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German Working-Holiday/Youth Mobility visa for Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Japan

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.

German Missions in Australia – Working Holiday Visa

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.

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Michael Visser

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39 thoughts on “German Working-Holiday/Youth Mobility visa for Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Japan”

  1. Hello,
    I just have a question that I don’t think has already been asked. I’m looking at the information for working holiday visas for New Zealanders (I assume once in Germany it’s all the same more or less no matter what nationality). It says that I can get a job for up to 6 months and ‘this may be in the form of jobs with a monthly pay of up to Euro 450’.
    I’ve asked the embassy if they’re honestly serious about there being a monthly maximum earning potential of 450 euros and they said ‘You can, however, that type of employment is allowed for 50 days maximum.’.

    My question is once in Germany do they actually impose this ridiculous limit per month or is this just some bullshit out of date info that my embassy is still sticking to. Does anyone actually care? Is there any prejudice from German employers for hiring working holiday goers?

    Thanks for all your help,
    Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca, great question! Welcome to the maze that is German social insurance rules. There’s two parts in your question which need to be clarified.

      If you regularly earn more than 450 EUR per month in your job while in Germany you are required to apply for an income tax number, this will automatically trigger social insurance to be paid by your employer which is why it is common for employers to take on Working Holiday/Youth Mobility visa holders in “mini-job” positions (that is intentionally paying you less than 450 EUR per month to get you under this limit). At the end of the financial year (December 31) you will need to declare your income to the German tax authority.

      I’ll follow up later today with the second part as I need to confirm what’s on my own residence card (tucked away in my passport) as I recall it having a restriction of employment duration being no more than 6 months for a single employer.

      1. Thanks for your response Michael, I don’t think I would have ever found that information through google. So are people with working holiday visas technically allowed to apply for a tax number? Does that mean it would be hard to find a part-time or full-time job involving tourism, are there really only these mini-jobs available for people with working holiday visas? My German is a bit average but my French and Spanish a fluent so I was hoping I would find something half decent somewhere 🙂

        1. Since you hold a long-term residence visa (Working Holiday/Youth Mobility visa) yes you can register for a tax number, if you are expecting to take on a “mini-job” then this is not necessary. If you expect to earn over the 450 EUR “mini-job” limit then your employer will need your tax number to pay your social security contributions.

          Regarding Youth Mobility visa working restrictions, looking at my own residence card there is a limit of 3 months per employer for the duration of the visa. That means you can have up to 4 employers for a period of 3 months each during your extended holiday in Germany.

          Finding a job abroad is much like back home, it’s a game of applying for the right job, from the right employer at the right time; that’s a home run! I hope this helps 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I have all my documents printed and ready to go except for the working holiday visa application form, do you have a link I can print it off

    Thanks
    Shane

      1. Thanks, I’ve also just been told by a friend who is a permanent resident in Germany now that I don’t have to submit my stuff at the immigration office, that I can hand it in at the local shire. Can you confirm if this is true or not? I arrive in Germany 5 days before my 31st and don’t want to stuff it up.
        Shane

          1. That’s the one! I don’t recall if there was a separate Youth Mobility form that also needed to be completed but that Application for a national visa is definitely relevant.

        1. You can do either (apply from Australia or when you arrive in Germany) but as your birthday is so close I wouldn’t risk it (e.g. arriving in Germany on a Friday, and the Citizen Services office just happens to be closed on a Monday…), get it done while you’re here in Australia and explain your circumstances.

          1. I live in Perth and the German mission here doesn’t do visas, only Sydney embassy can process them. So I’ve decided to do it in Germany. I’ll have 3 working days once I arrive. The bit about submitting it at the local shire when I get my residence permit true? Or will I need to go to immigration office

          2. Hi Shane, you’ll be cutting it close and will need to go to a Kundenzentrum in your closest city. The office needs to be able to process visa applications on the spot rather than forward it onto another office so check that detail.

            There are limited hours and days that you can just walk in to Kundenzentrum’s and get help – in Altona I queued at 5:30am and got to speak to someone by 9am… – this is as Germans prefer to make a reservation online months ahead so there are strict walk-in hours.

            If you weren’t turning 31 I’d tell you to kick back and relax as your local shire can forward it along to a bigger office and it will get processed but those few days could come back to haunt you so do consider the expense of going to Sydney to get it sorted. Alternatively consider getting your visa sorted in a bigger city that can process visa applications on the spot.

            (I traveled from Brisbane to Sydney to get my first Working Holiday visa for Denmark)

          3. If I go to Sydney to get it done, is it granted on the spot or is there a certain amount of processing time?

          4. You’ll need to ask the Embassy. Different countries have different requirements, from my experience in Hamburg I was given a stamp and visa conditions card that was kept in my passport on the spot so there’s a good chance you can get it all done in Sydney.

            In my case for Denmark I had to submit biometrics in-person (fingerprints) which were then forwarded on Danish Immigration which took weeks to be processed and a visa issued.

          5. Hello Michael, I’m now in Germany. 8 had my friends call the immigration office on my behalf before I got here to make an appointment. They were told to go to the local shire and submit my documents. So once I arrived on Friday I did, with being close to turning 31 I was told it would be from the date I submitted it there and may take up to 3 weeks to be processed once forwarded on. They also asked me for a rental agreement and a letter of an agreement signed by someone who is going to employ me.. didn’t sound right to me, I’ve never read online anyone providing that. How are you meant to sign contracts if you don’t know if your visa will be granted? It makes me wonder if the local shire hasn’t signed me up for the right visa ?

          6. Hi Shane, that sounds like they’re signing you up for a work residence visa, not a Youth Mobility visa… don’t use the words “Working Holiday” around immigration in Germany, the term is “Youth Mobility Programme” (Jugendmobilitätsprogramm).

            https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/305265/en/

            Explain that you’ve just arrived and are staying with friends or at a hostel, persist until they relent as they can make exceptions, you’re racing the clock now!

  3. Hi,

    I am looking at getting the Working holiday visa. Do I need to enter Germany to activate my visa? I turn 31 in March so I need to apply before then, but I might not be able to fly into Germany until after March. If I have the visa confirmed before March can I enter Germany and use it in say June? I realise I will only have 9 months left on it. Also do I need to have flights booked at the time of application, or is it enough to show I have the funds for a return flight? Thanks

    1. Hi Sandra, you’ll need to have your visa confirmed in writing before the day of your 31st birthday (March) – I’d recommend having all paperwork confirmed by the German Embassy here in Australia – but you’re right that will mean you only have 9 months left on it if you enter in June.

      If you’re an Australian, New Zealander or Citizen of Japan then you won’t need a return flight booked but will need to provide evidence of funds for your stay including flight in the form of bank statements or a letter from your Australian bank.

      As mentioned to Hamish earlier today do keep in mind that other European countries have reciprocal Working Holiday and Youth Mobility programs so if you wish to travel longer in the Schengen Area consider applying to neighboring countries at the end of your German Working Holiday visa. 🙂

    2. Hi Sandra, a little more information that might be of help. The start date on the visa can be adjusted to be the date of flight arrival so there’s a good chance you’ll get your full 12 months of residence! Speak to the Embassy about the age requirement.

  4. Hi Michael,

    I have been doing some research, but can not find some definite answers to some questions, including among your blog posts. I hope you can help, please!

    I am an Australian citizen and I have just returned from 8 months in Germany, where I had a 12-month Working Holiday Visa. The visa expires in May 2018.

    1. Am I able to use this same visa if I was to return to Germany before it expires? Or must I apply for a second Working Holiday Visa visa?
    2. Would I be able to apply for a second Working Holiday Visa after it expires?
    3. I am currently 30 years old, but I turn 31 in July. Am I still eligible to apply for a visa before I turn 31 years old?

    Thank you for your help!

    Mit freundlichen Grußen,

    Hamish

    1. Hi Ben, happy to help! Here goes…

      Yes you can leave and enter Germany (e.g. return to Australia and fly back to Germany, or travel to the US and return to Germany) without restriction until your German working holiday visa expires. Once your working holiday visa expires you are not permitted to enter again with that visa and will need to be issued an alternate entry visa on your next entry into Germany (e.g. tourist visa, student visa, work visa, etc.).

      As far as I’m aware you can only apply for a Working Holiday visa in Germany once up and including the age of 30 years old, so you will not be able to apply twice for the same category visa; Working Holiday and Youth Mobility visa. Alternate visa categories to explore include a work employment visa sponsored by a Germany company, joining a language school or if you are self-employed applying for a freelance visa.

      Here’s a different spin on things, look at the Working Holiday visa programmes in neighbouring countries and continue to live in Germany for the next 12 months, Working Holiday visa’s are essentially extended tourist visas so there’s a lot of wiggle room if you don’t need to work in the country that issues your residence visa. Hope this helps, prost!

      1. Awesome, that’s a big help.

        I’m guessing, however, that Working Holiday Visas are only valid for the country they are granted in? E.g. A visa granted in Austria is not valid for Germany.

        1. Working Holiday visas grant residence and short-term work opportunities to the country of issue but you are not restricted from travel within the EU so you could stay/holiday in Germany or anywhere in the Schengen Area during that period. Whether Germany accepts this is another point but it’s worth looking at.

          In the case of Denmark you must be holding a valid residence visa in Germany when applying from there otherwise you have to do it from Australia, the same goes for neighboring Czech Republic; as a New Zealand Citizen you can apply up to the age of 35 so you could jump between Working Holiday visas for years to come!

  5. Hi
    HELP NEEDED:

    I’m currently on a working holiday visa and i’m from Australia and I’m told that without sponsership from a company I can not extend my visa?

    I’m in Germany with my Girlfriend who is German and she is back home to study so my plan is to stay 3-4 years until she has finished her studies.
    How do i go about this?
    My current visa runs out end of September and finding work has been really difficult due to only knowing English.
    I need some help in ways to extend my visa or to apply for another visa that will allow me to stay 4 years minimum.
    what are my options?

    Dan

    1. Hi Dan, unless you take on German language studies full-time you are limited to two options (that I’m aware of):
      A) Find employment and get sponsorship for that period of time that you are in Germany.
      B) Get married. Germany is old-school, once you’ve signed a Marriage Certificate waltz over to your local Kundenzentrum.

      Option B was on the cards in my situation but we had the flexibility to move whereas your partner with studies in Germany doesn’t. Good luck!

      1. Thankyou Michael much appreciated.

        One more question
        If I manage to get a job and study German fulltime how can i stay longer?

    1. Hi James, nice! Simple start looking for work!

      While you’re applying for jobs register yourself a Steuer-Identifikationsnummer with the tax department. I’d visit your local Kundenzentrum (Citizen Center, ala Council) and they’ll step you through any paperwork. In my case the Welcome Center Hamburg was connected to Handelskammer (Chamber of Commerce) and they sorted it there on the spot. Hope this helps!

        1. I don’t think so, just the tax number. The working holiday visa is your residence visa, check with Kundenzentrum when you’re there but once I got my working holiday stamp I was good to live there for 12 months before exploring other visa opportunities. 🙂

  6. Quick question mate, I am also going to apply at the Altona auslanderamt tomorrow. Do you know/did they tell you how long we are allowed to work for one employer for? From what I read it appears to be unlimited duration, but I also heard 3 months.

    1. Hey David, it’s a 3 month per employer limit. Quote from my passport insert:

      “Working Holiday. Beschäftigung max. 3 Monate beim selben Arbeitgeber.”

  7. Hi, you make it sound so easy!
    I’m planning to head to Berlin next month and want to apply for a visa. I’ve heard wait times for appointments can be months and sometimes longer than the Schengen visa is valid for. I tried to book online in Berlin however I couldn’t secure an appointment. I am considering visiting a smaller German town to apply for my visa as it appears to be quicker, Hamburg seems like a good option. What did you do about proof of residency though if you don’t plan to live in Hamburg? Also do you know how official this needs to be? I’ve booked accom at an air bnb for a month however I’m assuming I may need a rental agreement? Would hugely appreciate your advice 🙂 thanks!!

    1. Hi Lani, I covered how to get the proof of residency bit (Anmeldung) as a traveller in this post linked below. It’s not hard but is a requirement for most residence visas.

      http://visser.io/2016/01/registration-of-address-anmeldung-for-travelers-in-germany/

      You can use a hostel or even your AirBNB address, when you arrive scout out your local Ausländerbehörde, if you’re moving to inner- Berlin look at an office a little further out of the city and say they were too busy for foreigners and sent you here. 😉

      Regarding the appointment waiting time (if there is one), you can visit any Ausländerbehörde and ask for a temporary visa extension if you’re worried about your visa period lasping. That will give you an immediate 90 day extension to stay in Germany and resolve your visa application, that’s covered in the post below.

      http://visser.io/2016/03/temporary-visa-extension-in-germany/

      If you need any help just ask here, prost! 🙂

    1. Hi Peta, I’m a New Zealand and Australian Citizen so could apply within Germany, I did it in-person and without an appointment at my local Ausländerämter (Foreigners Authority). Do check which Ausländerämter you will be submitting at as some require prior appointment as well as specific days for submitting visa applications.

      It took 3-5 hours from arrival at the Ausländerämter, that includes queuing, submitting my completed Working-Holiday visa application, then waiting to receive my modified Passport. 🙂

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