Roll up, roll up, come and get your visa! Photo: Getty Images.


How to get a student work visa in the USA, UK & Canada

Published November 18th, 2016

One of the many great benefits of being a true blue Aussie, besides the white sandy beaches and reppin a Southern Cross tattoo (lol), is that no matter how scruffy some of us get overseas, many countries actually really love having us around.

Resultantly Australia has fostered many overseas partnerships for its youngins under its Working Holiday Maker programme to encourage young Aussies (aged 18-30 years) to embark on a cultural exchange by engaging in short term work/study abroad.

Some of the most straightforward countries, in terms of securing a work/travel visa, that many young Aussies head to are the United States, United Kingdom and Canada so we’ve put together a rundown on what’s involved to get you started on the experience of a lifetime.

To check out some of the other countries you can head to pop into one of our Universal Traveller stores where one of our boss agents can help get you started on your journey. 


The US has a pretty you beaut exchange visitor program for Aussie students wanting to live, work and study in America for up to a year. To qualify for the US non-immigrant visa known as the J-1 (a student/work visa) you must be an Aussie citizen, not have any dependants and be a post-secondary student or recent graduate.

To be a ‘post-secondary student’ means you have completed your first year (freshman year yewww) of a post-high school program like a bachelor’s degree and to qualify as a graduate you must have graduated within the previous 12 months. You also need to obtain sponsorship from an exchange visitor program approved by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

GROW USA is one organisation that works as an Australian agent for approved sponsorship organisations and is a good place to start if you’re looking into applying for this visa.


A photo posted by HEAR ME ROAR (@tesssarion) on


Canada offers up three different types of visas to young people wishing to visit for an extended period of time. They are the working holiday, young professionals and the international co-op internship.

The working holiday visa is designed for Australian citizens (aged 18-30) who wish to find temporary paid employment to help pay for their travel in Canada (up to 24 months). If you meet the eligibility criteria you can only do this once however you may also do the international co-op internship once as well.

To be eligible you must be an Aussie citizen, have a valid Aussie passport for the time you’re there, have at least CAN$2,500 to cover your expenses, be able to take out health insurance for your stay, either have a return airfare prior to departure or sufficient funds to purchase one at the end of your stay, not have any dependents and to be able to pay the visa fees, obvs.


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Similar to Canada, the UK also offers up a working holiday visa called the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa which also lasts for up to 24 months. To be eligible you must be an Aussie citizen with a valid passport, be aged 18-30 years and have £1,890 in savings.

You can study on this visa but you may also need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate. However you can’t work as a professional sportsperson (eg as a coach), doctor or dentist in training - unless you can show you qualified in the UK.


A photo posted by Annelie Birane (@anneliebirane) on

Don't forget that you can get on your way faster with our ridiculous interest free options where you can layby your flight, yes that is a thing now and it's awesome!


Universal Traveller

Sam Aldenton

Sam Aldenton is a travel writer, digital content creator (read: takes photos/videos with her iphone and sometimes a real camera) and former retail and youth trend forecaster. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she makes her home in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @samaaldenton.