Can You Resume a Working Holiday Interrupted By COVID-19?
Many Australians were part-way through working holidays in March 2020, when international borders started to shut and much of the world entered COVID-19 lockdowns. With so much uncertainty and some losing their jobs, many of those working holiday makers decided to cut their trips short and return home.
Few would have expected that, more than a year later, Australia’s international border is still closed and the world is still far from returning to “normal”. In the meantime, the working holiday visas of most Australians with travel interrupted by the coronavirus would have expired.
So, is it possible to resume your working holiday where you left off? Are countries offering extra leniency and extending the working holiday visas of travellers affected by COVID-19?
The Australian government is allowing backpackers whose stays in Australia were affected by COVID-19 to re-apply for another working holiday visa at no cost. But the rules for Australians who travelled to other countries vary.
Unfortunately, in most cases, it is not possible for Australians to get a second working holiday visa in a country where they’ve already had a working holiday. These are generally given out on a “once in a lifetime” basis.
Some countries have offered to extend existing working holiday visas for backpackers who were stuck in that country during the pandemic and couldn’t return to their home country at the time. But if you returned home and your visa has since expired, you may be out of luck.
There are some exceptions…
Germany & Peru will let you reapply for a working holiday visa
In an acknowledgement that COVID-19 has disrupted many people’s working holidays, Germany is allowing Australian working holiday makers affected by COVID-19 to reapply for another German working holiday visa. This offer is available to people who are still under 31 years old, and either could not travel to Germany or had their stay interrupted by COVID-19.
The notice on the Missions of the Federal Republic of Germany in Australia website states:
Applicants who had a work & holiday visa and had to interrupt their stay in Germany due to Covid-19 can reapply for the remainder of the time (12 months minus the time already spent in Germany)
Applicants who had a work & holiday visa, but could not yet travel to Germany due to Covid-19 can reapply for a new visa for 12 months
Applicants who had a work & holiday visa and either could not travel or had to interrupt their stay and have in the meantime turned 31, cannot reapply.Missions of the Federal Republic of Germany in Australia website
Peru is another country that may allow you to reapply for a new working holiday visa if you are still under 31 years old. This doesn’t just apply to COVID-19 disruptions, as this rule has actually been in place since before the pandemic.
According to the Consulate General of Peru in Sydney:
If you obtained a Work & Holiday visa and did not or cannot use it, you can re-apply for a new visa the following year provided you still meet all the requirements. In addition, if you have used the visa and returned back to Australia you can re-apply for a second Work and Holiday Visa if you are less than 31 years old and if you meet the other requirements. Consulate General of Peru in Sydney website
What about other countries?
Other countries may implement similar policies in the future, allowing people with working holidays interrupted by COVID-19 to reapply for a new visa.
For example, Ireland has said that it will give consideration to people who had applied for a Working Holiday Authorisation in 2020 but were unable to travel to Ireland due to the pandemic. The Embassy of Ireland website says:
We do not, at this stage, expect that conditions will change sufficiently to enable you to take up your WHA opportunity in Ireland in the near future. We will, when circumstances allow, re-issue letters of Authorisation with revised dates of travel for individuals who were unable to travel in 2020 due to COVID-19. Please contact the relevant Embassy for more information.Embassy of Ireland, Australia website
Failing that, once it’s possible to travel overseas again, you could try contacting the relevant embassy or consulate and asking whether they will make an exception for you due to COVID-19. If your visa was approved in early 2020 but you were ultimately unable to leave Australia, you may have a strong case. But this will probably be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Even though it may be unfair, countries are not obliged to grant you a second working holiday visa as this is technically against the rules.
But if you’re itching to return overseas and your working holiday visa has expired, you can still look at applying for a new working holiday visa in a different country.
If you’re still under 31 years old (or under 36 and would like to travel to Ireland, France, Canada or soon the UK), there are other countries that may offer you a new working holiday visa. In total, 43 countries offer working holiday visas to Australians. Why not travel to another nearby country and experience life there for a year? If you pick a country that’s close to your preferred option (especially in Europe), you might still be able to visit on weekends. 😉
You could also investigate alternative visa options for your preferred country. You may only be able to get a working holiday visa once per country, but each country also offers other types of visas. Perhaps you might be able to qualify for another visa category?
If you’ve been successful in getting your working holiday visa extended or been allowed to reapply due to COVID-19, please let us know in the comments!