More countries offering working holiday agreements

A number of new working holiday agreements have been announced recently, with countries around the world launching new partnerships to facilitate expanded youth and student mobility in 2013. We present a round-up of the latest collaborations below, as well as a spotlight on Australia as the leader in this area.

Taiwan, Ireland to implement working holiday programme for youth

Focus Taiwan has reported that Taiwan and Ireland will launch a reciprocal working holiday programme for youth starting 1 January 2013. (Editor’s note: as of 27 March 2013, 116 applications have been received and 97 authorisations have been granted.)

The programme will allow young adults between 18 and 30 years of age from each country to travel, work and participate in short-term training programmes, said Hsu Mien-sheng, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of European Affairs.

“Ireland is stepping up efforts to complete an online system” to process applications from young Taiwanese, Hsu said at a news briefing.

The working holiday programme between Taiwan and Ireland will allow an annual quota of 400 visas for young adults from each country for stays of up to one year for tourism, work or privately funded studies, he said.

Ireland is the eighth country to sign a working holiday agreement with Taiwan, following Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Taiwan will be the seventh country to participate in Ireland’s working holiday programme, after Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, according to the foreign ministry.

Overseas working holiday programmes have been well-received by young Taiwanese, with some 65,800 applications submitted to date, according to the foreign ministry.

Young people will be able to broaden their “international horizons through learning the language and gaining an in-depth understanding of the culture, society and lifestyle of the host country,” the statement read.

“It is believed that broader and closer exchanges under this programme will foster long-lasting friendship between the youth of Taiwan and Ireland,” the ministry added.

Taiwan is now in talks with other European countries, such as Belgium, to sign working holiday agreements, said a high-level foreign affairs official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and most recently, France appears to be next in line.

Taiwan and France are likely to reach an agreement

Meanwhile, the Taipei Times announced that Taiwan and France are likely to reach an agreement on a reciprocal working holiday programme that will allow young adults from the two nations to travel and work in both countries.

French Senator Catherine Tasca, chairwoman of the French Senate’s Franco-Taiwan Friendship Group, said the procedure for reaching the agreement was still in progress and that certain barriers have been eliminated.

“Only some technical issues” remain to be resolved before both sides conclude the deal, but no date has been set for finalisation of the agreement, Hsu said.

Tasca added that the prospective agreement between Taiwan and France had the full support of the group.

Taiwan, which has made advancements in economics, culture, technology and research, as well as in its capabilities for innovation and invention, was an important partner for France, Tasca explained.

The working holiday programme could be instrumental in developing effective future relations between the younger generations of Taiwan and France, Tasca said.

Christophe Gigaudaut, head of the culture, education and science section at the French Office in Taipei, also expressed his confidence in the bilateral working holiday programme, stating that the programme might also help more Taiwanese students study in France.

Norway and Japan set working holiday plan

Japan Times reports that Japan and Norway will jointly launch a working holiday programme beginning 1 February 2013, aimed at enhancing exchanges between young adults, as announced by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Norwegian counterpart, Jens Stoltenberg.

The exchange programme will allow Japanese and Norwegian people aged 18 to 30 to work on a short-term basis for up to one year even when they are staying in each other’s country for a holiday, the Foreign Ministry said.

Iceland’s youth petition for working holiday visa

The Australian Visa Bureau reports that a group of young Icelanders have launched a petition to request the country’s youth be granted access to Australia’s hugely popular working holiday visa programme, which allows people aged from 18 to 30 to live and work in Australia for up to a year.

The programme has proved extremely popular in recent years, yet despite Europe dominating the list of eligible countries (see end of article for full country list), Iceland is conspicuously absent. Members of the Nordic country’s younger population are making efforts to change that via a petition which they plan to present to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the hope that an agreement can be reached with Australia.

The petition’s author, Ms Helgadóttir, who runs a backpacking travel website, says Icelanders are desperate to visit Australia but find their travelling options are limited due to visa policies.

Australian working holiday visa most popular in the world

It should come as no surprise that Iceland has set its sights on Australia; demand for the Australian working holiday visa eclipses all others.

In a speech to the Australian Tourism Directions Conference in Canberra earlier this week, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said over 220,000 Australian working holiday visas were issued in the last year.

“Today, Australia’s working holiday maker programme is one of the most popular and largest of its kind in the world – larger than our nearest competitors, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand combined – with reciprocal arrangements in place with 28 partner countries,” said the minister. (Editor’s note: see end of article for full country list which is now at 29 countries.)

“This highlights the overwhelming competitive strength and appeal of Australia. Since 2009, the number of working holiday maker visas we have issued has doubled. Indeed, there are more working holiday makers in Australia now than at any time previously – and demand is increasing.”

Mr Bowen says the contributions working holiday makers give to the Australian economy is crucial: “Certainly, research shows that working holiday makers provide valuable support to Australian employers and contribute positively to our economy.”

As ICEF Monitor reported in August, Greece became the latest country to be touted as the next partner in the programme and Mr Bowen said more agreements were in the pipeline, such as the expansion of the programme with Indonesia and ongoing negotiations towards arrangements with Uruguay and Mexico.

Editor’s note: The work and holiday (subclass 462) visa arrangement between Australia and Uruguay commenced on 1 April 2013. Under this versatile cultural enrichment programme, 200 university-educated Australians and Uruguayans, aged between 18 and 30, can now enjoy an extended holiday in each other’s countries for up to one year, during which they can also engage in short-term work and study. The scheme requires applicants to have government support, to hold or be studying towards university qualifications and to speak functional English.

Australia has also announced that they will also begin talks with the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Poland, and the Slovak Republic on establishing reciprocal work and holiday visa arrangements. Participants would be able to stay for up to 12 months and engage in short-term work and study during that time. Each arrangement would have an annual cap on visa grant numbers.

“The start of discussions for these new work and holiday arrangements recognises the value of Australia’s evolving bilateral relationships with these countries and will strengthen our cultural and people-to-people links,” Mr Bowen said.

The working holiday visa scheme into Australia continued to enjoyed its biggest year ever for the year ended June 2012 with 13.5% growth and over 180,000 first time visas granted plus a further 30,000 2nd year visas. Over time the scheme has grown at 8.5% compound year on year.

At the start of November, Tourism Australia announced its biggest ever marketing campaign aimed at bringing more backpackers on an Australian working holiday visa to the country. The announcement comes in the wake of the government’s intention to raise Australia visa prices across the board as of next year.

While the price of a working holiday visa is expected to increase by AUS $80 (£50), Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said he doubts the price increase will deter many young people from taking advantage of the excellent opportunities a working holiday offers.

Working holiday visa reciprocal arrangements

The reciprocal scheme provides working holiday rights to participants. The UK is the biggest market – over 35,000 young British travellers went to Australia on a working holiday visa last year alone, and a further 6,000 chose to extend their visas by an additional 12 months.

Following the UK, the top ten biggest numbers coming into Australia are from South Korea, Germany, Ireland, France, Taiwan, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA, and with Hong Kong only just behind. Whilst the European countries make up the biggest numbers, the quickest growth in 2012 has come from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Australia’s working holiday visa programme (Subclass 417) is currently open to citizens of 19 countries:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • UK

Australia also has the work and holiday visa programme (Subclass 462) which allows citizens from additional countries similar benefits:

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uruguay
  • USA


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