You’ve probably been travelling Australia for a few months, and decided you love it so much, you want to stay for another year. A working holiday visa lasts 12 months once you enter Australia. You don’t have to spend the full 12 months in Australia, but that is a waste in my opinion, as visa’s aren’t cheap! Australia is also a pretty big country, so to make the most of your visa, you really need to use the full 12 months, otherwise you aren’t going to see much. You can extend your WHV for a further 12 months, but it isn’t a case of just applying for another 12 months. You have to do 3 months or 88 days regional work. This is where a lot of people get confused, so here is everything you need to know to get your head around it all.

Is it 88 days or 3 months? 
The confusion of whether you need to do 88 days or 3 months. If you’re classed as a casual or part time worker, you will need to do 88 days regional work. No less. It doesn’t matter how many hours a day you work, you will still need to do 88 days. When you fill out your tax form when you start work, you will need to state whether you’re casual, part time or full time. Your employer will determine what you are, not yourself. The 88 days don’t have to be consecutive and you don’t have to do them with the same employer. You only count the days you physically work, not including your days off. So if you work 3 days a week, and have 4 days off, only 3 days will count towards your 88 days. You can do a month with one employer, go travelling for a bit, then go work for another employer. Just make sure you keep hold of all your pay slips. Don’t leave it until your 12th month in Australia, as so many people do and then they’re panicking that they need to do 12 days work or whatever they have left, to get their full 88 days.

You do 3 months if you’re classed as full time and you can count your days off if you’re classed as full time. Again, it’s up to your employer if you’re classed as full time. Usually you have to work more than 40 hours a week, but you can be doing more than 40 hours and be classed as casual or part time. So it’s worth baring in mind if you’re doing 60 hour weeks but only classed as part time or casual. Technically you’re having to work more days to get your second year visa. If you’re doing 3 months, you have to stay with the same employer and do the 3 months consecutively. If you leave after a month, or two, it doesn’t matter what the reason being, you only count the days you worked, so you will then have to do the 88 days. Otherwise it means starting the 3 months again.

Obviously the 3 month option is the better option, as you can get your regional work finished a lot quicker. But it’s also harder to find employers that will sign backpackers up as full time. I’ve known people do their 88 days, and it’s taken them 6 months to complete it all, due to the amount of days their working per week. So whatever you do, don’t leave it until your last 3 months in Australia.

Do you have to do just fruit picking?
No. Another rumour is that you can only do your regional work by picking fruit. False. Picking fruit is the most common regional work, as there’s more of it and it’s probably the easiest kind of work to find. But you can do plant or animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling or mining and construction. I’m doing my regional work by working on a dairy farm. I’ve had friends do theirs by flower picking, working on a ranch and painting houses. So there is more work than just fruit picking.

Do I have to get paid for the work I do?
Yes. You used to be able to do woofing, but rules have now changed and you have to get paid. When applying for your second year visa, you may need to show evidence of pay slips, so make sure you keep hold of them. They will also check your tax number to make sure you worked for the amount of time you said you did.

My friend is applying for their second year visa but hasn’t done any regional work?
Very common. I’ve met a few that have managed to get away with it. But also met many that didn’t and even ones that did get their second year visa approved, but then when it came to leaving Australia for good, got caught and been banned from Australia for a few years. So just because your friend got away with it, doesn’t mean they have entirely. There’s still chance of them being caught. It also doesn’t mean you will get away it too. The government are tightening up on it, and investigating more and more people every year. Mainly because so many people are trying to get away with it. I’ve not met anyone that’s said they hated every minute of their regional work. Most people love it and end up doing more days than needed, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. You might as well do it, rather than take the risk. You also get to see parts of Australia you probably wouldn’t see if you was just travelling around.

Do I have to pay for my second year visa?
Yes, it’ll be a similar amount to what you paid for your first year visa. It’s not free, like many people believe.

Do I have to use my second year visa straight away?
No. You can go back home for a while, or go do some travelling, then return to Australia. As long as you’re under the age of 31, with no dependants, you can apply years later. But if you apply for it while you’re in Australia, you have to still be in Australia when it’s granted. Same applies if you apply for it while outside of Australia, you have to be outside of Australia when it’s granted. A lot of people use it straight away, but some do go home for a few months, or go travelling around New Zealand or South East Asia for a bit in between. It’s completely up to you.

How do I know if somewhere is legit?
I’m not going to lie, there are dodgy employers in Australia that take advantage of backpackers. And it gives the whole regional work, second year visa work, a bad name. The government are tightening up on it, and if you do get a dodgy employer, please report them so it will slowly get rid of them. Do some research on the internet, ask around and use employers people recommend. You’ll meet people in hostels that have done their second year visa work, and 9 times out of 10, they’ll be legit employers and will recommend them. I got my work through 2 friends I met in Sydney months before. So it’s not all doom and gloom. Just use your instincts and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. NEVER give your passport to an employer, especially for them to keep, and never pay upfront to work for them. These are two common mistakes that backpackers make and you’re asking to get screwed over if you make them.

How much should I be paid?
It entirely depends on the kind of work you’re doing, and what benefits you get. I get paid a block amount per week, but that includes my accommodation and food. I get paid more if I do more than 5 days work per week, which is when I start getting paid by the day. Most people get paid per hour, but make sure you’re getting paid the minimum wage. A lot of fruit picking jobs pay by the bucket. This can be good if you’re a fast picker and willing to put the graft in, but I was always told to avoid those kind of places, so something to consider. I’ve met the odd person that made good money from picking by the bucket, but most of them were getting something ridiculous, like $20 per day, for 10 hours work. Which in most places, is what you’ll get paid for just an hours work. So it’s not hard to see which is the better option. A lot of people use their regional work to save money to go travelling for a while when they’ve finished, so something to consider when picking where to do your regional work.

How do I find regional work?
As I said before, ask people in hostels, get numbers and contacts. This is the best way in my opinion, as you get an honest opinion of what somewhere is really like. People use working hostels, but to be honest, I’ve heard just as many bad things about them as good. They usually find a way to claim a percentage of your wages, as payment for finding you work. Usually they do it every week, and it’s usually not a one off payment, so a bit of a rip off in my opinion. Just because work is found through a working hostel, it doesn’t mean it’s legit, good work. I’ve had friends that have found work through working hostels, and they’ve said it’s pure hell. So still do your research if you use a working hostel.

Overall, getting your second year visa, isn’t the easiest of jobs. I thought finding work would be easy. But there’s so many backpackers in Australia wanting their second year visa, that good, decent work is limited. Don’t leave it until the last minute, and give yourself at least a month or two, to find a job. Don’t go into regional work with a negative view, it can honestly be a great laugh, and a lot of backpackers will speak highly of their regional work. It’s not the easiest of work, but look at it as doing something different that you would never have dreamt of doing, and also getting to see some real Australia. I didn’t feel like I’d seen the real Australia until I went to do my regional work. I was in a town I would never have visited, had I not done my regional work. I’ve got the opportunity to live with an Australian family, and that alone is an experience I highly recommend. You learn about the real Australia, and they have the best tips and advice of places to visit and see. 

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