The Working Holiday Visa Programme is the visa ninja’s way of staying in Germany and traveling around Europe for up to 12 months without applying for a traditional German residence visa or require sponsorship or steady employment.
You must pass the following requirements:
- be a Citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Chile (*1) or Japan
- be aged between 18 and 30 years old (from the age of 18 up to and including 30)
- not be accompanied by dependent family members (e.g. children)
- your Passport must exceed the end of your stay by at least 3 months
- have proof of health insurance valid in Germany (e.g. travel insurance for Germany) with coverage of at least €30,000 (EUR) and including costs for medical evacuation/repatriation
- show a recent bank statement (with full name) indicating proof of sufficient funds – up to $7100 (AUD) for the duration of your stay; calculated at:
- cost of return flight from Germany to Australia: $2100 (AUD)
- living costs without free accommodation: $5000 (AUD)
- living costs with free accommodation: $1800 (AUD) (*2)
- pay the €50 (EUR) visa fee at time of visa application in Germany
(*1) Citizens of Chile are recommended to apply for a Working-Holiday visa before traveling to Germany.
(*2) If staying in Germany with free accommodation (e.g. relatives or friends) you must show an invitation letter and passport photocopy of the inviting German Citizen.
If you’re over this age limit or not a Citizen of one of the ‘best friends’ nations then you must consider a traditional residence visa for Germany (e.g. general employment, self-employed, job-seeker visa, EU-Blue card, internship, artist, etc.), the Working-Holiday visa is not appropriate for you.
Australian citizens (as well as New Zealand and Japanese citizens) are encouraged to apply for a residence permit after entering Germany at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’), without prior applying for a visa in Australia.
Here’s what the Sydney Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany had to offer for youth considering a year abroad living in Germany:
The Working Holiday Visa Program is based on a bilateral agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Australia (also with Argentina, Israel, New Zealand, Japan Chile and other countries) and aims at enabling young people to gain an insight into the culture and daily life of the Federal Republic of Germany, allowing them to travel to Germany for a stay of up to 12 months. To help finance the stay, jobs can be taken up with different employers of the visa holder’s choice. There is no time limit for the employment as long as the maximum total stay of 12 months is respected.
The perks of this visa is you can travel around EU-member states with your Schengen visitor visa for 3 months then return to Germany and without appointment submit your visa application in-person at the closest Ausländerbehörde (German immigration authority) then continue traveling.
In my case the closest immigration authority was Altona Kundenzentrum in Hamburg and I was granted a Working-Holiday visa valid for 12 months on the spot after queuing for less than 4 hours!
Note: Check if your closest German immigration authority requires prior appointment for visa applications, an example is Welcome Center Hamburg which requires appointments for all visa applications with a appointment waiting list of 3-6 weeks. No appointment was necessary for visa applications at Altona Kundenzentrum.