Brisbane, QLD, Australia: The Visa Situation

Americans aren’t well liked in the intenational community. This is most evident in Visa regulations, and even Australia, presumably a good friend of the States, did not give out Working Holiday Visas to American citizens. Now a Working Holiday Visa is a temporary work Visa usually accompanied by regulations on the type of work you can acquire, the length of employment at any one job, the length of the Visa and sometimes even the age of the applicant. In New Zealand, I applied to a working holiday program meant to attract farm workers, which prevented me from working for any one employer for longer than 4 months (this restriction is rarely enforced). The visa was good for a year and, unless the IRD showed up and put the kaibash on your employment, you could work wherever you wanted for whomever you wanted. Had Australia offered a similar program to US citizens, my life would be radically different right now.

And guess what, in October of 2007, around the time of The Birthday That Rocked The World (definitely more on that later) and the Barluga Halloween Party, the Australian government opened up a Working Holiday program for US Citizens, allowing them to stay for a year and work at any one position for up to 6 months ( … again, probably not enforced).

When I went to Brisbane in search of work, I assumed that whatever company was desperate enough to hire me would sponsor my stay in the country. When I was researching exactly what that meant, I discovered the new Working Holiday scheme. The benefits were screamingly obvious: a sponsored visa required about 2 months to process and applications both the employee and employer would have to send in; the WH visa is processed in 48 hours and is lodged online. The catch? When applying for a sponsored visa, you can remain in the country until your application is accepted. On the other hand, the WH visa has to be submitted from outside the country. And they mean it too, the application submission website checks your IP to see if you’re logging in from inside the country and will block you from completing the form.

I explained the two options to Chris and the Kobold HR manager Laurie. Chris clearly wanted me to start as soon as possible and since I wasn’t sure how long I’d be with the company, it didn’t make much sense to go with the sponsored visa at the time, which meant that I’d have to leave the country so I could submit the application. Kobold was nice enough to buy me a ticket to the closest place I could think of: Wellington. Five days after accepting the job, I was leaving the country so I could actually start performing it.

I had already prepped Jess and told her that there was a chance I’d be coming back. She was excited to have another friend in the city, if only for a weekend, and agreed to pick me up from the airport after work on that Wednesday.



  1. you hadn’t even started yet and you were already working the man for a free ticket back to visit friends. good work.

  2. Hello! My friend and I are thinking of applying for work visas in Australia (from the US). We haven’t gotten very far along in the planning of it, so we can use all the information we can get. I found your blog while searching “Work Visa, Australia,” and it looks like you’re doing something similar to what we’re looking into. Do you have any advice for us, or can you point us in the direction of any helpful sources of information? Thanks!

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