The Very Easy Way to Live and Work Abroad Instantly

06/24/2015 01:11 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016


All it takes is 30 minutes to fill out a form online. Seriously. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. Okay, I don't really want to stick a needle in my eye.

Several years ago, when I was desperately searching for opportunities to work abroad, I missed the whole concept of working holiday visas entirely. Soooo easy, as long as you're under 30.

So what's the deal? A working holiday visa -- "holiday," like Queen's English for vacation -- is an official government-approved visa that allows travelers to earn money while visiting a country. Like legit working, and not always picking grapes off some damn orchard. No judgment if you're bartending or waiting tables, or sitting behind a desk sending out business emails. The whole concept behind it is to enable people to get some life experience without going totally broke in the process.

The one thing a working holiday visa doesn't do is find you a job. That requires some gusto to get on the plane, to sort out a place and to start pounding pavement on foreign shores. (The visa just makes it easier. Few companies will hire and sponsor an immigrant for temporary work; once that's overcome, the sky's the limit. Many people also use the visa as a way to launch a career in another country, but warning: You'll have to find another way to stay in the country after the initial period is up.)

At a policy level, it's a reciprocity arrangement where each country offers another country's citizens the visa. Americans can get a working holiday visa for Ireland just like the Irish can for the U.S. While the U.S. is notorious for its tough immigration policies -- which reflects how many options are open to Americans -- it manages to play nice with a handful of countries like South Korea and Australia. (Australians have holiday working options for 31 countries. Hmph.)

Though the specifics for working visas vary from country to country, most share certain requirements.

Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and have some money saved up, at least enough to support themselves until they find a job. New Zealand only requires $4,200 NZD ($3,050.14 USD) in a bank account as financial proof, and Australia only requires $5,000 AUD ($3,876.62 USD). Nothing terrible there.

Having health insurance also helps, since most countries aren't interested in taking the financial burdens of other countries. Here are the policies for Americans below.

Country Duration Age Eligibility Cost
Australia 12 months max 18-30 years old $420 AUD (~$325.22 USD)
Ireland 12 months max Current post-secondary student or graduated within past year €250 (~$272.10 USD)
Korea 18 months max 18-30 years old, current post-secondary student or graduated within past year $45 USD
New Zealand 12 months max; 18 months for those in agriculture or horticulture 18-30 years old $165 NZD (~$119.54 USD)
Singapore 6 months max 18-25 years old, currently enrolled at a top 200 university or graduated within past year $150 SGD (~$111.18 USD)

Click here to see the full chart with funding requirements.

This post originally appeared on Map Happy.

Karina Martinez-Carter is an assistant editor at Map Happy. She has written for BBC Travel, BBC Capital, Travel + Leisure, Thrillist and more.

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