Do you know what WHV means? Don’t worry if you don’t : just a couple of years ago I was in the same position and when I first read this acronym I had no idea what these letters stood for. But everything began with it, so some explanations are needed…
If you google WHV you might discover that it could be used for “Warner Home Video” or that they’re the initials of “Wentworth, Hauser & Violich”, a financial consulting firm based in San Francisco. Unless you’re starting a business in California, it’s probably not very helpful… But the main result is much more interesting : WHV also means “Working Holiday Visa”. Work and Holiday in the same sentence? Let’s read a bit further.
I quote Wikipedia :
“A Working Holiday Visa is a residence permit allowing travellers to undertake employment (and sometimes study) in the country issuing the visa to supplement their travel funds”.
What does it mean in concrete terms? Basically once you get your visa granted in the country of your choice, you have one year in front of you to do pretty much anything you want. Travel as far as your bank account allows you to, work for as many different employers you’d like, do an internship to get some experience, stay the whole time in the same city or explore every villages and every corners. If it were me I simply would have called it the Liberty Visa!
Of course some restrictions apply. First, it doesn’t exist everywhere in the world. Depending on where you come from you can’t travel to the same places. For me as French, I can only pick a country between the 14 who signed an agreement with France ; still quite a big range of possibilities though. Another example : Australian citizens have access to a 1-year Working Holiday Visa in Andorra. Yes, one full year just in Andorra! I’m wondering if anybody did it so far ; if you’re Australian, stop reading right now and go apply for this visa! You might remain in History as the first one who ever tried it…
The second restriction is probably the most annoying : this visa is only accessible to young people, between 18 and 30 years old, up to 35 in some countries. I’m sorry Mom and Dad, it’s too late for you… There’s also some specific rules for every country : in Australia you can’t work more than six months for the same employer, and you’re supposed to have a minimal amount of money on your bank account when you arrive, even if no one ever verifies it (but still, it will make life much easier for you if you’re not completely broke at the very beginning!). Before you leave you also need to subscribe to a travel or health insurance to cover you for the duration of your stay. And that’s all.
Is it hard to get? Once again, it depends on the country. For us French, getting a Working Holiday Visa in Canada isn’t that easy for example. The number of visas is limited and as there are too many people trying to get it the lucky winners are simply chosen by drawing lots. One good news at least : the quota was expanded in the last months, growing from 6,550 to 11,050. Good luck if you’re applying!
For Australia and New-Zealand, the two WHV I got myself so far, there are no such restrictions. Actually it couldn’t be easier for both of them : get your passport and your ID ready, and after half an hour of filling in online forms and answering questions almost as stupid as “Are you a terrorist : yes/no” you just need to pay a fee (390 AU$, 205 NZ$) and wait for the reply of the immigration office. Not very long though : it took me a few days to get my New-Zealand WHV granted… and less than five minutes for the Australian one! The precious piece of paper comes attached to an email ; the ticket to a new life.
There’s no need to rush after you get granted. You have one year to enter the country, as the visa only begins on your first day in your new homeland. Just enough time to make yourself ready and organise your trip a little bit. But don’t plan too much : life is just more fun if you’re taking spontaneous decisions sometimes…
And what if you fall in love with your new country and never want to come back? Well, that’s kind of what happened to me in Australia ; the key to extend your stay there is called “farmwork” – but let’s talk about that later. Just enjoy for the moment!
So are you under 30? Do you like to travel? Your future could be very exciting! Now that you know everything about the WHV : WAYWF*?
*What Are You Waiting For?