Notes on applying for the French Working Holiday Visa


The following were notes of my experiences in April 2018 of applying for the French Working Holiday Visa as an Australian citizen.  Even if you are not Australia, some of the points here may be relevant for you. Enjoy!

Do I really have to go to Sydney to apply in-person?

Yes, yes you do. I’ve called and email many times and you really do need to go to Sydney.  If you are actually residing in a country (as in, registered resident, not travelling) then you may be able to apply for the French Consulate in that country. But keep in mind – in Europe, WHVs for France in a European country is not really that much of a norm considering free movement for EU citizens/residents.  You may also run into an issue where the Consulate may not speak your country language that well. You may also find that the paperwork being provided is provided in the recognized official languages – and by that, where English is not the official language you’ll have a hard time deciphering the paperwork yourself.

And there is also additional staff and security requirements needed to be there in-person where you speak to staff processing your visa, or where you need to provide bio-identification such as fingerprints.

Collate the official resources

Go to the official pages (ie linked to from the Consulate) and collate all the resources that you need for the application.

Look for a type of document that acts as a paperwork checklist that you need to apply. Keep in mind that these checklists are different to a requirements list.  For example, a requirements list may tell you important information like “You need to be x age” but a paperwork checklist document is what you give to the Consulate when you actually apply. They will go through the checklist and tick off the paperwork that you provide.

One of the issues that I had is that I may come across official information that lists out one thing, and in another document, will list out the same information + some new detail. It’s better to be more prepared and accommodate all details.

Keep to the letter of what documents and other requirements are needed

A common question people have is if they can replace one rule with another. A common one is around the issue with return tickets, which for Australians, can be easily upward of $2000 or more. “Do I really need to buy a return ticket? Why don’t I just buy a ticket out of France, like Germany? Or can I just show the amount equivalent of a return ticket?”.

This is not acceptable and you do have to show a return ticket. Even if you tell the Consulate that you intend to apply for another visa, or intend to continue travelling, promising this is not going to work.  So, if it says on the document that you need a return ticket then you need to go ahead and buy one.

The same applies for everything else.  If there is a note about the type of coverage that is required for insurance, thinking “I will be covered anyway by my existing insurer” may not be accepted. It’s your responsibility to ensure that any services you have is acceptable.

What health insurance provider can I go with?

Please note, this is NOT an advertisement. If you are already happy with your insurer, skip this part.  If you are open to new options, continue to read on.

For many years since 2012, I’ve gone with World Nomads as my insurer.  There has only been one time where I’ve made a claim and it was given to me without any fuss. So, I was happy with the service.

When it was time to look for my health insurance, I decided to take a look around. World Nomads had increased their premium by $120 even though my length of travel, regions to cover, and age still remain the same.

I decided then to use the time to look for a new insurance provider.

The requirement was that the insurance must cover any costs of repatriation for medical reasons and any medical emergency treatment with a validity for France and for one year once you enter France.

After some research, I decided to change to another travel insurance provider (which had been accepted) and was about $170 cheaper than my World Nomads quote including their discount of 5%.  When I looked at the paperwork for the repatriation and medical emergency treatments, it was actually similar wording.

How far in advance can I apply?

Once you receive your visa, you have up to 12 months to enter France. Now a lot of people see this part and think “So I’ll just get my visa first and then decide when to go between now and 12 months”.

While you do have some flexibility, this is only on the event of any unplanned events to happen. Meaning, if you have an emergency before leaving, then you may want to put off travel plans. This flexibility is not really aimed at people who want flexible travel plans because they want to leave whenever they feel like it. This is because a) you need to have an insurance start date, since you need to provide proof of insurance anyway, and b) you need to have actually bought a return ticket.

When I arranged for my appointment, it turns out that you can only apply at the maximum of three months before your departure date OR three months before your start of insurance date.  The reason why I say OR is because when I applied for my visa, I only had my insurance with me and no tickets.  When they looked at my insurance start date they mentioned that they will only start processing it a few days after my appointment which would have been 3 months before my proposed visa start date.

How long did it take to process the visa?

Some people have reported four weeks, other two weeks. My visa would have been processed within 4 business days (!!) including the fact that I provided a self-addressed Express Mail post to receive my passport in the mail.  I was really surprised by how quickly this was processed since I also expected four weeks.  It could have also been due to other factors involved, or that there were less paperwork to process on that day.

What happens if I find out that I am missing paperwork and that I have a visa appointment the following day?

This happened to me, so I decided to cancel my flights (since I had to fly to Sydney) and hotel stay. It turned out that you can still go to the appointment and that you can also have other documents mailed to the Consulate.

But keep in mind that this advice was given to me by the Consulate….one day after cancelling.

Also I was missing another piece of paperwork (a return ticket) and it also turned out that you can send it to the Consulate and they will start processing it after they receive it. But, this was after I paid for the visa fee so I don’t know if they’ll have a different response if they realized this before the application.  There was another person at the appointment and it also turned out that she had missing/incorrect paperwork and they asked her to actually make another appointment and return.

This entry is not meant to provide some ‘insight’ into how Consulates work by the way. This is the reason my top advice is to look at the official requirements and to be prepared with your requirements.

Other tips for the Consulate appointment

  • Arrive on time.
  • This is easy to overlook but you need to also provide photocopies of all your documentation.  Even all my passport pages with stamps needed to be photocopied.
  • You cannot arrange your appointment more than three months before your proposed arrival date.
  • A detailed itinerary of what you are doing in France is not required.
  • Evidence of French languages learning courses is not required (although, you definitely would want to learn the French language to make your life better/easier…topic for another post).
  • If you have no other options, you can book a hostel for the week (with free cancellation) and then add that address as the initial address of your stay.

If you are looking for advice relevant to your nationality, please consult your Consulate/Embassy pages.

Got A Question About Working Holiday Visas? Some things to keep in mind when you are information gathering!

It has come to my attention that there are quiet a number of blog posts and forum posts out there from WHV holders, including potential holders. I am also seeing threads created in general expat/immigration type of forums.

The issue with obtaining WHV information online (outside of what’s on the consulate), and that includes my blog, is that you don’t know if this info is relevant to you.

In addition, the main issue about creating threads looking for advice in forums is that frankly, many of the commentators out there are not at all familiar with the WHV.  You then run the risk of getting advice that’s just completely-out-there-wrong.

If you are looking for information about WHV, I highly recommend that you get information from current and past WHV holders.  WHV is a very specific and unique visa category and many people are not familiar with the nuances involved in this category.

As a current and past holder of working holiday visas for Canada, the UK, Ireland and Germany (as of May 2017!), I know that while I do look for advice, I’ve also found advice that I know is either inconvinient, or incorrect.

For example, I have written some blog posts preparing for my move to Germany (preparation, apartment) and doing these have made the process smooth for me.  There are posts out there that talk about not getting your visa until after arrival – which would make things unecessarily difficult for you since there is the added issue of finding housing and potential risk of getting your paperwork wrong.

I also recommend finding and securing an apartment online.  Now, someone replied back to me saying that there are scams online.  Yes, I am completely aware of these scams (I have even reported some myself), and at the same time, I also know of several people who were scammed even after viewing the apartment in real life.  Just have your common sense and wits about you when making these types of decisions.

Anyway, I just thought to write this post in case someone out there is looking for WHV info.

The Two Main Stages Of Applying For Working Holiday Visas

If you are thinking of undertaking a working holiday visa, I’ve condensed the main essential stages and steps below.  These are the steps that I usually take. And yes, these steps do revolve around budgeting.

A bit about me first…

I’m Australian and thanks to the reciprocal agreements made between Australia and numerous other countries, I have been able to live and work around the world.  I am now on my 4th working holiday visa.  This blog is my outlet for various tips and advice that I want to share to everyone.  Enjoy!

A bit about the working holiday visas…

The main reason why they are called ‘working holiday visas’ is that essentially the main purpose is for travel.  That’s it.  It’s not a work visa nor is it a tourist visa.

Because of the name, there is a common assumption that this visa only relates to holiday/tourist work, that it’s only for unskilled work, and/or that there is no long-term opportunites from this.  I’ve found the complete opposite. You can do all sorts of work, you can do work that is skilled and in your industry and you can also garner long-term opportunities – from opportunities for permanent residency to getting valuable experiences.  Therefore, this blog functions as a way to rebrand these types of visas.

A bit about my approach…

My approach is that I only focus on doing a fact-finding mission and I focus on budgeting and meeting financial obligations.  Unless I intend to move to that country, I do not want to spend too much time looking into subjective information online nor do I look into the fine grain details that is not related to the application process.  Therefore, if it’s not related to any planning that I’m doing, then…it’s just wishful thinking.

Stage 1: Find out exactly what the requirements are for your nationality.

  • Obtain your visa requirements from the official government/immigration authority.  Do not resort to blogs or forums.
  • From these visa requirements, make the plan on how you can meet the paperwork.
  • Date your findings in case of visa changes and if you don’t plan to go for some time (ie six months).
  • Find out any important dates or deadlines.
  • Make a note what you need to do to make an appointment – is there an online booking system, do you need to be in a certain city to apply, what is the minimum amount of time that you should apply, etc.

Stage 2: Do not look into any other details until you can meet the following financial obligations:

You meet the minimum financial requirements for the visa according to your situation.

For example, if you plan only purchase a one way ticket, you must be able to show additional funds equal to the amount of a return ticket.

You also have savings equal to six months at the minimum, bare-bones living expenses in the country in accordance to your situation.

Now, this is the part where doing a budget spreadsheet helps.

Calculate your minimum (and if applicable, your maximum) expenses for things like housing, food, clothing and so on for the month.  Then following from that, multiply by 6 (or however months you want to be the threshold).

Example: If your minimum projected expense ends up averaging to $1000 per month, then you’ll need $6000 at your absolute minimum for six months coverage.  If the maximum projected expense ends up averaging to $1500 per month, you will need $9000 savings.  Therefore, the sweet spot for you in terms of savings could be $7500, however keep in mind that this doesn’t include upfront costs.

Why six months in savings?

It doesn’t have to be six months, but you get the gist – it should be long enough.  I would honestly just for all the way to calculating and aiming for having savings liquidity of 12 months worth of living expenses.

Also do not focus on the actual amount itself.  You should only be looking at your projected cost of living for that month and then simply multiply it by six (or however long) months.

The reason why is due to the following:

  • If you want to undertake skilled work, then you will need to take into account potential delays in obtaining that work.
  • If you plan to rent, then there is the initial cash deposit involved which can be 2-3 months rent in advance.
  • I find that knowing you have a certain x months amount saved up is a good source of comfort. It’s enough to live on, enough of a cushion in case something bad happens (ie your rental ends up being a scam..yes, this has happened!), you can budget for small trips in between and so on.

What do I do once I reach my minimum savings threshold?

In this case, if you already have $3000 in savings after you have met the paperwork expenses (see below), then what you can do is save until you reach your minimum projected expense (in the case above, that would be $6000).  Once you reach that threshold, you can use that to start the rest of the visa application process and paperwork.  The reason why is that obtaining the paperwork tends to be very quick, but then you have the application timeline which can vary immensely and is very much out of your control by the time you send your application through.

What about the up-front costs like flights, insurance, visa fees?

The reason why is that the upfront costs will be high.  At this stage, you will need to purchase your flights, additional moving expenses, travel insurance, visa fees and anything else required for the visa.  Each country will have different requirements, your home country may have certain agreements set up with the visa country and therefore the initial cost is going to vary.

For example, one country can be $2100 in upfront cost (flights, full-year insurance, visa fees), another country can be $1100 (shorter flights, visa fees, no full year insurance required), another one can be $3500 (flights, full year insurance, higher visa fees, higher up front costs).  And so on.  Your initial up front costs will be very high and they are things that you need to meet anyway to get the visa, which is why I’ve taken them out of the initial budget.

Stage 3 (optional): For those planning to move to another working holiday visa afterwards

If you are planning to move to another working holiday visa, your budgeting and planning skills are about to be taken to a whole new level.

Stay tuned since in another entry, I’ll be writing some tips on Stage 3.

If you enjoy this post, please take a look at the rest of my blog – – for more tips and advice!

Working holiday visas does not necessarily mean unskilled work!

There is a common misconception that people on working holiday visas are undertaking unskilled work. There is also the common misconception that only unskilled work is available for those on working holiday visas.

In some cases, this may be the reality but it is completely dependent on your skills, aptitude, attitude, flexibility, CV-writing skills and interviewing skills.  Not only that, but it also helps to have good interpersonal skills when working with global teams and different types of people. You get an added bonus for being able to obtain skilled work if you’ve had previous industry experience in the field, if you’ve attained education (including certifications), your ability to prepare for the job market in the area and also the job market in that particular area.

Skilled work is also not in any specific domains.  Some people will say that technical roles will land you the most opportunities but I’ve found cases that span across other many industries – the arts, not-for-profit/charities, travel, entertainment, media, advertising and more.

About me

I’ve done highly skilled work on the two working holiday visas that I was on – one in marketing in the UK which led to an award for the work and a lot of industry/global experience.  Another in software SaaS for a US/Canada company while based in Toronto and after doing a career and industry change. Both opportunities also included additional educational opportunities – paid courses (including a paid course offered by University College London) and ability for me to easily attend meetups and industry events.  On my 3rd working holiday visa (Ireland) I was interviewing for skilled work opportunities before settling on my current role which is closely aligned with my professional interest and I am also currently pursuing certification in the field also.

In all the countries, I’ve had no issues getting interviews for the skilled work though some didn’t want to talk further once they find out that my visa was temporary. Ireland was challenging because Australians can only work for 6 months but I came across short term contracts in software companies. Germany may have the additional challenge of being able to speak German but so far I don’t see this as a dealmaking obstacle.

It’s all about preparations

There’s a few ways to start reaching out and do your job search before the move to give yourself a head start:

Tips and inspiration for those on short-term, temporary work/resident visas

In addition, make sure to also read up on my other entries on other ways that you can prepare – such as housing, banking and more.

Working Holiday Visa for Germany – Application Process, Documents, Banking, Housing

This series marks my experiences on my 4th working holiday visa for Germany and is written as an Australian applicant.  If you are from other countries with the bilateral agreement, you may also find this post useful.

I also have some posts of my experiences under the Working Holiday Visas for Canada (called International Experience Canada), the UK (called Tier 5 Youth Mobility) and Ireland (simply Working Holiday Visa).  It’s scattered all over my blog so please have a look at my earlier posts.

One main thing to keep in mind throughout the whole process

When I read posts from other applicants of the German working holiday programmes, there is a common theme emerging – and that is that the German immigration system will do the work for them.  Meaning that, all German immigration authorities have native command of English and that everyone knows what a working holiday visa is.

The truth here is the opposite.

It is completely up to the individual to ensure that they meet the requirements for the working holiday visa.  It is also up to the individual to ensure that they meet any other requirements to live and work in Germany – from making sure that the documents are correct to making sure to decrease as much miscommunication as possible.

With that in mind, feel free to continue on below for my thoughts around the application process for the German working holiday visa.

The Application Process

On the Australian Germany embassy website, Australians have the choice to either apply in the Consulate-General in Sydney or at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’).  Being based in Dublin, I decided to do my application at the Germany embassy in Dublin instead.  Another reason why I decided to avoid Ausländerbehörde was all because of their website.  When I logged in to do an online appointment, there were no appointments available (not even if I browse all the way to 2020) and I was sure that there was an issue with their system after trying on three different browsers. I gave up and decide to apply here in Dublin.

If you decide to do your application after arriving in Germany, make a note of what the next available slot is for an appointment by going to the Ausländerbehörde website.  From my experience in handling immigration bureaucracy (ie when getting my GNIB card here in Ireland), it is considerably better to research and try to get your paperwork and appointments ready in advance instead of showing up at the office and getting your information there.  Do not assume that there will be a spot on the day of your appointment, or that there is even going to be availability in the near future.

In addition, don’t assume that information will be delivered to you in English and that it will be 100% accurate.  I think that this comes from a source of naivety in people who the world is going to be functioning on their level at 100% English-speaking proficiency.  The reality is that, especially in Europe, English is not going to be the native language and so it’s better to assume that whatever information you get, or whatever interaction you do, it will not be in native English level.

You are required to make an appointment and is usually booked out for two weeks.  If you miss your appointment, you need to rebook again.


The documentation that you need in your application is pretty much straightforward and is outlined in the German embassy pages for working holiday visas.

One of the main areas of contention is around residence which was:
– Proof of main residence in Berlin
– Certificate of registration at the main residence or
– Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord

I asked the embassy if it’s acceptable that I only show a booking for two weeks in temporary accommodation and they were fine with it.

A copy/paste of their answer is below:

Yes you will have to provide only the first 2 weeks accommodation in Germany for the VISA application.
Hotel / Hostel booking are accepted for this.


German Embassy Dublin

I am seeing some posts were others are going all the way to secure accommodation in Berlin as part of their application. For example, they would arrive in Berlin, go to Ausländerbehörd, sit there for a couple of hours to get confirmation that their real appointment is in 10 weeks, and during that time they’ll have the opportunity to do room viewings.  I did thought that perhaps there is an advantage for already being in Europe AND I am on a working holiday visa but I am aware of someone in Argentina who also went through the process at around the same time as I did and not seeing any issues with the paperwork.

Housing – moving from temporary, short-term housing to long-term

There are quiet a number of various residence options in Berlin and I have to admit that it has been a dream meeting the most basic residence requirement! Meaning that there is established infrastructure in place making foreigners seeking housing in Berlin very easy.  We are talking public transportation and all the different options and places that you have available to search for housing.

It is also possible to book for and pay for housing online on trusted, dedicated platforms where they make the effort to provide as much detail as they can on what to expect.

Overall, even though I didn’t need to book for months long accommodation for the working holiday visa application, I still had the option to do so safely and securely.

I think that Berlin is one of the leading hubs for expats / digital nomads, global / remote workers and so on.

Back to the paperwork.  Don’t forget that shortly within obtaining your long-term accommodation, you will also need to register with the town hall.  Check online for an appointment slot that is available.  In addition, there are documents that you need to take with you when you register.

One thing to keep in mind around housing is that if you require temporary accommodation to look for longer term housing, you do not need to register as a resident within two weeks of arriving.  I would recommend going for temporary housing while applying for the working holiday visa as this is enough.  Since it’s considered temporary, then you do not need get the additional documentation for residence.


A one year’s travel insurance is enough, so long as it covers Germany.  Certain visas may require specific types of insurance but a standard travel insurance is enough.  The reason being is that a working holiday visa is only temporary in nature.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between travel insurance and health insurance.  You can read more about my thoughts on this area here.


It is possible to open a bank account online and prior to arrival.  You can also authenticate your identity online and without needing to be in a branch.

There are also various loopholes when it comes to opening bank accounts.  It all depends on who you talk to, what type of account that you open and which bank.

Of course, you can also opt to go with other options that require in-person appearances.  Banks these days need to be customer-centric.  This means that banking services, should they wish to remain relevant in today’s modern world, also need to be available whenever and wherever the customer is.  Hopefully, we will see more of these practices rather than forcing customers to change their whole day’s schedule just to open an account or cash a cheque.


Once you have registered as a resident you can now apply for your unique German tax number (Steuer-ID).  This should be sent to you automatically after registering your German address.

Next part of the series…

Stay tuned for the next part of my German working holiday experience!

Thoughts on the application process for the Irish Working Holiday Visa

I decided to move from Canada (where I was under the working holiday visa there) to Ireland under a working holiday visa programme.

  • You are required to show up in person at the Irish embassy in Australia but this was not possible.  I was able to get my passport sighted and signed by the Australian embassy (there was a fee involved) and from there use it as part of my application.
  • You needed to fill in a form with your plans during your stay in Ireland and submit as part of the application.
  • There will be other papers required.  I usually go to the bank and have it stamped by them just to verify the documents.  I didn’t want anyone coming back disputing any of my documentation.
  • The process to approve was really quick, though considering the fact that I’ve had to mail the package to the Irish embassy in Canberra.  What delayed this by many weeks was that they had to send my package to my address in Australia as they couldn’t send it to a non-Australian address.
  • The contact that I had (Ann) was very wonderful and patient with all the questions that I have! I’ve had a couple of instances where embassies don’t even bother answering emails… so a huge applause/bonus to the people at the Irish embassy for being responsive.
  • What made my application more delayed than usual was that the package was held up by customs in Vancouver when it was mailed from Australia to Ireland.  I ended up having to rebook my flights – though luckily, I was given a full refund of my booking when I explained them my situation.  Believe it or not, I ended up getting my package on the day after I rebooked my flights.
  • One thing to note with the fee is that the embassy site didn’t include the fee for your GNIB card which is required if you are planning to stay for more than a few months – which is the reason for the visa in the first place.  The border officer also stamped me to ‘stay’ in Ireland for a month to get my GNIB appointment even though the next available day was in 6-7 weeks – it ended up not being an issue but this was a big disconcerting at first.  I have a blog post dedicated to it here.

Overall, Ireland and living in Dublin has been really wonderful.  It has been a culture shock (!) moving from Toronto to Dublin.  From the roads, to the housing, to the shops, to the Irish culture (ballads in pubs while drinking Guinness pints and eating Guinness shepherd’s pie!) and all the history of Ireland.  I was already here for a few weeks four years before and much has changed since then.