are in a plantation or forest intended to be felled;
  • Felling trees in a plantation or forest;
  • Transporting felled trees to and from the mill.

Mining includes all activities directly related and listed in the Australian New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification in relation to the following:

  • Metal ore mining;
  • Coal mining;
  • Construction material and non-metallic mining;
  • Oil and gas extraction;
  • Quarry exploration; and
  • Mining support services.

Bookkeeping is not included as a mining activity even if it is completed as a mining support service.

Construction includes all activities directly related and listed in the Australian New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification in relation to the following:

  • Residential and non-residential construction;
  • heavy and civil engineering construction;
  • Building structure, installation and completion services;
  • Land development and site preparation; and
  • Other construction services.

Construction work in regional areas following disasters counts as specified regional work.

The Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) sets out the postcodes which qualify as regional areas. For example, Carrara on the Gold Coast has the postcode 4211 and is counted as a regional area while Merrimac has the postcode 4226 and is not counted as a regional area.

The DoHA website has a guide showing which areas are classified as regional areas for the purposes of specified regional work.

Included in your application for your second Working Holiday Visa should be evidence of your specified regional work. You can evidence your specified regional work by attaching scans of the original or certified copies of the following:

  • Payslips;
  • PAYG payment summaries or group certificates;
  • References from your employer(s) or a completed Employment Verification (Form 1263); or
  • Australian bank statements covering the period of the specified regional work

Work and Holiday Visa subclass 462

The Work and Holiday Visa subclass 642 is similar to the subclass 417 but with several key differences. In addition to being a passport holder of an eligible country, Work and Holiday Visa subclass 462 applicants must also meet minimum education requirements, have evidence of functional English and, in most cases, a letter of support from their government (except for the United States, Israel and Peoples Republic of China).

The full list of eligible countries can be found on the DoHA’s website.

Applications must be completed on the application form and made in the following places for the respective countries:

To satisfy the DoHA before they can grant you a Work and Holiday Visa subclass 462, you must provide evidence that you meet the minimum education requirements. The minimum education requirements differ according to the country of passport.

For passport holders of the following:

  • Argentina;
  • Bangladesh;
  • China;
  • Indonesia;
  • Poland;
  • Portugal;
  • Slovak Republic;
  • Slovenia;
  • Spain; and
  • Thailand;
  • Turkey;
  • Uruguay;

you must hold a tertiary qualification, including a diploma level qualification, or have satisfactorily completed at least two years of undergraduate university study.

For Chilean passport holders, you must hold a tertiary qualification or have been approved for study at university for at least three years as an undergraduate.

For Israeli passport holders, you must hold a high school qualification, and have either completed your mandatory military service or be exempt.

For United States passport holders, you must hold a high school qualification (Senior Secondary Certificate of Education).

For Malaysian passport holders, you must hold a qualification listed in the eligible qualifications list on the Application for a Work and Holiday Visa (Form 1208) or have successfully completed at least two years of undergraduate university study.

Functional English can be demonstrated in a number of ways depending on your country of passport and level of education you have received in English.

You do not need to provide evidence of an English test if you hold a US passport.

Functional English can be demonstrated if your education was in English and meets the following:

  • One year of full time or equivalent part time study in Australia towards a degree, diploma, or associate diploma;
  • All years of primary school and at least three years of high (secondary) school completed entirely in English; or
  • At least five years of high (secondary) school education completed entirely in English.

If you have not received any education in English that meets the requirements to demonstrate functional English, you must provide evidence of your functional English in the form of an English test result.

The DoHA will accept the following tests and scores as evidence of functional English:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test overall result of at least 4.5;
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) completed in the last 12 months with a total band score of at least 32;
  • A Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) overall score of at least 30; or
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test overall score of at least 147.

Health and Character

All applicants must provide evidence that they are of good character and satisfy the health requirement. For most applicants, this simply means completing the declaration questions on the form. If you are unsure of your criminal history, it is best to obtain a police clearance to ensure you are making a correct declaration. In some cases, the DoHA may request a police clearance from you so be prepared to obtain one.

Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai and Malay passport holders must undertake medical examinations. These include a general medical examination and a chest x-ray.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

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