We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

travellight via Shutterstock

Column What you need to know about applying for a visa

Both work and holiday visas to locations like Australia, Canada and New Zealand are growing in popularity… but which one is best for you? Edwina Shanahan explains.

Both Work Visa (WV) and Working Holiday Visas (WHV) are growing in popularity amongst Ireland’s 20- and 30-somethings looking for work overseas. While Australia the US have always has been a firm favourites for WV and WHV applicants, Canada and New Zealand are both making large strides in terms of their popularity, with increasing numbers of Irish people looking to travel to these locations in search of work opportunities and lifestyle changes.

But what do you need to know about applying for a visa – and which one is the best option for you?

More skilled professionals applying for Working Holiday Visas

When my colleagues and I reviewed our WHV applications over the last 12 months of WHV applications we found that the gender split is pretty equal at 50:50 and the average age for an Irish working holiday maker is 24-25. However, we also saw an increase in the percentage of skilled professionals applying for this visa as a means of getting in the door to particular country of choice.

Of late there have been a few changes mooted and also a few changes implemented that could see certain countries tighten their belts in terms of how many workers they allow into the country in any given year. While these changes may affect those Irish looking to travel there are still a variety of options left for them to fulfil their dream of living and working abroad.


The 457 visa is a temporary working visa that is popular amongst Irish travellers but its popularity is now waning due to changes. These changes are imposed on the Australian employer and are intended to encourage them to further exhaust the local labour market before considering non-nationals. Employers will now need to evidence that they have tried to look locally before being approved to sponsor overseas nationals.

The Immigration services will now have more control to investigate and ensure that employers are spending correct training requirement on their Australian workforce. In addition Immigration will have power to cancel an employer’s sponsorship approval should they be paying non-nationals less than their Australian counterpart. This is good news for Irish workers as, for example, it ensures that an Irish qualified accountant with 10 years’ experience will be paid same rate as an Australian with similar qualifications and work experience.

A positive change is that 457 visa holders now have 90 days (it was previously 28 days) to find a new sponsor should their existing employment cease, this allows foreign workers sufficient time to find a new sponsors while remaining in the country.

In terms of advice we would suggest that migrants apply for permanent resident visa options, which can now be fast tracked. A permanent resident is considered in same light as Australian citizen for work vacancies.


Nurses and trades can no longer apply for permanent residency to Canada without a job offer. However nurses and trades can apply for a working holiday visa up to the age of 36 years and once they have worked in Canada for 12 months or more. They can also look at work permits or more permanent options to allow them to remain on longer in the country.

Canada is proving to hold great potential for jobseekers at the moment and the turnaround from interview to actually starting a day’s work is faster for Canada than any other country in our experience, which cut down on the savings needed to pursue this option.

New Zealand

New Zealand is now the best working-holiday option for those in construction industry as the rebuild Christchurch has really taken off with employers contacting us on a weekly basis looking for people with specific skills.

Employers are currently looking for bricklayers, drivers and crane operations – as well as people to fill positions in quantity surveying, commercial managers and land surveyors.

In addition, where there is demand for these occupations, the spin-off demand for nurses, teachers, and social workers always follows.

The Working Holiday Visa: what you should know

Recent changes have made it easier for some and more difficult for others to work in certain countries – however the Working Holiday Visa (or the equivalent of) is still one of the most popular options for those looking to work and travel. We would suggest the following pointers for those who are thinking about applying for this visa…


  • Would-be travellers can apply for working holiday visas, which are very different to 457 visas, because you don’t need an employer to sponsor you and there are no minimum salary restrictions with supply and demand determining the rate paid
  • You can only work six months with any one employer so make sure to apply for a youth 457 temporary sponsorship or make a permanent residency application in well in advance of this six month timeline. If you work beyond the six months it could negatively affect further visa applications
  • Families are not permitted on this visa but if you enter on a WH visa and get sponsored or granted permanent residency, family members can be added to the longer stay visa
  • Work can be more difficult to get in professional jobs as six months is not seen as a long contract for any employer, so if you are eligible for permanent residency it would be wise to take that option as there is a much better chance of getting interview and jobs placements as a permanent resident

New Zealand

  • There is no limit on number of Irish that can apply in 2013
  • Family and dependants cannot travel on a temporary visa, so it’s best to consider you options based on who may travel
  • You can work for any employer with a temporary visa
  • If you have a job offer you have the option to stay longer


  • Their WH visa programme now closed for 2013, but there are 10,000 places available in 2014
  • You can work for any employer in any province with the option to get sponsorship. Once you have over 12 months work experience you can look at your permanent resident options
  • This is the only WH visa that allows you to bring your spouse and kids though they will have to have their own individual visas. Ideally families should apply for residence as soon as they can to ensure stability and to avoid multiple visa costs for each family member
  • Convictions of any kind can seriously impact your application to travel to- Canada – so it’s best check with an agent for advice on this before applying

WHVs are a great option to dip a toe into working life overseas – it allows workers to stay in that particular country on a year-long visa and is open to all occupations.

Edwina Shanahan is a manager at

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.