Student and Working Holiday Visas, Australia – A Personal Account

Below one of our customers shares their personal account of visiting Australia for the first time:
I first visited Australia in 2010. I was at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and decided I wanted to au pair for my 3-month summer holiday. It was a toss up between a family in Sydney and one in Santa Barbara, California – I’m so glad I chose Sydney. It was love at first sight. The people, the culture, the lifestyle, the atmosphere, there’s was nothing I didn’t like.

Before I left Australia in January 2011, I visited Sydney Uni to enquire about doing my master’s there. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I was determined to go there after I’d finished uni in Cape Town. That said, being an international student in Australia is a very expensive business, especially when you come from South Africa, where the cost of living and salaries are much, much lower than Australia. However, somehow the money was found without robbing a bank, and I found myself registering at Sydney Uni in March 2014.

Sydney is heaven for students. There’s always something going on in this vibrant cosmopolitan city and education standards are high. Strangely enough, I didn’t meet many Australians during my 18 months at Sydney Uni. All the students on my course were international students and the CBD and areas that I frequented, such as Bondi and Potts Point, were full of people from other countries but very few Australians.

Working Holiday Visas
On completion of my masters, I had a short stint back in South Africa before coming back to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. This meant I could work and live in Australia for a year. The only proviso is that you can’t work for one company for more than 6 months. This sounds good but in practice, employers are very wary of people on these visas. They’ve had too many people who say they’re going to stay in the job for 6 months, only to leave and go travelling after a few months.

I decided to go through an agency (there are lots out there) and prove that I was here to work. I have been exceptional lucky with my job placements.

To get a second Working Holiday Visa, you need to do three months farm work during your first Working Holiday Visa. This system is open to so much abuse it’s scary. There are unscrupulous farmers out there who employ young people, pay them peanuts, provide awful accommodation and work them to death. Be very careful when accepting farm work. Again, I was lucky and had a lovely three months on a farm around 3 hours from Melbourne. It was also great to see a little more of Australia.

Come hell or high water, I WILL become an Australian Permanent Resident, but it’s not easy. Both Australia and New Zealand are making it more and more difficult for people to get their PR. I suppose it’s the same everywhere in the world. I’m luckier than most because, although I’ve lived most of my life in Africa, I am British and that makes it easier.

My next step towards becoming a full-blown Aussie is to start my PhD in Australia, which I’ll be doing later this year. Wish me luck.

If you are looking to move to Australia and need help with your VISA, please contact John Mason International’s Visa team on 0141 3702362 or visit our website: to take our free visa assessment test.

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