Live and work in Australia! A step by step guide for US Citizens

Live and work in Australia a step by step guide for US Citizens

live and work in Australia a step by step guide for US citizens

Live and work in Australia! A step by step guide for US Citizens

There are a lot of reasons to live and work in Australia with its beautiful beaches, amazing job opportunities, incredible work/life balance. It’s one of the happiest countries in the World, and more and more people from the US are packing their bags and buying a one way ticket to the land of Oz! Whatever your reasons for moving to Australia from the US, getting a working holiday visa might seem a little bit overwhelming at first, but it’s actually super easy!

Here’s a step by step guide on getting the Work and Holiday visa in Australia!

About the Visa

For US Citizens, we can only get a Work and Holiday subclass 462 

The Work and Holiday subclass 462 is the same visa for people from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, People’s Republic of, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay. Why? I’m not a hundred percent on that. But maybe it’s because the US is the worst when it comes to handing out visas to other countries. The good news is, we are the only country on this list that can apply online! Wooo!

You must be at least 18 – 30 years old

****UPDATE As of January 2017 the age limit will be 18-35***

Yay! 🙂

This might change in the future, but for now you must be at least 18 and not yet 31 to get a work and holiday visa for Australia if you are from the US. You must have a high school diploma, and having a college degree helps too (if you later want to apply for Permanent Residency).

You can only work at each employer for 6 months

You can pretty much work wherever you like (if you are qualified enough), but you can only work at each employer for 6 months. Australia has really great wages, so it’s easy to save and then go travel. Also, during your 12 months you can come and go as you please, which means you can take a nice holiday to New Zealand or Fiji, or even Southeast Asia!

winter in Australia

Applying for the Work & Holiday 462 Visa

1.  Fill out your Online Application

Applying for the Work and Holiday visa is incredibly fast and easy! It takes only 6 days and you can apply online !

2. Pay the Visa Application Fee

The 462 visa costs approximately $390 USD through the Australian Immigration Website. 

3. Submit your Documents

Here is a list of the Personal Documents you need for your online application. You can double check the list if needed here.

  • Certified copies of all biodata pages of your passport  (I just submitted the first two pages of my passport and signed them)
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate (again, I just signed a copy of my birth certificate, not sure if that means its “certified”)
  • If you have changed your name (for example by marriage), a certified copy of evidence of the name change
  • Two recent passport sized photographs 45mm x 35mm
  •  Certified copies of military service record or discharge papers (I’ve never served in the military so I just skipped this one)
  • Evidence of sufficient funds. Certified copy of a bank statement showing you have access to appropriate funds of at least AU$5,000. (I stressed out so much about this one, even borrowing money so I had $5,000 in my bank account when I arrived, but nobody even asked or seemed to care! But better safe than sorry!)
  • Evidence of relevant education qualifications. (I have a college degree that I sent with my online application, but it’s not required)
  • Evidence of health insurance (I have World Nomads travel insurance that you can purchase here!)

Live and work in Australia a step by step guide for US Citizens

 Other Important Information

Getting a TFN (Tax File Number)

You need a TFN number (Tax File Number) to get paid when you start working in Australia, so make sure to apply for one ASAP. You can apply online before you arrive or after, up to you. All you need is your passport info and an Australian address so they can send your TFN number to you (so somewhere you’re going to be for a few weeks).

Finding a Job

I found my first job just walking around and handing out resumes, the old fashioned way! Lots of cafes and bars are always looking for backpackers or travellers to pick up casual shifts, so start there. You can also search on SEEK or Gumtree. Make sure you check out this great article on how to make an Australian CV/Resume.

Live and work in Australia a step by step guide for US Citizens

Extending your Stay

Work Visa Sponsorship

The best way to extend your stay is to get sponsored by an Employer. Work Visa Sponsorship is the “golden goose” that literally every backpacker is looking for (or so it seems). I was fortunate enough to find an amazing job that agreed to sponsored me right after I started working for them. But this is not always the case. Some Backpacker jobs (like call centers) will advertise work sponsorship, but make sure to ask them beforehand so they know that is what you want and definitely research the company before you decide. You’re basically stuck with whatever employer sponsors you for two years, so make sure they are a good one!

When I first arrived, I made it a point to apply only to jobs that knew I wanted Work Sponsorship, and set out making it my number one priority. Now that I have been working under a Work Sponsorship Visa for two years, I can apply for the other “golden goose”, Permanent Residency. (I will write more on this topic soon! So stay tuned!)

Also, if you have certain skills/job, you might be able to apply for a working visa straight away. Check out this page: for more information.

Partner Visa

I didn’t go down this rabbit hole because I was not in a relationship when I first arrived. I did eventually meet someone and fall in love, but to apply for a Partner Visa you need proof that you have been together for at least 12 months (ie living together, bank accounts, etc). Pretty much not an option for me. Check out Brook vs The World’s blog for more info, she has lots advice about getting a partner visa and how she went about getting one.

Photography Lauren Metzler

Are you interesting in working and living in Australia? Feel free to leave your questions and comments below!



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