Working Holiday Visa for US Citizens

Working Holiday Visa for US Citizens

Working Holiday Visa (WHV) programs are a great way to visit a host country for an extended time and take on jobs to cover your living expenses and help supplement your travels in the country.

While the term “holiday” may suggest a period of rest and relaxation, a working holiday is actually an opportunity for professional and personal enrichment, and a chance to step back and recharge from your hectic schedule.

A WHV consists of an open work permit, as long as you do not take a permanent job while under the program. The permit allows you to plan your time and experience however you want. You will not be relegated to a specific field, and you’re free to move around the country for work, travel and other activities.

Most WHVs allow you to take several months of courses, so you can keep learning abroad. It is also a great way to meet people and explore a new field.

The United States, unfortunately, does not offer work holiday visas, but there are temporary employment and tourist visas available. Nevertheless, the United States has an agreement with several countries to allow young US nationals to be part of their intended host country’s Working Holiday Program.

The following countries allow Americans to be part of the Working Holiday Program:

The US Alternative to WHV

Those hoping to visit the United States just for travel from the EU, UK, Australia or New Zealand can be covered for three months’ travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as long as an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application is completed. 

Citizens of Singapore and South Korea are also eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Under the B2 American Tourist visa, you can extend this up to 6 months, however no employment or financial gain is permitted. The J1 visa does cover on the job training for the extent of an exchange program, both for casual and more specialised work environments.

There are 10,500 E-3 visas open on a first-come, first-serve basis to Australian nationals, provided they have an offer of specialty employment already in place. These are valid for two years and can be renewed indefinitely on a two-year basis. 

Canadians can also be employed under a TN visa as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  

WHV Eligibility and Application Process for Americans

Working Holiday Visas vary from country to country. This is a limited time opportunity so you should do it while you can. Check which country offers the best option for you. 

Australia (Subclass 462 visa)

Australia’s Working Holiday programme allows people aged between 18-30 to travel and work within the country for 12 months. 

Travel is open, so you can enter and re-enter as much as you want during this time, but employment must be the secondary purpose, and only be for six of the 12 months. Employment can only be extended in exceptional conditions.

The visa lets you do casual work in Australia, as long as you don’t work for any one employer for longer than six months. You can also study, or undertake certain training programs.

To know more about the program, check our blog post for Australia Working Holiday Visa.

Canada

The US doesn’t technically have a working holiday agreement with Canada, Americans can obtain this work permit through different options under International Experience Canada (IEC)

Recognized organizations (RO) 

ROs are youth service organizations that offer work and travel support to youth. They can be non-profit, for profit, or educational. Most ROs charge a fee for their services.

There are several recognised organisations with different qualifications who can help you plan your trip so you should check the list and visit their websites to get more details.

WWOOF 

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a way to experience another country through the eyes of local hosts. Your hosts will offer room and board in exchange for help on the farm, generally around 3-4 hours per day. You can sign up for a small fee and gain access to listings of participating farmers to contact directly about volunteer opportunities. Be sure to learn about their accommodation situation and exactly what kind of help they’re seeking.

Young Professionals

Another IEC option for American 18-35 years old is the Work & Travel Canada Young Professional program. This program does require that you have a paid job lined up already, and the job must have something to do with your academic or career field.

International Co-op (Internship)

Another option for Americans is to join the internship program. You qualify if you meet the following conditions:

  • you’re a student registered at a post-secondary institution
  • you have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada
  • you need to do this work placement or internship to complete your studies
  • you’ll work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada

Ireland (US-Ireland Working Holiday Agreement)

Ireland allows American citizens to get a 12-month working holiday visa to engage in employment as an incidental aspect of the holiday.

As long as you’re a full-time student or college graduate over the age of 18, you can apply for a working holiday visa in Ireland.

You’ll need health insurance, a round-trip ticket, and a passport that will be valid for at least another year.

There are no major restrictions on the type of work you can do once you arrive in Ireland, nor is there any upper age limit to qualify for this visa.

To apply, you need to prepare the following documents.

  • completed and signed Application for a working holiday authorisation -WHA
  • valid passport
  • 2 recent passport-sized photo with applicant’s name on the reverse;
  • Current CV/résumé (with at least 2 references)
  • Proof of student status such as their official transcripts or a letter from their university
  • Original bank statement showing that you have access to at least $4,000
  • Return Ticket
  • Medical Insurance

You may submit your application documentation by post or in person. There are two stages of the application.

Stage 1

Submit the necessary documents to the nearest Irish Embassy/Consulate within the United States.

Once the Embassy or Consulate has received and is satisfied with the documentation. the application will be approved in principle and you will be notified. 

Stage 2

Submit the following documentation to the relevant Consulate General or Embassy:

  • Return airline tickets
  • Certificate of medical/travel insurance valid for the duration of the trip 
  • Original US passport valid for at least a full year after ticketed date of entry

When the Embassy or Consulate has received and is satisfied with this second stage documentation, the Working Holiday Authorisation (WHA) will be issued.

Once granted, you are permitted to work from your date of entry to Ireland. The permit does not impose limits on the number of hours you can work per day/week/month, as long as it is in line with Irish labour legislation.

New Zealand (USA Working Holiday Visa)

To be eligible, you must be 18-30 years old and you’ll need about $2,800 in savings and your own medical insurance, along with an onward ticket out of New Zealand.

With this visa, you can stay in New Zealand for up to a year and make some money while you’re in the country, as long as you don’t take on a permanent job.

To know more about the program, check our blog post for New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

Singapore (Working Holiday Pass)

Singapore offers a working holiday visa to Americans between the ages of 18 and 25. To be eligible, you must either be a full-time college student or a recent graduate.

This wealthy island nation gives out 2,000 working holiday passes at a time. If you are granted a Working Holiday Pass, you could work and travel in Singapore for up to six months.

If you will be working in professions such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, architecture or law, you will need to comply with registration requirements to practise in Singapore.

If you have held a Work Holiday Pass before, you can only reapply for another Work Holiday Pass after 12 months from the day you last held the pass.

To apply, you need to prepare the following documents.

Graduate

  • copy of the personal particulars page of your passport
  • copy of your degree certificate and transcripts

Undergraduate

  • copy of the personal particulars page of your passport
  • letter from your university stating your matriculation, name, nationality/citizenship and date of birth. The letter must not be dated more than 3 months before the date of application
  • copy of your university student card
  • copy of your student visa (if you are an international student at the university). If you do not have a student visa, please upload an explanation letter

You can submit your application online and it takes around 3 weeks to process the application. You must submit your application not more than three months from your intended departure date.

South Korea (H-1 Visa)

South Korea offers a one-year working holiday visa to Americans between the age of 18 and 30. This permit can only be granted once.

To qualify for this visa, you’ll need to show you have health insurance, a round-trip ticket, no criminal record and sufficient funds to support yourself for the first part of your travels, a minimum of KRW 3,000,000.

If you get it, you can explore South Korea for up to 12 months, as well as leave and re-enter the country as many times as you wish during this period.

To apply, you need to prepare the following documents:

  • Valid Passport 
  • Passport Photo
  • Return ticket or enough money to buy one
  • Supporting financial documentation (certified copy of a bank statement)
  • Health insurance which remains valid throughout your stay in Korea(Coverage: KRW 40,000,000 minimum)
  • Travel Plans
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Medical Certificate
  • Proof of student status or highest academic qualifications

* Additional requirements may be requested

WHV applications are accepted year-round and will be approved on a first-come first-served basis and only 2,000 visas will be issued annually.

WHV applications must be made in the United States. You can submit your visa directly to the Korean Embassy/Consulate or by post. 

So now that you know your options above, are you ready to pack up your bags and start a new adventure? Talk to us in the comment section below.

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IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries

If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

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Charlie

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